N C R   S T O R I E S


8 pc decline in heinous crimes: Police chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The Delhi Police today claim that the overall crime rate during the year has shown a notable decline: in heinous crimes by eight per cent and in non-heinous by four per cent as compared to the crimes of previous years.

This was the last annual press conference of Delhi Police Commissioner R S Gupta as he is due to demit office on January 31, 2004. Mr Gupta has attributed the credit to all the branches of the Delhi Police force and said that the branches had contributed in a systematic manner in the overall improvement of the law and order in the Capital.

While in the heinous crime head, murder has come down from 531 cases in 2002 to 456 cases in 2003, showing a decline of 12 per cent, robbery has come down from 502 cases to 425 cases in 2003, showing a decline of 11 per cent. While 48 cases of dacoity were reported in 2002, 27 cases were reported in 2003, showing a decline of 44 per cent, attempt to murder showed a decline of nine per cent, kidnapping for ransom shown a drop of six per cent and snatching was down by 12 per cent.

A total of 84.55 per cent of the heinous cases were worked out as compared to the 80.80 per cent in 2002 and 63.18 per cent of the non-heinous cases were worked out in 2003 as compared to 58.82 per cent in 2002.

But Mr Gupta said that the police are still working to solve some of the important cases not solved so far such as the Siri Fort rape case, double murder case of Vasant Kunj, rape-cum-murder case of seven-year-old girl of Keshavpuram, robbery-cum-murder case of Zakheera flyover, and the theft of pistol in the National Museum.

Mr Gupta said that the crime control during the year 2003 was due to the proactive preventive action following the systematic analysis of crime and public support. In fact, more than 295 criminals were caught red-handed by the Police Control Room vans. The Resident Welfare Associations, market associations and NGOs also helped the police during 2003.

He also said that a number of important cases were worked out during the year like the murder case of Sunita Chadha of Rohini, 72-year-old Harbansh Kaur of Malviya Nagar, contract killing of hotelier Dalip Sultani of Sarojini Nagar, extortion threat to Japan national through e-mail, journalist Shivani Bhatnagar case, ICICI bank robbery case and several other important cases.

He said that the Delhi Police Narcotics Wing has had a good seizure of narcotics in 2003. During the year, 238.904 kgs of charas, 99.245 kgs of opium, 914 kgs of ganja, 118.380 kgs of smack and 577.946 kgs of poppy head have been seized by the narcotics sleuths.


…but crime against women increases
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The Delhi Police today conceded that the city is unsafe for women as the cases in the crime against women category have shown an increase during the year 2003.

However, the Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr R S Gupta, said that almost 95 per cent of rapes take place at the victim’s house or the neighbouring places and the accused is known to the victims in most of the incidents. Only in five per cent of the rape cases, the accused are strangers.

Out of 28 cases of rape by strangers reported to the police in 2003, as many as 20 cases have already been solved. Only in the incidents where the victim’s family members, relatives and friends were involved, it becomes very difficult to solve them, said Mr Gupta.

As many as 466 cases of crimes were reported in the crime against women category in 2003 as against the 407 cases in 2002. To instil a sense of fear among the miscreants and sense of security among the women, Mr Gupta said that a number of men and women in plainclothes have been deployed near the women’s colleges and schools to nab the miscreants besides deployment in other vulnerable public places.

Even in the Siri Fort rape case where a Swiss diplomat was raped, he said, the Delhi Police have not yet given up hope and are continuing with the investigation under the supervision of Special Investigation Team (SIT).

To a question about the status of the investigation into the Siri Fort rape case, the police chief said over 20 teams comprising 200 experienced officers are working as part of the SIT to solve the case.

He said photographs of 74 suspects were sent to the victim and some of them had been interrogated and examined at length. Besides, the blood samples of seven suspects were sent for DNA test. Mr Gupta said in all, more than 14,000 people had been questioned so far and 2,000 of them subjected to intensive quizzing. More than 4,700 arms licencees and their families in South Delhi and neighbouring areas were verified by the police which also questioned several parking attendants, waiters, managers, security staff of hotels, pubs, gymnasiums, health clubs and restaurants.


Arrest warrants: HC restrains trial court
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The Delhi High Court has directed the trial court not to issue arrest warrants against any person, after having taken cognizance of an offence and issuing summons, unless the person is either absconding or fails to appear in court despite summons having been served upon him.

Mr Justice, J. D. Kapoor ordered, “No court shall, after taking cognizance of an offence by the way of summons, issue warrant of arrest against any person, unless it records the reasons in writing, as provided under Section 87 of Criminal Procedure Code that the said person was either absconding or does not obey the summons or failed to appear despite summons served upon him.”

The judge also said that the rejection of an application moved by an accused for exemption from personal appearance was not a valid ground for issuing the arrest warrant.

“No court should issue warrant of arrest in case such an application is rejected, as rejection does not come within the ambit of the aforesaid eventualities.”

In such an event, the court could either direct the appearance of the person or issue summons for him, he said.

Mr Justice Kapoor also said the court could not forfeit the personal bond or surety bond unless the person bound by the bond does not appear. “Rejection of application for exemption from personal appearance does not amount to non-appearance as contemplated by the law.”


Haryana pvt school owners seek changes in education rules
B S Malik

Sonepat, January 5
The Haryana State Private School Owners Association has sent a 19-point memorandum to the Haryana Chief Minister, through the Deputy Commissioner, demanding amendments to the new education rules, 2003. It sought, inter alia, abolition of charging pledge money while granting permanent recognition.

Before submitting the memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, a state level meeting of the association was held in local Chhotu Ram Dharamshala on Saturday in which a large number of the representatives of the private schools from all over the state participated.

While addressing the meeting, the association president, Mr Bhagat Singh Balhara, said that the very existence of the private schools was in danger because of the new rules framed by the state government in 2003.

He pointed out that the government was going to make the implementation of new rules mandatory from the next academic session; whereas more than 50 per cent of the government schools did not fulfil the conditions included in the new rules. As the private schools have also been taking part in various government-sponsored programmes like Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, literacy programmes etc, they ought to be granted permission for holding examinations. The school leaving certificates issued by the private schools should also be recognised, the association president said.

Stating that the students belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes and studying in private schools are made to pay full examination fees, Mr Balhara demanded that the fees must be charged on the pattern of government schools while taking middle, matric and senior secondary examination.

According to rules, termed as New Haryana School Education Rules, every individual, association, society or trust, desirous of establishing a new school, shall apply along with demand draft of Rs 1,000 for primary school, Rs 5,000 for middle and Rs 10,000 for senior secondary as processing fee along with other information like proposed salary of the staff, fees and funds to be levied and collected.

Under the new rules, the government has enforced a number of conditions for recognition of schools. These 27 conditions include prior approval from the Director for opening of new school, no admission beyond Class-III, teachers suitably trained with minimum prescribed qualification. Other conditions concern with school buildings, management and various other facilities. Minimum norms for land and building of the schools have also been fixed in the new rules.

In rural areas, 0.5 acres of land is required for primary school, 1.5 acre for middle school and 2.5 acres for secondary and senior secondary schools. However, in urban areas, the requirement for middle school is one acre and two acres for secondary and senior secondary school. But under the old norms, the land requirement was of 250 square yards, 500 square yards and 1000 square yards respectively for these three categories, as per information from the education office.

The rules have also set the norms of minimum size and the number of rooms with provisions of toilets, urinals, open space, boundary walls along with room for the head of school, library room and laboratory.

Under the rules, every private school has been asked to pledge money at least equal to six months’ basic pay of the staff but in no case less than Rs 50,000 for primary stage, Rs 1 lakh for middle stage, Rs 1.50 lakh for secondary stage and Rs 2 lakh for senior secondary stage, and the amount shall be deposited in the name of DeO and DPEO concerned (by designation). 


Cold wave refuses to relent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Delhiites woke up to a morning that held out no hope of the cold wave subsiding, with the minimum temperature dropping again, to the second lowest of the season at 4.6 degree Celsius, and the sun taking longer to show up.

The temperature at mid-day was 9.7 degree Celsius. The sun today was nowhere in sight till well into afternoon.

The weather office said cloudy conditions would continue for the next 24 hours. There was also a possibility of light rains in some areas.

Meanwhile, flights operated normally today, but the train services remained disrupted by the fog prevailing in the northern region.

As many as five trains were cancelled today and ten others, originating from the Capital, were rescheduled.

Besides, a number of trains were running late by several hours.

These included the Bhiwani-Malda Town Farakkha Express (19 hours) and Guwahati-Delhi Avadh Assam Express and Amritsar New Delhi (11 hours).

The Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyat Express and Darbhanga-Amritsar Saryu Yamuna Express were late indefinitely.

Two labourers killed in wall collapse

Two labourers were killed and one was seriously injured when the wall of a building under construction collapsed in St. John School in Lodhi Road complex area of South Delhi this morning, police sources said.

It killed one person on the spot when the built portion came down. Another person was declared brought dead in hospital. The injured, Suraj, was admitted to a hospital. The deceased were identified as Prabhu Nath and Lalit Kumar.

However, the schoolchildren were unharmed as they were not around when the accident took place. The victims were working at the site. The incident took place at around 11.15 am, the police said.A case of negligence has been registered against the contractor and the cause of the wall collapse would be investigated, the police said.


Delhi, satellite towns to have better links
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Connectivity of the satellite towns with the Capital will improve after the states concerned begin drawing up a blueprint for introducing an Integrated Rail and Bus Transit (IRBT) system.

The feasibility study of the project has been conducted and a draft Memorandum of Understanding approved by all stakeholders except the Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Estimated to cost Rs 2,239 crore, the IRBT system will connect Delhi with Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Sahibabad.

It will have an interface with the Delhi Metro.

The project includes the Rs 665-cr Shahdara– Sahibabad– Ghaziabad corridor, the Rs 621-crore Sahibabad–Tilak Bridge– Minto Bridge section and the Rs 953-crore Dayabasti–Bijwasan– Gurgaon corridor.

The IRBT system will interface with Delhi Metro at Shahdara, Trinagar/ Dayabasti, Barakhamba Road/Shivaji Bridge and Kirti Nagar/New Patel Nagar.

A Steering Committee has also been constituted to monitor the project.

The IRBT system will provide two dedicated tracks for commuter traffic.


Encroachments cause traffic jams: R S Gupta
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Delhi Police Commissioner R. S. Gupta said that traffic regulation and its control had been challenging in the Capital due to encroachments of footpaths and pavements by shopkeepers and others, severe constraints of parking space, poor drivers’ training and public indiscipline.

He said that in most of important market places half of the roads have been encroached from both sides. Traffic jams are seen for long hours. Due to a large number of private vehicles people do not get proper parking places and they park their vehicles on rod sides resulting traffic jams. Apart from this, people do not have proper training of driving, which is very important in metro city like Delhi.

While addressing the annual conference, Mr Gupta said that rapid demographic changes during the past few years was also one of the reasons of the traffic problem in the national Capital. The growth is reflected in terms of population size, economic activities and physical extent.

The human population, which was 43 lakhs in 1971, has escalated to 153 lakhs in 2003. Correspondingly motor vehicle population, which was about 2.17 lakhs in 1971, has swelled to 38 lakhs in 2003, 17 times more than the past three decades. In addition to this, over one-lakh vehicles from neighbouring states also ply on Delhi roads.

Due to the heavy traffic and untrained drivers, the Traffic Police reported 8,503 road accidents from various parts of the Capital last year. Out of this, 1642 cases were fatal while remaining cases were of simple accidents. To check the violation of traffic rules, the traffic police challaned 32, 37, 118 vehicles and Rs 39. 62 crore was realised as compound fee.

He said that Delhi had distinction of having highest number of signals in the country. There are 618 signals and 474 blinkers to assist the cops in the regulation of traffic.

The Traffic Police have installed computerised Area Traffic Control System (ATC) on 46 junctions in New Delhi area with an in-built capacity to control signalised junctions.

The ATC varies the signal timings on the basis of traffic load in a particular area resulting in less waiting time at signals. Apart from this, the traffic police have got Solarised traffic signals installed at National High No 8 on Gurgaon Road and Mool Chand Hospital crossings on Ring Road and at other junctions work is in progress.

Red Light and speed check camera systems have also been installed at three places in New Delhi area. This system automatically detects the traffic violators by using sensors. Speed Radar Guns are used to check over speeding, which often causes fatal accidents.


Destitute woman beaten up by policemen
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, January 5
While the police department in the district as well as in the state may be claiming success in the month-long ‘sadbhawana campaign’, which ended recently, the cops on the other hand seem not to have learnt any lesson regarding their behaviour and handling delicate matters involving human angle. A destitute woman, recovered by an NGO, was allegedly beaten up by the policemen at Palwal recently.

According to information, a 20-year-old woman, hailing from Madhya Pradesh, who had perhaps strayed into the state due to mental illness, was taken to a police station by the volunteers of Shakti Vahini, an NGO here, for sending her to the Nari Niketan. But, it is learnt that the cops on duty, despite by the directions by a senior police officers, beat the woman in the station. The woman, who could not be identified, was accompanied by her six-month-old baby girl. The woman said that she had come from Madhya Pradesh by a train and got down at Asawati railway station. It is learnt that she walked into a house and could not respond well when enquired about her identity and whereabouts by the local villagers. The matter was taken by the NGO, which sought the police help to send her to the Nari Niketan.

According to a spokesman of the NGO, the cops beat the women in front of them despite having the required information. While it is now learnt that the woman has been sent to the Nari Niketan, it is reported that this has been the second incident of this kind in the state.

The police had recovered a young Muslim woman from a village in the Bhiwani district recently, who also confessed the police that she had come from Madhya Pradesh and wanted to settle here due to some personal problem.

“Since the authorities had sent her in the PGIMS Rohtak for check-up and treatment, such incidents call for proper handling and posting of more women constables at various police stations,” claims the NGO. It has also demanded an action against the cops who beat up the women.


Cable operators exploiting consumers
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, January 5
The cable operators in Faridabad seem to be having a field day in the matter of charging the monthly subscription fee from the consumers. While there is no parity in the these rates the cable operators here perhaps are free to go for a hike at any time of the year and leave the consumers helpless.

While the issue of CAS made both the Central and the Delhi governments feel the heat and made it the main issue of concern for the rulers in the national Capital the alleged irregularities by the cable operators highlighted by a social activist through a PIL currently pending in the High Court, are still to see any proper check on cable people here. As the matter of indiscriminate rise in the cable rates had also included in the PIL, the consumers here are still facing the wrath of the operators. Some of the operators here have started collecting higher monthly subscription charges from the consumers here. According to a resident of Sector-9 here, the local cable operator had asked him and his neighbour to pay Rs 50 more per month from January onwards or face disconnection. He said that he had been told that the hike was done in view of the increase in rates by various cable channels from this month. He claimed that the hike of Rs 50 per month was too much and unaffordable. It is learnt that the cable charges vary from Rs 150 to 250 per month depending upon the area. Reports from other parts of the town have indicated similar moves by the cable operators from this month.

Mr K.L Gera, a resident of Sector-15-A here, who had filed the PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek action against the cable operators allegedly flouting the rules and regulations of the Cable TV network Act, has claimed that it would be illegal and unlawful if there was any hike now. Moreover, he said that the move if any would justify the allegations levelled by him in the petition. He claimed that due to no regulatory authority in the district, the consumers were taken for a ride by the operators and there was none who could safegaurd the interest of consumers. He has asked the district administration to take an action against the operators who had gone for a hike in the monthly rates or had been planning to do so in near future.

He further said that in spite of the directions issued by the Deputy Commissioner, none of the SDM in the district had conducted any raid or taken any action against the cable operators, who had still been not following the rules properly, he alleged. Various Resident Welfare Associations here had protested earlier against the indiscriminate hike in subscription charges and had pressurised the local authorities to wield its authority to put a check on this tendency.

While it is reported that the monthly subscription fee was not being collected from the Officers Colony, where the district officials reside, the total number of connections in the town was around 2.5 lakh.


Mata Sheetla Devi Temple to get facelift
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, January 5
The renowned Mata Sheetla Devi Temple and its complex here will be developed and beautified to give a push to the religious tourism.

The proposed development would be on the pattern of the Mata Mansa Devi Temple at Panchkula so that it could emerge as a centre of attraction and devotion for the pilgrims, according to the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

Mr Chautala on Sunday presided over the 7th meeting of Mata Sheetla Devi Shrine Board.

In the meeting, Mr Chautala directed the Chief Administrator of Mata Sheetla Devi Shrine Board to explore the possibility of constructing an underground parking so that it could cope with the increasing demand of vehicles in the city.

He made it known that following construction of the underground parking, the income of the Board would increase. Besides, a number of facilities could also be provided to the pilgrims during the annual fair. Besides, he directed the Board authorities to try to preserve the antiques on the premises.

Mr Chautala also approved a proposal to set up a primary health centre near the Mata Sheetla Devi shrine to cater to the needs of the pilgrims as well as the people residing in the nearby villages.

According to him, the Board has incurred a sum of Rs 70 lakh during the current financial year so far to provide a number of facilities on the premises, including a canteen.

There are also plans for carving out five tombs having attractive architectural designs.

During his visit, here Mr Chautala also presided over a meeting of the District Public Grievances and Redressal Committee.

He revealed that a state level committee has been constituted by the government to approve the new schools.

He said that such institutions which did not fall in the ambit of fulfilling the norms, had been given one year to take the remedial measures.

He also dedicated a Vijay Tank to the people at Nagar Parishad Park. The tank has been given by the Ministry of Defence in the memory of 128 martyrs of the district.

He said that this tank would refresh the memories of 1971 Indo-Pak war in which Vijay Tanks had destroyed Paton Tanks of Pakistan.

In another development, he presided over a the meeting of Local Area Development Committee and approved a sum of Rs 1.2 crore for the year 2003-2004.


Wounded rabbits left at the mercy of nature
Our Correspondent

Meerut, January 5
Golden Ram Ecological Park has turned into a “graveyard” for over 45 rabbits due to the “irresponsible and negligent attitude” of the Army officials. Some of the rabbits kept in the park were found sick while at least 6 of them were seriously wounded for over a month without medical care.

Golden Ram Ecological Park, near the Military Hospital, Meerut, was conceived and inaugurated by Major-General G. K. Verma, AVSM, VSM, the then General Officer Commanding of the Ram Infantry division some 6 years back. The ecological park was developed by 202 Engineering Regiment and the 48 Field company.

Several birds of various species, ducks and rabbits were kept in the park. Now, however, a large number of birds were found missing. Though by nature rabbits live in holes made underground, they were kept inside an iron cage. As a result, these rabbits were compelled to bear the brunt of the intense cold wave sweeping the region.

Two of the rabbits were found with serious wounds in their eyes. Two other rabbits have deep wounds in their mouths, 3 of them are wounded in their ear, while several other rabbits were injured and needed immediate medical attention.

The park is currently maintained by 311 Field regiment. According to a senior police official, those maintaining ecological parks were bound to the Brucells Convention, 1994. According to the convention, those maintaining ecological parks were bound to provide natural habitat to the animals. However, in this case, an officer said the guidelines of the Brucells Convention were not followed by the Army.

Though the NCR Tribune tried to get in touch with several Army officers for their views on the issue, no one was willing to make a comment on it.

Actually, the Army authorities were capable of providing the best possible treatment to the wounded rabbits as it has a veterinary wing.

Meanwhile, the DFO, Meerut, Mr A. K. Singh, told the NCR Tribune that the Forest Department was unable to do anything in this matter as only the police could initiate action in cases which dealt with the Cruelty to Animals (Prevention) Act.


Probe into contract irregularities called off
Our Correspondent

Noida, January 5
A probe into scams and irregularities in works and contracts worth Rs 43 crore committed during Ms Mayawati’s regime is understood to have been called off by the Noida Authority. Having come within days of the transfer of the CEO and Chairman of Noida Authority, Mr Brijesh Kumar, and taking over by Mr V. Malhotra, it was being viewed as “little intriguing”, according to observers.

The probe was to inquire into irregularities connected with the fixing of electric poles on the Expressway. It would also have covered the alleged carpeting of the DSC road. The probe has also been surprisingly called off during the leave of Additional CEO, Mr Debashish Panday. The former CEO-cum-Chairman had ordered these probes especially after these facts had been raised in the Press. These probes had been entrusted to chief executive of an architect firm, Mr Pankaj Mishra.

According to well informed sources, Mr A.K. Goel, senior project engineer and head of Zone-I, had sent a communication to the concerned inquiry agency on 24 November, 2003, in which the agency had been asked to critically examine the designs of both these works, inquire into the contract rates, the materials used and their test reports as also the examination of the rates and the sites of the work.

Subsequently on 27 November, the agency had written to senior project engineers, Mr L. K. Gupta and Mr P. H. Siddiqui, for details of documents and records of these projects. However, the agency requested an extension of 15 days as these two departments had failed to furnish these details. The senior project engineer, Mr A. K. Goel, replied on December 20 that since a cross- section was not required on the DSC road, the probe report should be expedited. Mr A. K. Goel wrote back to the agency on December 24 apologizing for his mistake.

It is learnt that all the necessary details and documents were not made available by the concerned departments. In effect, it had ensured that the DSC road probe was a nonstarter.

The inquiry report pertaining to electric poles was, however, almost ready. The probe report was to be handed over on January 5. However, the senior project engineer, Mr A. K. Goel, had in a letter informed the agency that the inquiry had been transferred to the I.I.T, Delhi.

It alleged that since the report was to be submitted by December 9, 2003, which was not done, the inquiry has been transferred to I.I.T, Delhi. According to Noida Authority sources, the probe has been taken away from the architect agency and will now be conducted by the I.I.T, Delhi. 


HVP for roll back in increase in water rate
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 5
The general-secretary of the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP), Mr Rajiv Jain, has criticised the decision of the state government to increase the water rate by 15 per cent. He described the decision as “unjust and unwarranted”.

In a signed press statement issued here today, he said that the state government had put “unwarranted” financial burden on the common man, who were already burdened with other taxes levied by the government.

He said that the state government had already increased the security amount and monthly charges for water and sewerage connections. He alleged that this amount was forcibly collected from the old consumers too.

He demanded the immediate withdrawal of the 15 per cent increase in the water tariff and warned that if this demand was not accepted by the government, his party would have no alternative but to launch a statewide agitation on this issue. The HVP leader also criticised the “anti-people” policies of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) government headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and alleged that it had also increased the House Tax, which had become another burden on the people.

The house owners were critical of this as well as increase in the power tariff and development charges fixed by the government.

He claimed that if his party comes to power after the Assembly elections, it would reverse all the anti-people decisions of the Chautala government in the interest of the common man. Mr Jain said that the HVP would be holding a rally on January 18 in this city, which would be addressed by the former Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal.

The party supremo would announce some of the steps that the HVP would take if it is voted to power in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Birth anniversary celebrated

The birth anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji was celebrated with great enthusiasm here today. According to a report, large number of Sikhs and other people thronged the Gurdwaras and took part in the religious congregations. A procession was taken out on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji, which passed through the main bazars of the city.


Moral standards depressing

The Indian TV channels are aping the foreign channels in dishing out the porno stuff to the viewers in their drawing rooms. Most of the programmes shown are so indecent that you can’t view them with your sons and daughters, says noted journalist and writer on the Punjabi affairs, Surinder Singh Johar, as he speaks to Parminder Singh.

All-round falling standards disturb Surinder Singh Johar, noted journalist and writer on the Punjabi affairs. Johar, who has published about 20 books in English and Punjabi on Punjabi culture, Sikh Gurus, history, and fiction, is pained at the disorientation of those who are responsible for inculcating the values of our culture among the younger generation.

The youngsters, in an age of fast declining ethics amidst the glamour of media, especially TV channels, do not realise what they are missing. “It is most unfortunate that the Punjab’s culture and traditions evolved over centuries of hard work and sacrifices of

the leaders and the people alike have, sadly enough, fallen in the hands of a few unscrupulous self-seeking pundits of religion, culture and media. It is a national loss.

President of Punjabi Thinkers Forum, S.S.Johar, who was honoured with Shiromani Sahitkar Litterateur Award by the Punjab Government in 1995 and Punjabi Patarkari (Journalism) Award by Punjabi Academy, Government of Delhi in 2000, feels extremely worried about the falling standards.

Surinder Singh Johar, joined the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 1954 and later became an officer of IIS, Indian Information Service. He worked in the Field Publicity Division, All India Radio, Press Information Bureau, Senior Research Officer in Union Public Service Commission, Publications Division, Government of India and was Editor Yojna (Punjabi)

He also served as Senior Information Officer in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Irrigation, Planning Commission, Law Justice and Company Affairs and Home Affairs and retired as DPIO in PIB.

Johar has worked with stalwarts like President Giani Zail Singh, S.B.Chavan, Narain Datt Tiwari, Dr.M.S. Swaminathan, Mr.S.S. Barnala and Dr. Manmohan Singh during his career.

S.S. Johar’s Biography of Giani Zail Singh was awarded the best Book of the Year Award in 1985 by the Punjab Government. He was honoured with the Shiromani Sahikar (Literary) Award, by the Government of Punjab in 1995.

He was also honoured with the Patarkari (Journalism) Award by the Punjabi Academy, Government of Delhi in 2000. Johar also worked as Media Consultant to the Government of Punjab in 1997.

Some of the books in English authored by S.S.Johar include Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Nanak, Guru Teg Bahadur, The Young Martyrs, The Defender of Faith, Sikh Sword to Power, Life Story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Birth of the Khalsa, Sikh Gurus and Sikh Shrines, and Handbook on Sikhism.

He has also authored about 15 books in Punjabi on Sikh religion and fiction, including novels and collection of short stories. Johar took time off from his busy schedule to talk to the NCR Tribune.


You had started as a journalist some 50 years ago, what is the most striking change you have noted in the five decades?

The most profound and almost universal change is the falling moral and ethical standards in the profession which of course reflect the general overall deterioration of ethics in public life in the country.

One must remember that the Indian Press had played a historic role in galvanizing the people for freedom struggle from say 1920 to the country’s independence in 1947.

Who is to blame for all this rot?

Well, that is difficult to pinpoint. You see people would vie with each other for taking the credit, but when something goes amiss, we tend to pass the buck. The most serious damage, however, is being done to the psyche of the younger generation, who do not have an idea of what they are missing.

But it is a national loss and we are squandering the precious treasures of our country’s culture, traditions and ethical values. It will be difficult to retrieve and re-establish such lofty values, once lost.

What about newspapers?

Newspaper circulations have gone up tremendously. That is reflective of modern technology as well as paucity of time with which the literate persons have to live these days. Besides, magazines and newspaper supplements have also gone in for lot of colourful, attractive pullouts to win the reader. The same is true about well-produced, ornate magazines.

In Punjab, one can get the feel of the circulation upswing from the fact that the Ajit which published some 20,000 copies in the sixties is now the largest published Punjabi daily at 250,000 copies a day followed by Jagwani.

What is the change you notice in the literary world?

Well, the same there. The standard of writing has come down partly due to lack of good writers and partly due to glitter and glamour of TV channels. Book reading is not a universal pass-time among the educated people as it used to be in our times. Books on good subject always mould the readers’ thinking.

From personnel experience, I can say that about 20 years ago, 5,000 copies of a good Punjabi book would sell within two years, but not now. It takes five years to sell about half the same quantity.

What about the subject matter and its treatment?

While there is a tremendous improvement in the technical and production side as well as in writings on scientific and technical subjects, but a big damage is being inflicted on people’s mind, especially the younger readership of impressionable age, by the liberal and flashy display of near-porno pictures, especially in pullouts and film magazines.

Bigger culprits are the Indian TV channels who are aping the foreign TV channels in dishing out the porno stuff to the viewers in their drawing rooms. Most of the programmes dished out are so indecent that you can’t view them along with your sons and daughters. Where had you seen Punjabi folk dances being performed by a scantily clad lasses that too in very provocative gestures? It is a travesty of Indian and Punjabi culture.

Are you working on any new project or book these days?

Yes, I am working on a book. An anthology and chronicler of Punjab since partition. It is expected to be released by March 2004.


Seven persons injured
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 5
Seven persons, including three women were injured when a three-wheeler collided with a Maruti car on the G T Road near Kurar village, about 10 km from here last evening. According to a report, the three-wheeler overturned in the accident.

All the injured persons were rushed to the local civil hospital from where the two women were referred to a trauma centre at Delhi for further treatment. The police have registered the case and further investigations were in progress.

Mechanic burnt

Shrikant, a mechanic sustained burn injuries when a steam tank leaked in the Sonepat Cooperative Sugar Mills here yesterday.


Birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh celebrated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The birth anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was celebrated in the Capital on Monday. The programme started early in the morning with the recitation of Sukhmani Sahib and Nitnem. Gurpurab was also celebrated in the other Gurdwaras where langar was served to the devotees.

Bhai Jagjit Singh Komal of Ludhiana performed the Asa-di-Var and Shabad Kirtan at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib. Bhai Raghubir Singh from Chandigarh recalled the unremitting confrontation of Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh with the tyranny and injustice of the Mughal rule.

The president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Prehlad Singh Chandok, and other office bearers were present at the Gurdwara. On the occasion, Mr Chandok said the DSGMC would make efforts to spread the gospel of the Sikh Guru Sahibans through special Samagams in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to preserve the identity of Sikhism.

A meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Sewadar Committee was also held in Khyala, Vishnu Garden and Tilak Nagar. On the occasion, the president of Shiromani Gurdwara Sewadar Committee, Mr Raja Singh Sethi, appealed to the Sikhs to follow the path of universal brotherhood.

Meanwhile, Bibi Palvinder Kaur, the president of Punjabi Sikh Sangat, has condemned a French law banning the wearing of turbans by the Sikhs and displaying of religious symbols by religious communities. Under the law, the Sikhs were not allowed to read in schools or work in Government of France offices with turban on their head. Bibi Palvinder Kaur said it was against the Sikh tenets and had hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs worldwide.

Attack on ‘cattle squad’

The Chairman of the Standing Committee in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Mr Mukesh Goel, today strongly condemned the attack on corporation’s ‘Cattle Catching Squad’ and demanded that action should be taken by the Delhi Police against the guilty persons. The ‘Cattle Catching Squad’ of the corporation conducted a raid at Gazipur to nab stray cattle. Some dairy owners resented it and pelted stones on the truck of the squad. The driver of the truck sustained injuries, the MCD spokesman said.


Due to repair and maintenance work to be carried out, there will be no power supply to the Palam Village, Devganj, Dadadev, Rajnagar, Pappankalan, Regharpura, Link Road, Harighar, Singh Road, Shastri Park number two and adjoining areas from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M, a spokesman of the BSES said.


People fed up with Chautala govt: HVP
Our Correspondents

Jhajjar, January 5
The senior vice-president of the Haryana Vikas Party, Mr Manphool Singh, said here today that the people of the region were fed up with the lack of governance and basic amenities, especially in the villages.

In a press statement issued today, the HVP leader alleged that his party had launched a people-contact programme in the villages of Jhajjar constituency.

He said that while interacting with the villagers in Jizadod, Raipur, Chandpur, Bhatera villages, he found a strong anti-government feeling prevailing in the region, particularly because the people were reeling under severe scarcity of drinking and irrigation water and power. Mr Singh alleged that an atmosphere of fear and terror was prevailing in the state.

In an ironical twist, while criminals were feeling at ease, the common people were forced to confine themselves to their houses, he alleged.

He alleged that the citizens were in a state of shock as the incidents of looting, dacoity, murder have been increasing day by day.

Honour for District Red Cross Society

The District Red Cross Society was declared the best performing society in the state. Mr Mohinder Kumar, chairman of the society, and Mr Mahesh Gupta, secretary, received the first prize for the overall performance in the preceding year. These awards were declared at a function in Nuh town of Gurgaon yesterday.

The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, awarded a computer to the chairman, Mr Mohinder Kumar.

No let-up in cold wave

Sonepat: The cold wave in the Sonepat region continued unabated. However, the fog in the morning was not as thick as it was yesterday. Though the sun came out in the afternoon, it failed to provide much relief to the people of the region.

According to a report, the severe cold wave forced the people to keep themselves indoors. Official sources revealed that there would be no let-up in the cold wave conditions in the coming days.

Trains on the DUK section of the Northern Railway continued to be affected, as several trains were running behind schedule, which left a large number of passengers stranded at the Sonepat and nearby railway stations. The Amritsar-bound Barauni Express and the Jammu-bound Malwa Express passed through Sonepat behind schedule. The Delhi-bound Jammu Mail also ran behind schedule by at least five hours.

Similarly, the Ambala-bound Unchhar Express was cancelled for the day.

Vehicular traffic on the National Highway No. 1 and other state highways move at slow speed on account of the mild fog.

State-of-the-art helicopter

Two engineers, including Mr Surat Singh of Ashok Vihar, Sonepat, have manufactured a state-of-the-art helicopter, which can fly with ease in the hilly areas.

According to a report, both the engineers have written to the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, urging him to inspect the helicopter, which was a unique one. They are yet to send the model of this helicopter to the central government.


Butana shootout: Second victim succumbs to injuries
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 5
The second victim of Butana village shootout, Baljit, also succumbed to injuries in the PGIMS, Rohtak, while being operated. His body was brought to the village and cremated last evening.

The police, on the other hand, have failed to nab the alleged accused.

However, the police have beefed up the security of the families of Prithvi Singh and Chhotu Ram by deploying a police party under the command of an Assistant Sub-Inspector.

It may be recalled that in the shootout on Saturday morning by armed gangsters, one Jasbir was shot dead on the spot and Baljit was injured seriously and admitted in the PGIMS, Rohtak.

The enmity between the families of Prithvi Singh, Chhotu Ram and Hukam Singh of the same village had already resulted in the death of four persons.

Two sons of Hukam Singh-Sanjay and Krishan, who were convicted in a criminal case and were absconding, were alleged to be behind the murders.

It is also worth mentioning that before 1995, the families of the former sarpanch, Prithvi Singh and Hukam Singh had close friendship and even made common land deals.

However, after the murder of one Azad, son of Om Singh, in the village in 1995, both the families fell apart.

Hukum Singh’s sons, Sanjay, Krishan and Prakash were found involved in the murder and were convicted by the court.

Hukam Singh suspected the hand of Prithvi Singh in involving his sons in this murder. Subsequently, the friendship changed into enmity between the two families.

According to information, Krishan was released on parole, but did not report back to the jail. Similarly, Sanjay also managed to escape from the police custody near village Mohana on the Gohana-Sonepat Road while he was being taken for the hearing of the case.

Subsequently, Anil, the son of Prithvi, was murdered on March 24, 2003, near a canal on the Butana-Gangana Road. Dalbir, son of Chhotu, the younger brother of Prithvi Singh, was murdered on May 27, 2003, in the village. Finally, Jasbir and Baljit were eliminated on January 3, 2004.

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