Tuesday, October 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Sheila blames society for rising 
crime, poor civic conditions
Tribune News Service

Power: Close to overcoming shortage

People must cooperate to facilitate cleanliness.

New Delhi, October 13
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, despite claims that the government was close to overcoming the water and electricity shortage in the city, was quick to blame society for the increase in crimes and the deteriorating civic conditions.

She pointed out that the recent rape of a girl by four Presidential bodyguards was a social crime and not just a law and order problem. When people associated with Rashtrapati Bhavan were involved in such a heinous act it was the society which had to deal with it, Ms Dikshit said during an interview with the BBC. In such situations the government could provide help but the society had to deal with the issue on the whole. Ms Dikshit, who was featuring in the listeners’ question-answer session, did not, however, explain how society could prevent such incidents.

Conceding that there had not been a perceptible improvement on the power front despite the privatisation of distribution, she exuded hope that her government would be able to tide over the crisis by next year. This year, she pointed out, the power production had gone up by 40 per cent.

Referring to the shortage of water, she said by the end of the year her government would be providing an additional 140 million gallons of water following the commissioning of the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant. The government had also made efforts to get 90 million gallons of water from the Himalayas via Haryana. She assured that within the next couple of years these problems would become part of history. When quizzed about the gains during her five-year regime, Ms Dikshit said the public had gained from development, but the gains had been offset by the rising population.

When reminded that Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru had said that one must work and not give excuses, she said time would tell that her government did not believe in giving excuses and that the development in Delhi in the past five years had been unprecedented.

Her government had initiated people’s participation in governance to make them aware of their responsibilities. However, she failed to understand why Indians, when they went abroad, became responsible, did not spit on the roads, avoided throwing rubbish on the streets…

Ms Dikshit said that if people extended greater co-operation, 40 per cent cleanliness could be achieved without any difficulty.

Answering a question on the Metro, she said it would be ready by 2005. Her government planned to introduce high capacity buses and trolleys soon, so that people could be dissuaded from using personal conveyance.

She also drew attention to the fact that more than 12 lakh people were coming from nearby places like Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon to work in Delhi, the majority of them in cars, which, she said, was another problem.

On the health care system, she said in the past five years the capacity of beds in the Delhi government hospitals had gone up by 2,000.

Ms Dikshit pointed out that more than 30 per cent of the patients who came to Delhi hospitals were from neighbouring states like UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Delhi looked after these patients as well. Despite this daunting problem, the health care system was definitely on the road to improvement, she asserted. Asked about the steps taken for the betterment of sum-dwellers, she said due to certain constraints the Delhi Government could not spend money on residents of unauthorised colonies.



health watch
Dengue larvae found in police chief’s office, 87 other places
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, October 13
With six more dengue cases surfacing in the city and dengue larvae being discovered in 87 places in Ghaziabad, including the office of the district police chief and 23 other government offices, the alarm bells have started ringing in the district.

There are at least 200 dengue patients in Ghaziabad district out of which blood samples of 164 have been sent to the lab. More than 40 dengue patients have been confirmed by CMO Inderjit Punahni and Dr A. K. Sharma, Medicine Head of the district hospital. It is about 12 days since DM Santosh Yadav issued instructions to the health authorities to take steps to intensify the war on dengue, viral fever and malaria.

The health authorities have ordered that all schoolchildren should wear full-sleeved shirts and pants (salwar-kameez for girls) to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Chief Development Officer Shwanand Aujha has issued orders to tehsildars and block developments officers to take precautionary measures against dengue in their respective areas. All tanks, ponds, drains etc in the town and villages are to be sprayed with insecticides and diesel, the order said.

But even after a month, dengue is posing a serious challenge to the medical fraternity. This is because the government health services are woefully lacking in infrastructure.

Insecticide sprays, fogging and other precautionary measures are almost non-existent in the district. Had rains been followed by intensive fogging, this scenario could have been avoided, the sources say. The government hospital lacks arrangements for effective treatment of dengue patients. For instance, there is no separate ward for dengue patients.



Only 50 cases of dengue this weekend, claims MCD
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
With the reported dengue cases confirmed by the MCD touching the 800-mark, the Director of Health Service of the MCD, Dr K. N. Tiwari, claimed that the steps taken by the corporation to control the disease in the Capital had yielded positive result as only 50 cases were reported on the weekend.

Only two cases of death have been reported to date.

He said that the corporation swung into action immediately after the cases of dreaded dengue fever had come to light. All city zones and health centres of the corporation were alerted and arrangements for the treatment had been made. People were made aware of the symptoms of dengue through advertisements and patients were admitted to hospital promptly which resulted in fewer number of deaths in the Capital.

The Chairman of the Standing Committee in the corporation, Mr Ram Babu Sharma, directed the officials of the Health Department as well as Zonal Deputy Commissioners to intensify the public awareness campaign in their zones to encourage citizens to take preventive steps to curb the breeding of mosquitoes.

He said 96,041 houses were checked today by the municipal employees. Of these, breeding was detected in 332 houses. Legal notices were issued to 197 offenders whereas prosecution was launched against 131.

The Delhi Government has warned against the use of aspirin and ibuprofen (brands like brufen etc.) in fever for fear of complication in the possibility of dengue or malaria. Dengue fever is an infection caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. In this infection, there is sudden onset of high fever (generally lasting fewer than seven days) and severe headache and muscle and joint pain, pain in eyes, nausea and vomiting and a bleeding manifestation.

Although mortality in dengue is negligible, yet occasionally, the fever may get complicated and may cause dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS). In this syndrome, after an episode of fever resembling dengue fever, the effervescence of fever may be accompanied by severe volume depletion in the body, causing shock and bleeding manifestations, either of which may result in death. This can also occur in epidemic proportions like dengue fever, a senior medical officer of the Delhi Health Department has said. 



Money being extorted in the name of 
development fund: Ex-minister
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, October 13
Former Minister of State for Home, Haryana, Mr Subhash Batra, has demanded a white paper on the money collected by the district administration in the name of a development fund.

He has alleged that certain officials of government departments here were collecting money in the name of a development fund for which no receipt was being given to the subscriber. Addressing newspersons here today, Mr Batra did not name any official but promised to provide details in writing if the administration failed to publish the white paper. He alleged that certain government officials in connivance with the ruling INLD functionaries were extorting money from businessmen, property dealers and truckers.

The former Home Minister has announced plans to hold a demonstration on Wednesday to highlight the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, especially here, and to demand withdrawal of hike in the fee of professional courses and waiving of house tax in Rohtak city, which was declared a backward area during the Bhajan Lal regime. Mr Batra criticised the government for privatisation of medical services in Pt B D Sharma Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, the only government owned medical college in the state. He demanded an immediate end to this practice.

He said that statues of late Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Rajiv Gandhi should be installed at the bypass chowk and the Medical Mor. Since there was no statue of these departed Prime Ministers in the city, people would appreciate if the administration acceded this demand. He said the power tariff had increased manifold since the INLD government came to power three and a half years ago. He demanded rolling back of the electricity charges to the 1995 level, the year when the Congress was at the helm. He suggested that the old bus stand, which had been closed after the new bus stand became operational, should be used for local and short route bus services. He also argued for withdrawal of the tax imposed on transporters.



When a token of love happens to be a Tata Safari
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 13
Lavish farewell parties and gifts are no longer the prerogative of the bourgeoisie class.
Government employees have taken a cue from their bosses and do not wish to be stragglers when it comes to accepting expensive gifts, euphemistically dubbed ‘tokens of love.’ According to reports, state government employees, owing allegiance to a leading organisation, are planning to gift a Tata Safari, a luxury vehicle, to one of their favourite leaders who is due to retire by October-end.

Not only this, the members of this association plan to hold several functions, including a grand luncheon at the native village in honour of their outgoing leader. It is learnt that welcome gates bidding goodbye will be erected at several points between the native village of the leader and his current place of posting, which is located about 175 km away.

While preparations for the farewell function have already begun, the employees’ circle is abuzz with news of the drive launched to collect funds for the grand event, which could cost at least Rs 10 lakh. The cost of the Tata Safari vehicle, which is to be gifted, is over Rs 7.5 lakh and the rest may be spent on functions and preparations.

According to sources, mostly the funds would be collected from members and activists of the Power Department Employees’ Union. There are about 50 units (offices) of the department in the state and it is reported that each unit, consisting of some sub-divisions, had been asked to collect at least Rs 20,000. It is perhaps for the first time that an employee leader in Haryana will get such a grand farewell, which could cost up to Rs 10 lakh, said an employee of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam.

He admitted that the process of collecting money was nearing completion, but wondered how such a big amount could be collected when the festival season was on and an average employee was finding it hard to cope with the rising expenses. On condition of anonymity, he said the development was unsavoury and may set a bad precedent. Such ‘irregularities’ needed to be exposed.



Home alone, 11-year-old raped at knifepoint 
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, October 13
An 11-year-old girl of Khijarpur Jat Majra village was reportedly raped by a youth of the same village this morning when she was alone in her house as her mother and grandfather were away to Delhi. The victim has been admitted to hospital for a medical examination.

According to information, on finding her alone, a youth, identified as Raju, forcibly entered her house and raped her at knifepoint. As alleged by the victim, the accused, after the rape, took away Rs 10,000 in cash and threatened her with dire consequences if she reported the incident to any one.

Around noon when her mother and grandfather Braham Dass returned from Delhi, she narrated the incident to them. When Braham Dass went to the house of the accused he found him missing. When the old man reportedly threatened to take legal action against the accused the family members of the accused allegedly attacked him and Braham Dass suffered serious head injuries. Angered over this, the other family members of Braham Dass also reached there and beat up one Krishan.

Krishan and Braham Dass have also been admitted to the Civil Hospital. On receiving information, the police reached the hospital and have started investigations.

suicide bid: According to another report, Mamta, wife of Dinesh of Tajpur village, attempted to commit suicide in the wee hours today as she was tormented by the thought that she had given birth to an evil spirit 20 days back. Mamta had given birth to a girl child and, at the time of birth, the little one had two teeth. Within two days, more teeth appeared in the girl’s mouth.

As stated by her husband, Mamta started fearing that she had brought an evil spirit into the world. She hung herself from a fan and is hospitalised in a critical condition.

Six-year-old raped:
A six-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two youths at Madalpur village in the district. The accused have been arrested. The incident took place when the victim, who was accompanied by her younger brother, was accosted by the youths to an isolated spot in the fields. The victim has been admitted to the hospital. A case has been registered.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a youth of Dhaiy village has been booked for opening fire and injuring his mother seriously. The police are investigating the matter.



travesty of life
Youth dies on birthday in flare up over trivia
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, October 13
A young man was killed when he was hit with an iron rod on his head by three to four youths over a trivial matter in Vivekanand Colony.
The deceased, Hitesh, the only son of his parents, was killed on his birthday. Son of Anil Jha and resident of Vivekanand Colony under the Kavi Nagar police station area, Hitesh was going on his moped on Friday evening. On the way, he had an argument with some youths. He informed his family about it on his cell phone. As the family members rushed to his help, one of the youths hit Hitesh on the head with an iron rod.

As Hitesh collapsed on the spot, the assailants fled from the scene. Hitesh was rushed to Yashoda Hospital in a serious condition. According to doctors, Hitesh had sustained head injuries as a result of which his brain nerves had been crushed. He died last night. His parents were too stunned to react. Instead of celebrating the birthday of their only son, they had to make arrangements for his cremation.

Cops linked to kidnap racket: The Sahibabad police have arrested a police inspector, Randhir Malik, for abetting the kidnapping of a Mathura-based doctor and for receiving a part of the ransom money. The police had earlier arrested a circle officer (DSP) for his active role in the crime — from facilitating the kidnapping to collection of ransom..

The role of these two policemen had come to light after the arrest of the kidnappers. Inspector Randhir Malik is posted in the Intelligence Wing in Aligarh.This information was given by SP City, Umesh Srivastava, in Sahibabad police station today.

The last taunt:
A young man, unable to bear the taunts of his wife for his failure to take her out for shopping in preparation for Karva Chauth, committed suicide in Nithari village under the Sector 20 police station yesterday. According to police, Suresh Chand of Northa Kasganj, Eta, was living in Nithari village with his wife Vaneeta. The couple often used to have arguments due to paucity of funds. But on Sunday they reportedly had a prolonged argument in which his wife chided him for his inability to buy her some suitable gift for Karva Chauth.



YC clamours for BJP govt’s resignation 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
The Delhi Youth Congress today demanded the resignation of the BJP-led government at the Centre, claiming that a government that has failed to provide security to its citizens has no right to continue in office.

The Youth Congress leaders made this demand at a dharna, organised here against the deteriorating law and order in the Capital. Delhi Congress president Prem Singh, its spokesperson Jagdish Tytler and senior party leader Sajjan Kumar participated in the protest. The law and order in the National Capital Territory of Delhi comes directly under the Centre.

The protestors were shouting slogans against the incidents of rape and other crime against women and also against senior citizens in the Capital. They carried placards demanding the Vajpayee government’s resignation on moral grounds over its ‘’total inability’’ to check these crimes.

Addressing party activists, Delhi Youth Congress chief Rajesh Lilothia said the BJP during the last four years had shown that it was incapable to provide the people a peaceful atmosphere.

The unabated incidents of violence against women, senior citizens and weaker sections in the Capital had completely shattered the confidence of Delhiites. The Youth Congress was sure that they would reject the BJP again this time, Mr Lilothia said.



Political parties urged to unite against 
Chautala’s ‘misrule’ 
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, October 13
The Haryana unit of the Samajwadi Party (SP) has urged all the political parties to launch a joint agitation against the ‘misrule’ of Chautala government, instead of opposing it under their separate banners.

In a statement here today, Ms Kanta Alaria, state president of the party, said almost all sections of the society had been fed up with the ‘anti-people’ policies of the Chautala government.

She said the major political parties should express ‘solidarity’ against the Chautala government so as to relieve the sufferings caused to the common man by the ‘insensitive’ and ‘undemocratic’ government.

Referring to the demand of dismissal of the Rohtak SSP, Alok Roy, for his alleged manhandling of women at Kheri Sampla village, she alleged certain political parties had been exaggerating the incident to derive political mileage.

Justifying the tough posture adopted by the SSP at the village, she said it was the duty of the district police chief to shield the VIPs.

The SP leader said the ‘strict measures’ adopted by the SSP during the Chief Minister’s visit from safety point of view should not be exploited for political gains.

She alleged that none of the political parties, which had been criticising the SSP, had ever raised the issue of the disappearance of the two village youths, missing for more than a year.

Consumer Service Camps: The Haryana Power Transmission and Distribution Corporations (UHBVN and DHBVN) would organise ‘Consumer Service Camps’ in all the sub-divisions during the next four months. This was stated by Maj Gen (Retd) B S Rathi, Chairman, Haryana Power Transmission and Distribution Corporations, while addressing public meetings at Kansala and Madina villages this afternoon.

He said the problem of wrong billing would be rectified on the spot by the teams of the Nigams. These teams would accept payment of bills and also release new domestic and non-domestic connections on the spot, he added.

Referring to the strengthening of transmission and distribution system in the state, he said 75 new sub-stations were under construction and would be completed within a year. He said the distribution corporations would purchase 12,000 new transformers and one lakh cement poles at an estimated cost of Rs 55 crore.



Special Focus on faridabad
Cleanliness drive a ‘flop show’ in residential areas
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 13
The cleanliness drive launched on October 2 in the district has had little impact on the ground situation. As a result, the Health Department has been forced to sound a red alert, particularly in view of the rising number of cases of dengue and viral diseases in the region.

The cleanliness drive was launched formally with prominent political leaders and officials posing for the camera with brooms in their hands.

The residents have called it a ‘flop show’ as things instead of improving have turned worse. “Residents of various sectors and colonies are still looking for teams which would clear the garbage, dirt and pools of stagnant water in the residential areas,” said H. S. Rathi, a social activist residing in DLF Sector 10 here.

He claimed that despite the matter being brought to the notice of the concerned authorities, the rainwater accumulated near the government tubewell had not been cleared yet.

He said open plots in the area were used to dump garbage by residents and the sector looked like a slum colony. In effect, he said, the residents were forced to pay from their pockets to dispose off the daily household garbage.

Although, the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF) has tied up with a voluntary organisation, which is paid about Rs 25 lakh per month for garbage disposal in several sectors, the measures so far have fell short of the requirement.

Quite clearly, residents have been unhappy and unsatisfied with the functioning of civic body here. Mr R. K. Gaur, a resident of sector 15-A, said, he had not seen any safai karamchari for months in the locality. The Resident Welfare Association in his sector had employed private sweepers to clean the roads and the surroundings, said Mr Swaraj Singh, of Sector-14.

He alleged that the cleanliness drives launched by the authorities were only on paper and a mere publicity stunt.

Sachin, a resident of sector 9 here said that cleaning and removal of garbage was only a formality as the safai karamcharies were visible only once in a fortnight in his locality.

Since the civic conditions had not improved despite the ‘drive’, he said his family had been paying each month to a private garbage collector. He added that the MCF had failed to repair the roads in the locality so far, which has caused great inconvenience to the people of the area.

Dr Vinod Kaul of the Vibles Pathological Laboratory here admitted that there had been a manifold increase in the cases of fever and viral infections in the town. He said the main reason behind these incidences was the lack of proper cleanliness, which facilitated the breeding of mosquitoes. Moreover, the supply of contaminated water and stagnation of wastewater in areas close to houses could have been a vital factor, he said.

The Director General, Health Services, Haryana, Dr B. S. Dahiya, had directed the department recently, to undertake anti-mosquitoes spraying in the affected areas so as to contain the spread of `dengue’ and other malarial infections.

Even as the authorities of the Health Department have denied any death due to dengue, over a dozen persons have died due to viral, high fever and other dengue like symptoms in the past two to three weeks.

About five or six persons have died reportedly due to viral and high fever in one of the villages of Ballabgarh sub-division in the past fortnight. Some deaths have also been reported from the interior pockets of Hathin Hodal and Palwal sub-divisions.

Hundreds of people are reporting to civil hospitals, private clinics and nursing homes daily in the district with viral and fever, said Karan Dalal, MLA from Palwal. He alleged that government doctors and medicines were unavailable in the rural areas, and the people were being fleeced by private clinics.

Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi of Janata Dal said that the Health Department had proved to be a `white elephant’ and ill equipped and short staffed to fight any epidemic.

He said viral infections had become common in both urban and rural areas and accused the government hospitals in the state of having failed to provide proper health services to the common man.



Admn fiddles while farmers’ land remains submerged in rainwater
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, October 13
Fields of the farmers in the villages along the Pipli-Kharkhauda Road are still submerged in the rainwater on account of the failure of the district administration and the irrigation department to pump out the water.

According to a report, many farmers alleged that their complaints made to the authorities had fallen on deaf ears. They, however, warned that if the district administration and the authorities of the irrigation department failed to pump out the water from their fields, it would be not possible for them to sow the rabi crops.

The farmers of the affected villages today urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to take a serious note of the matter and order the authorities to take the necessary steps.

Meanwhile, the farmers of the villages falling under the jurisdiction of the Butana and Gangesar distributaries in the Gohana subdivision of the district have been facing an acute shortage of canal water for irrigation for the past few months. They have alleged that the canal water supply was erratic.

The non-supply of canal water in the Gangesar minor, Mahmoodpur minor, Butana minor, Bichpari minor, Ahulana minor and Baroda minor has multiplied the problems of the farmers.

The farmers have demanded an immediate suspension of the executive engineer of the Gohana Water Service Division and other officials responsible for the crisis. They also warned that if no action was taken against these officials, they would have no alternative than to launch an agitation and gherao the offices and the officials of this division.



Employees rattled, brace up for transfers
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, October 13
A situation of panic prevails in the various government departments following the arrival of long lists of transfer orders here today. After a freeze for the last four years the reshuffle of employees have being undertaken on a large-scale.

According to information, transfer orders of different employees in the Education Department and the Panchayati Raj Department have already reached here.

Sources revealed that transfer orders of nearly 1,509 JBT teachers in the Primary Education Department had been issued throughout the state. Even as intra-district transfer orders have already been implemented, the transfer orders of those posted outside the district are yet to be implemented, although the lists have been prepared, sources said. Among these, 1,351 are teachers and 158 are head teachers. In the Department of Higher Education, 322 college lecturers are being transferred. Three lecturers, Mr S. P. Prasar, Mr A. S. Deswal and Ms Neeraj Gupta, of the local Government Postgraduate College have also been posted outside the district.

According to highly placed sources, about 7,500 teachers are also likely to be reshuffled throughout the state in the immediate future. Similar exercises are likely to take place in other government departments, including the Irrigation Department.

According to reports, senior officials and other government employees have been transferred from this district.

Moreover, three doctors from the Civil Hospital, Ms Kumud Sharma, Mr Pradeep Sharma and his wife and Mr J P Chauhan have also been transferred.

The District Revenue Officer, Mr Ashok Yadav along with other employees from the DC office and CMO office have also been transferred to other places. It is claimed that these reshuffles have been implemented as per the liking of the INLD workers. Sources said that the party workers of the ruling INLD had raised dissenting voice against the freezing of transfers in the workers’ meeting and had put up a demand for a large-scale transfer before the district presidents of the party. 



Call to follow Baba Saheb Apte’s principles
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
Mr B. P. Singhal, MP, paid rich tributes to Baba Saheb Apte and appealed to follow his noble principles. Mr Singhal was expressing his views at the inauguration of ‘Baba Saheb Apte Janam Shatabadi Samaroh’ in New Delhi, where he was the chief guest.

The function began with the lighting of the lamp. Mr Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, president, ‘Baba Saheb Apte Janam Shatabadi Samoroh Samiti’, Delhi, while presiding over the function said the life of Baba Saheb is a source of inspiration for us and we should follow his noble path.

In his welcome address, the working president of ‘Baba Saheb Apte Janam Shatabadi Samoroh Samiti’, Delhi pradesh, Mr Sudarhsan Sareen, said that Baba Saheb was a great son of India, who devoted his life to the nation. Mr Sareen said many more such celebration would be held in 2003-04 in the memory of Baba Saheb Apte.

The main speaker on this occasion, Thakur Ram Singh, patron of the samiti, narrated in detail the life of Baba Saheb Apte. He explained his devotion to the philosophy of the RSS and his travels all over the country to spread the message.

He said he was the first pracharak of the RSS and was a close associate of Dr Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS.

Dr Suresh Bajpayee, Rajender Singh Kushwaha, Rajesh Parti, Swadesh Pal Gupta, Mahesh Chander Sharma and Shyam Sunder Gupta also spoke on the occasion. Arun Pande conducted the programme.



Mesmerising Lal

Magic moment: K. Lal performing at a show
Magic moment: K. Lal performing at a show.

Amid the revolving strobe lights, shimmering curtains and a sea of wafting artificial clouds, he emerges, draped in a black and gold cape, a white feather adorning his bejewelled turban. His appearance is well-timed, coinciding with the audience’s thunderous applause. One is awed at one moment by the magnificent stage settings, rolling with laughter in the next scene and gripped by anxiety when he severs his son into half.

He brings back a mummy to life and Disney characters appear from among the audience. Even at the age of 80, the effervescence has not dimmed. Globe-trotting magician Kantilal Giridharilal Vohra, alias K. Lal, has come a long way since his first performance in 1940, at a relative’s wedding reception. His family was at that time ostracised on the suspicion of propagating witchcraft.

At the age of seven, he showed keen interest in the art of magic and held spellbound the students and teachers in his school by showing them various tricks. When he was only 16, he created a sensation by presenting solo magic show for one and a half hours in front of a large audience. He has given a new dimension to the art by adding action, drama and glamour, elevating it to great heights.

Today, his magical journey is of more than six decades old and he is deemed as the grand old man of India’s magical fraternity. No other magician in the world has actively performed for such a long time. It is a world record. He has a record of more than 19,900 stage shows till date, enthralling audiences the world over with the charisma of his magic and his illusions. He has the rare distinction of performing 3,200 grand shows in Japan, the country he visited 18 times with his troupe. He performed for one and half years continuously on Sony channel and helped in popularising the channel in India. The great showman Raj Kapoor used to often say “Everyone is a fan of mine but I am a fan of K. Lal”. He was given the world’s greatest and fastest magician award in 1968, by world’s biggest association of magician IBM (International Brotherhood of Magicians). The IBM says: “His magic cannot be compared with anyone, he is superb, great and fantastic.”

In 1976, he performed his magic shows continuously for seven months at Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata. And the Government of West Bengal honoured him with Sir Michel Madhusudan Dutt award. He was also given the tittle, ‘Indian Peacock’, at that function. The Gujarat Government honoured him with the title, ‘Gujarat Ratan’. The Tamil Nadu Government awarded him with ‘Emperor of Magicians’. The Maharashtra Government honoured him with the tittle, ‘Proud jewel of India’. The Andhra Pradesh Government awarded him with the tittle, ‘India’s Krantiveer’. K. Lal is recipient of the lifetime achievement awards at SAARC Magic Festival 1993, by the Government of Haryana and North Zone Cultural Centre. The Rajasthan Government honoured him with the award, ‘Magic International 2000’.

Magician K. Lal is a living legend in the history of modern magic. He has been India’s ambassador of magic to many countries in the world, since his first show in East Africa in 1962. His flair for the dramatic is apparent through his facial contortions and his graceful gesticulations. He is philanthropist in nature and has donated more than Rs 5 crore for development of education and hospitals and in aid of drought, flood and earthquake relief programmes through charity shows.


Where did you get the inspiration to perform such magical tricks?

I basically hail from Guajrat. When I was five, my father moved to Kolkata. I was admitted to a local Anglo Gujarati school. One day, a magician, Ganpati Chakarvarty, came to the school to perform a magic show. After the show, I repeated some of his items. He was so impressed with my natural talent that he requested my uncle to let him permit me to learn magic. But my whole family was against my wishes.

Despite this, I decided to learn magic from Chakarvarty. Incidentally, P. C. Sarkar was also learning magic from the same Guru. A magician, like a poet or painter, is very imaginative. The poet communicates his ideas through poetry and a painter pours his heart on the canvas. But, a magician goes a step further, he gives shape to his imaginary ideas and makes it all physically possible.

As for example, making a car disappear or making a doll dance or cutting a person into half in front of your eyes and then joining him back. It is like an extension of your imagination. It involves a keen sense of observation and an inquisitive brain of a scientist to produce a trick. It sometimes takes as many as six years to present a trick before the audience. Right from conceiving the idea to producing it and finally presenting it on the stage, the trick requires the fineness and sharpness of a showman.

The best part of my performance is that we let the audience experience all the Rasas (moods) while performing my famous item of a trip to wonderland.

What would you have been if you were not a magician?

I would have been a magician only. I always had a penchant for adventure, taking up challenges, being different and doing things grandly. When I first showed some of my magical tricks at a family wedding, the elders present on the occasion thought that I had learned witchcraft or black magic. My parents were very upset and asked me to forsake the idea of becoming a magician. But, I was born to be magician. It is my personal opinion that to learn magic, to discover new tricks, is a God given gift. Many come to me to learn magic but leave half way.

You are famous for doing new experiments in the field of magic to keep it relevant. Could you give one example?

Many decades ago, I was invited to a gathering of magicians in Gujarat. There, I was jeered at because I introduced changes in my presentation. They were used to the Bhayanak (dreadful) form of magic. They would create dreadful sounds while presenting magic, artificially making their eyes look red, considering the audience to be morons. This did not appeal to me. I said, if people have come to watch our show, why not give them the best entertainment. It is in their happiness that our success lies.

So, I revolutionised the way magic was being presented, by bringing in elaborate stage sets and gorgeous dresses for my troupe and myself. Audiences enjoy my show because I use a lot of colour, music and action, coupled with magic.

‘The flying lady’ and the ‘Giant Killer’ are my best items. My tricks are a product of my imagination

What is your agenda now?

I would like to set up a magic academy and teach magic like any other art. The irony is that we have no such training institution. It is unfortunate that government is not showing any interest in this regard. Even the government is reluctant to give land on lease for this purpose. I also want magic to flourish in my native place (Gujarat). There is no denying the fact that it is my karambhoomi, and I first perform a new trick before the audience here, and then anywhere else. I am also toying with the idea of starting some scholarship for the budding magicians, so that they can live up to their dreams in a big way.

At such an age, how do you keep your body fit for the show?

I attribute my success and boundless energy to a disciplined life style. I do not drink, smoke or eat non-vegetarian food and I am a stickler for schedules. I am not ready to put away my magic wand so far. Retirement is still a long way off.

Could you recall any memorable incident in your magical life?

There are so many. Many decades ago, I was invited by the Bahrain Government to perform a series of magical shows there. I started my first show with a routine item, ‘Water of India’. They objected it, and asked me to say, ‘Water of Bahrain’. I refused and returned, giving up the contract worth Rs 25 lakh.

In 1968, the biggest forum of magicians, International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) had organised a contest for magicians in which the world’s greatest magicians were participating.

After the contest, I was declared the winner and given the tittle of world’s greatest and fastest magician. P. C. Sarkar had also participated in that contest. When I was in Japan, the then Prime Minister of Japan had offered me citizenship, but I refused. I love my country and can reject anything for its sake.



Nirankari Samagam venue being spruced up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
Voluntary service on the venue of the 56th Annual Nirankari Sant Samagam at Burari Road, North Delhi has begun and thousands of the Sant Nirankari Sewa Dal volunteers and other devotees are working round the clock to level the grounds, put up tents and provide other facilities like water, electricity and sewerage etc. to make the participants feel comfortable.

His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj, Head of the Sant Nirankari Mission inaugurated the Sewa yesterday. His holy mother Nirankari Rajmata Kulwant Kaur Ji and his gracious spouse Pujya Mata Sawinder Ji also participated in the ceremony.

The Samagam is scheduled to be held from November 15 to 17, 2003. Blessing the volunteers, His Holiness said, “The Samagam not only provides an opportunity to the participants from all over India and abroad to get together and strengthen their faith and devotion, it also serves as a great source of inspiration for the service of others.”

Appreciating the spirit of dedication among the volunteers, His Holiness said that “they rise above their social and economic status and simply obey the directions coming from the above selflessly.”

Baba Ji said that it is a matter of delight that the Samagam has already created an enthusiasm among the followers of the Mission everywhere. It will be an example to the world that man can come closer to man more effectively through spiritual awakening than any other way.

The saints participating in the Samagam realise that being away from the Almighty or being bereft of devotion to God means only distance from the fellow beings.

Baba Ji said that saints inspire not only with their golden words but also with their deeds, which serves as a new direction to the whole world.

Earlier, Mr Gobind Singh Ji, chairman and Mr K R Chadha, convener of the Samagam Committee described the coming Samagam as a great opportunity for the volunteers to render their selfless services and earn the blessings of His Holiness.

Dr B S Nirman, Member Incharge, Sewa Dal also sought the Satguru’s blessings for the volunteers.



Mechanic robbed of money, mobile 
Our Correspondents

Sonepat, October 13
Ram Kumar, a mechanic was robbed of Rs 8,000 and a mobile telephone by three armed youths while he was on way to his home in the city last night.
According to a report, the incident occurred near a public school when he was waylaid and attacked with lathis by the miscreants. The person was immediately hospitalised and he has also identified two of the three. The police are still investigating.

Man commits suicide

Madan Gopal, a resident of Sector 14, a residential colony of HUDA, was reported to have taken sulphas tablets to commit suicide in his house here yesterday.

According to a report, he was rushed to the Civil Hospital from where he was sent to a Delhi hospital for further treatment. However, he died on the way. The man took the extreme step when asked by a financial company to pay Rs 11 lakh which had been taken by his elder brother before his death.

Youths face wrestlers’ fury

Two youths, Raj Kumar and Charan Singh, were beaten up with lathis and iron rods by some wrestlers in Fazilpur village about three km from here last evening.

According to a report, both of them had chased a boy after some quarrel. However, the boy managed to escape and went to the ‘akhara’ of these wrestlers in a bid to save himself from the fury of the youths. As the youths entered the akhara, they were caught and beaten up by the wrestlers.

Mahila Congress meets Sonia

A delegation of women Congress workers, headed by Miss Monika Malik, president of the district unit of the District Mahila Congress, called on Mrs Sonia Gandhi, president of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in New Delhi yesterday, expressing concern over the deteriorating law and order and atrocities on women in Haryana.

Mother of three elopes with lover

A young housewife and mother of three children, Mrs Kanta, resident of Mohalla Kot, Sonepat, has reportedly eloped with her paramour, Krishan (26), living in Ward No 4 in this city.

According to a report, the husband of the woman and the parents of the youth had made a written complaint to the police in this regard. The police have launched a massive hunt to trace both of them and conducted raids at a number of places during the past two days. However, they were still untraceable.

‘Senior’ feat of DLF City

Gurgaon: The senior citizens of DLF City here have shown on more than one occasions that they still have the fire to keep themselves busy in constructive activities.

The senior citizens are back from an excursion trip, organised by the DLF City Senior Citizens Council. The trip itinerary consisted of visits to Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradoon and Mussorie. During their trip, they called on the Governor of Uttaranchal, Mr Sudarshan Aggarwal.

According to the general secretary of the DLF Senior Citizens Council, Mr S.K. Datta, the senior citizens discussed with the Governor various subjects concerning the welfare of handicapped persons, education of poor children and blood donation at the Rotary Blood Bank in the Capital.

Mr Datta said that the Governor touched on the issues in the context of the entire country. The first lady of the state of Uttaranchal also showed keen interest in the activities of the DLF City Senior Citizens Council, he added.



Largest expo on toys gets under way
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
Amidst a huge gathering of international and Indian buyers and exporters, India’s largest exposition of toys, sports, leisure and outdoor products, SPOT India, was inaugurated today by Mr Dipak Chatterjee, Secretary (Commerce).

On the occasion, Mr Chatterjee also released the annual issue-2003 of the official newsletter of the Toy Association of India (TAI).

The Indian toy industry, which has a turnover of around $320 million, is part of the internationally popular Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair-Autumn 2003 which was also inaugurated today by Mr Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Minister of Textiles.

The exhibition, which started today, will continue till October 16 at Pragati Maidan. On the occasion, Mr Shahnawaz Hussain said, “The exports of handicrafts have shown impressive growth in the last two quarters of this year with a growth of more than 30 per cent in dollar terms. I believe that the targets set for 1950 millions US dollar will not only be achieved but will be surpassed.”

SPOT India will present the finest Indian products under one roof organised by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and supported by the Toy Association of India (TAI), an all-India body of around 700 members of manufacturers, exporters, wholesales, and retailers of toys and games.

At SPOT India, more than 50 leading manufacturers from all over India are showcasing their products to foreign buyers, retail chains, and department stores.

According to Mr V S Agrawal, president TAI, “Toy industry today is an extremely important component of the small scale sector, witnessing rapid changes. Through this fair, the emphasis is to bring together on one platform the manufacturers, exporters and foreign buyers.”

Cultural show: The bhajan singer of ‘Yaro Sab Dua Karo’ fame stole the show at a cultural programme organised at Connaught Place by the Chabbra 555 to mark the occasion of the announcement of lucky draws in which 42 families were given up and down tickets for the journey to Mata Vaishno Devi.

Jagdish Chabbra, director of this group, congratulated the winner and informed that 168 families have been given such awards so far. Chabbra 555 is renowned for the latest sarees, lehangas, suit dupattas. Its first show room was opened at Chandni Chowk about 50 years ago. OC



Gang of four robs jeweller of bag
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
Four unidentified armed desperadoes deprived a jeweller of Rajgarh, Krishna Nagar, East Delhi, of his bag containing cash and diamond jewellery while he was waiting for the shop to be locked for the day last night. The suspects also fired several shots in the air while escaping to prevent the shopkeepers from chasing them.

The police said no one was reported injured in the firing. A case has been registered and efforts are being made to trace the suspects who were described as young and ordinarily dressed.

Traders of the Rajgarh market have protested against the deteriorating law and order situation in the area and demanded additional patrolling, especially at the time of closing.

According to the police, the incident occurred while the jeweller was waiting outside the shop as his employee was pulling the shutter down to lock the shop for the night. Suddenly, four men appeared and grabbed the bag the jeweller was holding.

There was a minor scuffle as Rajesh held on to the bag. He was, however, thrown to the ground in the process. The suspects then ran way with the bag continuing cash and valuables.

Several other shopkeepers and their employees who responded to the cries for help of the beleaguered jeweller were kept at bay by the suspects brandishing knives and a countrymade revolver. When some shopkeepers tried to chase them, they fired several shots in the air to scare them.

The police, however, said that they were not certain if the suspects had fired or that the shopkeepers just heard some crackers exploding.

The matter was still being investigated. The possibility of some local bad characters having been involved in the robbery was not being ruled out.



Factory owner burnt to death
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
An owner of a fabrication unit was burnt to death by his employee on the factory premises last night in the Tughlakabad Extension.
The police said that the half-burnt body of the victim Ramesh Chand (35), resident of Govindpuri and owner of the fabrication unit, was found on the factory premises.

The incident took place last night when Chand was allegedly burnt by his employee M S Thakur alias Pujari (47). Pujari poured kerosene on him and then set him on fire.

The victim was rushed to the Safdarjung Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The accused has been absconding and the police have launched a hunt for him.

Seven held for satta racket: With the arrest of seven persons, the East district police today claimed to have busted a satta racket during the India-New Zealand cricket match on October 12.

The police also recovered a hi-tech gadget fixed in a suitcase containing recording devices, WLL phone, eight mobile phones and two colour TV sets from their possession.

The Operation Cell of the East district based on a secret information that a gang was involved in satta racket apprehended Deepak, resident of Vivek Vihar; Balesh, resident of Vivek Vihar; Atul Jain, resident of Baghpat; Chetan, resident of Jwala Nagar; Anil, resident of Vivek Vihar; Ram Mohan, resident of Farsh Bazar; and Narender Wadhwa from a house.

During interrogation, the accused said that they had clients from Mumbai and Jaipur and a sum of more than Rs 12 lakh was involved in the racket.

Aircraft scraps seized: The Crime Branch today claimed to have arrested one person and recovered more than 400 kgs of aircraft scraps from the Kapashera area on Delhi-Haryana border. The scraps were looted from Nangloi farms on August 4.

The sleuths have arrested the receiver of the scraps one Mubarak alias Chhote (32), resident of Shastri Nagar. Hunt is on for another person Nanhe Kabari. 


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