The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Congress team in Rajasthan

New Delhi: Three senior Congress leaders left for Rajasthan on Thursday to identify ways of shoring up the party’s image in the state, ahead of the Assembly elections at the end of 2003, reports our correspondent.

AICC general secretary Ambika Soni, Pranab Mukherjee and P. Shiv Shankar, who arrived in Jaipur on Thursday afternoon, are scheduled to hold day-long consultations with state Congress leaders on Friday.

The Congress team will meet chief minister Ashok Gehlot and PCC president Girija Vyas to review the implementation of various election promises made prior to the last Assembly polls four years ago. Specific steps would be discussed to shore up the Gehlot government’s public image, which has been taking a beating since the recent starvation deaths.

AICC sources said the party high command was worried about the debacle in the recent byelections and its chances in the forthcoming Assembly polls.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi made known her displeasure when she met Gehlot and Vyas here earlier this week. The party high command is slowly coming round to the view that part of the problem was a serious lack of coordination between the chief minister and the state unit chief.

Soni met both leaders at a joint meeting here on Monday. Gehlot and Vyas lost no time in launching separate whisper campaigns that the other was being removed from office. But by the time Gehlot left Delhi two days ago, he was convinced it was not his head on the chopping block.

Car suicide in Connaught Place

New Delhi (PTI): A middle-aged man committed suicide in Connaught Place on Thursday after allegedly killing three of his brother’s business partners in Haryana, police said.

Raman Katyal, whose body was found in a car in the afternoon, had allegedly shot Sunil Manchanda and Anupam Narula in their factory in Hissar and Suresh Maggu at his Rothak residence, joint commissioner (New Delhi range) B.K. Gupta said.

The possible motive for killing the three partners was that Katyal wanted to inherit the property of his brother, who had died in a road accident in 2002, Gupta said. The partners were insisting that the wife of the brother would be given power to operate in the business.

Since Wednesday night, Haryana police were looking for Katyal. The police have also recovered a note from his pocket in which Katyal had claimed the responsibility for killing them and also alleged that he was provoked by his first cousin to do the “inhuman act”.

Reader held on bribery charge

Kurukshetra (PTI): A reader of the Hindi department of Kurukshetra University, Ramesh Gupta, was caught red-handed by Har-yana vigilance sleuths while accepting Rs 10,000 from a student to clear his thesis.

Gupta allegedly demanded Rs 10,000 from Ph. D student Pardeep Kumar, vigilance sources said. A court has remanded the professor in 14 days’ judicial custody.

Pilgrim flow dips

Jammu (PTI): The recent spurt in terrorist strikes here and in Katra have taken its toll on the pilgrim flow to Vaishnodevi shrine, which recorded a three-year low of 44.32 lakh visitors in 2002, 7.8 lakh less than in 2000-01, shrine board officials said. A record 52,17,175 people had darshan in 2000, the officials added.

Rastogi extradition

New Delhi (PTI): The US is considering India’s request for the extradition of Narendra Rastogi, wanted by the CBI in a duty-drawback scam worth Rs 171 crore. He was arrested by the FBI in May for allegedly defrauding banks around the world of an estimated $600 million.

Parents booked

Vadodara (PTI): A case has been registered against the parents of a 10-year-old girl and a 21-year-old youth to whom the child was married off at Ghutanvad in the district, police said. The marriage has been registered as an offence under the Child Marriage Act, they added.

Jawan stabbed

Jammu (PTI): An armyman was stabbed to death by some unidentified miscreants here, official sources said. Havildar Ram Vir Singh was stabbed near the Sainik colony and died on the spot.

Officers suspended

Chandigarh (PTI): The Haryana government has suspended three sub-divisional education officers for allegedly providing temporary recognition to non-government schools. The government had ordered that as the new school education rules were under consideration, no such school should be given recognition during the current financial year.

Uttaranchal’s cash-starved exchequer became richer by more than Rs 2 lakh in a single day, thanks to a new drive by police making helmets compulsory for two-wheeler riders in Dehra Dun from the first day of 2003. The first defaulter was a police constable.

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