Sunday, September 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


NSUI bags all DUSU posts with astonishing margins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
The Congress backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) bagged all the four posts in the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections with unprecedented margins.

The NSUI candidates shocked their rivals with astonishing margins, with the candidate for the President’s post, Rohit Chaudhary, winning by an unprecedented margin of over 12,951 votes over his nearest rival, Shital Sharda, of the ABVP. The dark horse of the day was Ragini Nayak who polled 20,500 votes, an incredible 15,664 votes more than her rival.

Ragini, who won the post of secretary this year, had lost to ABVP’s candidate in the race for the president’s post last year by a mere 1,500 votes. The ABVP had managed to win three of the four posts last year with the NSUI bagging just one.

NSUI’s Narinder Tokas won the post of vice president, defeating his nearest rival by a margin of over 5,000 votes. Incidentally, ABVP’s Anubhav Sapra, who was considered a stronger candidate, lost the second place to INSO’s Rohit Chaudhary who managed 8,355 votes.

Pankaj Kochhar of NSUI won the post of joint secretary with 13,017 votes. The ABVP candidate, Gaurav Pandey, managed to get 6,706 votes. Elated members of the NSUI claim to have already started “preparations for working on the agenda”. “We get barely six months in office and we are determined to fulfill the promises we have made. So, we will start working at the earliest”, said Ragini whose priority is to “establish a Women’s Development Cell in each college”.

Humbled by their defeat, the ABVP attributed the success of the NSUI candidates to the “work put in by the senior Congress leaders”. “The Congress leaders, including Ms. Sonia Gandhi, actively participated in the polls. For them, these were not university elections, but a part of the assembly elections,” said ABVP’s Deepti Rawat, former DUSU secretary.

The ABVP activists pointed out that they were not fighting the NSUI, but the Congress in the elections. “The Congress has spent unlimited money on wooing the students. We were fighting the party, not the students”, said former DUSU President, Nakul Bhardawaj.

The third front led by CLJ-SFI combine, despite their tall claims, could barely make a mark in the elections. Their presidential candidate, Akhila Singh, could manage just 1,881 votes while Shiksha, who stood for the post of joint secretary, got 6,259 votes.

Also in the fray, first timers INSO managed to garner some votes. Priyanka Arora, who stood for joint secretary, got 5,150 votes while Meena Dabas, who stood for the president’s post, notched 4,308 votes. Though observers were of the opinion that both the INSO and the left front would cut into the vote bank of the NSUI, it was the ABVP that bore the brunt and lost a sizeable chunk of their votes to the two parties.

Meanwhile, the NSUI’s decision to switch to issues based on academic reforms and students’ welfare seems to have stood them in good stead. Unlike last year when they tried to win the elections on the basis of good looks (banking on Ragini Nayak’s face), this time the party’s manifesto promised issues like insurance scheme for students and academic reforms.

Party activists also claim that their ‘personal touch campaign” was also proved a winning technique. The victory, they point, out is “that of democratic forces over communal ones”.


Congress has no plans to rest on laurels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
The clean sweep by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) has come as a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the Indian National Congress (INC). With NCT of Delhi going to polls later this year, the verdict of the youth is expected to give a push to the party’s election campaign.

“It is very heartening to note that NSUI has swept the polls. It gives us a lot of confidence,” Ms Dikshit said afterwards. Not one to rest until the war is won, she hastened to add : “We have to work hard (for the Assembly elections.) It does not mean we can sit quietly.” The victory, she said, reaffirmed the party’s strength.

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) President Prem Singh said the verdict had sent out a message that the BJP would be routed in the Assembly elections. The NSUI victory, he said, suggested that there were no takers for the policies of the BJP and that people at large had rejected its sectarian and communal programmes.

Singh accompanied the newly elected office bearers of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) to INC President Sonia Gandhi’s residence later in the day. Representatives of the DPCC and Congress councillors joined them in felicitating Ms Gandhi on the landslide victory of the party’s student wing.

The NSUI, on its part, attributed the victory to the work done by it for the students, the hard work put in by its supporters and the leadership of the DPCC. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), it said, had won three seats in the last elections but did precious little for the students in the year gone by.

The symbolism of the rout was not lost on the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). Coming as it does after its defeat in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections last year, it is seen as a setback to a party that was trying to regroup under the stewardship of Delhi Pradesh BJP President Madan Lal Khurana.


Infighting forces BJP to defer selection of candidates
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
With sharp differences cropping up among Delhi BJP leaders over prospective candidates for the Assembly polls, the party today deferred the selection process till October 1. This has been ostensibly done to facilitate the completion of the Parivartan Yatra, launched by Delhi BJP President Madan Lal Khurana.

Although top Delhi BJP leaders vehemently denied reports of differences over selection of candidates and emphasised that “image and winnability” will be the main criteria, party sources said aspirants were frantically lobbying to ensure their candidature.

Some of them have the tacit support of their political mentors, sources said, adding that at least half-a-dozen sitting and former party corporators were angling for tickets.

The biggest worry for the party is that all the office-bearers of the Delhi unit are insisting on their candidature.

Sources said BJP’s central leadership strongly felt that the party cannot afford to field all the office-bearers as many of them do not satisfy the ‘winnability’ criteria. Moreover, experienced hands were needed to effectively manage organisational and campaign related issues.

Top BJP leaders have prepared an action plan for the polls after two days of meetings with the state unit leaders.

Emerging out of a meeting attended by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, party president Venkaiah Naidu, Mr Khurana, national general secretaries Pramod Mahajan, M A Naqvi and Sanjay Joshi, the chairman of the Delhi BJP Campaign Committee, Mr V K Malhotra, told media persons: “We have prepared an action plan, which includes holding meetings with all sections of society, in view of the demographic change that has taken place in Delhi and also involving women, weaker sections and minorities.”

The selection of candidates will begin from October one and the exercise is expected to be completed within a fortnight, Mr Malhotra said. The focus will be on the image and winnability of the candidate, he added.

This exercise will be undertaken immediately after the completion of the Parivartan Yatra by Mr Khurana, which he said had been getting an overwhelming response.

Expressing “dissatisfaction” over the outcome of the Delhi University Students Union elections, Mr Malhotra accused the Delhi government of “misusing official machinery and politicising the student union election.”


Gang of graduates busted, bank dacoity bid foiled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
With the arrest of five members of a notorious gang, including a serving constable of the Delhi Police who was posted at Shakarpur police station, the North West district police today claimed to have foiled a bank dacoity attempt. The suspects were arrested after an exchange of fire. Three of the suspects are graduates from UP.

They have been identified as Vikrant alias Vicky, the leader of the gang, and his associates Rajender Chauhan, Harender Malik alias Rana, Malkiat Singh and Praveen Singh. The gang operated in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. A number of cases have been solved with their arrests, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-West), Mr. Sanjay Singh, said.

The police had received a tip-off that the gang would commit a robbery in the Delhi State Co-operative Bank at Shahbad Daulatpur. The police even had information that they would be coming in two cars – one metallic green Santro and, the other, a silvery grey Indica, bearing registration numbers HR02-H-3758 and HR61-BHQ-365.

The vehicles were spotted near Prahlad Vihar and the police tried to intercept them. However, the vehicles got away and the suspects fired on the pursuers. In retaliation, the police team, too, fired a few rounds but nobody was injured. Finally, the suspects were arrested. A personal search yielded three country made pistols, one dagger, two knives and dozens of cartridges.

During interrogation Vicky disclosed that he belonged to the Satbir Acharya-Kuldeep-Babu gang. His associate, Harinder Malik, is a desperate criminal and was allegedly involved in a number of robberies and dacoities. The gang members admitted to their involvement in 36 cases of robbery, dacoity, murder and attempt to murder.

They disclosed that Vikrant was the leader of the gang and he used to keep a major share of the booty. He would strike only after getting information about a particular target. In most of the cases, he was kept informed by insiders. He would also keep tabs on the target before striking.

The cars seized from Vicky and his associates were stolen from Karol Bagh area. Vikrant is a desperate criminal of western UP and graduated from Rajdhani College, Delhi University, in 2000. He took to crime while he was still a student. He was involved in a number of cases and carried a reward of Rs 3.7 lakh on his head. His associate, Rajender, graduated from NAS College, Meerut, and has served with the UP Government in Zila Udyog Kendra. His father is a lecturer in Gurukul Inter College, Meerut. He took to crime to make easy money. Harinder was a graduate of MM College in Khekra.


Military school for Jhajjar, its long-standing demand
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, September 6
Finally, Jhajjar is getting the honour it deserves. The Ministry of Defence has decided to open a military school, the sixth in the country and the first in Haryana, in Matanhail village of the district. Mr George Fernandes, the Union Minister of Defence, is arriving here on September 7 to lay the foundation stone of the school, which will coincide with a state-level ex-servicemen rally.

According to information, the proposed school is to be constructed on sprawling 300 acres of land in Matanhail village at an estimated cost of Rs. 70 crore. The school will be controlled and operated by the Ministry of Defence.

The students would be enrolled in the sixth standard in the school; they would be directly commissioned as officers in the Indian Army on passing out.

There are about 200 war widows in Jhajjar district. There are about 30,000 ex-servicemen in the district apart from 16,000 serving army men and 10,000 persons employed in the reserved forces. Jhajjar has a history of valiant soldiers. The district boasts of two Victoria Cross winners. One of them, Umrao Singh of Palara village, is the only living Victoria Cross winner in the country. The other one hailed from Dhakala village.

The people of Jhajjar have been demanding a sainik school for a long time. The Central and the state government had approved the project in principle, but they could not materialise due to one reason or the other.


Contempt notice to MCD chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
The Delhi High Court has issued a contempt notice to Delhi Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Rakesh Mehta, for allegedly disobeying a court order asking him to hand over possession of the historic Ramlila Ground in Old Delhi to Shri Ramlila Committee within five days for staging the annual nine-day celebrations.

The committee, which has been holding the festival at the same venue for the last 70 years, claimed that under political influence the MCD intended to allot only half of the said ground to it.

It was alleged that this was probably being done to oblige the Ram Lilas which till last year were being held at the Red Fort grounds and did not get the required permission this time.

On August 26, the High Court had directed the MCD to hand over possession of the Ramlila Ground to the Shri Ramlila Committee within five days for making the necessary arrangements for the annual festival.

The Committee, which has been organising Ram Lila each year at the same venue since the days of Bahadurshah Zafar, had approached the court, claiming that despite obtaining the required permission and the NOC, the MCD was delaying the process.

This was so because of some ‘’untold reasons and probably at the behest of certain higher officials who intended to oblige Lav Kush Ram Lila and Nav Shri Dharmik Lila committees which had been celebrating the Ram Lila at the Red Fort grounds,’’ the petitioner alleged through counsel Arun Maitri.

Justice S K Kaul observed that the petition was filed on mere apprehension that the site may not be handed over despite the NOC being issued by the police. Though there was no proposal from the authorities to withdraw the NOC given to the Shri Ramlila Committee, the NOC would not prevent them from considering the case of other Ram Lila committees, the judge noted.


Dacoits strike at PNB branch

Meerut, September 6
Six armed dacoits looted Rs 7.31 lakh from the Punjab National Bank branch at Machhra on the busy Garh Road after threatening the employees at pistol-point yesterday.

According to the employees of PNB, Machhra, two youths approached the peon, Baboo Lal, at 4.30 pm and said they wanted to meet the branch manager. They said they had to talk about the relief amount. The peon opened the doors and took them to the manager’s cabin. Suddenly, the duo took out a knife and a revolver and assaulted the manager.

Meanwhile, four other armed men, all in their thirties, also entered the bank and threatened the other employees at pistol-point. Then they ordered the manager to open the strong room. The culprits put Rs 7.31 lakh in their bags and locked up the employees in the strong room and fled on their motorbikes. The robbers had cut the cables of both the telephone and alarm bell. The employees raised the alarm and got out with the help of some passers-by. OC


LJP clamours for farmers’ demands
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 6
A large number of the supporters of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by the state president, Capt. Shamsher Singh Malik, on Friday staged a protest march in the town and sat on dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in support of their demands.

There was a sizable presence of the farmers in the rally. Capt. Malik along with other senior functionaries of the party’s state unit handed over a memorandum, addressed to the governor of Haryana, to the Deputy Commissioner, Sonepat, Mr Balwan Singh.

The memorandum of demands includes immediate payment of the outstanding amounts to the sugarcane growers, withdrawal of recent hike in the prices of diesel and petrol, action against the police personnel of Rohtak who have beaten up the on-duty journalists on the MDU campus and redressal of grievances of the agitating students of Jind and Bhiwani.

Addressing the participants, Capt. Malik accused the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala of befooling the farmers by announcing a number of times in the past that the farmers would be paid their outstanding dues soon. But all announcements had proved false so far, he said and added that the poor farmers were being forced to bear the burden of the interests on loans taken from the mini-banks and commission agents.

Capt. Malik chided the Congress leadership in the state for neglecting the interests of the people, particularly farmers and Dalit sections of society. “The Congress leaders do not have any stand on the construction of SYL canal in Punjab territory. The central leadership of the Congress is also keeping mum on the issue,” he said, adding that the state Congress leaders had devoted their energy just in the leg-pulling of one another.


LPG agencies ordered not to sell cylinders on roadside
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 6
The district administration has directed all LPG dealers and agencies not to sell LPG cylinders from tractor-trolleys and other such vehicles parked in open places like roads and streets of this city.

According to a report, it has also directed them to deliver the LPG cylinders at the doorsteps of the consumers after fully satisfying the stipulation about weight of the cylinders. The violation of the order would attract penalty and other action.

This step has been taken in view of the persistent complaints of consumers about underweight LPG cylinders, which are being sold by the agents from tractor-trolleys parked on the streets of the city. On account of this, traffic is held up for a long time, causing inconvenience to the general public.

The district administration has appealed to the consumers to lodge their complaints with the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and the District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) against the LPG agencies for taking stern and penal action against them.

Meanwhile, Mr P. K. Sharma, the District Food and Supplies Controller, called a meeting of all dealers of the LPG cylinders in his office yesterday to apprise them of the decision of the district administration. He told them this was to ensure fair distribution of LPG cylinders to the consumers at their doorsteps.

He also directed them to display the number of subscribers and other information like the daily stock on signboards outside their offices. He also directed them to keep registers in their godowns indicating the position of the stock and empty and defective cylinders. They should also mention the number of LPG cylinders sent for home delivery on any given day.


Civic Corner: Roads in Sonepat getting narrower by the day
R. D. Sapra

Sonepat, September 6
Roads in this city are getting narrower with each passing day, thanks to the failure of the Sonepat Municipal Council, the PWD (B and R), and the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to check encroachments.

According to a report, shopkeepers and residents are encroaching upon the public, municipal and HUDA land, in front of their houses and shops. Concrete structures, counter benches, signboards and merchandise have come up on pavements making walking a twisting and turning exercise for pedestrians. Then, there are tarpaulin sunshades in front of shops or temporary car sheds in front of houses. All these are the first step to encroach the public land at a later time.

In the residential areas, angle irons, hedges, barbed wires and concrete structures hog the roads. On visiting these areas, one found that some residents had grabbed public and municipal land by landscaping the area while others had planted saplings right on the edges of the roads.

In the main bazars, all footpaths have been occupied illegally. Shopkeepers have put up their goods for sale on the footpaths making pedestrians to use roads.

The intrusion on the pedestrians’ rights had often led to accidents in such congested areas. Motorists also find it difficult to get passage as many vehicles are parked on the roads.

Repeated anti-encroachment campaigns had been proved futile because they were carried out either half-heartedly or were biased against certain traders and shopkeepers. In the absence of any checking thereafter, the shopkeepers have started encroaching the public land again with impunity.

In the button factory area, shopkeepers have grabbed the land meant for a municipal park along the boundary walls of the ESI dispensary. A concrete platform has been built for parking the vehicles and selling goods.

Similarly, the owners of wooden stalls have illegally occupied the land along the boundary walls of the godown of the Food and Supplies Department on the Atlas road, the PWD (B and R) rest house and the office of the Fisheries

Department in the absence of any checking by the authorities concerned. The embankments of Drain 6 passing through the city have also been illegally occupied by slum dwellers and other prominent citizens. Some of them have even built pucca houses and shops there.

The district administration, it may be recalled, had got vacated the municipal, public and HUDA land worth several crores of rupees during the tenure of the last Deputy Commissioner but the land grabbers have again started occupying land thus vacated.


59 unauthorised colonies slum it in Faridabad
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, September 6
The growth of slums and illegal residential areas has been unchecked for long in Faridabad, the biggest urban settlement of the state. There are as many as 59 colonies which are unauthorised, posing a big problem as far as the development of civic amenities is concerned.

Even though the authorities have been preparing a list of such areas from time to time for regularisation, due to lack of concrete policy, the growth of slum areas has been going on. It is perhaps due to this factor that thousands of jhuggis and semi-pucca constructions and residential clusters, that came up on the government land were demolished in the past three years. Some of the unauthorised colonies or residential areas that came up on the encroached land are stated to be 20 to 30 years old. As the authorities failed to take cognizance of the encroachment or were in ‘league’ with the land grabbing mafia, dozens of such colonies came up on the land of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) and the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF) in the past two decades.

While there are still hundreds of acres under these colonies or clusters, many residents went to the courts to stop the authorities from demolishing their houses. The residents claimed to be paying all taxes and development charges.

The issue of demolition of some of the big colonies rocked the state in the past one year.

As the fate of dozens of colonies hangs in the balance, the authorities have not been able to provide proper civic amenities in these areas.

It is reported that over two lakh people reside in these unauthorised colonies.

It is learnt that the MCF has shown interest in regularising unauthorised colonies falling in the municipal corporation limits. But the authorities have proposed to get about 14 colonies removed which abuts on the railway line, bus stands and the green belt near the National Highway No two.

The authorities have decided to prepare a detailed plan to relocate the residents of the colonies. For this, it is reported that a new urban sector may be developed where small plots could be allotted to the affected persons at nominal rates.

It is claimed that the state government had accepted in principal to provide an alternative site for the people to be removed from the encroached land. But the authorities may not find it easy to regularise the unauthorised colonies as the problem of the rates of development charges, widening of the lanes and laying water and sewer lines along with other amenities could be a gigantic task and the work culture of the MCF was quite known to the residents here. Some of the authorised colonies, which house thousands of families

still cry for civic amenities. The situation becomes serious in summer when the residents of these colonies have to either buy drinking water from the private supplier or have to stage a dharna outside the MCF headquarters.

The sewerage system remains choked in majority of the colonies and even in urban sectors. Streetlights are hardly in working order.

The parks and open spaces have turned into garbage bins in many colonies and the drinking water gets contaminated in congested parts.


Cancellation of nod for SJJP martyrs’ memorial function at park sparks row
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, September 6
The cancellation of the official permission earlier granted by the municipal authorities to the Sarva Jati Janata Panchayat (SJJP) to use the local Rao Tula Ram Park for organising a workers’ conference on September 23 has created a controversy here.

The cancellation orders, issued by the executive officer of the municipal council on September 2, followed the permission granted by the Deputy Commissioner to the Rao Tula Ram Shaheedi Samaroh Samiti (RTRSS) to organise a martyrs’ memorial conference on September 23 to mark the death anniversary of Rao Tula Ram, a hero of 1857.

Besides permission, the SJJP had also secured a formal permission from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Rewari for using mike at its conference in the park on September 23. Now, the booking fee of Rs 1,100, which the municipal council had charged from the Rewari city president of the SJJP to use the park, has also been returned through a cheque.

The SJJP, which is a prominent political outfit of Ahirwal, is headed by former legislator Raghu Yadav while the Rao Tula Ram Shaheedi Samaroh Samiti is now a legacy of Congress legislator Rao Inderjit Singh. Both have been associated with Ahirwal politics and Rao Tula Ram martyrdom day issue for a long time.

September 23, the day of the death of Rao Tula Ram, was declared a public holiday under the title the ‘Haryana Heroes and Martyrs Day’ in 1980s by the then Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, when Rao Inderjit Singh’s father Rao Birender Singh was a minister in the Indira Gandhi government at the Centre. However, things went awry in 1986 when the public holiday was cancelled by the then Bansi Lal government.

Later after Mr Raghu Yadav took up the cudgels for the lovers of Rao Tula Ram in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha in August, 1987, the public holiday was restored by the then Devi Lal Government. Moreover, a bronze statue of Rao Tula Ram was also installed by Chief Minister Devi Lal at the Naiwali Chowk in the vicinity of Rao Tula Ram Park here. Since then, Mr Raghu Yadav and his supporters have been associated with functions to pay homage to Rao Tula Ram and other martyrs.

This time too, he along with his other associates had announced to organise a martyrs’ memorial conference at the park in which former Chief Minister and HPCC president Bhajan Lal would be the chief guest.

However, his plans seem to have been scuttled for the time being allegedly due to the manipulation of the RTSSS, which has secured the DC’s permission, thus making the SJJP’s bid to hold the conference infructuous.

A high-powered committee of the SJJP has decided to challenge the Deputy Commissioner’s orders, giving permission to the RTRSS to hold a similar conference at the venue on the same day when the SJJP had already got such a permission, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Raghu Yadav said that they were at a loss to know why the Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Neerja Shekhar, had acted in such a way. Alleging breach of governmental norms of fairness, impartiality and propriety on the part of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Yadav asserted that they had faith in the judiciary which, he hoped, would undo the injustice done to them by the DC.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the RTSSS workers will be held in the Ahir College hall here tomorrow under the chairmanship of Rao Inderjit Singh, in which the programme of the martyrs’ memorial conference of September 23 would be chalked out. 


Invite to your feast the last and the least, this Onam

Festivals have become commercial propositions. Traders use the festivals as ruse for creating demand for their products and in a society that is turning materialistic, while being at the same time given to much religiosity (as distinct from spirituality), this becomes an easy task. So with Onam which falls on Monday.

There is a boom in the markets in Kerala around this time and business houses employ all tricks of the trade to increase sales. Whether the famed Asura King Mahabali visits Kerala from the nether world or not, hordes of Malayalees from the Gulf region as also from the West make it to “God’s own country” around this season. Onam is known and celebrated all over the world. It has become a national festival like Deepavali. Yet, it is a custom with them all to schedule their annual trips to their homeland for this occasion, This causes a traffic jam, making it a near impossibility to procure journey tickets by plane or train from any part of the world!
Legend has it that Vishnu of the triune Godhead took the form of a Brahmin and came to the earth to counter the threat posed to Devas by the growing influence of an Asura King Mahabali. The legend is known all over the country as Vamanavatara and is celebrated in other regions under different guises.

And this mythology that has got into all art forms recalls the rule of the Asura king when there was perfect peace and prosperity in the land and corruption was virtually unknown. Equality and brotherhood actually prevailed among the people and the ruler became immensely popular. The Devas, getting jealous of the Asura ruler’s increasing power, conspired to bring about his downfall and approached Lord Vishnu for help. The rest of the story is also well-known.

Around this myth, the Malayalees, regardless of their caste or religious affiliations, had built an aura of unity, brotherhood and goodwill. In these days of communal frenzy, this festival, with all the extravagance notwithstanding, serves a useful purpose. In its mood of celebration, there is a coming together of peoples to organise public functions, cultural events and feasts. Even the poorest of the poor is infected by the zeal of the celebrants. The market place reflects this new mood.

The market leaders carry on a campaign to promote new products, new films are slated for release and artistes of all varieties find themselves heavily booked for entertaining people.

With its high unemployment level, near ruin of the agricultural economy, fall in exports and highly volatile political culture and the newly introduced communal frenzy conditions are far from ideal in this land, which is projected as a role model of development even by the United Nations.

The magic of Onam is that it is able to distract people’s attention from their daily grind and transports them to an imaginary world of prosperity free from social tensions – at least for the ten days over which the celebrations are spread.

It is an adage from ancient times even among the poorest of the poor that everyone should join the festivities at all costs — even if it means selling one’s only piece of land! A good feast is a must. For the gourmet there is no better season to visit the state. After the rains, Nature takes on an enchanting look. A carpet of green covers the earth. Flowers are in full bloom. The streams, rivulets and the backwaters sing in unison with the winds and the wildly joyous people. There is celebration everywhere. For a moment all differences are forgotten and harmony and brotherhood come to prevail as if by a magic wand.

Perhaps all festivals are serving a social purpose while the myths and legends, which had given rise to the ‘cause’ of the celebration, are relegated to the background. The celebration promotes togetherness, tolerance and unity and thereby brings about involvement of individuals in societal activities.

This is an area in which religion has to play a big role. Urbanisation and break up of the joint family system in the country had tended to promote the individualistic tendencies in men. “Doing your own thing” seems to have become the norm. In pluralistic societies like India, there is need to promote tolerance and understanding between peoples of differing backgrounds, and festivals like Onam must help giving utterance to the yearning for unity and togetherness.

Man is a social animal and it is imperative that he finds meaning in relationships because individual well-being is bound up with that of the society of which he/she is a part. That is the way to promote understanding and love in these times when, as Mother Teresa used to declare often, there is a famine of love to which even the rich are not immune.

The joy is all the greater when you invite to your feast, “the least and the last” who are not in a position to return your favour.

M P K Kutty


Rally against obscene posters, films
Our Correspondents

Sonepat, September 6
Large number of youths took out a procession here yesterday to register their protest against the pasting of objectionable posters and exhibition of indecent films in the cinema houses.

Carrying placards and raising slogans in support of their demands, they marched through the main bazaars of the city and reached the mini-secretariat where they held a demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office and submitted a memorandum to the DC demanding immediate ban on the obscene films in the cinema houses and pasting of obscene posters on the walls in the city.

A rally was also held and the leaders urged the district administration to check the obscenity. Otherwise, they threatened to launch an agitation on the issue.

BKU to demonstrate

The Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has decided to organise a state-level rally of the farmers on September 30 at Ganaur mandi in the district.

According to a report, the demands of the union, include the payment of the arrears of sugarcane growers and regular supply of power and water in the agriculture sector.

Sarpanch’s poll put off

The election for the post of officiating sarpanch of Gopalpur village has been postponed for the second time as

the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Kharkhauda failed to turn up in the meeting convened by him yesterday. According to a report, this has caused resentment among the panches of the village.

Ganaur Bar Council poll

Rao Ishwar Singh has been elected as the president of Ganaur Bar Council in an election held today on the court premises at Ganaur, a sub-divisional headquarters of the district. He defeated his lone rival Rohtas Pahal.

Satish Panchal was elected as vice-president by defeating Ravinder Rohilla of opposite penal. Sanjay Panchal and And Singh also registered their win for the posts of secretary and co-secretary respectively of the council. Sanjay Panchal defeated Ravinder Sharma and Anand Singh defeated Rajinder Singh.

The election for the post of Treasurer could not be held as both the candidates—Mukesh Kaushik and Pawan Tyagi had withdrawn their nominations on Friday..

Army Wife Welfare Assn meet

Meerut: A service ladies’ meet, organised by the station health organisation, was held here this morning in the ‘C’ wing of the military hospital, Meerut. The wives of officers, JCOs, NCOs and jawans, and lady officers of the military hospital participated in the get-together.

The Army Wife Welfare Association (AWWA) president, Mrs Harbhajan Kaur, inaugurated the meet.

Several result-oriented programmes were organised during the meet, aimed at creating awareness on the general problems of the service ladies.

A lecture on AIDS was also delivered on the occasion.


Faridabad woman artist invited by House of Commons
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, September 6
Sarika Singh, daughter of a physician based here, is perhaps the first Haryanvi to get invited by the House of Commons of England to display her artworks there. Mrs Singh has reached London to hold an exhibition of her works at the October Gallery for about 45 days.

Sarika, presently running an art studio at Dharamshala of Himachal Pradesh, specialises in the traditional Buddhist style of painting, known as ‘Thangka

Art’. She shot into limelight when she was invited by an institute based in Austria to display her works in Vienna, capital of that country, last year. She was also asked to set up a school of Thangka painting at Vienna. This function was also graced by His Holiness Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetans.

During her stay in London, she would be delivering a talk to the people of Tibet residing in the United Kingdom about the functioning of `Thangka Gatsal’.

Expressing extreme happiness and satisfaction over the achievement of his daughter, Dr Lal Singh, a resident of Sector 16-A here, said that Sarika had been a brilliant student and had wanted to do something different. It was a proud moment for his family that at the age of 27, his daughter had achieved something extraordinary, he said.

Sarika was a student of MVN School here, before she did her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. She joined the Thangka art course later.


Photo I-cards to all Baroda voters
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 6
The Baroda-38 (Reserve) Assembly constituency of Sonepat district in Haryana is one of the four Assembly constituencies in the country which have been selected by the Central Election Commission for complete coverage of the voters with photo-identity cards.

Other three constituencies are Ambala-8 in Haryana and North Wind-16 and Kalpeta-29 in Kerala. These constituencies have been selected as so far, more than 90 per cent of the voters in the constituencies have been provided with the cards.

According to official information, the election officers of the districts of these constituencies have been directed by the Election Commission to ensure full covering of voters with photo-I cards by October 31. The instructions also include that the process of taking photos be completed till September 30 by sending the photo teams at the residences of the remaining voters


Gang of highway conmen smashed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
Crime Branch of the Delhi Police today claimed to have busted a gang of conmen that used to drug passengers after befriending them. They were identified as Vinod Kumar alias Deva, Madan alias Sanjeev, Rajeev Kumar Shukla, Rashid and Pehelwan Singh, police said.

The gangsters were caught when the police found one passenger, Naik Om Prakash in an unconscious state on Thursday. His luggage was missing. He was later admitted to Hindu Rao Hospital.

The police recorded his statement. He also gave description of the suspects who had served him drug-laced tea.

The police laid a trap at Shakur Basti railway station and noticed the suspects while they were planning to defraud a new victim. They were arrested while boarding a train. Three VIP suitcases, three mobile phones, stereo, walkman, clothes, wristwatches were recovered from them.

During interrogation, they disclosed that they had drugged Om Prakash Shah while on board Gang Jamuna Express train (Bhiwani to Jharkhand). They learned this trick from one Satish who was absconding. Later, they formed a gang and had started operating in crowded trains, particularly Ganga Jamuna Express moving between Bhiwani-Malda (West Bengal). They target armymen in the train as they travel once a year and carry valuables. It is very easy to befriend them.

They used sedative ‘Ativin’ mixed with cold drink or tea. When the victim becomes unconscious, they take all his belongings and get down, police said.

Fake products seized

The Gillette India Limited, in a sting operation, raided the premises of Jag Prakash Gulati of M/s Wily Sales Corporation in Delhi and seized a large number of fake products manufactured and marketed in the Capital.

The raids were conducted at the units located in Ghonda in North-East district and large quantities of shaving cream packs branded with the Gillette trademark “Cool Wave” brand and bearing deceptively similar packaging were recovered.

The raid was carried out in the presence of the local police after an order of the Delhi High Court, a press release said. Back


Businessman robbed of Rs 2.41 lakh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
Four youths armed with guns robbed a businessman of Rs 2.41 lakh at Pashchim Vihar area in West district this afternoon.

The victim, Surender Mohan Chaudhary, had a tent house at Pashchim Vihar Extension.

The incident took place near Aggarsen Hospital when the victim and his employee T.C. Aggarwal were on the way to their work place on a two-wheeler.

Mr Aggarwal was carrying Rs 8 lakh in two bags. In one bag, he had Rs 2.41 lakh which was snatched away by the suspects, police said.

According to the police, the victim withdrew the money from Punjab National Bank on Rohtak Road and was going to his tent house. As he reached near Aggarsen Hospital, the suspects, who were in a Maruti car, intercepted their vehicle and fired a few shots in the air to make them scare.

Later, they tried to snatch their bag. When the victim resisted, one of the suspects attacked them with a stick and snatched away the bag.

The police have registered a case of robbery and investigating the case, the police said.


Suicide by two youths
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 6
Two youths have reportedly committed suicide by consuming poison in their villages. They were admitted to local Civil Hospital during the night in a serious condition. They died today in the hospital. The youths have been identified as Surender of village Pipli Khera and Gajender of village Kilorad.

After a postmortem, their bodies have been handed over to their family members for the last rites.

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