Jilted lady cop batters lover to death
Warhorses, Somen lose RS race
Cong set for price war
CPI gives in to Big Brother
Doctor catches Shah Rukh fever

Lucknow, March 14 
An upright police officer, she lived with him out of wedlock. She paid her price: her family turned against her and she was branded “loose”.

He, however, left her in return to marry someone else. He also started blackmailing her and asked her to “entertain” his friends as well.

In answer, she killed him.

Another journey up the garden path ended in bloody death when Shabnam Khan, a sub-inspector in the Women’s Complaint Cell in Bareilly, killed her paramour Arvind Pratap Singh on Sunday night. Arvind was also a police sub-inspector.

Later Shabnam turned herself in at the police station. She is in police custody, under suspension.

Shabnam beat Arvind to death when he visited her on Sunday. She had planned her moves well. First she laced his drink with sleeping pills and then, when her attempt at slitting his wrist failed, bludgeoned him to death with bricks.

Pretty, petite Shabnam had been fighting tremendous odds. Attached to the senior superintendent’s office, she has been continuing her association with Arvind against the wishes of her family.

She comes from a “respectable” background against which her tale of passion stands out as murky. Neighbours also call her family “rich”. Her father is the chief engineer in the state irrigation department here while her brother is an MBA.

Shabnam, who lives in an affluent colony in the Cantonment area, met Arvind during her training for the police force in Moradabad. A Master’s degree-holder in chemistry, she joined in 1997 and had a record of being “independent-minded” from the beginning.

On surrendering, Shabnam gave her version of the story and said why she was “so mad at him”.

After having lived with Arvind despite the hurdles, Shabnam had hoped he would marry her. But Arvind married someone else. That was the last straw.

Shabnam said she had tried to dissociate herself from Arvind after his marriage, but he kept pestering her to continue the affair. When she refused, he started blackmailing her with photographs he had taken of her in “compromising positions”.

Later Arvind started asking her to “entertain” his friends, Shabnam claimed.

On the night of the murder, Arvind had said he had borrowed Rs 25,000 from some people and as he could not repay it she should “pay off the debt” by granting his debtors sexual favours. She decided then that “things had to be stopped somewhere”.

After the murder, Shabnam slept in the same room where Arvind’s body remained stashed in a corner. When she recovered her composure “with a bath”, Shabnam went to the police chowki.

A shadow of a doubt fell on her story, however, after the police recovered four used plates from the murder site, suggesting she might have taken help. The police, who are yet to get hold of Shabnam’s photographs have found used condoms under her mattress.

Opinion on Shabnam’s “moral character” seems to be divided. While her relatives have washed their hands of her, with none of her family having visited her, her neighbours remain undecided.

“She seemed to be very stressed,” said one, stopping short of justifying her action, while another said she used to have frequent fights with her lover who she always accused of being unfaithful.

Policemen are crying foul against her. They took to the streets today and blocked traffic. “There is much more than what meets the eye,” said an investigating officer. “She was a woman of loose morals. Otherwise how can a sub-inspector afford to live in a house like the one she was living in?”

These are charges a single woman almost always has to put up with. Shabnam lived in a flat that a bank manager occupied earlier.    

New Delhi, March 14 
Calcutta-based industrialist R.P. Goenka and AICC joint secretary D.P. Roy are among the Congress’ Rajya Sabha nominees in the final list announced by the party today. While Goenka has been nominated from Rajasthan, Ray will contest from West Bengal.

West Bengal Pradesh Congress working president Somen Mitra was also in the reckoning for the lone seat the Congress will get from the state but Roy, who had Sonia Gandhi’s personal backing, finally made it. The party, it appears, also did not want to replace Mitra, who is an MLA, and pave the way for a byelection which they are not sure of winning.

The party has finalised its 18 candidates for the Upper House. Strictly applying the rule that defeated Lok Sabha candidates will not be nominated, Sonia dropped veteran leaders Sitaram Kesri, Balram Jakhar, V.N. Gadgil, Saroj Kharpade, Madhavsinh Solanki, Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, P. Shiv Shanker, Natwar Singh, Nathuram Mirdha, Janardhan Poojary, H. Hanumanthappa and Ajit Jogi.

Kesri’s omission has come as a surprise, as he was reportedly backed by RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav. Sources said the Congress chief visited him yesterday to explain the situation.

Actor Rajesh Khanna, a sulking Rajya Sabha aspirant from Delhi, could not make it, while the party accommodated thespian Dilip Kumar from Maharashtra.

The party had set a two-year cooling-off period for defeated Lok Sabha candidates to be eligible for Rajya Sabha nominations. The only exception to this rule has been Karan Singh, who had to resign from the Rajya Sabha to fight the Lok Sabha elections against Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee.

Even as the party released its final list today, there was a near-revolt in Andhra Pradesh by supporters of Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy and Venkatarama Reddy, who were denied nomination.

Party sources said of the 91 MLAs in Andhra Assembly, more than 50 per cent are V.B. Reddy’s men, who are feeling slighted by the high command. Venkatarama Reddy, a media baron who has been a fund-raiser for the party, did not make it either. Venkatarama Reddy’s supporters have threatened to put up an Independent against official candidates K.M. Khan and Dasranarayana Rao.

While Khan is a sitting MP brought in by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, Dasranarayana Rao is a film producer who campaigned for the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. He had also produced a film lampooning chief minister Chandrababu Naidu in the run-up to the elections.

Supporters of the two Reddys say Khan and Dasranarayana Rao are unpopular with the Congress cadre. If any Reddy contests as Independent, one of the official nominees will be in trouble, insiders said.    

New Delhi, March 14 
After tasting success over RSS and Bihar, the Congress is going in for another kill with the populist issues of hike in prices of foodgrains, urea and milk.

From Manmohanomics, the party is slowly shifting towards a Left-Central ideology. Though opinion is divided within the Congress on economic policies, the party can expect support on the hike in prices from even a few BJP allies, some of whom had gone on record demanding a rollback.

Even some BJP legislators protested in the Lok Sabha today against increase in milk prices.

The Congress was backed by all other Opposition parties on the Gujarat government order permitting its staff to join RSS activities and Bihar Governor V.C. Pande’s “partisan” invitation to NDA leader Nitish Kumar.

The views of the Congress, the allies and even the RSS converge on certain budget proposals, though all three are fighting for political space and are scared of others usurping their agenda.

The Congress general body today met to evolve a twin strategy of pinning the government down and cornering the allies, some of whom are equally agitated about the price hike in foodgrains supplied through the Public Distribution System (PDS), and fertilisers. The meeting was attended by senior leaders Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and Madhavrao Scindia.

Party spokesperson Ajit Jogi said the meeting discussed the budget proposals and a large number of MPs felt that the budget was “anti-poor and anti-farmer”. He, however, declined to reveal the party’s strategy in Parliament.

The All India Mahila Congress organised a protest rally here against price hike of essential commodities. The women activists later submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee demanding rollback of PDS prices.    

March 14 
Swallowing its pride, the CPI today gave in to the CPM and announced that it will remain in the Jyoti Basu government, ending a week-long drama.

The party decided to quit the Cabinet after the CPM declined to renominate the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta for the Rajya Sabha.

“Two CPI representatives will resume office at Writers’ Buildings tomorrow in the greater interest of Left unity,” state unit secretary Manju Majudmar said.

Last Tuesday, minister for water resources development Nandagopal Bhattacharya had announced that he, along with Srikumar Mukherjee, minister of state for civil defence, would stop attending office in protest against the CPM’s unilateral move not to renominate Dasgupta.

Turning a deaf ear to the CPI’s pleas, the CPM renominated all its three candidates and conceded the fourth one to the RSP.

Tension mounted in the past few days when the CPI did not budge from its stand even as the CPM agreed to offer a Rajya Sabha seat to the party in 2002.

But things changed overnight when chief minister Jyoti Basu intervened to resolve the crisis and appealed to the CPI not to quit the ministry.

In an eight-line letter to his Cabinet colleague Nandogopal Bhattacharya, Basu made a fervent appeal to the CPI to rejoin the Cabinet without delay.

Without mentioning the on-going tussle between the CPM and the CPI over the Rajya Sabha seat, Basu pleaded that unity was of utmost importance at this critical juncture in national politics. “Keeping in mind the united efforts and the programmes of the Left Front, I appeal to your party to remain not only in the Front but also the Cabinet,” he added.

Soon after receiving a copy of Basu’s letter, the CPI national secretariat met in Delhi and passed a resolution honouring the appeal.

In a communique, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan asked CPI representatives “to resume their functions in the greater interest of Left unity and the problems facing the Left Front in West Bengal and in the country as a whole”.

The CPI state unit held a marathon secretariat meeting at the party office here to take a decision in the light of Basu’s appeal and the Delhi directive.

“Taking into account both Basu’s appeal and Bardhan’s directive, we have decided to work as usual at Writers’ Buildings from tomorrow,” Bhattacharya said. He said he had called on Basu last night to discuss the stalemate.

Yesterday’s CPI national executive in Delhi, however, failed to thrash out a decision on the West Bengal imbroglio.    

People have dubbed him “the crazy doctor,” but he prefers to call himself “Diwana,” after reigning Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s first movie.

But the person who is Lucknow’s latest drawing room joke has also turned into a celebrity of sorts. Curious people from all over the city come to have a peek at Vishal Singh, whose love of “King Khan” knows no bounds, and whose house has become a sort of “living” pilgrimage site for all Shah Rukh lovers.

But Vishal, who filed an affidavit to change his name says with a straight face that his name is “Visharukh Khan”, and is perturbed by uncharitable comments from the “ignorant few” who “cannot comprehend” his unconditional love. “People made fun of Meera for her love for Krishna, but did that stop her from singing about him?” Vishal, a doctor, who also runs a medical store at Aliganj, asks.

One look at Vishal’s home makes it obvious why his neighbours are sniggering. He has painstakingly pasted his ceiling fan with hundreds of pictures of Shah Rukh. There is no space on the walls where there are no pictures.

He has even bought a Santro because his “God” was modelling for it. And then he covered the car with pictures of the star.

Every morning and evening, the “great fan” goes through a ritual with devotion. Helped by wife Ruchi and daughter Simran, named after Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, he scans every newspaper and magazine for the star’s pictures. Then he cuts it and piles it in a corner. Later he pastes it on his car.

“I haven’t missed a single photograph of his,” Vishal says proudly. So far he has collected almost 14,000 pictures of his idol.

It all started in 1990 after he saw Shah Rukh in the teleserial, Circus. In fact, he became a doctor to earn enough money to carry on his diwangi. Now he spends close to five hours a day looking for Shah Rukh’s pictures and buys everything the star models for.

Kabhi to pair padna padta hai,” he says with injured pride, when asked how he manages to get hold of the various posters. He even goes to Delhi and Mumbai to hunt for pictures of his star’s childhood, his family and parents.

Thrice he was booked by the police for beating up people who spoke ill of Shah Rukh. “I can’t stand it when someone says bad things about him,” he says.

But his love for Shah Rukh is proving to be costly because he is not content with just collecting pictures. He needs to exhibit them. Already most of his possessions, including motorbike, refrigerator, medical kit and bed, have suffered the Shah Rukh deluge.

Earlier, his parents were worried about his “unusual malady,” but now as they know it can’t be cured they have stopped nagging him. “My parents used to be worried earlier. They used to say I am ruining my life. But now they understand that my love for him cannot be affected by anything,” Vishal says. His wife has resigned to her fate of being second best.

Iska koi ant nahi hain,” he adds when asked how far he will carry on with his obsession. His only mission he says is to make the world realise “Shah Rukh kya cheez hai.”

And as Pranay Srivastava, a cynical neighbour, says: “You see there is a lesson behind his madness. He is trying to give a message to our cricket team that they should be as committed to their nation as he is to Shah Rukh.”    


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