N C R   S T O R I E S


Is it back to glass syringes in govt hospitals?
Our Correspondent

Noida, March 15
The medical staff in government hospitals is using old glass syringes instead of disposable ones, endangering the health of poor patients.

The officials claim they do not have sufficient wherewithal to procure disposable syringes. So, the glass syringes are used for injection after sterilization. But sterilization is not always done as a large number of people have to be injected and the sterilization process takes time. Besides, the nurses have got into the habit of using disposable syringes.

It has been observed in government hospital in Sector-30, Noida, and elsewhere that in the absence of trained nurses, class IV employees are often entrusted with the task of giving injections.

Last Friday, Gullu of Sector-22 was bitten by a dog. He came to a government hospital in Sector-30 for an anti-rabies injection. He was told to go to the first floor for the injection. As he did not find anybody, a sanitation worker offered his services, but Gullu did not agree. The sanitation workers then brought a paramedic who gave him the injection without even sterilizing the needle.

As a result, the patient developed pain and swelling in the arm. He had to go to a private hospital and take medication for a week.

The CMO, Dr H.K. Sharma, however, says that the glass syringe is the best, but it should be boiled in water for half an hour before each use. He feels that the disposable syringe is not safe to use.



Wages of sin: When schools pocket teachers’ salary
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 15
How societies formed with the prime aim of achieving missionary goals could be used to serve the vested interests of an individual or a family has become the talk of the town here.

The issue erupted after a resident filed a petition recently against one of the prominent and oldest educational bodies of the town.

The applicant, a resident of Ballabgarh, who was earlier an employee of a society which runs several educational institutions, alleged in his petition that the society was withholding a part of the teachers’ salary in the name of voluntary donation.

The applicant alleged that the account of the money thus collected each month was not maintained properly.

Alleging that the action was a simple case of fraud, cheating and harassment, he claimed that a sum of about Rs 45 to 50 lakh was being collected every year in this manner.

The staff was verbally told of such an arrangement at the time of appointment and every teacher or employee was expected to return up to 50 per cent of the salary, he further alleged.

Claiming that none of the staff member had dared to expose the exploitation, he said he had came to know about it when he was a member of one of the bodies, but added that when he protested against the practice, he was asked to resign.

However, he said that he had collected ample proof of the illegal practice and alleged that one of the principals had been helping in pocketing the amount. The practice was exposed when one of the diaries, being used to record the collections, fell into his hands.

He said the case comes under sections 406, 408, 420, 467 and 471 of the IPC. The applicant said that he had no other option than to seek legal help as the police did not take action against the accused.

Meanwhile, Mr Kailash Sharma and Mr Suresh Kaushik, office-bearers of ‘Faridabad Abhibhawak Ekta Manch’ and Manav Sewa Samiti, a voluntary organisation based here, have expressed concern over the growing commercialisation and exploitation of teachers by many educational institutions.

In a statement, they said some of the schools were not paying full salary and perks to their staff, though it had been promised at the time of appointment. They demanded that the state education department and the CBSE should conduct a thorough survey of its affiliated schools and take action if they were found violating the norms.



Right to information only on paper?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The leader of Opposition in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Mr. Subhash Arya, today deplored the fact that the Congress-ruled corporation was not providing information sought by citizens under the Delhi Right to Information Act. This was an infringement of citizen’s right, he asserted.

Describing his own experience, he said that he had sought information in July last year from Additional Commissioner (Revenue) regarding Municipal Market at Saraswati Road, situated at Karol Bagh Zone, and had also deposited the required fee.

But no reply had been furnished by the competent officer. Later, he filed an appeal in the Public Grievances Commission. The commission also observed that under section eight of the Delhi Right to Information Act, it was the responsibility of the competent officer to furnish the information, if it is demanded by a citizen.

Mr Arya said that he had yet not been provided the information. It seemed that the Right to Information Act was on paper only. In practice, the government is doing nothing. The officials are not under its control. They do whatever they want.

He demanded from the Chief Minister of Delhi Mrs. Sheila Dikshit that officer concerned should be directed to ensure proper enforcement of Right to Information Act.

Probe into Metro mishap

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has initiated an inquiry into an incident in which a 21-year-old worker, Vira Yadav, was injured while he using a chemical to clean the segmental rings. The chemical splashed on him, causing him burn injuries. He was later taken to the RML hospital for treatment.

According to the DMRC officials, the incident took place on March 14 at 5 am during underground construction work at Delhi Main. Officials said that Yadav was employed with RTC Engineering, a sub-contractor with DMRC.



HC issues notices on ostracised family
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, March 15
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notices to the state government to present its views on the rehabilitation of the family of Leela Ram, who was ostracised from Charkhi village in Bhiwani by the Sangwan khap, and handing over the murder case of his brother Ranbir to the CBI.

Leela Ram was accused of raping and killing a woman of the same village about three years ago.

On a petition filed by Mr Naresh Kadian on March 11, seeking the rehabilitation of the family in the same village and instituting a CBI inquiry into the murder of Ranbir, Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Government of Haryana, SP, Bhiwani and the SHO, Charkhi Dadri to put forward their views in the matter by April 20.

It may be recalled that Leela Ram of Kadian khap was a resident of Charkhi village dominated by the Sangwan khap.

He reportedly raped and then killed a woman, Sunita, of the same village on August 18, 2001. Later, the Sangwan khap decided to ostracise the family of Leela Ram from the village.

However, in a tragic turnaround, Ranbir, brother of Leela Ram was found dead in his house in Charkhi village on August 6 last year.

As his family was ostracised by the Sangwan khap, the villagers did not allow the family to cremate the body there, resulting in a showdown between Sangwan khap and Kadian khap.

Finally, he was cremated in some other village.

Khaps come forward to check social crime

Sonepat: Expressing concern over the spiraling graph of crime and social evils like dowry, various ‘khaps’ have decided to come forward to check such evils by strengthening the panchayati system and cooperate with the police in this regard.

The decisions were taken at a panchayat of different khaps (gotras) in village Sohati on Sunday with a call to the youths to play an important role in curbing the social evils. The meeting was presided over by the pradhan of Jatrana Khap, Balbir Singh Rana.

The panchayat also decided that a 16-member delegation of the representatives of khaps would call on the superintendent of police, Sonepat, on Wednesday and urge him to check the crimes.

The delegation would include Balbir Rana, former chairman of block samiti Balbir Singh, former sarpanch Ved Prakash of village Saidpur, Attar Singh of Saidpur, former councillor Ishwar Singh of Delhi, Mahabir of Rampur, Randhir of Garhi Kundal, Gulab Singh of Ferozpur, Mehtab and Rama Nand of Kutub Garh, and Sarpanch Om Prakash of village Jatola.

In the panchayat, Raghbir Singh, brother of Maman, who was shot dead by gangsters more than a fortnight ago, demanded that the inquiry of the murder should be handed over to an IPS officer.

A number of speakers in the panchayat pointed out that there was an urgent need to ban alcohol at weddings and also punish the dowry seekers.

Ved Prakash suggested that the meeting of the Khap Panchayat should be convened regularly on the lines of the district public relations and grievances committee and the police officers be asked to participate in such meetings.

The panchayat also resolved to convene a mahapanchayat of various khaps to discuss measures for curbing the social evils.



Two held for smuggling liquor; 12 cases seized
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, March 15
The special operation group of police arrested two liquor smugglers and seized 12 cases of English liquor being smuggled from Haryana. An Esteem car was also recovered.

The Link Road police claimed to have nabbed the smugglers after an encounter. They were planning to commit a crime. The SOG in charge S.K.Singh said that the police had got a tip-off that liquor was being smuggled in from Haryana at midnight on Saturday.

The police took up the position at Clock Tower Crossing. An Esteem car was seen approaching. When the police signalled it to stop, the inmates tried to flee, but were overpowered. The arrested duo identified themselves as Promode Kumar, son of Yash Pal Singh of Badarpur and Kallu, resident of Dasna.

Twelve cases of ‘Bagpiper’ were seized from the car. The criminals used to supply the English liquor to Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad and surrounding areas. Both the criminals have been sent to Jail. In the second incident, Link Road police arrested two criminals after an encounter in Radha Kunj area last night. The arrested smugglers Anil Kumar, son of Ram Prasad of Baghpat and Rajveer, son of Fateh Singh have been sent to jail.

The police said both of them were hardcore criminals. A local revolver and a knife were recovered from them.

Landlords to verify tenants’ antecedents

Police are likely to take the landlords and householders to task who do not get their tenants and domestic helps verified by the police.

The police are preparing to arm themselves with powers to send the landlords and householders to jail in case their tenants and domestic servants are involved in crime. This was made clear by the police officials in a meeting between the Peace Committee and the office-bearers of the local resident association in Sahibabad yesterday.

This meeting was a step towards creating awareness in public about an ongoing police campaign started for strengthening the security of the public, Dy. SP (Border) Dinesh Yadav said. Police constables are collecting information about the tenants and domestic servants through a door-to-door campaign on which the public should extend full cooperation, Mr Yadav said.

While the police will have the record of the possible miscreants in police stations, the tenants and domestic hands will also be deterred from getting involved in criminal activities, knowing that their photographs and records are with the police.

Getting tenants and domestic helps verified by the police will protect landlords from economic and physical harm, and failure to do so will expose them to action for giving protection to criminals, the Deputy SP said.

The meeting was attended by prominent residents of the area, representing all walks of life.



Walia lashes out at BJP for politicising UAM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The Delhi Urban Development Minister, Dr A. K. Walia, today lashed out at the BJP for politicising the issue of the Unit Area Method for property tax assessment in the absence of another issue to face the electorate.

The BJP is misleading people by indulging in baseless and irresponsible criticism of a scheme that was essentially meant to benefit a majority of the property tax payers in the Capital.

He said that in the assembly elections the BJP had clearly stated in its manifesto that if it came to power it would reduce the rates of property tax and rationalise categorisation of colonies as per the Unit Area Method. It had resorted to criticising when the Congress Party was introducing new system of property tax collection.

The minister said once the new system of assessment of property tax was implemented the inspector raj would end.

Besides, the rate of taxation on residential property would come down from the existing 20 per cent to 6-10 per cent and on commercial properties it would come down from 30 per cent to 15 per cent Apart from this, property owned by farmers, institutions, war widows, gallantry and bravery award winners and slum and JJ wing would be exempted from taxation.

Land up to 100 square metres in rural areas had also been exempted from taxation.

Property owned by women , senior citizens, ex-servicemen and the physically challenged would be provided discount.

The government would constitute a hardship and anomaly committee to work out people’s problems in connection with the property tax.

Sonepat: As many as 284 graduates were awarded degrees by Dr K. C. Bangar, Chairman of the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC), at the convocation and annual price distribution function of Government College, Gohana, 35 km from here, on Saturday.

Special prizes were given to meritorious students on this occasion.



Sangwan denies charges, accuses Chautala of launching tirade
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 15
Accusing the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Praksh Chautala, of character assassination, the spokesman of the Haryana BJP and the sitting Member of Parliament from Sonepat, Mr Kishan Singh Sangwan, denied that he had amassed disproportionate wealth.

He denied that he had 15 to 17 petrol pumps and LPG agencies as alleged by his political opponents. He condemned the allegations levelled against him by Mr Chautala and other INLD leaders.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he described the allegations as “a white lie” and mischievous, and urged Mr Chautala to prove the charges by filing an affidavit in the court.

He made it clear that he had only two petrol pumps—one at Gohana and another at Ganaur, which were in partnership with others. One of the petrol pumps at Gohana was in the name of his wife, Mrs Roshni Devi and a partner, Mr Balwant Nagpal, a member of the Gohana civic body. The other petrol pump had been allotted to his son, Mr Pradeep along with a partner, Mr Joginder of Shekhpur village.

He also stated that Mr Bhajan Lal and Mr Bansi Lal had made inquiries into his assets but had failed to find any discrepancies.

Mr Chautala had been levelling false and baseless charges against him to malign his image, he alleged.

However, he was confident that the Chief Minister would not succeed in the “character assassination campaign” launched against him.

Instead, Mr Sangwan alleged that the legislators and the leaders of the ruling INLD, including Mr Ranbir Singh Dahiya, president of the district INLD, had amassed wealth through “objectionable means” during the four-year tenure of the INLD. He expressed his confidence that a CBI probe into the assets of such leaders is likely to expose their misdeeds. He also described the allegations levelled against him by Mr Jagbir Singh Malik, a HVP candidate for the Lok Sabha elections, as “baseless and misleading”.

He said that it was a figment of imagination to say that he was hand in glove with Mr Chautala. He claimed that he had the full support of the Jat community and was confident of getting majority of the Jat votes in the Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, he predicted that all the other candidates would loose their security deposits during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.



Campaign aimed at spreading political awareness among voters
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 15
In order to create social awareness among the masses regarding its democratic responsibilities and rights, a campaign has been launched, which will end in Faridabad on March 17.

A state-level organisation, Sampooran Kranti Manch, had launched the ‘Jan Chetna Yatra’ on February 23, which has already covered several districts, including Bhiwani, Hisar, Kaithal, Jind, Jhajjar, Rewari, Rohtak and Narnaul.

The local coordinator of the Manch, Mr R.D. Yadav, said here today that the ‘Jan Chetna Yatra’ was aimed at creating awareness among the people about their political rights and responsibilities, particularly in the backdrop of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Although the Manch was not contesting any seat in the coming Lok Sabha elections, he said, it had issued a special ‘Election Manifesto’ in order to inform the people about their duties as a voter so that they can make the right choice in voting for the right candidates. The ‘Manifesto’ would also highlight the promises made by the different political parties and their track record on this count.

The campaign also aimed at highlighting the growing problems of corruption and criminalisation in the political system and the “moral responsibility” of the voters to come forward and check them.

Mr Yadav alleged that all the political parties were using unfair means, including money and muscle power to get votes in an undemocratic manner.

However, he claimed that if the voters were educated and aware of their rights and responsibilities, the situation would have been quite different.



Farmers allege water theft by influential landlords
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 15
Farmers in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of Rai Water Service Division in this district have been facing acute shortage of canal water, meant for irrigation purposes, for the past few months. They have also alleged theft of irrigation water by unscrupulous and influential farmers, backed by some officials as well as certain political bosses of the ruling party, is rampant.

Certain farmers alleged the officials of the Irrigation Department were hand in glove with unscrupulous and influential farmers and instrumental in hushing up cases of water theft. As a result, the irrigation of paddy crop that had already been sown had been badly hit and started withering away.

Expressing grave concern over the inadequate and erratic supply of canal water, farmers of many villages blamed the authorities of the Rai Water Service Division for not cleaning the canals, distributaries and minors properly despite clear instructions from the state government.

They alleged the desilting and deweeding operations carried out in the past by the officials were merely eyewash. The farmers whose fields are situated on the tail-end have demanded a probe into their complaints about canal water not reaching their fields and have demanded stern action against those officials found responsible for it.

They alleged that the officials were misleading the district authorities by insisting that the canal water was reaching all fields and the farmers had no problem.

Representatives of various farmers’ organisations today refuted the claim of the Irrigation Department authorities that the canal water had reached the tail-end villages during the rotation period fixed by the government.

They also said the farmers were still facing erratic supply of canal water for irrigation purposes and their crops had started withering away on account of this.

They also urged the state government and the district authorities to take serious note of it and take action against the erring officials immediately.

Meanwhile, the maintenance of canals, distributaries and minors continues to remain a major problem despite heavy expenditure incurred on them in this district. Though the state government has spent crores of rupees on the clearance of canals and other distributaries the problem has hardly improved as water does not reach the tail-end fields of the farmers.

The farmers, however, alleged that the embankments of various canals and distributaries were facing the problem of siltage, resulting in waterlogging in large areas. Many farmers alleged that some officials were minting money by preparing bogus muster rolls and thereby cheating the government exchequer.

The farmers have demanded an inquiry into the scandalous working of the officials of the Irrigation Department, particularly the Rai Water Service Division and the Samalkha subdivision. They also criticised the local authorities of the department for their failure to redress their grievances about the paucity of canal water even during the rotation period.

They also said the sowing of wheat crops had been hit badly due to the inadequate and erratic supply of canal water.



Street children to bring out the duplicity of ‘feel good factor’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Street children in the city have sought to highlight the fact that political parties are entering the poll arena with rosy slogans, sidelining core issue like poverty and unemployment, which are the root cause of more and more numbers being added to the army of street children.

Through the medium of plays, which are part of a programme, ‘Awaaz-e-Bachpan’, they seek to find an answer to the question: ‘Should we feel good?’

The event, which will be organised in three phases with participation of 15 NGOs, was inaugurated here by actress Nandita Das at Deepalaya School in south Delhi. One of them ‘Badhte Qadam’—a federation of street and working children—staged a play based on the story ‘Nishachar’, written by Bhishma Sahini. It is about how politicians take advantage of the poor and helpless children during elections and seldom care about their problems afterwards..

Another organisation, Prayas, staged a play titled, ‘Yeh Kaisa Feel Good Hai’, while Deepalaya staged ‘Bapu Ne Kaha Tha’, based on a story about unaddressed issues of children that Gandhiji had raised decades ago.

These children, who do not have a home to live in and have to work for endless hours for two square meals a day, are really confused by the ‘feel good’ slogan marketed by some political parties.

These children do not go to any schools and suffer various kinds of abuses in their lives. To them, twice a day meals and night shelter are the reality.



Punjabi mela winds up after hiccups
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The three-day Punjabi Mela, which had a troubled start at the Takatora Gardens here, concluded last evening with a call to return to the time tested folk music from what is now known as Punjabi pop.

Thousands of fans, mostly youths packed the Talkatora Gardens last evening to watch a tightly-policed and fenced off pop show, the last in the series and danced to the beat of the popular numbers rendered by Kaptan Ladi, Sarabjeet Cheema and Rani Randeep.

The organisers had sought heavy police presence to prevent any recurrence of the violent scenes that marred the opening day that forced the organisers to temporarily suspend the three-day event.

On its part, the Academy tried to give a Punjabi cultural ambience by putting on display handmade articles and artefacts and eating stalls serving Punjabi cuisine. Traditional bards and jesters were also specially invited to the festival that aimed at reviving ‘’fading Punjabiyat’’ outside Punjab.

But it was pop music that stole the show at the Mela, publicised as the biggest extravaganza of its kind. Pop singers Mika, Nachhattar Gill, Varinder Viz and Lakhwinder Lakhi also performed at the resumed pop show.



Youth ends life on rail track
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 15
Shripal of Mehlana village reportedly committed suicide by jumping before a moving train at the railway station of Ganaur, 16 km from here, yesterday.

A woman passenger who was waiting for a train tried to save him in vain. She sustained injuries and was immediately hospitalised. A family quarrel is stated to be the main cause of the suicide. The GRP has sent the body for a postmortem examination.

Munshi, an aged man, died of heart attack while he was going on a rickshaw near Gita Bhawan Chowk here last evening. The rickshaw-puller informed the police and the body was sent for a postmortem examination. The victim belonged to Murthal village in this district.

Body identified

The Rai police have achieved a breakthrough in a case of alleged burning of the body of an unidentified man in the cremation ground at Bad Khalsa village in this district last week.

The body of the victim has been identified as that of Papoo, a dhaba employee. He died in a Delhi hospital and the body was cremated in the village.

This fact was revealed by the owner of the dhaba.

He stated that Pappoo was brought by another servant for a job. On March 7, his condition worsened all of a sudden and he was admitted to a private nursing home but the doctors there referred the case to a hospital at Delhi where he died on March 9 last.

His body was brought to the village for cremation after lodging a report with the Jahangirpuri police station.

It is stated that the old servant was sent to Delhi with cash for the care of the victim but he fled with the money and is not traceable.

LPG cylinder bursts

Fire broke out as an LPG cylinder burst when a housewife went to the kitchen of her house for preparing a cup of tea at Bahalgarh village, about 10 km from here, on Sunday evening.

The municipal fire brigade immediately arrived on the scene and brought the fire under control after a few hours. However, there was no casualty.

The leakage of gas from the pipe was the main cause of the fire. Some household goods were also burnt in the fire.

Infant kidnapped

Ojasvi Gautam, a three-year-old son of Dr Dharminder Sharma, owner of Sharma Hospital, was reported to have been kidnapped by some unidentified persons around 9 pm at Farmana village, about 20 km from here, on Sunday night.

The boy was playing in a street outside his house when he was allegedly kidnapped and whisked away in a TATA 407 by the alleged kidnappers. The police swung into action and sealed the borders of the district.

However, they are still clueless about the whereabouts of the child and the identity of the alleged kidnappers. The incident has caused panic among the residents of the village.



Hundreds bid farewell to Major Sharma
Our Correspondent

Meerut, March 15
The whole atmosphere here was charged with deep emotions as seven-year-old Abhijatya Sharma performed the last rites of his father, Major Amit Sharma, in the presence of hundreds of people who with tears in their eyes said goodbye to the brave soldier.

Major Amit Sharma made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty combating terrorists in the dense jungles of Bafliaz in the Surankot tehsil of Jammu and Kashmir. Bafliaz in Surankot is the area where Operation Sarp Vinash was carried out by the Indian armed forces some months back.

In a gun-battle on March 12 Major Amit Sharma, serving in 27 Rashtriya Rifles, was killed by terrorists hiding in the forest.

In the ensuing fight with other terrorists the officer sustained serious gunshot wounds and was evacuated to the military hospital in Surankot where he breathed his last in the early hours of March 13, 2004.

Earlier, the body of the slain soldier arrived at his residence on Bank Street where his relatives and friends along with family members paid tributes to him.

Then the body was taken to the Surajkund cremation ground in a gun carriage. Several senior Army officials also accompanied the gun carriage.

At the cremation ground floral tributes were offered and wreaths laid on the body of the officer wrapped in a Tricolour.

Wreaths were also laid by the Colonel Commandant of 9 Horse and General Officer Commanding, 21 Corps, Lt-Gen Aditya Singh, the GOC, Western Command, the GOC, Central Command. While jawans saluted the soldier by reversing their weapons and playing the last post three rounds of gunshots were fired by the jawans in honour of the officer.



Varma, Sajjan ‘violated EC directive on hoardings’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The president of the Delhi unit of the Indian National Lok Dal, Mr Hari Singh Rana, today alleged the BJP candidate from Outer Delhi parliamentary constituency, Dr Sahib Singh Varma, and Congress Party leader and former MP Sajjan Kumar had violated the directive of the Election Commission by installing huge hoardings on crossings in the area.

The Election Commission had issued directions to all political parties and people in general through the media not to put up hoardings during the elections.

He demanded that strict action should be taken against the politicians who had violated the directions of the Election Commission.

Fire in Gatodia Market

Property worth several lakhs was destroyed in a fire that broke out on Monday afternoon in the busy Gatodia Market in the Khari Bawli area of old Delhi.

Fire Department sources said a call was received at 3. 20 pm and immediately 20 fire engines were rushed to the site. The fire which started in a shop soon spread to other two shops. The blazing fire was brought under control at around 4. 40 pm.

The fire incident had created considerable panic in the congested market area and the shopkeepers were also found doing their part in putting out the fire.

Sources also said that probably a short circuit in an electric transformer in a congested area of the market could have caused the fire.



A swami of many facets

Today, India has nearly 20 million bonded labourers of which 35 per cent are children under 14 years of age. Sadly, this practice of slavery continues despite the fact that both the bonded and the child labour are prohibited by the Constitution, says Swami Agnivesh. In a conversation with Nalini Ranjan, he discussed many topics relating to bonded labour and other shortcomings in our society.

H E is a man of many facets. The founder and current chairman of Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded labour Liberation Front) Swami Agnivesh has been the recipient of several international and national humanitarian awards for his work with bonded labourers. He is also the current chairperson of the UN Trust Fund on contemporary Forms of slavery since 1994. A sanyasi in the Arya Samaj tradition, swamiji’s work is deeply rooted in a spiritual life that embraces all, regardless of nationality, cast, gender, colour and creed.

He is also the working president of World Council of Arya Samaj since 2001 and founder of Adhayatma Jagaran Manch, a movement for spiritual awakening for regeneration. Swamiji was also the member of Haryana legislative Assembly from 1977 to 1982. He is also the recipient of the Anti-Slavery International Award, London in 1990 and Freedom and Human Rights Award, Bern, Switzerland in 1994.

He has written and compiled many books like Vedic Socialism, Religion Revolution and Marxism, Swami Agnivesh – Religion, Spirituality, Social Action – New Agenda for Humanity. Apart from this, he has been the Chief Editor of Raj Dharam and Kranti Dharam. In a conversation with NCR Tribune, he talked over many topics related to the bonded labour and other shortcomings in our society.


When was the social service organisation Bandhua Mukti Morcha formed and what is its present mission?

Bandhua Mukti Morcha was established in 1981 to fight the pervasive form of slavery. We are perpetuating the fight against the western model of development leading to gross consumerism and mass poverty, ecological destruction of the third world in general and India in particular. We are questioning the western cultural imperialism and that of market forces in the name of profits and shareholder, value negating all higher human and spiritual values. We are carrying on anti-liquor movement through out India, networking with religious leaders of all faiths, women’s organisations and social political activists. We are assisting women’s movement with a view to ensuring their equal participation in all walks of life, particularly sharing of political and economic power.

We are continuing the fight against bonded labour, child labour and child prostitution by making Right to Minimum Wage and Right to Education a Fundamental Rights. We are struggling against all types religious fundamentalism, bigotry, dogmatism, casteism and all narrow minded racial or other such ill feelings between the different section of society. Striving for establishing a liberal, egalitarian society based on tolerance and mutual understanding, coordinating efforts under the banner of ‘Religions for Social Justice’.

Could you recount some memorable achievements attained by your organisation?

We led a successful movement of wheat growers for remunerative prices for their produce during 1973 to 1974. We founded a political party Arya Sabha in 1970. This party has been in forefront of struggles for farmers, labourers, women, teachers and students. We launched the anti-liquor movement in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Led numerous marches against alcoholism. Introduction of total prohibition in Haryana has been a significant success from July 1996 to March 1998. It was subsequently withdrawn by the Haryana Government.

We led an 18-day long epochal marathon from Delhi to Deorala against the ‘Sati Pratha’ (self-immolation by a widow). The Indian Parliament responded by enacting a ‘SATI’ Prevention Act 1997. We led a march from Delhi to Pura Mahadev (Meerut) to challenge the Shankaracharya of Puri for a public debate against his obscurantist views on ‘Sati’ and on women’s right to equality in the Vedas. We also led a multi-religious pilgrimage to the site of the senseless killing of Graham Stewart Staines and his two little sons in Orissa in the month of March 1999. It comprised Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religious leaders, thinkers and social activists. Prayers were held at Manoharpur and Narayanpur. The goal of this pilgrimage was to inspire people of India to form multi-religious initiative for social transformation and national building. We launched an agitation, along with other women’s organisations against large-scale female foeticide. This created conditions for the government of India to pass a bill banning the sex determination tests. Denial of entry to the Dalits (untouchable) into Hindu temples, posed a new challenge for the struggle of the downtrodden class. As a symbol of this struggle, we led a march to the famous Nathdwara temple (Udaipur, Rajasthan, 1988- 1989).

You have done a lot for the bonded labourers and in the field of gender discrimination. Could you enlist some of them?

We spearheaded the movement towards liberation of bonded labour and child labour through out the country, especially in the stone quarries and brick-kilns of Haryana and Rajasthan, carpet weaving belt of Mirzapur- Bhadoi (UP), glass- bangle industry of Firozabad (UP) and in the farm sector of Kodai Kanal (Tamil Nadu), Chennagiri Taluka of Shimoga district (Karnataka) etc.

As many as 1,75,000 bonded (including several thousands bonded child labourers) have been released and rehabilitated in last 20 years. We filed many public interest writ petitions in the Supreme Court for the rights of bonded and child labourers. Bandhua Mukti Morcha Vs Union of India, 3SCC1984 is landmark judgement by the Supreme Court. We testified before the working group of contemporary forms of slavery at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva from 1983 to 1989. We campaigned for the National Minimum Wage for all unorganised workers (nearly 350 million in India today). We have been actively engaged in vigorous campaigns to eliminate of all form of gender discrimination.

It works as a catalyst for the deliverance of women from the socio-economic shackles that has taken countless forms. In January of 2001, an international conference on dowry and bride burning was organised against the 2,5,000 dowry related deaths in India each year. Being keenly aware of the great hardships, working women and girls undergo in industries, especially those employing bonded labour, we have forged ahead to create skill training centres for girls.

Amidst cultural establishment opposition, we have created non-residential training centres for girls and a residential centre for boys. A traditional residential training centre for boys has been running successfully for many years. Basic literacy schools are being set up in areas of bonded labour so that the youngest of children can be educated and averted from bonded labour. We are setting up investigative groups, public interest litigation groups and informal judicial panels to monitor the bonded labour and child labour situation in various parts of the country. Apart from these activities, we are sensitising various national and international bodies including relevant UN committees regarding the situation of bonded labour in our country.

What is the status of child or bonded labour in our country?

It is hard to believe that today India has nearly 20 million bonded labourers of which 35 per cent are children under the age of 14 years. Sadly, this practice of slavery continues despite the fact that both the bonded and the child labour prohibited by the Indian constitution.

The children between five to 15 years of age suffer most in this cruel system. Robbed of any childhood, their small fragile hands often charred and bloodstained, they toil between eight and 12 hours a day. The problem has become so endemic that there are hardly any industry in India, from carpet manufacturing to gem policing, lock-making to bangle-making, handlooms to brick-kilns and stone-quarrying, where child and bonded labourers are not being employed. These children are denied their most fundamental right to a childhood free from labour in which the are given the opportunity to be educated and to grow up and discover themselves enough to express and fulfil their talents.



Woman among three luggage thieves held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The Railway Police of the Crime Branch claimed to have arrested three luggage thieves, including a woman, at New Delhi railway station while they were trying to escape with a passenger’s luggage.

They were identified as Saleem (25), resident of Bareilly, Asif (22), resident of Moradabad, and Ms Khurseeda (40), resident of Shahdara.

On March 13, the accused persons reached the railway station at platform no. 3 and began talking to a passenger Shakeel Ahmed, who was waiting to board an Allahabad-bound train.

As the accused persons also won the confidence of the passenger as they appeared to be from one family. In the meantime, Shakeel asked the accused persons to look after his luggage as he wanted to drink water.

Taking advantage of the situation, the accused persons lifted his luggage and tried to run away from the area but Shakeel noticed them. When Shakeel made a noise, the alert policemen at the platform immediately rounded them up.

During interrogation, it was revealed Saleem was a notorious character and had been earlier involved in several cases of theft, the Arms Act and the NDPS Act cases.

The accused persons also told the police that they used to drug the passengers to divest them of their luggage.



Dutch upbeat about investment opportunities in India
Tribune New Service

Gurgaon, March 15
The corporate heads and top executives of reputed Dutch firms in India put the game of Golf to good use here to understand each other and exchange business tips. Personalities from Royal Netherlands Embassy and the American Embassy added to the variety on the occasion.

The corporate honchos took part in the maiden “Annual FIDSI Gold Tournament” organised at Golden Greens Golf and Resorts. The tournament was organised by the Federation of Indo-Dutch Societies in India (FIDSI).

More than 75 representatives from various Dutch companies in India, including ABN Ambro Bank, Shell, KLM Airlines, Unilever, Rabo Bank and Philips took part in the tournament.

Golden Green Golf and Country Club is a 18-Hole championship course, sculpted in the finest tradition, and spread over 275 acres of lush green rolling land amidst the Aravalli hills.

Prominent among the participants were president of FIDSI, Mr C.J.Beevers, the chief chef of Hotel Imperial, Mr Cerdan, the country head of KLM Airlines, Mr Frans Gruber, and the First Secretary of US Emabassy, Mr Pushpinder Dhilion and Mr Nick H.Haarman from the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Talking to NCR Tribune, Mr C.J.Beevers said that FIDSI acted as a bridge between the entrepreneurs of India and the Netherlands and, between people from the two countries and their governments to promote business ventures.

Mr Beevers, who was earlier the country (India) head of KLM Airlines, said that there was lot of business opportunities for the Dutch entrepreneurs to invest in India and vice versa. The game of Golf provides an opportunity by acting as a facilitator in terms of promoting understanding between the entrepreneurs from the two sides, he added.

He further said that India has come up trumps in the past few years on account of its development and economic reforms. It has now emerged as one of the centres for foreign investments. The Chairperson of FIDSI, Capt. L.S.Bahal, said that FIDSI was contemplating making the tournament a biennial affair.



Pragati Maidan to host Energex 2004
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Energex 2004, the first ever trade fair on alternative sources of energy i.e. power back-up products, will be held at Pragati Maidan from March 26 to 28. This exhibition will focus on battery and allied products, inverters, UPS, Servo, stabilisers, generators, battery manufacturing machinery and solar energy.

More than 200 companies from all across the country are expected to participate in this grand fair.

The main aim of this fair is to bring manufacturers, suppliers and vendors together and offer them a common platform to showcase their latest products, machinery, equipment and technologies related to power back-up solution.

At the same time, the exhibition seeks to apprise them of the vast untapped potential of this sector and the myriad opportunities that still need to be taken up within it.

According to Rasheed Anwar, Chief Coordinator, Energex 2004, “Energex 2004 will provide multiple vendor/ supplier options to the exhibitors besides offering a platform to interact directly with dealers and consumers.

The event will provide the small-scale manufacturers with an opportunity to promote their products and improve the sales in their limited budget.”

He said that the dealers would also benefit as Energex 2004 would throw up new business opportunities for them with regard to allied products. The exhibition would showcase the latest and better technologies in these segments, thus benefiting the customers as they could compare the related products on a single platform.


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