N C R   S T O R I E S


Mobiles put voters within earshot of candidates
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
Poll managers and candidates are finding the mobile phone an extremely useful device for reaching out to executives, managers, bureaucrats, homemakers and senior citizens and establishing a personal rapport with them. Thanks to the cell phone, political parties have gone into a hi-tech mode for the December 1 Assembly election in NCT of Delhi.

“Seeking votes through an SMS is like calling on a potential voter and talking to him at his doorstep. This is because the cell phone has become a part of one’s body language,” says Delhi Congress’ Campaign Committee chairman Vishwa Bandhu Gupta.

The Congress is using SMS messages to highlight the achievements of the Sheila Dikshit Government in the past five years. “Jan jan se nata hai, sarkar chalana aata hai” (We have close contacts with the people, we know how to run a government), says a sample party SMS.

The Congress, which is analysing the utility and cost of an electronic campaign, is also planning the use of party symbol ‘hand’ as a screen saver in a mobile phone in a last-minute effort to draw the voter’s attention.

“SMS and e-mail can be used to reach a large number of voters in all 70 constituencies in the state,” says Jagdish Mangain, who is in charge of the Delhi BJP’s publicity cell.

The parties plan to engage the services of professional agencies with data banks for the SMS and e-mail campaign. The cost of one SMS varies from 25 to 50 paise. Candidates of both parties have already begun sending SMS and e-mail on their own. The computer-savvy among them have even opened their own websites for interacting with the electorate.

The electronic campaign is not one-way. To an SMS from a Congress candidate, the response was : “Thank You,” to another it was, “I have always voted for you”.

The campaign could even become colourful. The photo of a candidate can also accompany a vote-for-me plea. The parties hope to catch a large number of young voters with the instant campaign. “It is a new era. It is not like Mahatma Gandhi moving millions of Indians through a post card,” says Gupta.

Electronic campaign may not be a bad idea after all, especially since voting is also at the press of a button.


BJP relies on star power, Congress on track record
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
The political parties are making a last-ditch effort to woo the voters ahead of the December 1 Assembly election in NCT of Delhi. The BJP is relying on ‘star’ power; the INC is taking it relatively easy, given the favourable poll predictions, and projecting good governance and development as its main planks.

“We remind the people about the work we did in the last five years. People have seen and felt the development works undertaken by our government,” says Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Arguing that the “work which we started is not finished yet”, she is asking voters to elect her party to power again if they “wanted Delhi’s development to be taken forward to make it a city of international standards.”

The BJP is highlighting the corruption in the government about which it has already presented a charge-sheet before the people. General Secretary VK Malhotra says the BJP, which lost power in 1998 due to ‘onion crisis’, is seeking to present itself as the one which “understands the problems of Delhiites”. It is raking up the issue of the infamous Tandoor murder case in which a former Delhi Youth Congress office bearer was sentenced to death for killing his wife.

The BJP is relying on the appeal of Prime Minister Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and BJP President Venkaiah Naidu. It has also roped in television and film actors like Smriti Malhotra-Irani and Aman Verma of the television soap “Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.” Film star-turned-Members of Parliament Vinod Khanna, Dara Singh, Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini are also adding glamour to the party’s campaign.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit lists the Metro, construction of flyovers to ease traffic snarls and introduction of environment-friendly CNG fuel as some of the achievements of her government. Countering Diskhit’s assertions, Khurana asks her to “name only two works which you have initiated and completed”.

Khurana maintains the Metro plan had been conceived during the tenure of the BJP Government between 1993 and 1998 as had been the project of flyovers and CNG. The two parties, however, have similarity of views on the issue of full statehood for NCT of Delhi to end multiplicity of authority. The issue of unauthorised colonies is another subject on which both parties agree.


Poll vandalism: Cases registered
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
Just three days before the campaigning for Delhi Assembly election ends, the Delhi Police claims to have registered 1,000 cases against various candidates for pasting posters on walls and vehicles without the consent of owners.

Almost every district police chief has registered as many as 100 cases after receiving complaints that either boundary walls or vehicles were found to be covered with posters, and that too without authorisation.

Since the Election Commission had declared that Defacement of Property is an offence, the police are now booking defaulting candidates under the Defacement of Property Act and the onus is on candidates to prove their innocence.

Cases have also been registered against the candidates whose banners have been found hanging across the streets and on the main roads, thereby disturbing the public and distracting the road users.

“Although the campaigning looks very peaceful on the face of it, the police have rounded up several persons in the last three days, who were offering musclemen to candidates of various political parties. We strictly go by directives of the Election Commission and cannot tolerate any mischief either by the candidates or their supporters,” said a police official.


Manisha plays judge to colourful ideas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
Film star Manisha Koirala’s role as a painting competition judge had her gushing at what she saw. The star was amazed at the “creativity” and the “talent” that “children these days possess”.

At ease in her role as a judge, that required neither makeover nor mouthing trite lines, Manisha, dressed in denims, was happy “playing a Good Samaritan and doing her bit” to encourage the underprivileged children of society.

The actress was here to “join under-privileged children in their endeavour to express themselves through art and artistic expressions”. The occasion was a painting competition, organised for underprivileged children to enable them to express their dreams and aspirations.

Manisha joined the children in their effort at self-expression in her capacity as a judge. While giving away the prizes to the winners of the painting competition, titled ‘Colourful Ideas,’ said: “I am amazed by the creativity and talent that children these days possess. It is great that underprivileged children are also being given public platforms to present their talent”.

The function was organised by Idea Cellular Limited, which is celebrating its first anniversary today in collaboration with Prayas, a Delhi-based NGO.

The children were asked to express a single original idea of their own on paper. Around 150 children, most of them aged between eight and 12, participated in the competition, with most of them translating their thoughts and ideas onto canvas with elan.

Present on the occasion was the Joint Commissioner of Police Amod Kanth, who is also the General Secretary of Prayas.

“These children need whatever motivation and support that they can get, so that they are at par with children with better opportunities. Prayas is glad that such an opportunity has been provided to the children by Idea Cellular”, said the Executive Director, Prayas, Rajib K Kaldhar.

It was pointed out that this competition is the beginning of a series of endeavours to help the underprivileged. Prize money and gift certificates were presented to two winners in each category by Manisha Koirala and Idea Delhi circle head, Rajendra Chaurasia.

What’s more, the prize winning entries will be used by Idea Cellular as part of the design for its New Year cards for the year 2004.


Big booty in illicit liquor seized
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
The North district police, in three different incidents, has apprehended four persons, including two women, and seized 252 bottles of illicit liquor and 32 bottles of country made liquor and a Santro car from their possession.

During a special drive against illicit liquor, the police apprehended two persons travelling in a Santro car at Vijay Ghat. They were later identified as Bharat Bhushan, a resident of Khayala Delhi, and Amar, a resident of Sarojini Nagar, and seized 252 bottles, purportedly containing Contessa Rum; the bottles were intended for sale in Delhi. The label was later found to be a fake one.

The accused revealed that they brought the liquor from one Dalbir Singh, a resident of Bahadurgarh, who is the kingpin of the racket. Dalbir Singh, who prepared the illicit brew, added the rum for flavour, so that it could be palmed off to army personnel in Delhi.

In the second case, the police apprehended one Pavitri Devi, a resident of jhuggis on SPM Marg, and seized 16 bottles of country made liquor. In the third case, one Rekha, a resident of IP Colony, was apprehended and another 16 bottles of country made liquor were seized from her possession.

There has been a spurt in liquor smuggling ever since elections were announced.


Gangsters wanted for 20 yrs nabbed
Parmindar Singh

Noida, November 26
The special police team, Noida, has nabbed five members of the inter-state criminal gang, Sher Banga Jati. They belong to the Bawariya tribe, the police said. Wanted in Delhi, UP, Punjab and Haryana and a number of other states for murder, decoity, loot and other crimes, the gang members had been eluding the police forces of many states for the past 20 years. They would commit the crime at night after selecting the target house during the day and flee before dawn, Addl Police Superintendent MP Singh said.

IG Meerut R.K.Tiwari had constituted a team of quick thinking police inspectors to track down this gang, after a major crime in Meerut recently. The SOG comprised Meerut SO Inspector Arun Kumar Sharma, Brahanpuri SO Ashok Kumar Singh and Alok Sharma of Gautam Budh Nagar. The team learnt on Monday that members of the Bawariya gang were collecting in the jungles of Tilpata village, which falls under Surajpur police station. They were planning a big crime in Noida by night fall, the team was tipped off. The SOG team, with the help of Surajpur SO SP Singh and his force, rounded up the gang and nabbed five of its members; however, three others succeeded in fleeing.

No namaz allowed

Ghaziabad: The district administration did not allow anyone to offer Namaz on a disputed religious site in Shahid Nagar, which has been placed under Section 144. The local Muslims had organized a dharna at the collectorate with a request that they be allowed to offer Namaz on the disputed site. The DM had constituted a committee to resolve the dispute. There is a running feud between two groups over khasra no1276 and 1277 in Pasaunda village in Shahid Nagar; the matter is pending in the high court.

After a month-long hearing, Addl DM Kaushal Chandra had given the ruling that the land belonged to Nagar Nigam. Accordingly, the district administration had ordered that no Namaz could be offered there in view of the dispute and the resultant tension in the locality.


Faridabad petrol pumps go on lightning strike
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 26
Nearly all petrol pumps in Faridabad district went on a lightning strike today in protest against the registration of cases against the owners of seven petrol pumps in the town by the district administration on charges of adulteration. The cases were registered on the basis of the test reports of petrol samples collected recently.

The District Petrol Dealers Association held a meeting here today followed by a press conference in the afternoon, where the association spokesperson declared that all pumps would go on an indefinite strike from today.

The spokesman told the NCR Tribune that the strike would continue till the cases registered against them were withdrawn and a clarification was issued on the test report of the petrol samples. He claimed that all the samples were `satisfactory’ and there was no `failure’ in the tests conducted at PTL laboratory in Noida. He said the variation in the test report could be due to the presence of ethanol in the petrol and since the specifications for testing ethanol-mixed-petrol were different.

He said the laboratory authorities and the representatives of various oil companies had already clarified their stand on the issue. They had also placed their case before the district authorities.

He said the officials of petrol companies also tried to justify their stance last evening, but they were not heard.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the President and the General Secretary of the Haryana Petrol pumps Dealers Association has arrived here to have a dialogue with the pump owners and the district authorities. The association also announced its decision to challenge the action of the authorities in the court. There are about 35 petrol pumps in the district.


Sonia takes cue from Atal, to don canvassing shoes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
After the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and a host of senior leaders having donned the ‘canvas-sing’ shoes, it is the turn of Ms Sonia ‘Madam’ Gandhi to grab the microphone.

Ms Gandhi is scheduled to address three public meetings in the city tomorrow. Sharing the podium with Madam will be DPCC president Prem Singh and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The first meeting will be addressed at Chirag Dilli Maidan followed by one at Dilshad Garden and the final one at Mangolpuri.

BJP president Venkiahhah Naidu addressed a public meeting in Saket. The meeting held in Durga Vihar was organised to support Vijay Jolly, the BJP’s candidate from Saket.

Dara ‘Hanuman’ Singh accompanied by Ram Naik and Kukhtar Abbas Naqvi came together to boost the morale of party candidate from Minto Road, Manoj Jain.

With the time running out, candidates and their supporters are getting used to a more gruelling schedule. Party workers are seen rushing from one locality to another and with the festivities like Id and marriage ceremonies bringing people together, the activists are thronging these places for campaigning.

Supporters of INLD candidate from Najafgarh, Bharat Singh descended on Dharampura, Raghubeer Enclave, Virendra Park, Roshanpura among other areas. And all along it was the same stuff, promises and more promises.

INLD candidate from Bawana, Hemchandra Bhatt claims that his supporters in his constituency have assured him of a ‘guaranteed success’ over his rival.

Similar claims were made by his counterpart from Mahipalpur, Virendra Singh Dagar.

MP Ajay Chautala will address public meetings in Outer Delhi constituencies tomorrow. The party leader will travel to Kishnagarh, Tikri kalan, Krishna Vihar to garner support for his partymen.

Meanwhile, the INLD is upset that the party’s image is being tarnished by the recent detention of ‘its party workers’ by the Delhi Police.

INLD has registered a complaint against the same with the Election Commission and is worried that the ‘partial’ role played by the police, will affect its electioneering work.


Shiv Sena manifesto promises common civil code for all Delhiites
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
Shiv Sena, a key NDA ally, today released its manifesto for the Assembly election in NCT of Delhi.

The party promised to rid the Capital of illegal Bangladeshi migrants and introduction of a common civil code for all Delhiites on the pattern of Goa besides the imposition of a blanket ban on cow slaughter.

The party, which is contesting 27 of the 70 seats at stake, also promised to make Delhi the ‘safest city’ for women, construct concrete houses for slum dwellers and impart public school education for children of poor families.

Releasing the manifesto at a press conference, Shiv Sena Parliamentary Party leader Chandrakant Khaire and Delhi party chief Jai Bhagwan Goel hoped that Shiv Sena would emerge as the third alternative to Congress and BJP in the state.


Protest held against sale of sub-standard wheat
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 26
Representatives of various political parties, social and voluntary organisations and trade unions today protested against the release of sub-standard quality of wheat at the fair price shops for distribution among families living below the poverty line (BPL) in this city and elsewhere in the district. They urged the state government to stop supply of this wheat without any further delay as it was unfit for human consumption.

In a joint press note issued here, they also alleged the wheat was mixed with pieces of bricks and stones and this had become unfit for human consumption. Even the depot-holders were reluctant to get such a poor quality of wheat from the Food and Supplies Department as they had to face angry BPL families. Representatives of these organisations also pointed out the department concerned had released poor quality of wheat after lifting it from the foodgrain market at Gohana town. This wheat had been damaged by the rains and other vagaries of weather during the past three and a half years. The ration card holders, they alleged, had declined to buy it as the wheat had a foul smell.

They also threatened to launch an agitation if the supply of this bad quality wheat was not stopped immediately.

An official of the department admitted the supply of sub-standard quality of wheat to the consumers and stated that he had brought this fact to the notice of the higher authorities and sent a sample to them for taking steps to supply good quality wheat at the fair price shops. This official also pointed out that some depot-holders had refused to get the sub-standard supply of wheat to be distributed through the fair price shops among the BPL families.

To save themselves from the wrath of the angry members of the BPL families, the depot holders had started supplying wheat after opening all wheat bags at the same time before the ration card holders.

The members of the Consumers Welfare Association have alleged the offices of the Food and Supplies Department in the urban and rural areas of the district had become dens of corruption and no work was done without greasing palms of the officials. The also alleged that most of the employees in the office of the District Food and Supplies Controller had been working for the last few decades on lucrative posts and in this way their posts had become “non-transferable”.

According to many depot-holders, they had been paying bribe to the staff at the time of release of levy sugar and kerosene every month.

This, they pointed out, was a common practice. If any one declined to pay the nazrana amount he was harassed on some pretext or the other.

Sources also pointed out that the role of the inspectorate staff was also under a cloud. Those in the knowledge revealed that inspectors of the department collected huge money as “nazrana” from the owners of the fair price shops, brick-kilns, petrol pumps and the LPG agencies.

Money allegedly exchanged hands at different levels in the offices of this department. To make up for all the expenses, a majority of the fair price shop owners fleeceed consumers mostly in the rural areas. Similar situation prevailed at the brick-kilns, petrol pumps and the LPG agencies. The owners of these organisations were adopting objectionable means for fleecing the consumers.

The association demanded a high-level probe into the racket and stern action against the erring officials. It also demanded immediate transfers and suspension of those officials having a longer stay in the office of the DFSC and other offices to ensure an independent and impartial probe. The association also urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to appoint a senior officer for conducting a thorough probe into the racket and punish the erring officials of the department concerned.


Now, Hafed to have franchisees in villages
Tribune News Service

Panipat, November 26
With a view to selling its products, a Haryana Government undertaking, Hafed, has initiated the process of appointing Hafed franchisees in the villages.

According to official sources, the franchisees will work as agents for the sale of fertilisers, pesticides, certified seeds, cattle feed and poultry products, basmati and non-basmati rice, mustard oil and other refined oils.

The grant of franchisees at the village level is a step in the direction of earning the trust of more farmers and expanding the network at the grassroots level. There are 6,500 villages in Haryana and about 2,300 mini banks are doing fertilizer business which means that there are still around 4,300 villages where there are no mini banks.

With an eye on these leftover villages, Hafed intended to appoint franchisees in such villages with a view to providing them with good quality fertilisers, seeds, pesticides and other products at the villagers’ doorsteps, an official highlighted.

He said the Hafed package to farmers included the supply of quality agricultural inputs, adequate marketing supports and looking after the need of the farmers at all levels.

Famed for prompt payment of the agricultural products procured from farmers, there is a growing demand for Hafed mandis all over the state. Increase in Hafed’s share in wheat procurement from 27 per cent to over 35 per cent is a testimony to this.

With quality as its USP, Hafed had recorded a turnover of Rs 3,658 crore last year and its quality products were a household names, the sources said.

It may be recalled that Hafed arranges the supply of agricultural inputs to farmers at their doorstep at reasonable rates through 62 cooperative marketing societies at the mandi level and 1800 mini banks at village level. IFFCO is directly supplying fertiliser to 500 mini banks.

The sources said the appointment of franchisees at the village level would facilitate the increase in the sale of the fertilisers and other Hafed products. This arrangement would also protect the farmers against spurious and substandard sales of the cattle feed and other consumer products, it informed.


Hiccups on first day irk farmers
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 26
The first day of the seasonal crushing of sugarcane in Ch Devi Lal Cooperative Sugar Mill at Gohana proved to be a day of troubles for the farmers as well as the mill staff due to some technical faults.

The opening ceremony of the crushing season was performed by the commissioner of Rohtak division, Mr R R Banswal, on Tuesday morning, but due to electricity faults, crushing could be started only after 10 pm when a team of experts from Delhi reached the mill and struggled for nearly four hours to repair the faults.

A large number of farmers of the region had brought their sugarcane in the mill and as there could not be any unloading till late night, there were long queues of the loaded vehicles including the tractor-trollies, trucks and pneumatic carts on the mill premises and on Gohana-Meham Road.

The farmers accused the mill authorities of adopting a negligent attitude. The farmers of Mahipal, Rampat, Sube and Ram Dhari, said the mill authorities have not taken the preparations seriously, thereby creating problems for the farmers who have been waiting with their loaded vehicles since morning.

According to sources, the mill employees struggled throughout the day to repair the electricity defects.

Finally, the mill authorities have reportedly requisitioned some experts from Delhi, but even they reportedly could not overcome the fault by late night.

Many farmers have even hired tractor-trollies for bringing the sugarcane to the mill.


Sugar Mills’ crushing season begins today
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, November 26
The Haryana Cooperative Sugar Mills, Rohtak will start its 48th crushing season from tomorrow. The previous crushing season, 2002-03 was started on November 21 last year and the mills had made remarkable impact on all norms of sugar industries as was evident during its 154 days of operation. Mills served the farmers by crushing 27.63 lakh quintals of sugarcane valuing at Rs 2875.70 lakh.

The entire payments have been made to the farmers, says managing director P K Sharma.

He said that the capacity utilisation of the mills in the last season was 102.99 per cent. Mr Sharma told the ‘NCR Tribune’ that although the area under sugarcane has declined from 35,475 acres to 31,326 acres, the crushing target from the 2003-04 season has been fixed at 30 lakh quintals with an average recovery of 10.00 per cent. The total sugarcane likely to be supplied by the farmers would be approximately Rs 32 crore and the mills expect to produce 3.03 lakh quintals of sugar worth Rs 39 crore.

The managing director said that the mills had distributed pesticides and insecticides on 25 per cent subsidy to the sugarcane suppliers. The facility of heat treatment of seed was also provided to the cane growers in the mills assigned area. The mills is also running a depot for sale of sugar to the farmers from where they get a good quality of sugar at fixed price.

Mr P K Sharma said that due to bumper production of sugar since 200-01 season, the mills here is having huge stocks of sugar. As on date, it has 232428 quintals of sugar valued at Rs 29.60 crore in its stores. The sugar market had crushed sharply during the previous year also.


A railway colony that does not have a motorable approach road
Our Correspondent

Panipat, November 26
Twenty-eight families of employees of Panipat railway station under Northern Railway are a harried lot over lack of basic facilities and amenities in the railway colony.

The colony, which is surrounded by the railway track on one side and Weaver’s Colony on the other has slush and weeds at the rear. Located underneath the Assandh road flyover, the colony does not have any main gate for entry or a pathway from where a vehicle or an ambulance in times of need can reach it. This has been the case for the past 18 years.

This railway colony came into existence in 1982 and its possession was handed over in 1985 to railway employees. The situation worsened when in the year 1987 the Assandh flyover came into existence.

A resident of the railway colony alleged that even after a lapse of 18 years of the existence of this colony the authorities had not bothered to put up an entry gate. As a result, stray animals had a free run in the colony. Besides this, this area had become a den for anti-social elements as well as those indulging in narcotics trade.

A woman residing in the colony alleged that the railway colony located under the prominent Assandh flyover bridge did not have a motorable way to approach it.

Another resident on condition of anonymity alleged that for the past three years sanitation water in the overhead tanks was not reachable and they were forced to use potable water and despite the fact that taps existed in the toilets they were dry for the past three years. The matter was reported to the department but without any tangible results.

The colony entry point was from Weaver’s Colony after the construction of the flyover but that too had been allegedly encroached by a resident of Weaver’s Colony. A room for a dhobi had been constructed and the proper motorable way to the colony was sealed.

He blamed the railway construction division who were least bothered about providing basic amenities to this colony. As a result, residents felt cheated and neglected.

Residents also alleged that the road in the colony was reportedly constructed only in 1982-85 and afterwards if it was constructed then it was on paper only.

However, the AEN (Const), Mr Rajiv Goel, was not available for comments as he was busy in meetings at the Delhi office of Northern Railway.

When the Junior Engineer of AEN (Const) office of IOW, Mr Behl, was asked to comment on the subject he told NCR Tribune that three years before they had installed plastic gates for the quarters of the colony.


Rs 50 cr earmarked for construction of roads in UP
Parmindar Singh

Noida, November 26
The UP Government has sanctioned Rs 50 crore for the construction and maintenance of roads in the state. Each MLA will get Rs 15 lakh for the maintenance of roads in his constituency. Besides, four special projects will be implemented by the UP State Construction Corporation. Approval to this proposal has also been accorded.

This was stated by the Public Works Minister, Ms Kusum Rai, after a review meeting with the officials of Delhi Division of UP State Construction Corporation.

She said the corporation had already completed four projects at a cost of Rs 18 crore.

These include Sarojini Naidu Medical College in Agra, Collectorate Bhawan in Jyotiphule Nagar, health centre in Gunnaur, Ms Rai said.

All executive officers found wanting in integrity have been given a strong warning.

The corporation has also been given a green signal for the construction of District Jail Kanpur, IIT, and residential colonies.

The Public Works Minister said that the work of repairing the damaged roads has been taken on priority basis in the state.

A committee of 70 persons has been constituted in each district to oversee work on the spot and submit a report.

The state government is likely to seek a grant of Rs 25 crore from the Centre for the repair of roads in the state, the minister said.


Rs 63,000 missing from post office, cashier blames it on two youths
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 26
Mystery shrouds the disappearance of Rs 63,000 from the cash counter of a post office at Gohana town, 35 km from here yesterday.

According to a report, the police investigations were still in progress. However, no case has been registered so far. The cashier has alleged that two unidentified youths had taken away this money.

Mr Rajinder Singh, a clerk who was manning the counter, left his seat and ran towards the bazaar. At some distance, he stopped and raised the alarm that two youths had taken away the cash from the counter of the post office and fled.

This caused panic among the people of the town.

In the meantime, another employee of the post office informed the police and Mr Nar Singh, SHO reached the site for investigations.

It is stated that the story narrated by Mr Rajinder Singh was unbelievable and the police suspect that he had misled the police about the disappearance of the cash.

Mushroom sheds gutted

Four mushroom sheds were burnt in a devastating fire which broke into the mushroom farm at Khburu village about 25 km from here last night. However, no loss of life was reported in the fire.

According to a report, the fire broke out in the mushroom farm around 8 pm and it spread speedily. Its owner Mr Dalip Singh informed the municipal fire brigade, but the officials refused to reach the site. Thereupon, a large number of residents assembled at the site and tried to bring the fire under control. They also succeeded in extinguishing the fire after a few hours. The loss caused by the fire is estimated around Rs 1 lakh.

The non-arrival of the municipal fire brigade has caused resentment among the villagers and they demanded stern action against the erring officials of the fire-brigade.

Id celebrations

Hundreds of Muslims offered prayers at Idgah and other mosques in the city on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr today. According to a report, a large number of Hindus also exchanged greetings with their Muslim friends on the occasion.

At Mehndipur village, a function was also held and the speakers said that the Id festival was a symbol of brotherhood.

The Id celebrations were also reported from the towns of Ganaur, Kharkhauda and Gohana in the district.


Novel initiative by Prayas to help sex workers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
Prayas has come up with a novel idea to rehabilitate and help girls rescued from trafficking by the police bounce back to normal life by setting up a food outlet in South Delhi run only by these girls.

The food outlet, Sanchay Prayas, which was opened yesterday at the Tughlakabad Institutional Area in South Delhi, boasts of an elaborate stock of cookies, namkeen, fruit drinks, biscuits and ice creams.

The outlet is situated at the Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice, a local non-governmental organisation which works among destitute children. Social activist Mohini Giri and Northern Railway Deputy General Manager Promilla Bhargav inaugurated the set-up with the support of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and Amul.

The girls from the Prayas Shelter Home have specially undergone training to market the food products supplied by Amul. ‘’The kiosk is yet another step towards empowering street children by encouraging a self-help group activity. The aim is to enable the victims to lead an independent and dignified life,’’ says an official of Prayas.

IOM Director Ovais Sarmad, Country Head Sarat Das, Prayas General Secretary Amod Kanth and Amul Marketing Coordinator R. S. Khanna were present at the opening ceremony.


Gang of thieves smashed
Tribune News Service

Panipat, November 26
The local police claim to have busted a gang of thieves and recovered valuables worth several lakhs of rupees, including five cars from them.

According to information, the thieves were arrested on Saturday night on the Ugra Kheri Road while replacing the registration number plate of a Balero jeep. They have been identified as Om Prakash, Jai Kishan, Pradeep and Jaiveer.

The police said two Balero jeeps, a Maruti Esteem, a Zen and a Maruti 800 have been seized from them besides eight motorcycles, two TVS mopeds, 35 gas cylinder and households items worth several lakhs of rupees.

Sources said Om Prakash and Jai Kishan were history-sheeters and wanted in over 30 thefts cases. Cases have been registered against them.

Bank manager held

The manager of the Ram Lal Chowk branch of the PNB, Ishwar Dass Gupta, was arrested by the police yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from an entrepreneur.

Sources said the accused had asked a carpet manufacturer, Mr Jaswant, to pay the bribe for extending the withdrawal limit of his factory from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

The manager was caught red-handed by a team led by the DSP, Mr O.P. Narwal, and Tehsildar Rajinder Gahlaut.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.

Thieves strike in kiryana shop

SONEPAT: Thieves are reported to have broken the locks of a kiryana shop on the Mission Chowk here last night and decamped with bags of dry fruit and tea worth over Rs 1 lakh.

According to a report, the shop owner Sat Narain has lodged an FIR in this connection. The spate of thefts reported in the city during the past one week have caused panic among the residents and shopkeepers of the city. They have urged the police to intensify the night patrolling and curb the activities of the anti-social elements.

Company observes ‘family day’

FARIDABAD: The JCB India Limited, a company engaged in manufacturing earthmoving equipment, observed a ‘family day’ recently on the company premises here. Mr Onkar Singh Sunar, MD, gave away the safety and service award to the employees.

The cultural programme which included musical orchestra, bhangra, magic show, many dress competitions and recitation of poem was followed by a guided tour of the company plant. TNS


Residents hail DTC service from Delhi to Gt Noida

GREATER NOIDA: The DTC bus service from Delhi to Greater Noida was warmly greeted by the residents of the area on November 25. The service was flagged off by Brijesh Kumar, Chairman of Noida and Greater Noida authorities from Honda Seal Company at 10 am. The first bus route starts from Sector-32 and covers Sector-27, 37, Agahapur, Baraula, Bhangel, Surajpur, various sectors of Greater Noida and winds up at Kasna. The second route starts from Lajpat Nagar bus stop and passes through express way to various sectors of Greater Noida. The bus service will begin at 6.40 am. OC

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