Tuesday, February 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


On Highway No 10, at the mercy of carjackers
after sundown
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, February 10
Travelling on the Delhi-Rohtak national highway (No 10) after sunset is fraught with danger as highway robbers and anti-social elements snatch cars from travellers at pistol-point and rob the passengers at will. The Highway Police Patrol, created with much fanfare by the government to beef up security on the national highways, appears to have failed in its task to protect the motorists. The increasing incidents of highway robberies and carjacking have generated a feeling of insecurity among those travelling.

Since January 1 this year, as many as seven incidents of carjacking and robbery have been reported in this district. Two such incidents had occurred near Rohad Mor, three near Sampla and two at Ismaila village, including last night’s incident, in which a cloth merchant of Bhiwani was deprived of his car and mobile phone and his wife divested of her gold ornaments. Unsuccessful attempts were also made by the highway robbers to snatch the car of the son of Mr Mahesh Chawla, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Rohtak, a few days ago near Sampla.

The cloth merchant, Mr Naresh Aggarwal, was returning to Bhiwani in his Santro car (DL-2CW-1829) with his wife and children after attending a marriage at Punjabi Bagh in Delhi. As their car reached near the Ismaila railway bridge

around 8.30 pm, five unidentified young men in an unnumbered Maruti car blocked their way. The highway robbers at pistol-point took control of the Santro and demanded Rs 10 lakh from the cloth merchant. The robbers reportedly told Mr Naresh Aggarwal to telephone his family at Bhiwani to arrange the money demanded by them.

But before he could comply with the carjackers’ demand the desperadoes allegedly took way the gold ornaments of his wife, valued at approximately Rs 5 lakh. They also took away the car and the mobile phone and left Mr Aggarwal, his wife and children stranded on the road. They also took away Rs 1 lakh in cash, which was kept by the cloth merchant in his car, before fleeing from the scene along with their booty.

The law and order situation in the town is no better. The residents are feeling unsafe as the police have failed to generate a feeling of security, particularly among the traders and businessmen. The jewellers in the city today observed a strike and staged a dharna at Aggarsen Chowk to protest against the increasing incidents of thefts and robbery.



Cops unearth Memon group links in Capital
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
The Delhi Police today claimed to have busted a racket of fake currency with the arrest of two persons. The fake currency was smuggled into India through Nepal by Pakistan-based gangsters. The Memon group, which was involved in the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, is suspected to be behind the fake currency racket.

The suspects, Vishal Ahmed (32) and Alim Ahmed Zaidi (28), were arrested from Sarai Kale Khan where they had gone to deliver the consignment to their contacts in the Capital. Fake currency worth Rs 2.6 lakh in the denomination of Rs 500 was seized from their possession, the police said. The police had a tip-off that Tiger Memon, the alleged main conspirator in the Mumbai bomb blasts, was behind the fake currency racket. Memon, who fled the country soon after the bomb blasts, is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, the police said. The police said the motive behind circulating the fake currency notes was to try and destabilise the Indian economy.

The police said, “The Tiger Memon group was smuggling fake currency notes of Rs 500 denomination through the Nepal border. The notes were circulated mostly in Uttar Pradesh. The seized currency notes are of high quality and it is difficult to differentiate a fake note from an authentic one.”

When Vishal told the police that he had some more money hidden in his village in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, a raid was conducted there on Sunday and fake notes worth Rs 64, 000 were seized.



Auto unions say ‘no’ to RWA pre-paid booths
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
The Delhi Government’s move to allow Residents’ Welfare Associations to run pre-paid booths for autorickshaws has sparked off a fresh controversy over the necessity of installing electronic meters.

“These pre-paid booths are to be run by the Residents’ Welfare Associations, which will be allowed to charge a small proportion of fares collected from the commuters,” Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken told reporters here today.

However, autorickshaw owners are of the view that this would nullify the very rationale behind installing the electronic meters. The whole purpose behind the installation of electronic meters was the alleged fleecing by auto drivers, but that appears to have been solved with the government insisting on electronic meters.

“If the pre-paid booths are to be run by the RWAs, what is the use of investing so much money in installing electronic meters? Such pre-paid booths, at present functioning at railway stations, are a failure as those manning the booths demand their share in the fare,” said a member of the autorickshaw union.

“Moreover, the auto drivers have to come back to the pickup point to collect the money,” he added.

Mr Maken said the move was an attempt to reduce the commuting woes of Delhiites and the state government had invited tenders from residents’ associations to run pre-paid booths for autorickshaws in their areas.

The RWAs would provide space for parking of autorickshaws in their areas and also one person on a shift basis to run the booth, he said, adding that there was a ceiling of 5 per cent on the proportion that the RWA could charge from the commuter.

“The commuter will pay the person at the RWA booth a proportion of his fare, which will be determined by the fare chart. If the RWA so desires, it can also give the service free of charge, which will mean that the commuter will only pay the autorickshaw driver his fare and nothing to the RWA,” he said.

The service would benefit those travelling short distances, Mr Maken said, adding that the amount charged by these booths would be less than that charged by existing pre-paid booths run by the police.

In another measure to arrest the widespread menace of overcharging, the Delhi Government also plans to make it compulsory for auto drivers to put standardised auto fare charts in their vehicles.

The fare charts, which inform about the fare for the number of kilometres travelled by a commuter as well as the stipulated fare between two localities, will also be made available to the public to help them do away with the possibility of overcharging and fleecing.



Rubber unit gutted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
Property worth lakhs of rupees was gutted in a devastating fire that broke out in a rubber factory in the Peeragarhi area in Udyog Vihar in West district early this morning.

The rubber factory was being run by a local businessman in a three-storeyed building, which was completely burnt. The fire was reported at 3.30 am and it was brought under control at 9 am. No casualty was reported in the fire.

The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) was informed by a night watchman who was taking rounds in the industrial area. The DFS rushed 32 fire engines which took more than five hours to control it. According to a preliminary inquiry, a short circuit could be the cause of the fire.

A spokesman of the DFS said that when the fire engines reached the spot the factory was locked. The lock was broken in the presence of the police. The factory was packed with rubber goods and raw material, which further fueled the fire. The fire broke out on the ground floor. By the time the dousing work began, the fire had engulfed the entire building.



Road safety clubs for schools, new
CNG ground rules
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
In a move to make the roads in the Capital safe, the Delhi Government has adopted new safety standards for the CNG buses and mooted the idea of road safety clubs to ensure safety of school buses in the city.

Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken said to ensure that the 750 converted DTC buses operating currently on the city’s roads meet the new norms, the Delhi Government had entrusted the inspection of the buses to an independent body.

‘’Though LPG and CNG buses are running in several states of the country, Delhi is the only state which has carried out a third party inspection of its buses,’’ he said.

He said some international experts on CNG, commissioned by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, to carry out an independent survey of CNG implementation in Delhi, had, on inspecting many CNG buses, found them to be meeting the latest safety norms.

“Both the manufacturers of the CNG buses – Telco and Ashok Leyland - have given affidavits to the government that their vehicles meet the latest prescribed norms for safety as laid down by the Automobile Research Association of India (ARAI) in November last year,” he said.

‘’In fact, after May 19, 2003, it will be compulsory for all buses operating on the city roads to meet the new ARAI norms,’’ he said.

When pointed out that of the 15 CNG buses which had caught fire in Delhi in the past three years, 11 were manufactured by Telco, Mr Maken said, ‘’Those buses, manufactured before the new norms came in force, were based on the norms laid down in April 2000.’’

Meanwhile, in the wake of the recent spurt in accidents involving school buses, the Delhi Government has proposed the formation of road safety clubs to ensure safety of the school buses in the city. “These road safety clubs will greatly help in cultivating safe road behaviour among schoolchildren, who are the most vulnerable to road accidents,” Mr Maken said.

He said the state government had received applications from 89 schools in Delhi for running road safety clubs.

The measures envisaged by the state government to ensure the safety of school buses include holding a workshop with school Principals of Delhi in April so that the Principals take a personal interest in the road safety education of schoolchildren, compulsory training for school bus drivers to be imparted on weekends by institutions like the Institute of Driving and Transport Research (IDTR) and the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAU) when the schools are closed.

Further, in an effort to make buses running on CNG safe, the Delhi Government has implemented a project of “odouring” of CNG wherein the CNG will have an odour similar to that of LPG supplied for domestic use.



Drunken tenant kills landlord over Rs 15,000
Our Correspondent

Noida, February 10
Being buddies with his tenant cost a landlord dear, with the latter losing his life in a Noida village under the Sector 39 police station.

According to the police, the landlord had taken some money on loan from his tenant. But when the hope of recovering the loaned amount became faint, the tenant, in a drunken stupor, stabbed the landlord to death. The police have arrested the tenant.

Brahmpal Singh, a resident of Sadarpur village under the Sector 39 police station in Noida, had let out a portion in his house to Surinder Singh. In due course, the two became chummy and would invariably share a bottle of liquor in the evening. When Brahmpal needed Rs 15,000 in an emergency, Surinder Singh reportedly gave him the amount readily. But after some time had elapsed whenever Surinder Singh would demand his money back, Brahmpal would put him off on some pretext or the other.

Surinder Singh invited Brahmpal to his room on January 30 for their regular booze session.

When Surinder Singh had downed a few pegs, he broached the loan issue, which was occupying his mind, with Brahmpal. During an altercation, he stabbed the landlord with a knife, the police said.

After the murder, Surinder Singh bolted the door from outside and absconded. It was the neighbours who informed the Sector 39 police about Brahmpal’s murder. The police took the body of the deceased and registered an FIR filed by Vijay Pal, brother of Brahmpal.

When the police interrogated Surinder Singh after arresting him, he confessed that he had murdered Brampal.



Where are our chambers, My Lord?
Nalini Ranjan

New Delhi, February 10
It is ironical that at a time when one of the most important lower courts of Delhi, the Karkardooma courts, are being computerised hundreds of advocates practising there are compelled to work in the open as there is no adequate seating arrangement for them.

More than 1,200 advocates are practising here. Out of this huge number only 168 are fortunate enough to get their own chambers. The rest have no other alternative but to work out of the noisy and crowded corridor on the premises.

Mr B. D. Pandey, an advocate, said they had to work in a fish market-like atmosphere, which not only affects their work but also causes difficulties to the litigants who come to them. A proposal regarding the construction of 672 chambers was accepted by the Delhi High Court in 1982 but unfortunately it has not been implemented yet. In 1993, when this court was shifted to the newly constructed building from Shahdara 168 chambers were constructed hurriedly. And that was the end of the matter.

Mr Pandey claimed the sanction for the construction of additional chambers had become a victim of the proverbial red-tapism. In 1999, the Shahdara Bar Association took up this issue with the result that the file pertaining to this moved to some extent. After that nothing has transpired on this front. Former president of the Shahdara Bar Association and advocate Mahesh Sharma said, “We do not understand the reason for this delay. In 1993, the Public Works Department (PWD) had sent an estimated budget proposal of Rs 19 crore to the department concerned for the construction of the rest of the 504 chambers but to no avail.”

Now, the estimated budget of this project has gone up to Rs 25 crore simply because the project has been hanging fire. “We are planning to start an agitation to press for the fulfilment of our genuine demand,” said Mr Sharma.



Cricket bookies arrested

New Delhi, February 10
The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police today claimed to have busted a betting racket during the Sri Lanka-New Zealand World Cup match being played in Durban in South Africa with the arrest of two bookies.

Three mobile phone sets, a TV set, Rs 2,100 in cash and a diary were seized. The bookies were identified as Raj Kumar Tulsi Jan, a resident of Derawala Nagar in Model Town police station, and Shiv Shankar Aggarwal in Pitampura.

The bookies were arrested from Raj Kumar’s house where they were running the satta. An entry of Rs 3.25 lakh was made in the diary seized from their possession. TNS



Chautala giving a raw deal to Sonepat: BJP
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, February 10
Mr Kishan Singh Sangwan, MP and vice-president of the Haryana BJP, has accused the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, of adopting discriminative attitude towards the people of Sonepat district and alleged that Mr Chautala had been misusing the funds allotted by the Central government for MPs’ quota for various development works.

Talking to mediapersons at Kharkhauda town, 19 km from here last evening, Mr Sangwan alleged that Mr Chautala had spent the bulk share of the amount of MPs’ quota on works other than announced by him.

He said that the Central government had allotted huge amount for the construction of roads, but it was misused by the state government on other works.

The BJP leader disclosed that the Central government, on receiving such complaints, has constituted district-level committees under the chairmanship of the members concerned of Parliament for monitoring the funds allotted to the MPs quota.

The members of these committees would inspect the works and check the misuse of funds.

He disclosed that the Sonepat Lok Sabha constituency consists of nine assembly segments: six of them fall in Sonepat district, two in Jind district and one in Jhajjar district.

He said that he will be the chairman of the district-level committee and the ADC will function as the official secretary.

Mr Sangwan said that some technical defects were in the way of the construction of Sonepat-Jind railway line via Gohana town.

He said that he has demanded for the construction of Bahadurgarh-Gohana railway line via Kharkhauda town, for accelerating the development of Kharkhauda town.

He urged the state government to undertake the construction work of Kanwali-Narela Road and Rohna-Sonepat Road on a priority basis.



Swami warns Pak on cross-border terrorism
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, February 10
The Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I. D. Swami, has warned Pakistan that India will not remain silent if Pakistan failed to stop cross-border terrorism and helping the militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking to the mediapersons here on Sunday, he made it clear that India would not use nuclear weapons against Pakistan and if Pakistan tried to use such weapons, India would not lag behind and use these weapons for safeguarding the unity and integrity of the country.

He said that India had won three wars against Pakistan in the past and this is clear that India was not a weak country at all. India, he said, wanted to maintain peace in the neighbourhood but Pakistan did not want peace and trying to disturb the peace by encouraging the activities of militants and creating cross-border terrorism.

Referring to the misuse of POTA, Mr Swami said that the state governments were independent to use POTA and if anybody has the grievances on the issue, he could approach the court of law.

Regarding the forthcoming assembly elections in various states, the minister said that the BJP was fighting the elections on the issues of development and performance of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. He blamed the opposition parties for misleading the people on the Ayodhya issue but the electorate will not fall prey to their ploys.

However, he defended the alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and announced that the BJP would continue its support to the Chautala Government for safeguarding the interests of the Haryana people.

He asked the party workers to extend full cooperation to the Chautala Government in accelerating the development works in the state.

Mr Swami, however, declined to make any comment on the issue of SYL canal construction and said that the Prime Minister was in touch with the chief ministers of both the states for solving the issue on a priority basis.



Infrastructure projects suffer as focus shifts to
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, February 10
Work on various development projects aimed at providing better infrastructure and facilities to the residents of this industrial township appears to be hanging fire. The deadline announced by the state government to remove all encroachments by March this year seems to have put all other priorities in the background. The authorities these days are busy identifying encroachment to be put on the demolition list.

The Chief Minister’s visit to the district here yesterday had emboldened the top authorities in taking action against encroachments. The CM even sounded serious and expressed his anger over the encroachment done by an Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader from Ballabgarh in Sector 10 here. He directed the district administration to remove all encroachments, including those of influential persons.

However, the present focus of the authorities has proved detrimental to other developmental programmes. There is nobody here who can tell exactly when the construction of the much-awaited flyover at Badarpur Border on the National

Highway will be started. Although the Chief Minister had assured a couple of months back that the Union Ministry of Surface Transport had given the green signal for the construction of the flyover. But the length of the flyover later became the topic of debate as it was reported that the authorities concerned were not unanimous about it.

The four-laning of the Badkhal-Surajkund road up to Delhi Border has been going on for the past one year. The authorities have been changing the deadline of its completion. Earlier, it was stated that it might be over by the end of December last year, but it was announced that the work might be over by February 1 this year. But it seems that the work would take another at least six to eight months for completion. The Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, was not available for his version.

Another important issue raised by the industrialists and businessmen of the region is the alternative route to other towns of the NCR in view of the ban imposed by the Supreme Court on the entry of heavy vehicles (trucks) in Delhi, which were not bound for the National Capital. A demand to construct a new four-lane road connecting Faridabad with Gurgaon and providing a new approach road to Noida was also made. While it is learnt that the state government has already accepted the proposal on a new road to link Gurgaon from here, the work on the project, which was supposed to have begun by now, may not be started in the next few months due to some administrative hassles at the top level. This road was to be constructed by a private company on the build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The authorities last year had also announced to revive and repair the service road adjacent to the National Highway so that it could be used for plying autorickshaws but the work has been lying pending and the service road has not even been made free of encroachments at several points. As a result, about 15,000 autorickshaws are still plying on the highway leading to traffic congestion and chaos.

The authorities have banned plying of all three-wheelers daily and have instead directed them to ply on odd and even dates, on the basis of their registration numbers. A campaign launched to check pollution and illegal plying of such vehicles has got slowed down in the recent months.

The local authorities are yet to decide about the demand made by residents here to start a local bus service. The authorities are also in the dark over the ambitious project discussed a few months ago at Chandigarh to start a sky rail bus service in Faridabad. But the proposal of the Konkan Railway to provide the novel service seems to have put in the cold storage. It may be recalled that thousands of persons travel daily to Delhi for work and the town, having a population of about 14 lakhs, does not have any dependable and efficient public transport system. The demand of extending the Metro Rail network to Faridabad is yet to be accepted by the central government.

The municipal corporation authorities seem to be active when the CM is around. However, the state of affairs in cleanliness, maintenance of roads and streetlights is pathetic in several residential areas. The system of awarding contract to a private agency to keep the town clean has failed to pay off, allege residents. The Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad has rebuked and warned the agency over its performance.



‘We are encouraged by people’s response to Metro Rail’

RAJINDER Singh Ghumman, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Railways), who joined the Delhi Andaman and Nicobar Police (DANP) in 1983, is from Sangrur district of Punjab. He has the additional charge of looking after the security of the Delhi Metro. He received the President Medal for Meritorious Services in 2002.

Mr Ghumman completed his primary education from his village school and from the Government High School, Bhawanigarh. Later, he joined the Punjabi University, Patiala and finished his LL.B. from there. While doing his L.L.M from Panjab University, Chandigarh, he decided to join the police service.

How have you been able to manage the security of the Delhi Metro with inadequate number of policemen?

The Delhi Police have provided 200 personnel to manage the security of the Delhi Metro. Presently, I think this number is adequate to look after the security of the Delhi Metro from Sahahdra to Tis Hazari. The Metro Rail has three stations on its 5 km stretch. Maximum utilisation of manpower and its better management is the key to any security plan. The Delhi Police have plans to get trained personnel from Kolkata, who have better experience of looking after the security of metro rail..

Generally, passengers have the tendencies to damage public property while travelling in trains and buses. However, the Metro Rail continues to be neat and clean. What strategy have you adopted to make the passengers feel responsible towards the Metro Rail?

Initially, we also thought that it would be very difficult to maintain its cleanliness and protect the property of the Metro Rail. The policemen were extremely strict when they saw any one trying to damage government property. However, instead of beating them or abusing them, as policemen generally do, our security men tried to make them understand that the government property is public property. As such, the police advised them politely to maintain the Metro Rail and the response of the public has been very encouraging.

Robbery, pick pocketing, snatching and such incidents are common at railway stations. Touts are active on railway stations who fleece money from innocent passengers. Do you have any plan to control such incidents?

I agree that gangsters are active on railway stations. The criminals come to the railway station in-groups and mainly target passengers who are alone and careless. I would say both the police and the public are responsible for such incidents. Even though there are warnings at the railway stations to be careful of such criminals, passengers are not serious on this count. Policemen are deployed on platforms, at ticket counters and other places in the railway stations. When we notice them we arrest these criminals. If cases are reported, we investigate such cases thoroughly and in several cases, gangs have been busted from the stations.

A few days back, a person selling tickets in black was brought to my office. I warned him that he would be arrested next time if he was caught repeating the act. As far as touts are concerned, the police are not aware about their operation. If it is brought to my notice, I will certainly look into the matter.

Recently, the railway police seized skins of wild animals and arrested two persons. We have also seized drugs smuggled from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. The police had some secret information and developed it and arrested them while they were carrying the consignment to be delivered in the Capital.

Could you list some of the finer moments as a police officer in the national Capital?

When I was the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Defence Colony, a business executive of BALCO, M.C. Rastogi, was found murdered in Lodhi Hotel. This case was worked out within six days. He was murdered by one of his relatives due to some property disputes.

The second case was that of Chandra Mohan Pandit, a dreaded criminal, who was arrested with the help of one my subordinates, who joined their gang and provided us information about them. The policeman even gave his service revolver to him to win his confidence. Consequently, I succeeded in arresting him. Apart from these, there have been number of other cases where my work has been appreciated by my seniors.

You have worked in different districts and branches of the Delhi Police. Can you tell us, how crime can be controlled in the national Capital?

The control of crime is possible, whether in Delhi or elsewhere, provided policemen are professional, honest and dedicated. As far as the national Capital is concerned, it requires specific strategy to control crime. Delhi is surrounded by Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. Criminals from Madhya Pradesh also come to the Capital to commit crime. Criminals of Uttar Pradesh take shelter here after committing crime in their hometowns. When they become familiar with Delhi, they are involved in criminal activities here and go back to their state.

The criminals from Haryana also adopt the same tactics and mainly operate in the west districts of the Capital. Thousands of people arrive in the national Capital everyday from different states of the country. Unable to find a proper place to live, they mainly live in jhuggi clusters and are often found to be involved in criminal activities. Bangladeshis in the Capital are also found to be involved in robbery and other criminal cases.

Besides, Delhi being the national Capital, has been a prime target for militant outfits. Presently, militant activities in the Capital are under control due to the pressure of the police and intelligence agencies. Many of them have been killed in encounters by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.



Admn, RWAs meet to address civic ills
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, February 10
The administration on Saturday organised a joint meeting of its senior members and the members of the Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) on the lack of civic amenities and other ills plaguing the residents of the city.

The Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, Mr Anurag Rastogi, who had taken the initiative for the meeting, said that the event was organised to get feedback from the residents on their problems to streamline the steps that could be taken by the administration. This was also a move to open a dialogue with the representatives of the residents and involve all concerned to make the city a better place to live.

The meeting drew a Master Plan for action. The administration identified water, electricity, garbage disposal, encroachments and sewage system as thrust areas to start with. From the government side, besides the Deputy Commissioner, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) and other key officers were present in the meeting.

Mr Rastogi urged the audience to make judicious use of water and electricity.
To give continuity to today’s exercise, the Deputy Commissioner and other officers of the district will hold meetings with the representatives of residents of a cluster of three or four sectors and colonies in the field and try to sort out their problems.

In response to the demands from the audience, he promised that HUDA would issue a ‘white paper’ on the way money, accruing from the External Development Charges (EDCs), was spent.

The participants alleged that they did not know where and how the money had been spent, collected from the plots holders in the form of EDC.



Columbia crash highlights threat to earth from
space debris and meteorites
by Dr K. K. Paul

WHILE the factors that led to the space shuttle Columbia’s disintegration, minutes before it was due to land, will continue to be inquired into and debated, the immediate focus should now shift to the International Space Station (ISS), which is already in the orbit. The three-member crew in the ISS was due back in March 2003, but with the announcement from Sean O’ Keefe, the NASA Chief, to freeze all space programmes, the burden will now shift entirely to the Russians to service and rescue the crew, comprising two Americans and one Russian, who are now over 200 miles above us in space.

The Americans have three other shuttles, Endeavour, Atlantis and Discovery, but their launch would have to wait indefinitely. On the other hand, the Russian space programme also seems to have been badly hit due to the shortage of funds as currently only one Soyuz is reportedly under construction.

Some of the pictures of the disaster on TV and in print showed the debris strewn over some of the less-populated areas in the states of Texas and elsewhere in the US. What would have happened if some of this had hit the highly populated centres.

The problem of space debris and in the larger context, the meteorites or other objects hitting earth, has been studied by the Directorate of Operations, US. Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. According to them, objects with diameters smaller than 50-100 m that may collide with earth usually do not hit the ground as a single body; rather they tend to detonate in the atmosphere. But even then these objects can create immense damage as happened at Tungusta in Siberia in 1908. The above studies further reveal that an event like Tungusta, which had an energy of 10 megatons of TNT, had been initially estimated to occur every 200-300 years. However, now it is known that earth is hit on an average at least once annually by an object with a 5-kiloton energy and the Tungusta like events can only occur, perhaps, once in a thousand years.

These studies have been carried out by the systems designed to detect the signatures of nuclear explosions and other objects of military interest on or above the surface of the earth. It is understood that when a large meteorite enters the upper reaches of earth’s atmosphere, shock waves result, creating a massive blast. Some of this energy also gets converted into visible light and other forms of radiation.

Cronje in times of World Cup

Salman Rushdie’s latest book “Step across This Line” can best be described as a collage. It is a collection of non-fiction penned by him during the last ten years and has essays on varied subjects, critiques and a travel diary of his visit to India in April 2000. While going through the book, it came as a pleasant surprise that very laudatory references to our Crime Branch investigation into cricket match fixing and Hansie Cronje appeared at two places. Incidentally, Rushdie happened to be in India when the story broke for the first time. It is only a coincidence that the book has now appeared on the stands, as the World Cup fever has been catching on. Even as some South African players and Cronje’s fans have been propagating that in the event of a South African victory, the World Cup must be dedicated to Hansie Cronje, Rushdie has brought out a fact, hitherto unknown, that “Cronje’s locker room nick name, given to him long before the match fixing scandal, was Crime - for being notoriously stingy with money”.

Now with an upset defeat in the very first game at the hands of a rejuvenated West Indies, we don’t know whether SA would be able to lift the cup, but it is still early days and cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. In any case, let Cronje’s soul rest in peace.

Despite the controversy over the player’s contracts, the arrangements for the current World Cup have been worked out with military precision by the hosts. The ICC’s Security and Anti-Corruption Committee has also performed admirably in ensuring that there is no match fixing, but considering the billions of dollars that are being ploughed into the legal and illegal betting market, doubts may still arise in certain cases.

It may be interesting for the readers to know that betting does not take place only on the end result of the game, but also on the following aspects of a match: The outcome of the toss at the beginning of a match, the end from which the fielding captain will elect to bowl, a set number of wides or no balls occurring in a designated over, players being placed in unfamiliar fielding positions, individual batsmen scoring fewer runs than their opposite numbers who batted first, batsmen being out at a specific point in their innings, the total runs at which the batting team captain will declare, the timing of a declaration, the total runs scored in an innings and particularly the total in the first innings of a One Day International.

(Dr K. K. Paul is Special Commissioner, Administration, Delhi Police)



For the sake of animal rights
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
A walk for the sake of animals was organised by the Circle of Animals Lovers, a charitable animal welfare organisation in the Capital on Sunday.

With a view to drawing attention to the plight of animals, a group of animal lovers including the Municipal Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Mehta, participated in what was addressed as ‘Walk and Talk’.

The group discussed the need for animal birth control and vaccination, and the initiatives to be taken to benefit the animals. The Circle of Animals is a charitable organisation that runs hospitals in the NCR region and has three vans to attend to the sick and needy animals. The organisation sustains the work on charity that the animal lovers donate.



Bid to project N-E states in proper light

New Delhi, February 10
The Public Relations Society has decided to showcase North-Eastern states and create a positive environment to strength the bonds of understanding, co-operation and appreciation.

Observing that the North-East has been wrongly represented to the rest of the world, the national president of the society, Dr Ajit Pathak, said that the PRS will make all efforts to project the right image of the North-East. He said that serious efforts are being made to launch the chapters of the society in all the seven sister states.

The society has also decided to sponsor 20 students of mass communication/PR for the next all-India public relations conference to be held in Bangalore. TNS



Landlord, wife drugged, robbed
Our Correspondent

Bhiwani, February 10
A tenant couple reportedly decamped with jewellery and household articles after administering some intoxicating substance to the owner, husband and wife. According to reports, Suresh, son of Kartar, and Shakuntla, wife of Suresh, were admitted to civil hospital in unconscious condition.

Manoj, elder brother of Suresh, alleged that his brother had rented some portion of his house to unknown tenants. They were asked to disclose their addresses and identities within a week, he told adding that the tenants who identified themselves as Satpal and Rani administered poisonous substance on Saturday night and decamped with the belongings.

Scholarship test

As many as 1,060 students of 5th, 8th and 10th Class from 217 schools appeared in the scholarship examination for brilliant students held at local Vaish Senior Secondary School here today.

The examination was organised in memory of Triveni Devi Ghanshyam Das Singhal. Mr Ramesh Singhal told that the examination was held for the fourth consecutive year and it was based on the syllabus of the Board of School Education, Haryana.

He told that the result would be declared on February 25 and cash prizes of Rs 1,000, Rs 700 and Rs 500, memento and certificates would be given to first three students respectively.

Single-window service

The main branch of the State Bank of Patiala, Bhiwani, will start providing prompt services to his customers through single-window service from Monday. The branch manager, Mr Raj Kumar, said here that with the start of this service, the customers need not go to different counters for banking services, such as deposits, withdrawals, fixed deposits, bank draft etc, as these service would be provided at one counter up to a certain financial limit.



Cong meet to discuss political scene on Feb 16
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, February 10
An informal meeting of the Congress leaders and activists will be held here on February 16. The chief of Congress Legislature Party and leader of Opposition in state assembly, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, will be present at the meeting.

According to Mr Vasdev Saluja, a former general secretary and member of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), a lunch had been hosted in honour of Mr Hooda and the party leaders are likely to discuss the present political situation. He said that the meeting and lunch would be held at ‘Royan Garden’ on Neelam-Bata Road here.

Dharna by BJP MLA

Mr Krishan Pal Gujjar, BJP MLA from Mewla Maharajpur Assembly constituency, here and his supporters staged a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner today, in protest against the demolition of jhuggies and hutments. He described the anti-encroachment drive as unjust and discriminatory.

Cardiac camp

The Faridabad Industries Association (FIA) has announced to organise a free cardiac check-up camp for its members here February 14. The camp would be held at FIA house near Bata Chowk.

Woman killed in canter accident

Sonepat: One woman was killed and another sustained serious injuries when a speedy canter rammed a group of women at Banwasa village about 45 km from here yesterday. The dead was identified as Ms Meena (25)

Psycho-exhibition contest

The Government College, Dujana, won the running trophy of psycho-exhibition contest at a state level literary and cultural meet ‘Rainbow-2003’, commenced at the University College here today.

Dowry case registered

The Kalanaur police registered a case of dowry harassment against the in-laws of a woman on Sunday.

Ms Indu Bala, a resident of Housing Board Colony here stated in her complaint that she was married to Shrawan Kumar at Sundana village nearly six years ago. She alleged that her in-laws started harassing her for bringing inadequate dowry just after the marriage. OC



Murder-cum-robbery case solved, five held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
With the arrest of five persons, the South district police today claimed to have solved a sensational murder-cum-robbery by a domestic help in a house in Lajpat Nagar on January 7.

With the arrest, the police also recovered one mobile phone, five wristwatches, jewellery worth Rs 2.50 lakh from them. The accused Rajesh Paswan (19), Raju Mandal (35), Deepak Das (20), all residents of Bihar; Vijay Kumar Singh (33), resident of Delhi; and Ram Avshan Yadav (22), resident of Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh were arrested. On January 7, one Sarv Dhaman and his wife, residents of Lajpat Nagar went out for a satsang, leaving their two daughters Sumedha and Sacharu and two servants Rakesh and Sanjay, alias Deepak, at home.

Around 8 pm, two persons intruded into the house and in connivance with Deepak strangulated Rakesh and injured both Sumedha and Sacharu.

Quiz carnival

It was a carnival with difference. From the schoolchildren to their parents and teachers – all were there. The Quiz ‘o’ Book carnival was organised by the Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Association in India (FPBAI) and Salwan Public School, Rajinder Nagar, had a flock of best publishers and booksellers in the carnival. As many as 6,000 students were seen busy with several literary events like Bookmark competition, short story writing, cover design, slogan writing and a lot of book quizes.

DSGMC quiz

A two-day quiz competition organised by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee began here today on the Gurdwara Rakabganj premises.

A number of schoolchildren from Guru Harkrishan Public Schools and other aided Khalsa schools are taking part in the competition.

Health Week

The Swami Dayanand Hospital has organised a function, ‘Health Care Week’, for its employees and their family members of North-East Delhi. The function was inaugurated by Chairman of Standing Committee, MCD.

Hero Honda scholarship test

Hero Honda Mine, training and resource solutions company for call centre and customer service industries, is conducting a scholarship test for the candidates aspiring for jobs in these industries.

Exhibition on Pilot

Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dixit today inaugurated a photo exhibition on Congress leader Rajesh Pilot at the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Trust here. Organised to mark the 58th birth anniversary of Pilot, who was killed in a road accident in 2001, the exhibition depicts various facets of his life.



Businessman shot dead in revenge
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
A businessman was shot dead last night when he was returning home in Dilshad Garden after closing down his shop in Laxmi Nagar.

The assailants who shot dead the victim Rajiv Verma (28), resident of Dilshad Garden, left the spot without hurting his friend Umesh Tiwari, who was with him at the time of the incident.

The police said that it could have been an act of revenge as they did not touch his friend and not robbed anything from either of them.

According to the police, the incident took place around 10 pm when the victim was getting back home and was shot by two assailants who were probably on foot.

A case has been registered in the Shakarpur police station and the police are investigating.

Burglary, theft cases solved
With the arrest of two gangs of robbers, the East district police today claimed to have solved six cases of burglaries and five cases of house thefts.

The police arrested three persons and recovered one CD player, one mangal sutra, one gold chain, one Jaipuri gold set, music systems and colour TV sets and several other household articles.

Four Bangladeshis held
The Preet Vihar police apprehended five persons, including four Bangladeshis and solved three cases of burglaries.

The police recovered one gold set and silver coins from their possession.

Dacoits’ gang smashed
The North-West police claimed to have busted a gang of dacoits who were active in Delhi.

Acting on a secret information that the gang was planning to commit dacoity in New Azadpur Subji Mandi, the police nabbed the accused Pooran, resident of Bhalaswa Dairy; Shyam, resident of Swaroop Nagar; Pravesh alias Dharmender Kumar, resident of Bharoula; Dalip, resident of Bharoula; and Krishna, resident of Gupta Colony.

During interrogation, the accused disclosed their involvement in several sensational cases.


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