SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Parchu lake: high alert to continue
Experts allay fears
Shimla, August 22
The Centre has decided to continue with high alert, sounded in the wake of the formation of the Parchu lake in Tibet, for another week even though an expert group has concluded that the flood threat is not all that alarming as it had been made out to be so far.

Student bodies make last bid to woo voters
Mandi, August 22
Claiming edge over one another, the ABVP, NSUI and SFI, were making their last bid to woo student voters, demanding a regional education centre (REC) at Valabh College on the lines of the REC, Dharamsala, in the Kangra region, as campaigning by students that had dotted campus of various colleges with banners and posters ended on Saturday.

BJP plans mass movement
Demands denied share from Punjab
Shimla, August 22
The state unit of the BJP has decided to launch a mass movement for securing the state’s share under the Punjab State Reorganisation Act, which had been illegally and unjustifiedly denied to it all these years.

7 killed as jeep falls into nullah
Shimla, August 22
As many as seven persons were killed and three injured when a Tata Sumo jeep rolled down into a nullah near Udaipur in Lahaul-Spiti district today. The vehicle was on its way from Triloki Nath to Udaipur. The deceased were identified as Jog Dass of village Salpat, Ramesh, of Udaipur, Ms Param Dassi of Hinsa, Lacchi Devi of Tindi, Jammi Devi of Udaipur, Hardai of Chamba district. One female victim could not be identified. — TNS




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EARLIER STORIES

 

Apple growers worried over truckers’ strike
Shimla, August 22
The apple growers, particularly those who have orchards in the mid hill belt, are a worried lot as the indefinite strike of the truck operators entered its second day today. 

Separate directorate for elementary education
Shimla, August 22
The government has decided to set up a separate directorate of elementary education to ensure the proper implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the state.

Protest against transfer of docs
Hamirpur, August 22
Hundreds of men, women and children resorted to a two-hour road blockade at Tounidevi last evening to register their protest against the shifting of two medical officers posted there on political considerations.

Hostages’ kin to form action committee
Una, August 22
Family members of the three Indians held hostage in Iraq by a militant outfit are contemplating forming a joint action committee to press for the release of their kin. An indication to this effect was given by Mr Ram Murti, father of Antaryami — one of the three hostages, at his residence in Dehlan village in the district today. 

Govt to take tough stand on encroachment issue
Dharamsala, August 22
The state government will deal with all cases of encroachment on government land strictly and none will be spared in this regard. This was stated here on Friday by Revenue and Rural Development Minister Sat Mahajan.

Kol Dam project will be completed in time: GM
Bilaspur, August 22
Mr T.K. Chatterji, General Manager, National Thermal Power Corporation’s Kol Dam project at Harnora, near here, has said the project will be completed within the stipulated period. It would provide 12 per cent of the power free to Himachal Pradesh.

1 pilgrim killed, 26 hurt as truck overturns
Kangra, August 22
One pilgrim was killed on the spot and 26 others were injured, one of them seriously, when a truck in which they were travelling overturned at Sammela village on the outskirts of this town last night, the police said here today.

Panel to monitor mid-day meal scheme
Shimla, August 22
The Himachal Pradesh Government has constituted a monitoring committee at district level for effective implementation of the hot cooked mid-day meal scheme in primary schools in the non-tribal areas of the state.

Fund crunch hits work on bridge
Badaur Shahar, August 22
Work on construction of a high-level bridge over the Beas, near here, has come to a standstill due to paucity of funds. The foundation stone of the project was laid by the former Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, on October 29, 2002.

Bank’s locks found broken
Kulu, August 22
Locks on the main door of Punjab National Bank at Akhara Bazar here were found broken on Friday. However, no theft was reported by the bank manager.

Pollution Control Dept set up
Shimla, August 22
The Himachal Government has created a new Department of Pollution Control and bifurcated the non-conventional energy sources from the multi-purpose projects and the Power Department.

5 remanded in jailbreak case
Nahan, August 22
Four Home Guards jawans and a jail warden arrested on Friday in connection with a jailbreak case were remanded in the police custody for five days by a local court here today.

Protest against conversion
Kumarhatti, August 22
The Dharma Rakshan Samiti, Solan, took out a procession at Kasauli today against the alleged activities of ‘Father of Church’ to convert down-trodden people by false propaganda.

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Parchu lake: high alert to continue
Experts allay fears
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The Centre has decided to continue with high alert, sounded in the wake of the formation of the Parchu lake in Tibet, for another week even though an expert group has concluded that the flood threat is not all that alarming as it had been made out to be so far.

The personnel of the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police deployed at strategic locations will stay put in their respective positions and the civil administration will also remain on toes. A decision regarding the scaling down of the alert will be taken only after a review of the situation by the Union Cabinet Secretary on Friday.

Calculations carried out by the expert group have indicated that the water level in the river, in case the natural dam formed by landslides bursts, is likely to be much lower than what it was duirng floods in August, 2000. The average depth of the lake was worked out to be around 30 metres with a maximum of 40 metres.

The sudden release of water will raise the level of water in Parchu at the point where it enters the Indian territory by 13 metres. The surge in the river will decrease progressively as it joins the Spiti, which in turn merges into the Sutlej.

The maximum flood level has been worked out to 11 metres at Sumdoh, 9 metres at Khab, confluence of the Spiti and the Sutlej, 7 metres at the dam site of the Nathpa-Jhakri project and 5 metres to 7 metres in the areas downstream Rampur.

A scare had been caused as the maximum flood level was estimated at 23 metres earlier. People living along the banks of Sutlej up to a height of 23 metres had been evacuated.

The water level in the river ranged between 12 and 16 metres from Nathpa to Jhakri and about 10 metres at Rampur. This time the level is likely to remain between 5 metres to 7 metres which is much lower.

Mr S.S. Parmar, Additional Chief Secretary, said the government would continue with the alert but level of flood danger zone along the banks of the river would be brought down from the present 23 to 3 metres above the highest flood level worked out for various places. As such the most of the people, who had shifted two safer places weeks ago, would be able to return to their homes.

There has been no change in the parameters of the lake, which has been overflowing steadily since August 12. The Parchu was also flowing normally with a steady discharge.

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Nathpa-Jhakri resumes power generation

Shimla, August 22
The fifth unit of the Nathpa-Jhakri hydro-power project today resumed power generation after a four-day gap. Earlier, four units of the project with 1000 MW capacity had started power generation on August 17 last after the project remained shut down for about 15 days.

“There was enough water in the 250 mw capacity plant to operate five of the six units and silt level was quite low,” a spokesman of the NJPC said.

The project was shut down on August 2 and the four units resumed power generation from August 17.

The closure of the project in the wake of flash flood threats was causing a loss of Rs 7 crore per day to the project besides affecting power, supply to states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Rajasthan and Delhi. —PTI Top

 

Student bodies make last bid to woo voters
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, August 22
Claiming edge over one another, the ABVP, NSUI and SFI, were making their last bid to woo student voters, demanding a regional education centre (REC) at Valabh College on the lines of the REC, Dharamsala, in the Kangra region, as campaigning by students that had dotted campus of various colleges with banners and posters ended on Saturday.

Over 60 colleges, affiliated to HP University, will elect students central associations (SCAs) on August 23 across the state.

Pitted against one another are candidates of the CPM-supported SFI, the BJP-supported ABVP, and the Congress-supported NSUI.

The SFI and the ABVP have similar manifestos for the Valabh College, Mandi, demanding the REC on the lines of the REC, Dharamsala. The NSUI is cashing in on its poll plank — demand for a boys’ hostel, toilets for girls at the science block and starting of the LL.B, B.Ed and M.Sc classes that will be required for setting up the REC here.

Accusing the SFI and the ABVP of spreading ‘goondaism’ on the campus, Mr Gita Nand, who is seeking election as president, SCA, from the NSUI panel said the SFI and the ABVP had taking help of outsiders who were misguiding the students.

However, dismissing the NSUI’s charge, Mr Shesh Paul, vice-president, SFI, district Mandi, said the SFI had campaigned that if it was voted to the SCA, it would step up its campaign to open up the REC. “The students have to go to Shimla or Dharamsala for these courses, he said.

Claiming its edge over the rest of its two associations on the campus, Mr Hukam Singh Thakur, organising secretary, ABVP, said they had been demanding that the REC be opened here as Mandi catered to the student community of the central region.

The common demands of the SFI and the ABVP and the NSUI include setting up of a boys’ hostel, combined science block, fee counter at the science block, PCO booth and photostat facilities and introduction of MA (Sanskrit), LL.B, M.Sc and B.Ed classes at the college.

Mr Paul of the SFI said Minister Thakur Kaul Singh had promised that the government would start B.Ed and LL.B classes at the college, but nothing had been done in this connection so far.

The ABVP and the SFI have claimed that they enjoy edge in Mandi, Jogindernagar, Sundernagar, Karsog, Sarkaghat and Bassa colleges.

Commenting on the students’ demands, Ms Raksha Kapur, Principal, Mandi College, said it was the government which had to take a decision as those courses need more staff, infrastructure and funds. “Some of the courses like MA (Sanskrit), MA (English), M.Sc (Maths) have already been started here while others will be started soon”, she added.

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BJP plans mass movement
Demands denied share from Punjab
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The state unit of the BJP has decided to launch a mass movement for securing the state’s share under the Punjab State Reorganisation Act, which had been illegally and unjustifiedly denied to it all these years.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the party held here last evening under the chairmanship of Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, state BJP chief and in the presence of Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a national vice-president of the party. Mr Bhardwaj said that the party was left with no option as the Congress government was not taking up the issue seriously even after the neighbouring state passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act. The party had urged the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, to convene an all-party meeting and a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to discuss the issue but there was no response.

The hill state had been given a raw deal as it had not been given a 7.19 per cent share in the joint assets of undivided Punjab to which it was entitled under the Act. For instance, the Shanan power project located in Jogindernagar had not be transferred so far and the issue of granting 12 per cent free power royalty in hydroelectric projects set up before 1990 had been hanging fire more than a decade.

He said the party had decided to set up a committee under the chairmanship of Mr J.P. Nadda, a former minister, to prepare a comprehensive document after taking the views of people into consideration. The party would present a memorandum based on the document to the government for taking appropriate action so that justice was done to the state. However, if no action was taken in the matter, the party would not hesitate to start an agitation.

Resolutions condemning the failure of the government to arrest price rise and take any effective steps to get the three Indian hostages in Iraq, two of whom hailed from Himachal Pradesh, released. There had been conflicting reports about the negotiations being held to get them released. They stressed that if need be the government should hold talks directly with the terrorist group or seek the intervention of the United Nations.

The campaign against the price rise would be spearheaded by the Bhartiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha. The party accused the Congress government of betraying the electorate by following policies, which were squarely opposed to the election promises made by it. The Congress promised to provide job to at least one member in each family but on coming to power signed a memorandum of understanding under which vacant posts would be abolished and recruitment to government jobs would be practically banned. Not only that by limiting the package of incentives for industry announced by the Vajpayee government in January 2003 upto 2007, the Manmohan Singh government had given blow to industrialisation, which had picked up rather well.

Besides state office-bearers, all legislators, Members of Parliament and presidents of district party units also participated in the meeting.

Top

 

Apple growers worried over truckers’ strike
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The apple growers, particularly those who have orchards in the mid hill belt, are a worried lot as the indefinite strike of the truck operators entered its second day today. The truck operators’ stir has come at a time when the harvesting in the mid hill areas, which account for the bulk of the produce, is at its peak. 

As against the estimated 2.20 crore of boxes of apple likely to be produced during the current season, only about 76.40 lakh boxes had been transported out of the state to various markets. Thus, a major part of the produce is yet to be sent to markets. The growers have stopped plucking of fruit in view of the strike but they cannot wait for long as over ripe fruits have no takers in the market.

Although most of the truck operators in the state are not participating in the strike, the impact has started showing. Only 80 unloaded trucks crossed the Theog barrier to upper Shimla areas and 50 trucks carrying apple moved down to various markets from 8.00 am today to the time of filing of the report. Until two days ago on average about 350 trucks were moving into and out of the apple belt from the Theog route.

The truck operators were willing to carry the produce but they were not sure of the situation outside and there was every possibility of the vehicles being stopped forcibly. The growers were also not interested in taking any risk as in case the loaded trucks were stuck up because of the stir before reaching the market the fruit will be spoiled.

They anxiously wait for the stir to end so that they could send their produce to market at the earliest.

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Separate directorate for elementary education
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The government has decided to set up a separate directorate of elementary education to ensure the proper implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the state. The Principal Secretary, Education, has been assigned the task of finalising the modalities for cadre management teachers and the administration of schools after the bifurcation of the Department of Elementary Education from the existing Directorate of Education. 

The exercise has to be completed within a month.

The aim of the Rs 532 crore Universal Elementary Education Programme is to provide useful and relevant education to all children in the 6 to 14 age group by 2010. It envisages bridging the social, regional and gender gaps, with the active participation of the community in the management of schools. The specific objectives are that all the children should complete five years of primary schooling by 2007 and eight years of elementary schooling by 2010.

The main strategy is to involve the community by ensuring that education plans are prepared in consultation with the Panchayati Raj institutions which would form the basis of the district elementary education plans. Highest priority is being accorded to community monitoring, transparency in programme planning and implementation.

The State Primary Education Society implementing the District Primary Education Programme have been given the responsibility to implement the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

There are about 8000 children who have not been attending schools, constituting about one per cent of the eligible population. Under the Education Guarantee Scheme, alternate schools were established for the education of such “out of school” children and so far 156 alternative school have been made functional with a strength of 3125 students.

A provision of Rs 1200 per child per annum for the education of disabled children has been made.

There are around 30,000 disabled children in the age group of 6-18 years, out of which 27,746 children have been admitted to government schools. Further, around 2200 children are severely handicapped and not enrolled in schools. These children are being covered under home based education programme with the assistance of local voluntary agencies.

As many as 75 block resource centres and 2106 cluster resource centres have been established for imparting 20 day training to teachers annually. The community leaders are also being provided two day training.

A total of 497 upper primary schools have been sanctioned under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan so far out of which 188 schools have been made functional till March 31,2004 and another 1400 school have been approved under the perspective plan up to 2007.

National programme for the education of girls at elementary level has been launched in seven educationally backward blocks of the state. Out of these five are in Chamba district, one each in Shimla and Mandi districts where the female literacy rate is less than the national rural female literacy rate and the gender gap is above the national average.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Centres are also being opened in coordination with the Welfare Department under this scheme. Emphasis is also being laid on the creation of infrastructure facilities and as many as 11,293 class rooms and 9,357 toilets are being constructed.

A provision of Rs 50 lakh per district for the innovative projects has been made for activities like computer education at upper primary level.

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Protest against transfer of docs
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, August 22
Hundreds of men, women and children resorted to a two-hour road blockade at Tounidevi last evening to register their protest against the shifting of two medical officers posted there on political considerations. They raised slogans and held a massive demonstration against the state government demanding immediate cancellation of their transfer orders.

The villagers, who were led by the local BJP leaders, alleged the BMO, Tounidevi, was working at the instance of an employee leader for the transfer of these two doctors and harming their cause. They warned the authorities that if these transfers were not cancelled forthwith they would further intensify their stir.

The road blockade was lifted only when the SDM, Hamirpur, Mr Narendra Sharma, reached the spot and assured them that the district administration would convey their feelings to the state 
government. 

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Hostages’ kin to form action committee

Una, August 22
Family members of the three Indians held hostage in Iraq by a militant outfit are contemplating forming a joint action committee to press for the release of their kin. An indication to this effect was given by Mr Ram Murti, father of Antaryami — one of the three hostages, at his residence in Dehlan village in the district today. 

Mr Ram Murti said it was more than a month after the kidnapping incident took place and the government was maintaining an uncanny silence on the issue.

“That the government is not making any efforts for the release of the three Indians was made clear by the statement of Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed that the government would neither negotiate with the abductors, nor pay any ransom,” he observed. Antaryami’s father said a number of organisations in touch with them had suggested the formation of a joint action committee comprising the families of the three hostages.

Some residents of Dehlan, who were present at the residence of Mr Ram Murti, said they were getting restless and would not hesitate in taking to the streets once again to pressurise the government for taking action in the matter. — UNI

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Govt to take tough stand on encroachment issue
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 22
The state government will deal with all cases of encroachment on government land strictly and none will be spared in this regard. This was stated here on Friday by Revenue and Rural Development Minister Sat Mahajan.

Aaddressing a press conference, Mr Mahajan said the government was committed to take all possible steps to discourage the practice of encroachment in the state. He said rules would be simplified to help the deserving landless people in getting land up to four biswas without going through intricate procedures. The cases of small encroachment by landless persons, who were otherwise entitled to get land under the provisions of the law, would be considered sympathetically to the extent of their entitlement.

He said the state government was being deprived of a handsome amount of revene due to discrepancies in market rates of land in various parts of the state. To overcome this loss, the state government had decided to constitute district-level committees under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners.

He said lease rules were also being simplified for the allotment of land up to 25 sq m to unemployed youth of landless IRDP family to start some self-employment activity and necessary powers would soon be delegated to the Deputy Commissioners to help such youth.

He later attended a meeting of the district-level welfare committee. Speaking about timely distribution of relief to the poor, weak and affected sections of society, Mr Mahajan appealed to the officials to realise the spirit of the welfare programmes and policies of the government made for these sections.

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Kol Dam project will be completed in time: GM
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, August 22
Mr T.K. Chatterji, General Manager, National Thermal Power Corporation’s Kol Dam project at Harnora, near here, has said the project will be completed within the stipulated period. It would provide 12 per cent of the power free to Himachal Pradesh.

He said the NTPC had launched a Rs 65.23-crore catchment area treatment plan. An amount of Rs 32.23 crore had already been released to the Forest Department for this.

Mr Chatterji said two diversion tunnels were ready and the flow of the Sutlej would be diverted through these tunnels after the monsoon. The construction of the dam and the spillway was also in progress.

The General Manager said the NTPC had constructed roads on both banks of the river and also a Rs 8-crore bridge across the Sutlej. A colony for oustees of Mandi district had been constructed at Kangoo while another colony for oustees of Bilaspur district was being developed at Jamthal village near Harnora. 

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1 pilgrim killed, 26 hurt as truck overturns
Our Correspondent

Kangra, August 22
One pilgrim was killed on the spot and 26 others were injured, one of them seriously, when a truck in which they were travelling overturned at Sammela village on the outskirts of this town last night, the police said here today.

Mr Virender Thakur, Deputy Superintendent of Police, today said a truck carrying pilgrims from Amritsar that was on the way to the temple town in connection with the “shravan navratras” overturned at Sammela village, 4 km from here, at 8.15 p.m. last evening. Mr Thakur said the person who was killed had been identified as Ram Singh, 70, a resident of Amritsar.

He said all 26 injured pilgrims had been admitted to the local subdivisional hospital here. Later, one of the injured pilgrims whose condition was stated to be critical by the doctors was shifted to Dr R.P. Govt Medical College Hospital, Dharamsala.

A large number of pilgrims visit Kangra, Chamunda and Jawalamukhi during Navratras in trucks.

Interestingly, there was no check by the authorities concerned on this mode of transport neither at the entry points of the state nor when the trucks reached the temple towns. Fifteen pilgrims were injured, three of them seriously, when their truck had overturned at Bindraban on Friday evening.

Ironically, the pilgrims who lose their lives in such accidents get no insurance claims thus the families of these victims suffer a lot. A senior police officer told this correspondent that trucks were the cheapest mode of transport for the poor counting to visit these chrines.

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Panel to monitor mid-day meal scheme
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The Himachal Pradesh Government has constituted a monitoring committee at district level for effective implementation of the hot cooked mid-day meal scheme in primary schools in the non-tribal areas of the state.

The Deputy Commissioner concerned will be the chairman and the Deputy Director, Primary Education, will be its member secretary. The Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), the District Programme Officer, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the District Health Officer and the District Food and Supplies Officer will be its members.

The committee will ensure a proper budgetary provision and the supply of quality foodgrains for mid-day meal in advance. It will conduct surprise visits in at least 10 per cent of centres in each quarter and submit its report to the Principal Secretary, Education, and the Director of Primary Education.

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Fund crunch hits work on bridge
Our Correspondent

Two piers of the Harsi bridge present a neglected look as work on the project has come to a standstill
Two piers of the Harsi bridge present a neglected look as work on the project has come to a standstill. — Photo by Chander Shekhar Sharma

Badaur Shahar, August 22
Work on construction of a high-level bridge over the Beas, near here, has come to a standstill due to paucity of funds. The foundation stone of the project was laid by the former Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, on October 29, 2002.

A sum of Rs 7.81 crore was to be spent on its completion.

At the time of the foundation stone-laying ceremony, it was announced that the bridge would be completed by 2005.

Interestingly, the foundation stone of this bridge was laid nine times.

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Bank’s locks found broken

Kulu, August 22
Locks on the main door of Punjab National Bank at Akhara Bazar here were found broken on Friday. However, no theft was reported by the bank manager. 

The thieves perhaps ran away after noticing the police patrol, sources claimed. A case has been registered but no clue has been found. — OC

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Pollution Control Dept set up
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 22
The Himachal Government has created a new Department of Pollution Control and bifurcated the non-conventional energy sources from the multi-purpose projects and the Power Department.

Ms Vidya Stokes, Power Minister, will hold the charge of both Pollution Control Department and the Non-conventional Energy Sources Department.

Originally the pollution control was under the Science Technology and Environment Department but it was made a part of the Forest Department in January last.Top

 

5 remanded in jailbreak case
Our Correspondent

Nahan, August 22
Four Home Guards jawans and a jail warden arrested on Friday in connection with a jailbreak case were remanded in the police custody for five days by a local court here today.

Shyamal Rao Reddy, who had been sentenced to death by a Shimla court in the Shimla Aucksland Hotel double-murder case, escaped from Nahan Model Central Jail on Monday.Top

 

Protest against conversion
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, August 22
The Dharma Rakshan Samiti, Solan, took out a procession at Kasauli today against the alleged activities of ‘Father of Church’ to convert down-trodden people by false propaganda.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the church. They raised slogans against the conversion. The samiti also launched a campaign against the alleged self-styled father who allegedly forced a poor family, residing on church premises, to convert to Christianity. The samiti alleged that the poor people were alllured with financial help.Top

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