Patrika's aggressive campaign against corruption strikes chord in Bhopal

When readers saw their paper in the morning, they felt it was burnt. But that was not the case.

The front page was designed in such a way that it gave such an impression. The colours were used intelligently and it succeeded in creating this impact.

The newspaper's aggressive campaign in Bhopal in the form of hoardings that read as, 'Burn Patrika', had already caught the imagination of citizens.

The paper gave the message that it stood for truth and was exposing mafia, the corrupt politicians and the bureaucrats, who were all hand in glove, and wanted the newspaper out of the town and wished to burn the paper.

The front page showed old reports published in the paper like the news about a Chirayu groups hospital which was given permission to construct its building in the Upper Lake despite objections and in violation of norms. The other report was about an IPS officer Sanjay Chaudhary who was Director Sports for a long period.

Dainik Bhaskar, the leading Hindi newspaper, is known to have become 'subdued'. The impression that Bhaskar doesn't expose corruption because it has stakes in numerous businesses, and has become protective of the regime, has been strengthened by rival Patrika's vigorous campaign.

The reports that targeted BJP ministers have also given the Rajasthan-based paper, which had started MP edition, a few years back, another fillip. After Raj Express that faced administration's action, Patrika's proactive journalism may enthuse other papers.

One hopes that journalists in Bhopal stop getting 'managed' and publish stories that hit the 'system' rather than reducing themselves to official mouthpieces and turning journalism into a PR exercise.

As Patrika is known to be sympathetic to RSS and BJP, this anti-corruption campaign and exposures are more praiseworthy. Right now, the newspaper's advertising campaign seems to have clicked.


Was Lokayukta PP Naolekar's photograph morphed?

The photograph that showed Lokayukta Justice PP Naolekar in RSS dress raised a storm.

Congress leader Kalpana Parulekar displayed the photo in the Assembly. She claimed that it was real. But other sources suggested that the face was morphed and superimposed on the photo that was or some other Sangh swayamsevak.

Now the case has reached police. Will it lead to trouble for the stormy petrel, Parulekar, who has been at the centre of many such controversies in the past also.

*Photo courtesy Dainik Bhaskar newspaper

Heat on BJP leaders, issue of builders' nexus with bureaucrats raised in Assembly

The State congress seems to have got a bit active during the recent Assembly session when its leaders raised serious issues after a long time.

The No Confidence Motion also brought Ajay Singh 'Rahul' to the centre of political happenings in Madhya Pradesh. He made serious charges of corruption in the House.

The Opposition looked rejuvenated. Earlier, the issue of builders-bureaucrats nexus also came up. The subject of illegal mining that is causing huge loss to the state was also raised forcefully.

Congress MLA Arif Aqueel questioned Babulal Gaur that why 'He and his government is so touchy about Dilip Buildcon and the BMC commissioner Manish Singh whose name was mentioned during the Income Tax raid at Sagar Group'. Gaur replied that if roads were not constructed as per the standards, Aqueel could go to Lokayukta.


CM's plan to teach Gita in schools faces opposition

No sooner did the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that Hindu religious text Bhagwad Geeta would be taught in schools in the state, than there has been a strong protest to the decision.

Apart from minorities' leaders, mainstream politicians, educationists, social workers and even religious gurus have said that state should not interfere in education and let it remain secular.

There is a concern that the BJP is trying to appease the majority community just for electoral gains. Senior journalist LS Hedenia has said that it is an un-constitutional decision and after this announcement, Chouhan should quit his post.

Christian leaders have said that if, at all, Geeta is to be brought in the school curriculum, then similarly excerpts from the religious books of other communities should also be added to the syllabus, and not just one religion.

Social activist Deepa Pohankar said that children would get away from schools and thus it is not advisable to issue such an order. Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee leader Giani Dilip Singh has said that is not proper to ignore kids of other religions who study in the government schools.

[Photo screen shot courtesy: Dainik Bhaskar, November 20]


Flag Dishonour Case: Case, Arrest warrant against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, later stay granted

A court issued non-bailable arrest warrant against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BJP leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj for dishonour of national flag.

A private complained was filed in the court in Nasrullaganj in Sehore. The JMFC issued the warrants against four persons including the Chief Minister and BJP MP Sushma Swaraj.

The two other persons included BJP leader R Bhati and former collector Sandeep Yadav. At a public meeting almost a year ago, a girl dressed as 'bharat mata' had welcomed these dignitaries.

She was carrying the tricolour, which was upside down. The complainant, in his 'istighasa', had also presented photographs of the event that showed flag upside down in the presence of CM and the three others.

The report of the arrest warrant caused flutter in the BJP as a case of insult to national flag had earlier cost Uma Bharti her chief ministership. But to the party leaders' relief, later in the day the stay was however obtained. A sessions court granted stay on execution of the arrest warrants by the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class Zafar Iqbal.


Congress wins Harda municipal election, BJP alarmed

HARDA The unexpected victory of Congress in Harda municipal election where its candidate won the post of president has alarmed the BJP. Sangeeta Bansal's win against the ruling party candidate Sadhna Jain has come as a surprise.

The biggest worry for the party is that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had campaigned extensively in the election but the party still lost. This is the first such victory of Congress in any local body or assembly election in state after a long time.

Theories doing rounds include anger against Kamal Patel apart from a rumour that the former minister didn't took active interest as he wanted to show his clout after denial of cabinet berth following clean chit in the Durgesh Jat case.

BJP can't afford to be complacent anymore. The tide can turn against it. With the party in its second term, anti-incumbency is always a factor. But if there has been a sabotage then the party must take strong decisions and act fast. Congress president Kantilal Bhuria must be a relieved man now.

Tainted IAS officer Tinu Joshi's photo on hoarding ruins Foundation Day celebration in Madhya Pradesh

It seems there is no end to controversies for the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh.

On the foundation day, a hoarding created flutter in the state politics. It showed photographs of women who made a name for themselves in different fields.

Ironically, it carried photograph of disgraced IAS officer Tinoo Joshi who along with her husband Arvind Joshi are facing corruption case for amassing wealth worth hundreds of crores.

In place of Nirmala Buch, Tinoo's photo was mistakenly printed. But was it really a mistake or a deliberate attempt to tarnish government's image.

BJP leaders say that this hoarding was put up at the behest of the opposition or some Congress leaders in their individual capacity. Perhaps, it was a mistake by a person who didn't recognize either Nirmala Buch or Tinu Joshi, and Googled but found wrong image search results, and put it up on banner without cross-checking it.

Uma Bharti, Jamuna Devi Subhadra Kumari Chouhan, Gul Bardhan, Shalini Tami Moghe were the other 'gauravshali betiyan' or daughters of Madhya Pradesh on whom people of the state could feel pride. Tinoo Joshi found place in this select group.

BJP leader terms CM, ministers as 'Ghoshna-Vir' or 'Men who Merely Make Announcements'

Report published in Dainik Bhaskar

For the BJP it was a big embarrassment. The state vice-president Raghunandan Sharma called Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a 'ghoshna-veer' or a person who was master at making announcements only.

Sharma who is a Rajya Sabha MP had attacked party leaders for their failure to rein in bureaucrats. He made teh controversial comments from public stage. The party leaders were red-faced after the news was published and channels aired his remarks. So he meant CM, ministers make tall promises but don't fulfill them.

Now he has been removed from his post and asked to explain his stand. Sharma said that his criticism was positive and he spoke truth, which hurt others but his intention was not to make fun of the party leaders. Shouldn't BJP tolerate criticism and use it for inward looking, introspection and inter-party democracy?


Lokayukta seeks government sanction to prosecute IAS Raghav Chandra

Published in Dainik Bhaskar on October 21
The Lokayukta has sought sanction to prosecute Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Raghav Chandra.

The case against him pertains to a land scam in Katni. Chandra was then posted as Madhya Pradesh Housing Board Commissioner.

The then collector Shahzad Khan is also named an accused in the case. The scam pertains to a 69 acre land that was meant for a housing project in Katni.

The deal had caused a loss of Rs 4 crore to the state exchequer. It was alleged that exorbitant prices were paid for the land and many other guidelines were also violated in the purchase of land. The Lokayukta had investigated case. In the closure report, the ombudsman had given him clean chit.

But the court disagreed with the decision. The complainant Arun Kumar Agarwal then approached higher courts until Supreme Court struck down the HC order and upheld the trial court which had asked Lokayukta to seek prosecution sanction against the officer and all the others named in the FIR.

Income Tax raid at Sagar Group: BMC Commissioner, former DGP to be quizzed!

A report published in Daink Bhaskar
The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Manish Singh and a former Director General of Police could be quizzed by Income Tax officials after the recent raids at the Sagar group in Bhopal.

During the raid, IT team had found documents that showed investments by Manish Singh and his wife Anuranjana Singh into the group.

After they found evidences, the officials could be summoned. The AlCTE has also been initimiated and asked to de-recognize the colleges run by the group.

The group that is largely into real estate and education had claimed relaxations from tax but it was found that it had violated several provisions. The raids were conducted at 10 premises of the group in Bhopal. Apart from Manish Singh, former state police chief AN Singh may also be questioned.

The Congress has demanded action against BMC officer. Former Mayor Sunil Sood has said that he had earlier also raised the issue of misappropriation and misconduct on part of the BMC commissioner. But minister Babulal Gour seems to have given a clean-chit to the officer.


Do caste-based lobbies really work in administration in Madhya Pradesh?

Do caste lobbies really work or it is just a perception in the casteist society?

In UP, it is more common for newspapers to publish reports about Thakur lobby, Kayastha group or Pandits power going up or down in a department. Now in Madhya Pradesh also we are seeing this trend.

Sometimes it is just a coincidence that a head of department and a few more officials in senior positions share the same caste or surname, and journalists draw this conclusion.

One can't deny that there is a possibility though of sometimes a lobby getting stronger in this way. However, it is wrong only if this lobby helps particular group of people or is biased in favour of some, at the expense of others.

In Europe, America and Middle East, caste is no issue. As Hinduism is the only religion which has institutionalized the 'varna vyavastha', this style of journalim can't be found in newspapers elsewhere. On the left is a report in Sandhya Prakash, the evening paper's diary column, 'Mantrayala Ajkal'.

It  is a diary item that says the 'Lala lobby dominates'. The Lala word here means Kayasthas particularly those with surnames like Saxena, Srivastava, Nigam, Mathur, Kulshreshtha, Asthana and Khare amongst few others. The paper says that the Punjabi lobby has lost out to Kayasthas.

As Kayasthas were traditionally more educated than others and learning was given importance in their households, their percentage in government jobs was always much higher than other castes. Similar is the case of Brahmins also.

If there are more Shrivastavas in district administration, State government departments and police, it is understandable. This is the sort of 'chatkhare-daar' news that is read with delight and chuckle in bureaucratic circles, as wells as the general reader.

Of course, there are regional lobbies also like Bihari lobby or North Indian-South Indian lobby. So once again we are back to the same question. Does it affect working in the bureaucratic circles or creates a nexus or caucus to favour particular group.

What's your view!


BJP MLA, IG to be quizzed in Shehla Masood murder case

A  BJP MLA and an IG police would be quizzed during investigation in the Shehla Masood murder case which has become a sort of mystery.

Dainik Bhaskar reports that MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh would be summoned and interrogated. It says that Singh had good relations with Masood when he was chairman of tourism development corporation but later the relations had soured.

The cell phone record of her cell phone has been examined. Names of persons in the conversation record list are being called and interrogated. Police hope that they would be able to find information and make breakthrough.

IG Pawan Shrivastav would also be quizzed. The family of Shehla Masood had named him in their statement to the Koh-e-Fiza police after the murder.


Murder Mystery: Shehla Masood's killing in Bhopal

Shehla Masood who was a social activist and earned recognition for using Right to Information (RTI) to unearth corruption in bureaucracy, forest department and mining, was shot dead on August 16.

Masood lived in Koh-e-Fiza and left her house. She was about to start her car when someone fired at her in the neck. The injury was fatal and she died on the spot.

The Bhopal police have failed to find any clue about her murderer or his motive. Masood's family members said that she had complained to police about former DIG Pawan Srivastava.

The family members also said that she had an argument with a protocol department officer. But apart from these individuals they could not name any person who could have killed her.

Shehla Masood was a firebrand activist who also wrote articles and raised her voice on a variety of issues. She ran an event management company 'Miracles'.

As she was exposing corruption and was after corrupt officials, it is suspected that those whose interests were harmed in process, might have planned her murder.

State government has agreed for a CBI probe. We hope that the investigative agency manages to unveil the truth and nab her killers. This would be the real tribute to her.


Group clash: SP loses eye in communal violence in Bhopal

An IPS officer was seriously injured when two communities clashed in Itwara in Old Bhopal on Tuesday. SP Bhopal North Abhay Singh was hit with a stone in his right eye.

Doctors said that his eye was damaged and he was taken to Chennai. But there are little hopes that his vision would be back.

Many people were injured and vehicles were torched by a mob that attacked houses and resorted to arson after a minor incident.

Over 1,500 policemen were deployed in the area. The situation was tense but under control. Peace was restored after police crackdown on rioters. Cases were registered against the rioters for targeting police vehicles and attacking personnel.


MP IAS officers had dinner on citizens' money!

An investigation has been started into the complaint of a social activist that Rs 1.5 lakh from taxpayers' money was spent to host a dinner for IAS officers of Madhya Pradesh.

English newspaper DNA reports that the money was routed from the exchequer to foot the bill of dinner hosted by Chief  Secretary Avani Vaish.

The party organised under the aegis of MP IAS officers' association was held on October 8, 2010. Officials claim that the payment was properly made and it was not public money that was used for the programme. The complainant had first gone to High Court and filed a PIL but the court dimissed it and asked the Lokayukta to hold the probe.


BJP legislator's absurd demand to scrap Iqbal award

BJP legislator Girija Shankar Sharma's strange demand has surprised even the party leaders.

Sharma wants the Madhya Pradesh government to scrap the Iqbal Award which is given to a famous Urdu writer or poet annually.

Iqbal is the poet who wrote the famous 'Sare Jahan se Achcha Hindostan Hamara' which is the most popular patriotic song in praise of the country.

But Sharma doesn't seem interested in this information as his mindset is clearly revealed by his statements. He says that there is no need for award in memory of Iqbal.

The MLA said that Iqbal was a Pakistani though the truth is that the poet died much before India's partition. Senseless it may seem but the politician has repeatedly demanded that the state government should scrap this award.

Allama Iqbal had also stayed in Bhopal for sometime. His 'Sare Jahan se Achchha..' anthem is enough to put him on a high pedestal in independent India. Sadly, a section of right-wing politicians remain blind in their anti-Muslim campaign.

[Newspaper cutting courtesy: Prabhat Kiran, Indore]


Hindu fundamentalists planned terror attacks during Kumbh at Ujjain

The terrorist attack at the revered shrine at Ajmer were planned by Hindu fundamentalist groups during their meeting at the holy Kumbh in Ujjain.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed this in the charge sheet filed in the court on Thursday.

The extremists, some of whom had connections with RSS and VHP, had met at the Simhastha (Kumbha) in April-May 2004 where they had planned to avenge the Muslim terrorist attacks on Akshardham temple, Jammu's Raghunath temple and during Amarnath Yatra. Eight persons have been named in the charge sheet.

This is sad that Hindu and Muslim groups who are both drenched in hate are involved in such activities. Ajmer dargah is visited by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs from all over India. Dainik Bhaskar reports that Pragya Thakur, Ramji Kalsangra, Sunil Joshi, Sandeep Dange, Samir Kulkarni, Lokesh Sharma and Bharat Rateshwar were given instructions by Swamy Asimanand to plan the terrorist attacks.


The extent of corruption by civil servants and government employees in Madhya Pradesh could be gauged by the fact that a health officer of the municipal corporation in Indore, has managed to amass property worth over Rs 60 crore.

The Lokayukta police raided Dr Kothari's house in Indore and found that he owned luxurious cars, plush houses, properties in Goa and Karnataka, cash deposits apart from other assets.

In the recent years in State, almost every raid is yielding crores, suggesting the amount of black money which has been accumulated by the officials in Madhya Pradesh. From IAS officers, engineers and doctors to patwaris, almost everybody seem to have made moolah. Shouldn't the State government order a major crackdown?


When an entire police station got charged for murderous attempt

It's a classic case of how far policemen can go in terms of sabotaging the system, to save their skin.

A youth who was in police custody was attacked inside the police station but the police gave a different colour and said that the youth had stabbed himself.

Had it not been a judge's proactive stance, the Berasia police would have got away with their story. Now all the policemen including the Station Officer (SO) Rakesh Jain have been charged with attempt to murder and attached to police line.

On May 5, Mubarak alias Bhura was taken in custody for his alleged involvement in a case of rape and abdution with a minor girl. Later girl's cousin Paplesh went to police station and attacked Mubarak in the presence of police.

The local police managed to cover up the incident and it was claimed that Mubarak had injured himself using a razor in the custody. He was taken to hospital and when his condition deteriorated, police deposited Rs 50,000 at a private hospital for his treatment.

Remand was sought by police without producing him in the court. CJM Dharmendra Soni refused to send him to police remand without seeing the arrested youth. Later when the Magistrate Ganga Charan Dubey heard the case (as CJM was on leave), he got suspicious.

He saw the papers concerning victim's treatment and found that the wound was eight inch deep and the medical report said that the entrails were cut. As Mubarak was not in position to give a statement, court asked him to be sent to jail.

But police took him away to the police station instead. The judge spoke to Dr Dhirendra Srivastava who was treating the patient who showed photographs of the victim's wounds clicked with his cell phone camera. It was clear that injuries were too serious and couldn't have been inflicted by the person himself.

Police pressurised Mubarak to state in the court that he had attempted suicide but he revealed the truth. The judge ordered a case of attempt to murder registered on the entire police station. This is probably the first case in Madhya Pradesh when an entire police station was charged in a crime.

When the judge gave the order on June 15, the State government appeared shocked, and so was the PHQ. The policemen were attached to police lines and inquiry ordered. DIG KK Lohani was entrusted with the task to conduct a probe and hand over the report regarding the serious lapse.


Fraud or Genuine: SpeakAsia.com operations remains a mystery in India

Is SpeakAsia.com a genuine company that really brings a member sudden riches and showers him with loads of cash?

The company entered Indian market recently as a marketing survey group that claims to conduct online surveys for other major mutli-national companies.

The style is the same as employed by earlier chain marketing companies including Amway. But Speak Asia's supporters claimed that it can turn you millionaire within months.

What's the reality? A Hindi newspaper Pradesh Today has recently published a story about the company's operations and it shows that all is not well.

Jobless and unemployed youths find any such chance as a gold opportunity. The company says initially you have to pay a sum to become member. Later you keep filling survey forms and as you bring more members, your earning will increase, rather skyrocket.

But is it the truth. The paper says that it is not so. The dividends aren't as much as SpeakAsia's die-hard fans make us believe. Frankly, filling forms that require no brain, just saying Yes or No to answers, which even a person with Zero IQ can do, at random, is not something that can bring you lakhs.

However, it is the financial ministry, RBI and government of India that should clear the air. If the company is genuinely giving profits and somehow people are earning money without any shady practice, then it should be given a clear go-ahead.

Else, there should be a proper inquiry and action taken against the company if claims are false. The company officials have held press conferences in the recent past. They should be asked for more proof about their claims.

There are thousands in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Madhya Pradesh (MP), Bihar and even Delhi, who feel that the membership will turn their fortunes. Will they even get their basic investment back? The controversy must end and ordinary investor must not be cheated.


Minal Residency targeted, Raj builders' mall demolished in Bhopal

In the biggest anti-encroachment action in Bhopal, the Raj builders' Minal mall was blown up using dynamite.

Hundreds of shops turned into debris within seconds in what seemed more like a targeted action driven by vengeance. The action in Minal Residency was unprecedented.

The question most asked was what was the fault of those who bought the land and shops. The administration hadn't objected when they got it registered and obtained other permissions.

If it was illegal construction, why this huge structure was allowed to come up. Raj Homes is owned by builder-turn-newspaper baron Arun Sahlot.

But if some bureaucrats or sections within the government (and ruling party) were cross with him, the ordinary  citizens who had bought the shops shouldn't have been made pawns in this game. Sahlot's paper was publishing stories and reports that attacked certain ministers and bureaucrats.

No doubt, the paper was irresponsible at times. The issue of an IAS officer, Anurag Jain, whose involvement in the proposed medical college of a Jain trust, had been taken up by the paper as a personal agenda. Some ministers' corrupt practices were also targeted.

But does that justify this action? There is no dearth of illegal encroachment in Bhopal. Raj group has said that it will compensate all the victims. But we will have to see if the promise materialises. The action must have got the nod from the top in the BJP.

One just wished that all other encroachments, be it by political bigwigs or other local strongmen are also removed and razed. Selective action sends a wrong message. Already hundreds of families have suffered hugely, as they had used their lifelong savings to buy a shop but in one go, it all went into air.


St Francis School Bhopal's condemnable step: Missionary school stops Urdu, Sanskrit

In a most unfortunate decision, the St Francis School in Bhopal decided to stop the study of Sanskrit and Urdu subjects.

The illogical decision took everybody by surprise. Saint Francis Higher Secondary School is located in Jehangirabad, a Muslim-dominated locality where there is a sizable Hindu population also.

The school that mostly imparts education in Hindi medium, has attracted students from different communities and it has completed fifty years. But the Christian missionary school suddenly decided that there will be no further classes in Urdu and Sanskrit. Students were told that if they want to study the languages, they can go to other schools.

The order said that as per CBSE guidelines there was no such proposal. Hindu and Muslim organizations have both protested the decision. While Urdu was the state language of Bhopal during the Nawabi rule and continues to be a prominent language, Sanskrit is the classical language and considered sacred by Hindus.

The Sanskriti Bachao Manch, a social outfit, staged a demonstration. Its activists even threatened to launch a mass protest against the highly objectionable and disgusting decision of the convent school. They condemned the conspiracy to deprive students of their culture. Other groups have also termed the diktat to close Urdu, Sanskrit classes as a reflection of communal mindset.

Update: After public condemnation, the school changed its tune. Principal  Brother Lucianus Lakra said that the educational institute would continue Urdu and Sanskrit courses for students, as per 'CBSE guidelines'. Apparently, the decision has been reversed now. One has to wait and see. But the arbitrary decisions that affect hundred of students and their career has shown the institution in poor light.


MP government ordered Christians' religious profiling: RSS' Agenda!

News published in Hindi evening paper Pradesh Today

A State police order that asked police in all districts to conduct a survey about Christians living in the area of jurisdiction of each police station, has led to outrage after the secret directive was leaked and newspaper got access to the document.

The secret letter directed that there should be a survey conducted to ascertain the record of each Christian-run institution, number of students studying in the schools, missionary activity and even Christian households at tehsil level in Madhya Pradesh.

The exercise surprised Christians as policemen approached. Secondly, with Census 2011 over, they got suspicious as they were once again being asked about the population and other data. This time it was forceful and in some cases, the clergymen were threatened by police.

Now that the document came in public, the State government is silent. Top officers say that the police has been directed not to collect any such data now.

But they don't utter a word as to why was such a religious profiling ordered in the first place and on whose directions, it was initiated.

Congress has termed the order as unconstitutional and said that it is part of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) agenda to hound the minorities in the BJP-ruled state. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has also said that an inquiry would be conducted to find out how this surve was ordered.


Pradesh Today stirs Hindi evening newspaper market in Madhya Pradesh

Pradesh Today is the latest Hindi evening newspaper launched from Bhopal, which poses a serious threat to the hegemony of Sandhya Prakash.

The owners had put up hundreds of hoardings with the claim that they would expose bigwigs and the corrupt. In this regard, the the new 'eveninger' is yet to make any serious or sensational disclosure after its launch.

But it should be welcomed as it has ended the domination of evening newspaper market by the old 'Sandhya Prakash'. Sandhya Prakash was considered a pro-RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) newspaper but the reality is that it mainly has a bent towards BJP as it is the ruling party and for advertisements, it can go any far. Sandhya Prakash is mostly pro-establishment.

Unlike Indore, which has many newspapers that are published in afternoon and evening, Bhopal doesn't have such culture or readership. Agniban, Fine Times, Pradesh Times are small players and don't have much impact due to low circulation. Pradesh Today is attractive, colourful and has much more pages. It has some content also.

But Pradesh Today should be more aggressive in its journalism. If it goes about doing real 'patrakarita', it will give a tough competition to other papers, expand the market and also in process force Sandhya Prakash to improve its content and publish balanced and unbiased reports.


Magistrate Vs DIG: Controversy over beacon light in Gwalior

The controversy between DIG Pankaj Srivastava and Railway magistrate Jitendra Singh Kushwaha over the use of yellow beacon light on Kushwaha's car does not seem to end soon.

The CID report was supposed to fix responsibility. Instead, it has put onus on both officers, and in process coming up with a diplomatic sort of report. Firstly, if magistrate was misusing beacon light and there was no number plate on his car, then it was clear violation of rules.

Yes, police do misbehave in many cases. But in this incident, if the magistrate refuses to give the key, what is the option? The solution is that all red/yellow/blue lights should be immediately abolished and banned. No minister, judge, IPS-IAS officer or any flying squad personnel should be allowed to use the 'laal or pili batti'.

Ban beacon lights. Public servants should serve citizens, not rule them. The lights atop vehicles give a message that the person in the particular car or jeep is more important than the rest. This is against the spirit of democracy.


Godman Rawatpura Sarkar caught in land grab controversy

The Tikamgarh district administration has registered a case against self-styled godman Maharaj Ravishankar alias Rawatpura Sarkar for allegedly grabbing 26 acres of land in Jatara in Tikamgarh.

The district administration served notices on Rawatpura Sarkar, urging him to remove the encroachments. But when the notices were ignored, administration decided to take action and the process to reclaim land was initiated. 

Rawatpura Sarkar was termed a land grabber and even an order to send him to jail was prepared, reports Raj Express newspaper. He has been directed to leave the unauthorized and illegal possession of land in Barana village in Jatara in Tikamgarh district.

A fine has also been imposed. A person, Jhumaklal Dangi, had complained to Chief Minister's complaint redressal cell that Rawatpura Sarkar had used his clout to gain control over the land on which cultivation began later.

After the illegal possession, villagers said that 'charnoi' (grazing fields for cattle) land was not left. Collector Akhilesh Srivastava's decision surprised many as politicians, ministers and other influential perosns make a beeline to the godman.

No one is above the law. If religious figures, holymen and clergy persons behave in such manner, tough action is needed. It keeps the citizens' faith in the rule of law. The district administration deserves a pat on its back for the steps.


ABVP activists blacken professor's face, his colleague dies

Another Professor Sabharwal case has now hit headlines in Madhya Pradesh.

Professor Surendra Singh Thakur, who had tried to intervene, when ABVP workers had beaten up a fellow professor Ashok Chaudhary in Bhagwantrao Mandloi Agriculture College in Khandwa, died of heart attack in Damoh.

He was in shock due to ABVP affiliated students' misbehaviour with the professors. After the incident, he told his friends that he was tense and felling unwell.

Thakur went to his hometown Damoh where he dies. His daughter has said that the shocking mistreatment of students and the insensitivity of police was reason for her father's death. The doctors said that he had suffered a massive heart attack. The role of ABVP was similar in the case of death of Professor Sabharwal also.

In the recent incident at Khandwa, the college Principal PS Shastri was also present when the professor was beaten up, hit with footwear and his face blackened. The ABVP alleged that Professor Chaudhary had immoral relations with a girl student, who they claim consumes liquor. Others say that this allegation was false.


BJP plans to change Bhopal's name to Bhojpal!

Will Bhopal become Bhojpal?

Will the State government give assent to the moves afoot by local BJP leaders to rename Bhopal in the memory of Raja Bhoj and change the name of the City to Bhojpal?

Local  BJP MLA Vishwas Sarang is most vocal and is pressing for it. Some other BJP leaders are also pushing for the name change.

Already there is controversy as the statue of Raja Bhoj has been installed in Bhopal. Interestingly, it is erected on the 'burj' that was constructed by during the reign of Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Bhopal dynasty.

Raja Bhoj is said to have ruled this part of Madhya Pradesh nearly 1,000 years ago. The Bhojpur temple near Bhopal is said to be constructed during his rule. With other political parties and local residents flaying the initiative, the controversy is heating up.

Citizens aren't much excited about the proposed change of name, as the word  Bhojpal was not used locally though locals in Madras called their City 'Chennai' and so was the case in Calcutta, Bombay and Bangalore which were known by their present names in local language.


Bhopal's Shame: BMHRC doctors conducted drug trials on gas victims, patients died

The doctors at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre unlawfully conducted drug trials on gas victims without their knowledge and this resulted in deaths of as many as 10 patients.

This horrific news has stunned citizens. Though drug trials were banned, the NGOs fighting for gas victims have presented documents accessed through RTI that cardiologist Dr Skand Trivedi, Dr Subodh Varshney and Dr HK Pandey were involved in this unethical practice that should have stopped in 2008.

The wife of Nasir Khan, who died recently, said that her family was not aware that Khan was subjected to the illegal drug trial and tested for results of Clopidrogel drug. The role of BMHRC administration has also come under scanner after the revelation that trials of the medicines Televancian, Fondaparinux and Tigecycline were held on patients.

Gas victims' groups allege that the consultants at the hospital made Rs 10 million or Rs 1 crore which they obtained from pharmaceutical companies in lieu of these drug testings. The Institutional Review Board secretary is the wife of Dr Skand Trivedi and she gave permission to trials though the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) was aware of just one drug trial in the hospital. The NGOs want criminal charges to be pressed and case registered against these doctors.

The BMHRC was established to provide free treatment to patients and sufferers of the horrific gas tragedy. In 1984 leakage of deadly MIC gas from US company Union Carbide's Bhopal plant had resulted in over 25,000 deaths and other ailments to nearly half-a-million residents of the City.

Ironically the victims were treated as guinea pigs and drug trials conducted on them at the behest of international pharma companies who generally don't get permissions to hold trials with such ease in other countries.

Sex Sting: BJP leader's MMS scandal in Mandsaur shakes party

BJP leader Karu Lal Soni has been caught in an sex sting in Madhya Pradesh. The MMS scandal has shaken the party as images of Soni in compromising situation with a woman have been circulated in the State.

The party has decided to suspend Soni, 60, who is BJP district chief in Mandsuar. He was earlier associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad also.

Soni has claimed that he is innocent and has been framed. He told media persons that his rivals have morphed his face to create the pornographic video clip. The incident has badly hit the image of BJP as a party legislator's son was arrested for rape in Mandsaur a day back.

[Note: Though the newspaper carried his photograph, we are being more responsible and have blurred the face.]

MLA's nephew accused of rape, court sends him to jail

BJP MLA Yashpal Singh Sisodia's nephew Dharmendra who was accused of raping a girl in Mandsaur has finally been arrested.

Dharmendra who was absconding for months, surrendered in the court. The rape accused was sent to the jail on judicial custody.

The girl had alleged that she was raped but after her complaint, the police had slapped three separate criminal cases on her. She was falsely implicated and harassed under pressure but after media reports regarding the administration's efforts to harass the rape victim, the local police were forced to change track. Dharmendra Sisodia is now in jail.


Conversion Conundrum: MP Christians fearful as RSS holding Narmada Kumbh in Mandla

Christians in Madhya Pradesh are scared that the upcoming Narmada Maha Kumbh that is being organised in Mandla could inflame passions and lead to anti-Christian violence in the district.

The circulation of communally provocative pamphlets that target Christian missionaries have led to increased tensions. The Christian organisations fear that the Kumbh  was organised in Gujarat's Dangs earlier.

Dangs was the district that had seen large-scale violence and now a similar event in Madhya Pradesh can trigger attacks on their homes. Already there have been some incidents including attack on a pastor in Mandla last month.

Lakhs of participants are expected to attend the programme named Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh where the focus will be on religious conversion and 'ghar vapasi' or homecoming. Hindutva groups want tribals to turn to Hinduism.

But local tribals and the popular party Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) claim that tribals are not Hindus and have their own deities. The Gonds cite court judgments to prove that they are original inhabitants and have their own culture.

The BJP government has 'unofficially' alotted funds and the entire official machinery is at the disposal of the organisers. The fact is that RSS and Christians are fighting over the millions of tribals as both want to convert them to their respective faiths. 


Raja Bhoj's statue installed in Bhopal's Upper Lake

The statue of Raja Bhoj has finally been brought to Bhopal. It has been installed on the part of the Burj of Bhopal Fort that was established by Nawab Dost Mohammad Khan.

The statue would be formally unveiled in February. Bhoj is said to have ruled the region 1,000 years ago. It is also believed that on his name the place was named Bhojpal which later became Bhopal.

In medieval era, the Afghan dynasty ruled Bhopal. For over two centuries, Muslim Nawabs and Begums sat on the throne of the princely state until the state was merged in Indian Union.

Raja Bhoj is also credited for the creation of the biggest man-made water body, the Bada Talab or Upper Lake in Bhopal. The BJP workers had earlier demanded that the Habibganj railway station be named after Raja Bhoj.

But the demand was not met with. However, the installation of Bhoj's statue that had been promised earlier has now been completed. Mayor and senior officers will formally unveil the statue on February 28.

Murder mystery: BJP corporator arrested in Sunil Joshi case

The murder case of former RSS functionary Sunil Joshi is getting more murkier as a local BJP leader who is corporator in Dewas municipal corporation has been arrested.

The corporator Ramcharan Patel who represents ward number 44 was arrested for concealing evidences. The Udyog Nagar police station officers said that there were adequate evidences agaisnt Patel as he was the first person to reach the spot after Joshi was shot dead.

He had picked up Joshi's mobile phone which was later allegedly tampered and went missing. The Sunil Joshi murder case has assumed significant importance.

The police had closed the case in 2009 but reopened it after NIA and ATS began conducting the investigation. The Udyog Nagar police said that Joshi was killed by his companions as he bossed over them
But it is suspected that Joshi was killed as he knew too much. It was not just Joshi but his accomplice Ram Prakash Kalota who was also found murdered later. Kaloda's brother Jagdish says that he is now getting death threats. This is the reason that the case is now being investigated on priority.

Not just Kalota, more persons either got murdered or were missing. Investigation in all the cases of Saffron terrorist acts involving Malegaon, Modasa, Ajmer Dargah, Samjhauta Express and Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid blast have to Joshi.

The investigation has taken agencies to several persons in Indore, Dewas, Ujjain, Shajapur, Pithampur, Mhow and Depalpur.


Corrupt PWD engineer's bank lockers throw up millions in Madhya Pradesh

It seems corruption has become such a norm in Madhya Pradesh that any bureaucrat at whose residence a raid is conducted, it could be a surety that the investigators will get millions in terms of black money.

PWD Executive Engineer Ashok Kumar Jain's residence and bank lockers in Bhopal and Sagar have also thrown up huge quantity of gold and cash. Till now 11 kg gold and Rs 1.7 crore cash has been recovered from the two lockers that were opened by Lokayukta police officers. The property and assets amassed by the corrupt engineer are estimated to be worth Rs 10 crore or 100 million rupees.

The suspended engineer  has now been charged with amassing property and wealth illegally. But such is the extent of corruption in Madhya Pradesh that a few raids in a month hardly affect the Great Game in which sarkari babus are involved.


Robert Percival 'greeted' with shoes, footwear in Bhopal

The victims and survivors of the biggest industrial tragedy in the world gave a unique 'welcome' to Robert Percival, the trustee of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) on his arrival to Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) on Thursday.

Gas victims including victims with footwear, shoes and sandals in their hands rushed towards Percival when he arrived at the hospital. They were angry that when the Bhopal Memorial Trust has been taken over by the Union government, it was under what capacity that the member of the earlier trust that is believed to be responsible for the mess in which the super-specialty hospital finds itself in, had been invited here.

When the protesters found that Percival was staying in the guest house on the premises of the BMHRC, they marched towards the building. However, the officials swiftly escorted and sent Percival away. Robert Percival is the son of Sir Ian Percival who was the sole trustee of the trust.

However, there were allegations of misuse and embezzlements of funds against him. Before his death, he had nominated his son Barrister Robert Percival as trustee. The BMHRC that was built in order to treat gas victims free of cost, is today mired in controversies.

Genuine gas victims don't get treated and money is charged from them while several important wings aren't functioning and equipment are gathering dust in the absence of doctors and specialists. Gas victims suspected that Percival arrived here to find a way to get into the new trust also. [On top left is brief screenshot of news published in Raj Express]


MP turning into Vidarbha: Two more farmers commit suicide in state

Madhya Pradesh is now witnessing a grave situation as debt-ridden farmers are almost routinely committing suicides. The two incidents in Bhopal and Sehore should open the eyes of the state government.

Shiv Prasad Mewada, 40, ended his life in Birjis Nagar in Ichhawar (Sehore) on Saturday. He hanged himself in the room on his fields. He had taken a loan of Rs 4.8 lakh from the bank and another Rs 80,000 from Kisan Credit Card and he was tensed because he was unable to pay installments timely.

The crop had failed. His brother told him that they would sell land to pay back the amount. But Shiv Prasad committed suicide. His wife said that Shiv had borrowed money from villagers also and the repeated visits of bank officials who came to ask for payment drove him to commit suicide.

The other suicide was reported from Bhopal's Berasia where another farmer hanged himself to death. Gokul Prasad had just half-acre of land and the pangs of hunger were reportedly the reason for his decision to end his life. Police claimed that he was mentally unstable.

But the suicides are no exception. Incidents in Damoh's Haa and Harrai in the last fortnight show that there is something horribly wrong. The Agriculture minister, the Chief Minister and the entire state government must take urgent corrective measures to redress the grievances of farmers.


Defaming Kashmiris: Hindi media creates 'terrorists' in Madhya Pradesh

Dainik Bhaskar report on January 1
Two youths were arrested in Madhya Pradesh. They belonged to Jammu & Kashmir and this was the reason that the newspapers gave the headlines 'Terrorists captured' or 'Aatanki giraftaar'.

Read the Dainik Bhaskar report on the left, which is self-evident. The reporter says that it is not confirmed whether they were members of HuJI.

The fact is that senior police officers didn't link them to any militant outfit. It was perhaps an off-the-record hint.

The English papers reported the officials as saying that the youths were wanted in connection with a criminal case and a case of unlawful activities prevention act. This suggests that at the most they were absconders or wanted persons, which is not as sensational.

All Hindi papers were confused. Some attributed them to be HuJI 'terrorists' while others said they were Hurriyat members. Is it possible that after interrogation by ATS, the police were unable to find out their real links?

The youths were not even charged with any crime in Madhya Pradesh. Of course, it gave publicity to police that they are making the state safe as newspapers published the 'achievement'.

It doesn't increase circulation or TRP. Then what is the reason for such sensationalism. Is it the race that the other paper might publish more sensational news, which forces the rest to publish lies and defame our own country-men!

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