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Race oxen high on spirits
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Liquor was being served to oxen despite repeated warnings by organisers on the third day of the Kila Raipur rural fest here today.

As bullock cart races are reaching the final stage, oxen owners are indulging in this practise. Bulls are being given country made liquor, hours before the competition.

The bulls were kept thirsty before the event and later, and instead of giving them water, they were made to drink liquor.

This is not the first time that such a practise is being followed. Bullock cart jockeys often do this to win races.

Even though the organisers have slapped a heavy fine on defaulters and disqualified many of them, the jockeys are still going ahead with it.

In the past also, the jockeys were penalised for biting the tale of the ox. Sometimes, they would even rub red chillies on the back of the ox to make it run faster.

A jockey, on the condition of anonymity, said: “This is not just a race. Our prestige is at stake. The bullock cart owner can go to any length to win it.”

Sukhvir Grewal, chief organiser of the games, said: “We are conducting medical tests and serious action would be taken against those guilty.”

Another organiser expressed disappointment over the prevailing trend and said “we threaten them and even penalise them, but they persist with it. It is disheartening”.

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Dues
HC: Cut power to defaulting depts
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 14
Government departments will no longer have the immunity against disconnection of power supply after persistently defaulting in the payment of energy bills in the wake of directions by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

Disposing of a civil writ petition public interest litigation, a Division Bench issued instructions to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for the disconnection of power supply to all defaulting government departments if they failed to clear the arrears by March 31.

The Bench comprising Justice TS Thakur (Chief Justice) and Justice Jasbir Singh in its orders observed that arrears of unpaid energy bills of Rs 66.17 crore standing against government departments ought to be cleared expeditiously but not later than March 31.

“We further direct that in case the needful is not done, the respondent board (PSEB) shall take immediate action by way of disconnection of electricity supply to all such government departments and agencies, as have not paid the arrears within the time given,” the orders said.

In its counter affidavit filed earlier before the court, the PSEB had submitted that the defaulting government departments were being pressed hard for the payment of arrears, but still payments were not forthcoming.

The board could not disconnect the power supply to various departments providing essential services which included Punjab Police, public health, irrigation and water supply.

The court was also informed that the cumulative arrears of energy bills against government departments stood at Rs 5922.28 lakh on May 30, 2008, which went up to Rs 6303.86 lakh on July 31 and further to Rs 66.17 crore on October 30.

Taking note of the HC directions, the Chief Engineer (commercial) of the PSEB has issued order to all five operational zones at Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to take up the matter with the defaulting departments for the recovery of arrears and further to disconnect the power supply to all such departments that failed to clear pending bills.

Enquiries by The Tribune revealed that the Punjab Police, along with the bodies of local self government, were among the biggest defaulters owing Rs 13 crore each as arrears of energy bills up to December 2008. Among other big defaulters are departments of public health (Rs 10 crore), irrigation (Rs 9 crore) and health (Rs 3.63 crore).

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V-Day Party Poopers
Bajrang Dal burns cards
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Activists of Bajrang Dal burnt cards as a mark of protest against Valentine’s Day celebrations today.

Raising anti-Valentine’s Day slogans, they urged the youth to boycott the celebrations. They said “St Valentine” had been coined by multinational companies to sell their products in the Indian market.

The activists said the day gave “license” to a section of youth to behave indecently in the name of expressing love. “An open act of vulgarity is certainly not a pious expression of love and true love does not depend on a specific day and time, but is eternal,” an activist stated.

Asked about the support extended by the Student Organisation of India to the youth in Punjab for celebrating Valentine’s Day, the president of the Ludhiana unit of the dal, Rajat Sood, said: “Let other organisations support the celebrations. The idea of Valentine’s Day is against the dal’s principles and we will continue to oppose it.”

Prabhat Jain, an MBA student, said: “I am not in favour of extreme steps taken by the activists of the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal against young couples, but they are right in raising their voice against activities that hurt the cultural and moral values of our country.”

However, college students Swati and Chiraag feel that such protests are uncalled for as there is nothing objectionable about Valentine’s Day. They also said it was unfair that some bad elements mar the true spirit of the day.

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But love ruled
Manav Ghuman
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Love ruled the hearts of youngsters on Valentine’s Day today. Red was the colour of the day and gifts were being exchanged. A lot of rush was witnessed at Sarabha Nagar and the youth thronged malls.

A group of girls from Khalsa College said they had decided to wear red. “We went to a restaurant on the outskirts of the city for lunch and stopped at a mall on the way back,” one of them said.

Another young couple Shallu and Rajiv went to Morni hills. “There is no place in the city, so we decided to get out of the city. Even after five years of marriage we don’t leave any opportunity to go out and be on our own,” they said.

Flower shops were crowded with young people throughout the day. Kiran, a florist, said they had advance orders for the day.

“It is the day when red roses are sold the maximum,” Nishant, another florist, said.

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City Centre Scam
VB buys more time to reply
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 14
Sessions Judge GK Rai adjourned the hearing on the application filed by former Chief Minister, Punjab, Captain Amrinder Singh seeking contempt of court proceedings against the Vigilance Bureau (VB).

The bureau’s counsel, ML Solanki, requested the court to give more time for filing reply. The matter was then adjourned till February 21. Amrinder had contended in his application that the bureau officials tampered with the judicial record and acted without the permission of court, which was against the law.

Meanwhile, the court allowed Amrinder’s plea for allowing him the inspection of statements of witnesses recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC. The defence lawyers were allowed to inspect the case file till Feburary 21.

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Rein in tubewell operators, say councillors
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
The allotment of contracts for running tubewells, which were given last month, has left some councillors complaining that the operators had been running the tubewells as per their wishes.

The councillors, who did not want to be named, said usually the political party that took over the reins of the municipal house gave the contract to their own contractors.

“The contractors operate the tubewells at whatever time suits them and in case there is no power supply, they don't even run the tubewells for some more time despite repeated requests,” they rued.

The municipal corporation pays Rs 3,100 per month to the contractors for running these tubewells and most of them are not even bothered to make alternative arrangements like using generators to provide water to residents in case of power failure.

The matter had been brought to the notice of the mayor, Hakam Singh Giaspura, who had issued directions to the SE (O&M) on January 31 to check irregularities and report to him immediately.

The mayor had stated that he had received several complaints about some tubewells being allotted to more than one contractor while some dry tubewells had also been allotted. The instructions also direct officials that in all such cases of discrepancies, the contractor who was next in the list should be allotted the tubewells.

Though the mayor had asked that the issue be taken care of before February 2, no such list has been received by him, sources said.

The mayor confirmed that he had received complaints about tubewell operators and as far as the lists were concerned, these might have reached his personal assistant.

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Govt staff protest Badal’s ‘anti-people’ policy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Taking a tough stand against the ruling Akali-BJP alliance for being “anti-employees” and “anti-people”, government employees from all over the state today made it clear that the government will have to face the music in the coming Lok Sabha polls if the genuine demands of employees were not met immediately.

Under the banner of Punjab Mulazam Sangharsh Committee -- an apex body of six employees’ federations and a dozen independent employees unions -- thousands of employees held employees’ “Ultimatum rally” at the Mini Secretariat here today. The employees held the Badal government guilty for not implementing the January 27 agreement on their demands and for pursuing the policy of privatisation and panchayati-karan.

Hundreds of women, too, participated in today’s protest rally, which continued for more than three hours. The leaders, while addressing their fellow-beings, charged that the Chief Minister had agreed on January 27 that the government would give report of the 5th Punjab Pay Commission and discuss the same with Sangharsh Committee before its immediate implementation.

The leaders said it was made clear that the services of daily wage, contract and work-charged staff would be regularised and pay scales/allowances at par with regular staff would be introduced, the present policy of privatisation in all forms would be reversed. Besides schools, dispensaries, veterinary hospitals handed over to zila parishads, ITIs and polytechnics given to societies would be given back to departments concerned, government notifications issued during the Congress regime on May 12, 2002 of putting a ban on recruitment would be scrapped and over 1 lakh vacant posts would be filled by regular recruitment, they added.

“None of the decisions had been implemented by government,” told one of the conveners, Sucha Singh Khatra, adding that due to anti-people policies of the Badal government, the condition of government schools and hospitals was deteriorating continuously. 

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Sukhbir to hear traders’ grievances
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will listen to the difficulties being faced by industrialists and traders during his visit to the city on February 16.

This will be his maiden official visit to the industrial hub of the state after assuming the new office.

A number of meetings have been planned for the day. He will interact with members of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA). Badal will also make a presentation of “My vision of Punjab”.

In the evening, he will meet representatives of small and medium-scale industries. The meeting is being convened by the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings.

The meeting is being organised by Inderjeet singh Pradhan, chairman, Small Industrial Development Board, Punjab, and Avtar Singh, general secretary of the chamber.

He will also speak to local lawyers during a meeting with the District Bar Association. Also, a meeting with traders will be organised by Madan Lal Bagga, deputy chairman, Traders Cell of the Punjab Government.

Industrialists have been facing the problem of power cut, which has hampered industrial production.

They claim that their production has already come down due to recession and power cuts during the past few months.

The PSEB supplies power to the industry in two different categories - focal points and residential-area factories.

Power supply to focal points and industrial areas remains regular whereas residential areas with industries get inadequate power supply.

However, residential areas have been getting more power compared to focal points and industrial areas lately.

The industry wants assured power supply for all types of factories.

Industrialists also complain of delay in refund of VAT arrears.

According to Avtar Singh, the excise and taxation department is yet to clear the arrears for 2007. The arrears amount to around Rs 600 crore all over the state, he added.

Meanwhile, Satish Dhandha, vice-chairman, Medium-Scale Industrial Development Board, Punjab, yesterday held a meeting with various trade and industrial organisations ahead of Badal’s visit.

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Now, LIC offers Jeevan Varsha
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
After the runaway success of Jeevan Aastha, the LIC has come out with Jeevan Varsha, a close-ended guaranteed additions plan.

The plan provides guaranteed benefits on death as well as maturity and has other features. The plan will be open from February 16 to March 31.

It is a money-back plan with only two policy terms i.e. nine years and 12 years, with a premium paying term restricted to only nine years for both.

This has been done keeping in view the preference of people for short-duration policies. Further, it offers attractive guaranteed additions of Rs 65 per thousand SA per year for nine-year term and Rs 70 per thousand SA for a policy of 12-year term.

For the first time in any money-back policy, survival benefits will be payable every three years.

This means that for a nine-year-term policy, the payout would be at the end of 3rd, 6th and 9th years and for a 12-year-term policy, the payout would be at end of 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th year.

This makes Jeevan Varsha a plan with periodical payments (survival benefit) and helps buyer meet various expenses during the course of the policy, while enjoying insurance coverage for the entire policy term.

Those who have completed 15 years of age can buy the policy. The maximum age at maturity has been kept at 75 years, which means that the maximum age of entry for nine-year term will be 66 years and for the 12-year term will be 63 years.

This is a regular premium plan where all modes of payment yearly, half yearly, quarterly and monthly (ECS mode only) are allowed.

The minimum sum assured for ECS monthly mode is Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000 for other modes, there being no limit on the maximum sum assured.

The loyalty additions are also payable depending on the experience of the corporation with regard to interest rate assumed, expenses and mortality.

The unique identification number for the plan is 512N254V01.

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Insurance co told to pay Rs 5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 14
The permanent lok adalat has ordered the SBI Life Insurance Company to make a payment of Rs 5 lakh, along with 9 per cent per annum interest to Gurjeet Kaur of Shimlapuri, whose husband Baljeet Singh had died in an accident. Denial of claim to the widow was held to be a wrong decision of the company.

The chairman of the lok adalat, RS Khokkar, and its member Nand Lal also directed the SBI to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation on account of mental and physical harassment sufferred by the aggrieved family, as the SBI wrongly withheld the claim for a long period.

The amount would be shared by Gurjeet Kaur and her two minor sons. The complainant had submitted that her husband was holder of a Group Insurance Scheme. He was insured up to Rs 5 lakh under the personal accident cover. Her husband died in an accident in 2007. A claim was lodged with the insurance company. The relevant documents were handed over to the company as and when demanded but no claim was paid.

On the other hand, the official of the company stated that there was mismatch of the name of the nominee. Daljit Kaur was the nominee as per their record, whereas the claim was filed by Gurjeet Kaur, claiming to be the wife of Baljeet Singh. Due to this reason, the SBI had asked the complainant to get a succession certificate from the competent civil court. There was nothing wrong in it. But after appreciating the evidence on record, the lok adalat observed that as per the demand of the SBI, the complainant had submitted an affidavit to the effect that Daljit Kaur and Gurjeet Kaur were one and the same. The affidavit was supported by the voter ID-card.

“We have scrutinised the certificate of insurance issued by the SBI and loan account in which the name of the nominee is clearly mentioned as Gurjeet Kaur. This document of insurance has not been denied by the SBI at any stage during the proceedings of the case,” the lok adalat observed.

The application form was signed by Baljeet Singh in Punjabi, but the form seems to have been filled by some official of the company in which the name was recorded Daljeet Kaur inadvertantly, the judgement said.

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From Schools
Science, art exhibition at school 
Tribune Reporters

Jagraon/Ludhiana, February 14
A science, maths and art & craft exhibition was held at Shivalik Model School here. The charts and models displayed today were made by the students of nursery class to Class VI.

Dr Aman Sharma and Dr Raj inaugurated the exhibition. Principal Neelam Sharma said all the students have creative mind. Only thing they require was the exposures and opportunities, she added.

She said special seminars for students should be conducted at tehsil, district and state levels to polish their creativity from the tender age itself.

Dance contest

A dance competition was staged in the premises of Love Dale Montessori. Out of total 50 participants, five were adjudged eligible for the annual function. Master Bittu, dance expert from DAV School, was called to assess the performance.

‘Valentines’ special’ was also staged in which little children gave sterling performance of salsa. All participants were given prizes.

Quiz contest

Cadbury Bournvita Confident Minds inter-school show was organised on Wednesday at BCM Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar. About 100 students from 25 different schools of Ludhiana participated in this show. Out of which six schools were selected for the competition on the stage.

Students of Darshan Academy bought laurels to the school by qualifying in the preliminary round. The team, comprising of four students -- Simrat Kaur, Simran Mann, Harnoor Toor and Gurjeet Singh, made its entry in the final round of Cadbury Bournvita Confident Mind - 2009 inter-school quiz competition. SD Kalia, principal, congratulated the winners.

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25 awarded on National Youth Day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
National Youth Day was celebrated at Kamla Lohtia College, Daresi road, by Swami Vivekananda Study Circle. Professor Luxmi Kanta Chawla, Health and Welfare Minister, Punjab, was the chief guest at the occasion. CS Talwar, IAS and special secretary (health and welfare) presided over the function.

Talwar said our forefathers and nation founders, freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, noble laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo Ghosh, Subhash Chander Bose, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were all ardent followers and disciples of Swami Vivekanand.

He added that it was very sad that our youth did not even know the name of icons as Swamiji whose birthday had been declared the National Youth Day in 1963.

Chawla further added with an example that youth of our country was following Western culture in a blind manner and these were the only Indians who were moving towards progress.

She called upon the youth to wake up and revive the culture and spiritualism for the sake of the betterment of the country.

At the end of the function, Chawla distributed the National Youth Awards to 25 youth role models. The role models were selected from all over Punjab and Chandigarh by the process of interviewing and judging them from their thoughts after a tough test.

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Mystery shrouds sweet maker’s murder
Tribune News Service

Machhiwara, February 14
The murder of local sweetmeat maker Mohammad Shafiq in Raiyan Mohalla of the area remains a mystery. The police is groping in the dark and is working on all possible theories.

A bachelor, Shafiq had been staying at the local masjid. The police has conducted a check of his house and belongings to get some clue. The officials investigating the matter have got photographs of three girls from his house and suspected that he could have been killed over some love affair.

The belongings were found scattered in Shafiq’s house pointing at the entry of the accused in the house with the intention of removing things.

However, the police is not ruling out the possibility of the accused trying to mislead investigators.

The police is questioning victim’s acquaintances. The post-mortem examination on the victim’s body was held yesterday. His body could not be buried as his relatives had not arrived yet.

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Kingpin of robbers’ gang held
Our Correspondent

Samrala, February 14
The local police arrested the kingpin of a gang of highway robbers, which had been active on the GT Road, with a stolen car.

According to SHO Jasbinder Singh, gang leader Harjinder Singh was responsible for several crimes perpetrated on the stretch from Chandigarh up to Samrala bypass.

Other members of the gang have already been arrested. Harjinder had recently robbed a person hailing from Chandigarh of his car near Neelon. He was arrested with a stolen car.

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Weightlifting
GCW lifters dominate
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 14
Students of Government College for Women, Civil Lines, dominated the proceedings and bagged maximum positions in the women’s section on the opening day of the two-day 36th Ludhiana District Weightlifting Championship for Men and Women held at the Ludhiana Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Club, Rakh Bagh, here today.

Parveen Bansal, Senior Deputy Mayor, municipal corporation, inaugurated the championship.

Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja, president of the District Ludhiana Weightlifting Association, and Parvesh Chander Sharma, gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games and honorary secretary of the association, were present at the inaugural function.

First day’s results: women: 48 kg: Manpreet Kaur (Khanna) 84 kg 1, Rachna Bala (Master Tara Singh Memorial College) 78 kg 2 and Manpreet Kaur (Khanna) 76 kg 3.

53 kg: Rajni Bala (Master Tara Singh Memorial College) 108 kg 1, Kiranjeet Kaur (Government College for Women) 108 kg 2 and Devinder Kaur (Khanna) 91 kg 3.

58 kg: Sangeeta Rani (Government College for Women) 111 kg 1, Rajni (Government College for Women) 95 kg 2 and Shobha (Government College for Women) 91 kg 3.

63 kg: Baljinder Kaur (Government College for Women) 140 kg 1, Jolly Rani (Master Tara Singh Memorial College) 80 kg 2 and Sadhna (Government College for Women) 76 kg 3.

69 kg: Navjot Kaur (Government College for Women) 108 kg 1, Mamta Rani (Government College for Women) 86 kg 2 and Navpreet Kaur (Khanna) 93 kg 3.

Men: 56 kg: Sukhdev Raj (Stadium) 180 kg 1, Kuldeep Singh (Khanna) 151 kg 2 and Sidharth (Stadium) 140 kg 3.

62kg: Gurpreet Singh (Ludhiana Club) 259 kg 1, Damanpreet Singh (Stadium) 190 kg 2 and Ajmer Singh (Khanna) 185 kg 3.

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Jaspreet adjudged best athlete
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 14
Jaspreet Kaur, student of BA II, was adjudged best athlete in the annual athletics meet of the Devki Devi Jain Memorial College for Women, Kidwai Nagar, held here today.

Satpal Pal Gosain, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, inaugurated the meet in which a large number of students participated in various regular and fun games.

He announced a grant Rs 2 lakh for the college.

Nand Kumar Jain and Kedar Nath Jain, president and general secretary, respectively, of the college management committee, along with officiating principal Surinder Dua, besides Baljit Sohi and Balwinder Sharma, all from physical education department and faculty members, welcomed the chief guest.

Baljit Sohi read out the annual report highlighting the achievements of the college students at various tournaments during the current session.

Nand Kumar Jain gave away prizes to the position holders.

Results: 50m: 1 Mehak of BCom II, 2 Rashmi of BCom II and 3 Payal of BA I.

200m: 1 Taranum of BA II, 2 Gunjan of BCom II and 3 Priyanya of BCom II.

Discus throw: 1 Jyoti of BCom, 2 Tejinder of BA III and 3 Amita of BA III.

Long jump: 1 Ankita of BCA I, 2 Suman of BA III and 3 Guneet of BAI.

Tug-of-war: 1 BCA I and 2 BCom II.

Javelin throw: 1 Jaspreet Kaur of BA II, 2 Bhawna of BA II and 3 Jyoti of BCom I.

High jump: 1 Sarabjeet Kaur of BA III, 2 Tejinder of BA III and 3 Jaspreet Kaur of BA II.

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Athletics meet at GTB college

Mullanpur Dakha, February 14
The 38th annual athletics meet of GTB National College, Dakha, began here today.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar presided over the opening ceremony. He hoisted the flag and took the salute.

The students held a march-past and presented a cultural programme. Guru Dutt, the best athlete of last year’s athletics meet, took the oath on behalf of participants.

Principal Dr Dharmjit Singh welcomed the chief guest and dignitaries, including former PPSC member Amarjeet Singh Chawla and Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, manager Harbhajan Singh. College managing committee president Sher Singh Sekhon honoured the chief guest.

Makkar exhorted students to follow the path shown by Gurus and Sikh martyrs.

He also announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the development of the college. Sekhon proposed the vote of thanks.

Winners of various events concluded today included Guru Dutt BA III in 400m (boys) and long jump, Hardeep Kaur BA II 200m (girls), Balwinder Singh BA II shot put, Khushdeepak Singh BA I 500 m (boys), Amandeep Kaur BA II 100m (girls). — OC

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Principal’s XI register win
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 14
Principal’s XI trounced Medical Superintendent’s XI by 24 runs in a T-10 faculty cricket match played at Dumra Auditorium of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital here today.

Batting first, Principal’s XI were bowled out for 86 runs in 9 overs with main contribution coming through Principal Dr Daljit Singh. He was declared man of the match for his effort.

In reply, Medical Superintendent’s XI could muster 62 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in the stipulated 10 overs.

Dr Sandeep Sharma was named best fielder, while Dr HS Dhooria who sent down two overs and claimed two wickets for just 3 runs. He was adjudged best bowler.

Dr Rajoo Chhina, chairman, DMCH Sports Committee, Dr Sanjeev Uppal and Dr PL Gautam, secretary and convener, respectively of the committee, were also present during the match.

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