Wednesday, July 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Cong to take on BJP on its own turf
Shimla, July 8
The message emanating from the “vichar manthan shivir”of the Congress is loud and clear. The party will be taking on the BJP on its own turf in the next Lok Sabha poll.
National security, defence and corruption, besides Hindutva, had been the favourite planks of the BJP all these years.

Cong delegates for poll alliances
Shimla, July 8
The whole emphasis of the “Vichar Manthan” exercise has been to streamline the procedure for party appointments to keep those who paradrop at bay and leave no scope for manipulations.

Harbans Lal sacked with AICC consent: Amarinder
Shimla, July 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said there was no hidden motive behind the sacking of Mr Harbans Lal from the ministry and the action against him had been taken with the approval of the All India Congress Committee.

Sonia Gandhi visits presidential retreat
No truck with NCP, says Ajit Jogi

Cases against CM being hushed up: BJP
Shimla, July 8
The state unit of the BJP has alleged that the Congress government was pressuring officials to hush up the land grab cases against Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister.

BJP against Cabinet expansion
Chamba, July 8
The state unit of the BJP has cautioned Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh against expanding his Cabinet due to the financial crisis being faced by the state.

 

 

YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Mandi
Shimla
Solan

 

EARLIER STORIES

 
BJP dharna at Hamirpur
Hamirpur, July 8
Hundreds of BJP activists and leaders led by Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, today staged a dharna at the Gandhi chowk here in protest against the “anti-people policies” of the state government.


BJP leaders, led by Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Chief Minister, take out a procession at Hamirpur on Tuesday. — Tribune photo Chandershekhar Sharma

Cut in budgetary allocation resented
Dharamsala, July 8
The quarterly meeting of the Kangra Zila Parishad witnessed a tense drama yesterday when 45 members, including the chairman of the parishad, Mr Rattan Jagtamba, and the vice-chairperson, Ms Purushotma Pathania, handed over their resignations to Deputy Commissioner Prabodh Saxena, alleging indifferent attitude of the officials and a drastic cut in the budgetary allocations.

Demand to reform vacation schedule
Chamba, July 8
Expressing concern over the fewer working days in government schools, the Himachal Government Teachers Union has demanded reforms in the vacations schedule.

Suspend 70 employees’ leaders: federation
Solan, July 8
Mr Gopal Dass Verma, president of the National Federation of State Government Employees, today issued a three-day ultimatum to the state government to suspend 70 employee leaders owing allegiance to the Congress who had issued political statements against the BJP in the elections.

Chamera oustees queue up for relief
Chamba, July 8
Following the Himachal government directive to the district authorities to release the compensation to the oustees of the Chamera project, the members of ousted families are making a beeline to the office of Relief and Rehabilitation Department here.

Varsity fails to deposit gratuity
Solan, July 8
With a deficit of Rs 10 crore plauging Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, the newly constituted board of management faces an uphill task in tiding over the financial crisis. Hopeful of being doled out a liberal package from the state government the university has demanded a sum of Rs 23 crore for 2003-2004.

Army man killed, 3 colleagues washed away in Beas
Mandi, July 8
An armyman was killed while his three colleagues were washed away in the Beas today when the Tata Indica car (HR-37-T-1000) in which they were travelling from Manali to Chandigarh fell into the river at Dwada, the site of the Larji powerhouse, near Aut. Two other occupants of the car were injured.

3 bridges washed away in cloudburst
Shimla, July 8
Property worth lakhs of rupees was destroyed in a cloudburst near the Rampur area, 125 km from here, late this evening.

World record claim by Kangra resident
Kangra, July 8
A 43-year-old unemployed diploma engineer, Mr A.B. Rajbansh, who is a resident of Ansol village, near here, today claimed to have made a world record by writing Hindu scripture “Hanuman Chalisa” in the smallest form in a book having six leaves, with 12 pages each, with page size of 2 cm x 1.5 cm.

Potato growers stage dharna
Palampur, July 8
Hundreds of potato growers today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Director (Agriculture) in support of their demands which included the announcement of support price for potatoes and quick purchasing of potatoes piling up in different parts of the valley.






 

Cong to take on BJP on its own turf
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The message emanating from the “vichar manthan shivir”of the Congress is loud and clear. The party will be taking on the BJP on its own turf in the next Lok Sabha poll.

National security, defence and corruption, besides Hindutva, had been the favourite planks of the BJP all these years. The party used these issues effectively for Congress bashing. If the aggressive tone of the inaugural speech of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, is any indication, the party is all set to beat the BJP with the same stick. Her pointed attack on the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, for various security lapses makes it more than evident. By making a specific reference to the White Paper on the activities of the ISI, which Mr Advani never brought out, she had only underscored the point that the NDA regime had not been making sincere efforts to contain cross-border terrorism. She also cited some recent incidents to drive home the point how negligent the government had been in curbing terrorism.

Closely linked to internal security is the issue of the country’s defence preparedness, which the Congress plans to exploit to the hilt at the hustings. The numerous scandals from the Tehelka episode to the coffin scam have provided the party with ample ammunition to attack the BJP. Ms Gandhi spoke at length on the issue, leaving no doubt that it will be one of the main election planks. While blaming the BJP for the gaping holes in the nation’s defences, she specifically referred to the failure of the government to spend Rs 24,000 crore earmarked for the modernisation of the forces and the diversion of Rs 4,200 crore collected through the Kargil surcharge to other purposes.

The shady defence deals have come in handy for the party to embarrass the BJP on the issue of corruption and question its track record in ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in the functioning of the government. Incidentally, the BJP, while claiming to be a “party with a difference”, considered these to be the hallmarks of good governance. The Congress seems all set to hijack the plank. Ms Gandhi not only listed the scams and scandals involving the UTI, cooperative banks, disinvestment, petrol stations and the telecom sector but also spoke at length on how the government had been avoiding a discussion in Parliament on crucial issues. She mentioned the report of the committee set up to identify the intelligence failures leading to the Kargil war and the denial of the reports of the Central Vigilance Commissioner on defence deals to Parliament in this regard.

The party has sent a clear signal that it will pre-empt all attempts of the BJP to gain political mileage by raking up its favourite issues. While painting the BJP as corruption-friendly, the Congress is laying emphasis on the strict enforcement of the code of austerity and ethics to emerge as a “party with a difference”. Ms Gandhi has already given an indication to expand the scope and range of the Ethics Committee and underlined that the party office-bearers everywhere must declare their assets. She also did not forget to mention that the Congress was the only party which supported the Supreme Court directive on the disclosure of assets and criminal background of the candidates contesting elections, whereas the BJP tried to circumvent it.

The Congress sees a big opportunity in the failures of the NDA regime to recapture power at the Centre. With this objective in view the brainstorming session has virtually set the agenda for the 2004 Lok Sabha poll.
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Cong delegates for poll alliances
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The whole emphasis of the “Vichar Manthan” exercise has been to streamline the procedure for party appointments to keep those who paradrop at bay and leave no scope for manipulations.

The party devoted time to electoral preparedness and strategy to focus on 132 Lok Sabha seats which it lost by a margin of less than 6 per cent in the last election. The assessment was that it could increase its tally from the present 112 to anything over 200 to form a government at the Centre with the help of Left parties. It took note of the fact that the Left parties have already expressed their willingness to support the Congress to help dislodge the BJP-led regime at the Centre.

The delegates strongly advocated that the party should go for alliances with the like-minded parties at the national level and regional parties at the state-level to regain the lost ground.

If the deliberations at the “Vichar Manthan Shivir” are any indication, the Congress may carry out organisational reforms with far-reaching consequences to make the party a vibrant outfit with a dedicated band of workers, firmly grounded in ideological moorings.

There has been a lot of discussion on the way and means to strengthen the organisation. The delegates were unanimous over giving due place to the committed old activists in the affairs of the party. A majority of them were opposed to opening floodgates for entry into the party on the eve of poll.

They were of the firm view that there should be minimum cooling period for such entrants before they were considered for any party assignment.

The issue of appointment of office-bearers was also discussed threadbare and the view that emerged was that definite criteria and qualifications be laid down to ensure that service to the party and conduct received due consideration in such matters. The need for criteria was felt to curb appointments on the basis of factional loyalities.

Nominations to various party panels on factional consideration had led to lopsided expansion of such bodies. There was a suggestion to prune down the committees under the proposed reforms. Besides, to take into account the service of party men should go through the mill at various level before aspiring for a high position. The upward movement should start from district to state and finally to the national level.

The most important suggestion to strengthen the party at the grassroot level was decentralisation of functions at all levels.

The organisational matters concerning the district should be settled at the level of the district congress committee and there should be no need to go to the pradesh Congress Committee. Similarly, the state-level issues be settled at the PCC level without undue intervention of the AICC.
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Harbans Lal sacked with AICC consent: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said there was no hidden motive behind the sacking of Mr Harbans Lal from the ministry and the action against him had been taken with the approval of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Addressing a press conference here this evening he said the drive against corruption was not directed against any particular group of person, anyone who overstepped the line would have to face the music. In this case every one, including the party high command, had seen the file.

When asked about the outburst of Deputy Prime Minister L.K.Advani against him he said Mr Advani knew Mr Badal and the Shiromani Akali Dal too well to be oblivious of the rampant corruption in the state when the party was in power. He (Mr Advani) had made such remarks out of political compulsions. His party needed the support of Mr Badal in the ensuing Assembly elections to four states. The Chief Minister regretted that the Union Home Minister had to come out openly in support of the corrupt.

Capt Amarinder Singh maintained that his government was not indulging in political vendetta and it was quite evident from the fact that out of the 141 persons booked in various cases only nine were ministers in the Badal Cabinet. He reiterated that Mr Badal would not be arrested and evidence against would be produced before the court to take a decision.

Regarding the case against Mr P.K.Dhumal, a former Himachal Chief Minister, he said there was no question of a compromise. He had evidence to substantiate the charges he made against Mr Dhumal during the election which would be produced in the court when the time came.

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Sonia Gandhi visits presidential retreat
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
Taking time off from her tight schedule, the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, today visited the famous retreat, the official residence of President in Shimla.

She also went around the newly-constructed Wild Flower Hall Hotel of the Oberois. The visit was kept a closely guarded secret for security reasons. She had to walk some distance to reach the hotel as her car could not negotiate the steep gradient.

The chief ministers of various states besides other VVIPs also got an ample time to move around and savour the scenic beauty of the hill station as the group discussions ended by the afternoon.

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No truck with NCP, says Ajit Jogi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
Mr Ajit Jogi, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, today said the Congress would not have any alliance with NCP in the ensuing Assembly elections as the latter was a non-entity in his state.

Talking to newsmen here he said there were only two parties, the Congress and the BJP, in the state and at present there was no scope for the emergence of a third party. The Congress was in a strong position and it would win the election on the basis of its good performance on the development front.

He said the network of roads laid by his government had been appreciated. As against an annual expenditure of Rs 60 crore on roads, more than Rs 1200 crore was being spent when he took over. Similarly, the number of universities had shot up from four to 24 over the period.

Mr Jogi said the Hindutva card of the VHP would not cut much ice with the tribesmen who did not believe in religious fundamentalism. Unlike Gujarat the reactionary forces were not in a position to engineer riots. As such the BJP had not much to gain from the activities of its allied organisations like the VHP.

Replying to a question he said the exit of Mr V.C. Shukla from the Congress would not have any adverse impact on the electoral prospects of the party. He was politically a spent force, he claimed.

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Cases against CM being hushed up: BJP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The state unit of the BJP has alleged that the Congress government was pressuring officials to hush up the land grab cases against Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister.

Mr Baldev Sharma, party spokesperson, said here today that senior officers had been virtually reduced to political agents by the Congress government and they were passing conflicting orders even in cases under court scrutiny to save the Chief Minister. Citing the example of a case filed by Mr Swatantra Sankhyan in connection with the retention of excess land by Mr Virbhadra Singh in violation of the Land Ceiling Act, he said the report of the district administration had concluded that he had only 14.7 bighas under personal cultivation. Besides, Mr Virbhadra Singh had himself admitted that he possessed 161 bighas in excess.

On the basis of the report the Home Secretary had asked the Enforcement Department to initiate action in the matter. However, in between there was a change of government in the state. Now the Additional Secretary Home, had filed an affidavit in the high court that no case was made out. Such conflicting positions taken by the Home Department exposed the efforts being made by the government to hush up cases.

He said in the khair wood allotment case, Mr Virbhadra Singh had stated that fluid was applied on the noting on the relevant file by the former Forest Minister, Mr Sant Ram. Mr Sharma said the Congress, which was holding a "Vichar Manthan Shivir" here, should seriously ponder over what kind of leadership it was providing to the people across the country. However, all its Chief Ministers were involved in one case or the other.
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BJP against Cabinet expansion
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 8
The state unit of the BJP has cautioned Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh against expanding his Cabinet due to the financial crisis being faced by the state.

Mr Kishori Lal, former Industries Minister and a senior BJP leader, and Mr Mohan Lal, former Ayurveda Minister, said here yesterday that maintaining the normal size of the Cabinet would go a long way towards curbing the unproductive spending in the state and its development.

The leaders stated that the members of the former BJP government had been contributing 10 per cent of their pay towards the state exchequer besides taking many other austerity measures.

Expressing their anguish over the recent suspension of nine employees of the Technical Union of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, including Mr Surender Thakur, general secretary of the Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh, the leaders condemned the decision, describing it as “arbitrary and despotic.” They slammed the government for not filling vacant posts in various government departments.

Regarding mass transfers of government employees by the Congress government they requested the Governor of Himachal Pradesh to intervene in the matter.

They asked the government to release financial package to about 312 Chamera oustees. They informed that the BJP would hold its first public meeting at Chowari on July 10 against the “political vendetta” launched by the government.
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BJP dharna at Hamirpur
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 8
Hundreds of BJP activists and leaders led by Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, today staged a dharna at the Gandhi chowk here in protest against the “anti-people policies” of the state government.

Earlier, the BJP activists gathered at a local rest house and marched in procession towards the Gandhi chowk. Carrying placards and banners they raised anti-government slogans.

At the Gandhi chowk, BJP leaders and activists blasted the state government for resorting to lathi-charge on its workers and leaders. They warned the state government of statewide dharnas and rallies against this.

While addressing the rally, Prof Dhumal, lambasted the Congress government in the state for misutilising government funds for the "chintan sammelan" of the Congress. He said no party programme should be held at the cost of the people’s money.

A five-member delegation of the party led by Mr Pyere Lal Sharma, vice-president of the district unit of the BJP, Ms Urmila Thakur, former Parliamentary Secretary, and Vinod Thakur, general secretary of the state BJYM, submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner for sending the same to the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

The memorandum demanded that the Governor should instruct the state government not to ignore the genuine demands and problems of the people of the state and work according to the provisions of the Indian Constitution.

MANDI: BJP workers led by former Forest Minister, Thakur Rup Singh, today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) office and presented a memorandum to the DC to be forwarded to the state government against the anti-people budget and lathi-charge on BJP MLAs at Ridge in Shimla.

A large-scale political transfers were also condemned.

Former minister Dile Ram and Mr Jai Ram Thakur, MLA, also took part in the dharna.

NAHAN: To protest against the alleged "government excesses on BJP workers, including Shimla lathi-charge", about 150 BJP workers from different parts of the district took out a protest march from Gunnu Ghat to the Deputy Commissioner's office here today.

The workers raised slogans against the Congress government and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Sirmaur. BJP workers were led by Mr Sukh Ram Chaudhary, legislator from the Paonta Assembly constituency, and other leaders.

Meanwhile, calling the march a mere 'political drama', Mr Rajender Singh Thakur, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Sirmaur, said here today that the BJP was doing this 'to hide its sins which it had committed during its regime'.

He said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had clearly said any person involved in corruption would not be spared but no innocent would be harassed.

He, in a press conference here today, called the protest march a flop show and exhibition of political frustration of the BJP.
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Cut in budgetary allocation resented
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, July 8
The quarterly meeting of the Kangra Zila Parishad witnessed a tense drama yesterday when 45 members, including the chairman of the parishad, Mr Rattan Jagtamba, and the vice-chairperson, Ms Purushotma Pathania, handed over their resignations to Deputy Commissioner Prabodh Saxena, alleging indifferent attitude of the officials and a drastic cut in the budgetary allocations.

The members alleged that Kangra was once again being discriminated against in fund allocation. It was mentioned that most of the district officials were indifferent towards the zila parishad, which was the highest elected body under the Panchayati Raj system.

There was resentment amongst the members when it was disclosed that the budget allocation for the zila parishad had been slashed. As announced earlier, each member was to be given Rs 2.2 lakh for developmental works in his area but a sum of Rs 68 lakh was received which, according to members, was a joke. It was alleged that the funds meant for development through the zila parishad were being diverted through other agencies and MLAs were influencing the district administration in this regard.

However, the resignations were later withdrawn by the members when the Deputy Commissioner explained the situation and set the record straight by detailing the fund receipt.

Mr Saxena, while clarifying, said that funds for the Sampooran Gramin Rozgar Yojna were received from the Government of India and noone could divert these.
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Demand to reform vacation schedule
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 8
Expressing concern over the fewer working days in government schools, the Himachal Government Teachers Union (HGTU) has demanded reforms in the vacations schedule.

The HGTU demanded that the results should be declared during the vacation period. This would not hamper the teaching work of the Board’s classes and enable the teachers to finish their syllabi in time, the union said.

At a meeting of the state executive of the HGTU held here on Monday under the chairmanship of Mr Roshan Lal Sharma, state president of the HGTU, a resolution was adopted which asked the state government to fill all vacant posts of principal and headmaster in senior secondary schools on the basis of seniority. It demanded that the rules framed for direct recruitment of headmasters should be scrapped with immediate effect.

The resolution asked for special increments in the pay scales of teachers completing 20 years of service, financial benefits of ad hoc teachers for tenure teachers and allowances to teachers on a par with the Punjab pattern.

It demanded the abolition of parity in the pay scale to “Shastri teachers” and pay scale of Rs 5480-8925 for them. It also demanded benefits to highly qualified teachers by removing the condition of 1979.
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Suspend 70 employees’ leaders: federation
Our Correspondent

Solan, July 8
Mr Gopal Dass Verma, president of the National Federation of State Government Employees, today issued a three-day ultimatum to the state government to suspend 70 employee leaders owing allegiance to the Congress who had issued political statements against the BJP in the elections.

Taking a serious view of the manner in which the government was adopting a partisan attitude towards those employee leaders who had spoken against the Congress, he said the association would approach the high court to seek justice in this manner.

Ridiculing the action of the government, he said while employees issuing statements against the Congress had been suspended those speaking against the BJP had been spared.

He also sought a similar action against 12 heads of departments who had allegedly violated the Chief Minister’s orders of not suspending at least 40 such employees from their respective departments.

He also asked the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, to clarify her party’s stand on the “anti-employee” policies being implemented by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and said if they promised to revoke all such decisions the federation would extend their unqualified support to them in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
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Chamera oustees queue up for relief
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 8
Following the Himachal government directive to the district authorities to release the compensation to the oustees of the Chamera project, the members of ousted families are making a beeline to the office of Relief and Rehabilitation Department here.

According an official spokesman, so far a compensation of more than Rs 15 lakh had been released and it would be disbursed to all the identified oustees.

The spokesman said that an amount of Rs 8.76 crore, to be disbursed among 312 affected families of the Chamera Hydroelectric Project, Stages-I and II, had been deposited by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) with the state government.

The NHPC had already approved the financial package on the recommendations of a high-powered committee constituted by the Himachal Pradesh government.

The high-powered committee had recommended Rs 3 lakh each to 192 oustees of the Chamera Stage-I in two installments and Rs 2.5 lakh each to 120 oustees of the Chamera Stage-II in Karian village in one installment. The NHPC had agreed to pay the financial package.

The oustees of Karian village were paid Rs 40,000 per bigha at the negotiated rate irrespective of the kind of land acquired for the project.

Meanwhile, more than 100 applications from the Chamera Project Stage-I and 15 applications from the Chamera Stage-II had also been received by the Relief and Rehabilitation Department seeking compensation for their land and houses submerged by the dam waters.
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Varsity fails to deposit gratuity
Ambika Sharma

Solan, July 8
With a deficit of Rs 10 crore plauging Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, the newly constituted board of management (BOM) faces an uphill task in tiding over the financial crisis. Hopeful of being doled out a liberal package from the state government the university has demanded a sum of Rs 23 crore for 2003-2004.

The university is also hopeful of receiving an additional grant of Rs 7 crore, reveal sources. Though it has projected a deficit of Rs 10 crore till March 2003, but no details of the more than Rs 4 crore gratuity amount which has till now not been credited into the corpus fund have been included in the deficit. Sources reveal that this amount was soon increasing as two half yearly installments of Rs 22-24 lakh which are supposed to be credited to the corpus amount have never been deposited since 1997 — when the university pension scheme was launched. The authorities are, however, trying to conceal this fact.

As a result retirees have to wait for their dues paid in installments.

The university spends Rs 23 crore annually on salaries and other bills of its employees. Arrears of promotion benefits, TA bills and medical allowance of its 105 scientists is yet pending. The university had received an amount of Rs 16 crore as against its projected requirement of Rs 23 crore last year.
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Army man killed, 3 colleagues washed away in Beas
Our Correspondent

Mandi, July 8
An armyman was killed while his three colleagues were washed away in the Beas today when the Tata Indica car (HR-37-T-1000) in which they were travelling from Manali to Chandigarh fell into the river at Dwada, the site of the Larji powerhouse, near Aut. Two other occupants of the car were injured.

While Madhava Rao Nara, a resident of Aurangabad, died on the spot, three persons were washed away in the river and are feared to have died. Two of them have been identified as Manger Sunil of Ahmednagar and Dalip Kumar of Champaran (Bihar). The name of the third person swept away in the Beas is S.K. Singh. His address could not be known. The two injured persons, Rajesh Kumar (driver) of Ambala and Ashwani Kumar (address not known), have been admitted in the Zonal Hospital here.

Members of the Home Guards and police personnel were searching for the three missing persons.
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3 bridges washed away in cloudburst

Shimla, July 8
Property worth lakhs of rupees was destroyed in a cloudburst near the Rampur area, 125 km from here, late this evening. No loss of life has been reported so far.

According to reports, at least three bridges, a transformer of the state electricity board and an office of the Himurja have been washed away by the swirling waters of the Neogli Khad. Large sections of the Sarhan-Shalabagh road, Batala-Bhonda road and the Bhonda-Kinu Mashnu road have also been washed away. The bridges were located on these roads.

Relief and rescue work could not be started due to continuous downpour.— TNS
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World record claim by Kangra resident
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 8
A 43-year-old unemployed diploma engineer, Mr A.B. Rajbansh, who is a resident of Ansol village, near here, today claimed to have made a world record by writing Hindu scripture “Hanuman Chalisa” in the smallest form in a book having six leaves, with 12 pages each, with page size of 2 cm x 1.5 cm.

Mr Rajbansh told mediapersons here today that “Hanuman Chalisa”, written by Tulsidas has 428 words, and it took him nearly one month to come out with this book. He said that in the beginning, he completed the scripture on 16 pages, then reduced it to 14 pages, and in the last attempt, which took him 15 hours at a stretch, he completed the work on 12 pages. Displaying his work to the mediapersons, he distributed an affidavit, claiming that this was a world record. He said that he had approached the Guinness Book of World Records and the Limca Book of World Records regarding his work.

He said he has plans to write Bhagvadgita and other religious scriptures also to break the previous world records.
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Potato growers stage dharna

Palampur, July 8
Hundreds of potato growers today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Director (Agriculture) in support of their demands which included the announcement of support price for potatoes and quick purchasing of potatoes piling up in different parts of the valley.

A deputation of growers later met the Deputy Director of Agriculture, Mr Vipan Awasthi, and submitted him a memorandum of their demands. They urged him to forward their demand charter to the state government.

Later addressing mediapersons this afternoon, Mr. Ashok Katoch, president, district Kangra unit of the Kishan Sabha, said the government should declare minimum support price of Rs 350 for a 80 kg bag of potatoes.

He said in the absence of the support price the potatoes in valley were being purchased by middlemen at throwaway prices.

He called upon the state government to open purchase centre at the panchyat level so that growers could get rid of arhtiyas.

The potato growers also met SDM K.C. Chaman.
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Manhunt to trace undertrial
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 8
Penu Ram, 75, an undertrial, who escaped from the local jail on Sunday evening is still at large.

A manhunt has been launched to trace him with the support of the police of the nearby districts.

An official spokesman said this evening that the police raided many places but failed to trace Penu Ram.

Mr Prakash Chand, Chief Welfare Officer, of the Himachal Pradesh Prisons, visited Hamirpur today and enquired about his escape.

He would submit a report to the Shimla-based senior officers of the department tomorrow morning.
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10-year jail for possessing charas

Sundernagar, July 8
Mr V.K. Ahuja, Sessions Judge, Mandi Division has convicted Sot Ram Segali in Mandi district for possessing 2 kg charas and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for 10 year and pay fine of Rs one lakh.

The police of Aut while on patrolling and traffic duty on October 21, 2002 checked a Tata Sumo (HP-01-8100) coming from Banzar (Kulu), and recovered 2 kg charas from the vehicle. The police registered a case under Section 20 of Narotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and arrested him.

The prosecution had examined 10 witnesses in its favour.

The court pronounced the judgement yesterday. — OC
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Bail plea rejected in murder case
Our Legal Correspondent

Shimla, July 8
Mr Justice M.R. Verma of the Himachal Pradesh High Court today rejected the bail plea of the project manager of Gammon India Limited Mr R.K. Khalli, who is allegedly involved in the murder of a CITU leader in the Sainj area of Kulu district.

Mr Khalli had approached the High Court for the grant of anticipatory bail on the ground that he had been falsely implicated because of professional rivalry. The procecution produced the record before the court today and it was informed that a murder case had been registered against Mr Khalli along with others at the Banjar police station.
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Karmapa visits Chail
Our Correspondent

Solan, July 8
The 17th Karmapa, Trinley Dorjee, arrived at Chail this afternoon from Shimla.

He visited the famous Palace Hotel where he had lunch and stayed at there for abut two and-a-half hours.

He had gone to Shimla attend the 68th birthday celebrations of the 14th Dalai Lama. Later, he left for Dharamsala.
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