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The bare facts - 25/04/2010

Its exotic appeal is its USP. The Kumbh Mela that attracts seekers and watchers in equal numbers, also hosts the enigmatic Naga sadhus. Narendra Kaushik discovers that there’s more to these ascetics than just the desire to go in the buff.

Self expression: Naga babas assemble for a quick 'ganja’  session 
before  the ritual bath.  Photos/ Sanjay AustaAs you saunter through the rectangular tented camp to reach the back of the make-shift accommodation, you almost bump into a stark-naked primitive figure bent near a water tap in a corner. With four-foot long braided tresses hung over his face, trunk and back, the dishevelled male is vigorously rubbing ash on his groin and legs. “Baba namaskar. Are you a Naga?” you ask after presenting your credentials. The baba nods and continues to massage residue on his limbs unabashedly. “I am Baba Ramayan Giri from Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh). I renounced the world 15 years ago after quitting my job in a footwear factory,” he narrates without any prodding.

“Don’t you feel the cold?” you shoot encouraged by the affable smile of the Naga. “Who says I don’t? But there is no alternate. An ascetic is supposed to bear it,” he claims, picking up the wet dust from near the tap. The massage, he adds, closes the pores on his body and helps him fight the chill in the air. “It works like a blanket,” he declares, unwinding his three-feet-long pleated blonde beard for a rub.

The Nagas collect the ash from a fire pit around which they discuss various issues, pray and smoke marijuana. Besides borrowing warmth from fire and ash rub, the Nagas, says Ramayan Giri, practice different yogic postures and exercises to beat the winter. Due to daily ingestion of marijuana, cannabis leaves and grass, the eyes of Nagas, look burnished yellow.

Giri is soon joined by two other ascetics who became Nagas several years back. Ask them why they are oblivious to the crowd of onlookers despite being naked and they chorus, “Koi hai lakhi, Guru koi hai khaki, Vankhandi van mein tapasya kare (salutations to guruji who is meditating in the forest indifferent to wealth or poverty).”

 The duo claims nudity helps Nagas to be blasé to the material world. Interestingly, only Shree Digambaras, unshaven and carrying swords, among the ascetics live naked around the year. The rest of the Nagas walk naked only for the royal bath during the Kumbh fair.
You enter the next camp and find over a dozen naked ash-smeared Nagas congregated around a fire pit and smoking chillum. They belong to Dada Darbar, a sub sect in Jodhpur, affiliated to Juna Akhara, the largest among the 13 groups of Nagas in the country. Walk another 10 metres into a cramped bylane and you find Naga camps on either side of the squelchy street where hundreds of naked sadhus can be seen puffing out rings of white marijuana smoke. Some of them have foreign hippies for company. The intake of marijuana and grass is attributed to the pursuit of higher consciousness (sleepless sleep in Naga parlance). 

You set foot in a camp on your right and sit behind the congregation of Nagas. Bhairav Giri (30), an ascetic for eight years from Bareli, is in your audible range. “Don’t you get attracted to women?” you somehow gather courage to mumble. “Sab feel hota hai (we feel everything) but we control the urge through dhyan (meditation),” he says after passing the chillum (smoking pipe) to his next colleague.

Naked parade to Ganges

An hour later, the ascetics emerge from their camps led by a music band. Walking in columns led by a charioteer, a horse rider or some elderly man (Acharya Mahamandleshwar) under a much-embellished canopy, their march towards Har-Ki-Paudi, the sacred most bathing ghat on Ganges in Haridwar, for first royal bath, is soaked in as much festivities as the Republic Day parade!

The ghat was believed to have been built by king Vikramditya in the memory of his brother Bharathari. Like the different defence regiments and State pageants which parade during the Republic Day carnival on Rajpath, the Nagas hold aloft their respective flags, proudly swivel their arsenals, make merry and are watched by thousands of onlookers from sidelines and top of nearby buildings.  

But for a difference, the Nagas walk naked with only ash smeared on their bodies and wreaths wrapped around their waists and heads. Also unlike the soldiers who exhibit their modern weaponry, the Nagas flaunt their traditional arms like canes, axes, swords, maces and tridents. They also exhibit their braided tresses, beards, elongated fingernails and martial skills and even yogic postures — elements which make their dash into Har-Ki-Paudi, an exotic, out-of-the-world spectacle. No wonder, the hordes of Indians, NRIs and foreigners flock into Haridwar to be witness.

The 42-day-long Kumbh fair which climaxes on April 28 in Haridwar is organised to commemorate the mythical sprinkling of drops of nectar from a kumbh (pot), Lord Vishnu was trying to protect from the demons. The event takes place after every three years alternately at Ujjain, Allahabad, Nashik and Haridwar, the four places where drops of nectar were supposed to have fallen from the pot.  Har-Ki-Paudi is reserved exclusively for the Nagas on all the three day reserved for royal bath during the Kumbh. The ongoing Kumbh had royal baths earmarked on February 12, March 15 and April 14.

Democratic setup
Shree Digambaras and Digambaras live in caves in Himalayas and at other camps spread in different parts of country and only come down to Haridwar for the bath. In their absence, the sprawling ashrams, temples, orchards and other properties of the akharas are managed by the akharas respective secretaries and shree mahants. The shree mahants and secretaries are elected by a vidhayika (legislature having four to eight members) and are part of karyapalika (executive having four members). Ravinder Puri, the shree mahant of Mahanirvani Akhara and spokesman of Akhara Parishad, an umbrella body of the akharas, says that the akharas also have a wing of nyaypalika (judiciary).
Puri looks after the huge property, including Daksheswara temple of the Mahanirvani Akhara in Kankhal, a town about three kilometers south of Haridwar. “We own 70 percent of Kankhal,” says Puri, who travels in a luxury car and keeps personal security guards. Like Mahanirvani, the other six active akharas — Juna, Avahan, Niranjani, Agni, Atal and Anand — also own assets worth millions of rupees. This often leads to cut-throat rivalry and violent clashes in the akaharas. “There are definitely conflicts over property. Some of the properties get caught into family disputes. (But) crookedness can happen to anybody,” reasons Mahant Kumarananda, a Malaysian businessman, who joined Juna Akhara during Ujjain Kumbh in 2004. Only an ascetic initiated at Allahabad is eligible to be a shree mahant.

Secular in nature
A hitherto lesser-known feature of the akharas is their predominant secular character. Besides the seven active akharas of Digambaras, there are six others, including Lama Math (for Buddhists), Kabir Math (for Sufis) and Sardar Math (for Sikhs)&n
Deccan Herald
The Charge of Young Brigade - 16/03/2010

Narendra Kaushik


When Sarnath Banerjee (37), now an icon of illustration industry in India, approached publishers with ‘Corridor’, his first graphic novel in 2004 which was also the first commercial in its genre in the country, they were not prepared to touch it with even a barge pole. They were ‘uninterested’ and ‘indifferent’. Five years down the line, the publications – including Penguin India and HarperCollins – are literally scouting for new talent. From a handful of artists and graphic novels (there were only a few till 2007 – over half a dozen have been published in last two years), the illustration community and publishing scene has grown to a significant number in the last half a decade.  


So much so that the illustrators have formed an informal group in Delhi called ‘Pao Collective’ and are planning to come out with a collection of seven to eight graphic stories of different Indian artists. “This is the first attempt at anthology in India,” enthuses Tejas Modak (26), a comics writer in Pune whose Private-Eye Anonymous was published by Westland Books last year.  Modak feels lucky as he finds publishers are now willing to publish new writers.  Banerjee whose second graphic novel ‘Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers’, also published by Penguin India in 2007, is said to be doing well, is upbeat about the future. His take is “graphic novels are the latest in-thing”. “English is one of our languages and people need to tell stories,” Banerjee, claims flipping back his hair.   


Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of the graphic novelists in India is in their 20s. It reflects as much in their writing. Not only do they dissect issues like sex, fidelity, lesbianism etc candidly and irreverently, they are as much at home in weaving detective capers which were once considered the mainstay of Speculative Fiction (SF). They can write and draw tens of pages on woman breasts and sarcastically comment on how the proverbial cow has devoured the poor’s dwellings and jobs in New Delhi as the city rebuilds for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.  Fortunately for them and the readers of graphic novels in India, an editor of a publishing house is invariably around when these artists put on view their new stories either in Habitat Centre or French cultural centre in New Delhi.


Another interesting event of this month which shows how graphic novels have come off age in India is the publication of ‘Kabul Disco’, graphic account of French writer edited version of Yuva

Paratha Paradise - 01/03/2010

                                                              By Narendra Kaushik

On national highway one, parathas are synonymous with dhabas of Murthal!

As you drive down a flyover over a nondescript roadways stopover almost halfway between New Delhi and Panipat, motley banners and buntings of dhabas on either side of the road flit past your sight.

Their Punjabi names, boisterous taglines - ‘A nice veg food place’ and ‘national highway’s most popular dhaba’ etc – and the prototypes of different cuisines on their visage look very inviting.

Welcome to Murthal, a town about 50 kilometres from New Delhi on national highway one which is famous for serving sizzling hot Punjabi food to truckers and families traveling between Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. The dhabas have for long been considered the final destination for all paratha lovers.

Aaloo-pyaz paratha, gobhi paratha, mooli paratha, paneer paratha….you name it and the dhabas serve them all. The ladleful of fresh white butter on paratha comes like a pudding on the cake. You can gorge your parathas either with thick curd and pickle or dal makhani. You also have the option of topping off your breakfast or lunch with a large glass of sweet or salty lassi.

The two kilometre long stretch of the national highway after Murthal flyover is dotted with dhabas of various sizes and types. The smaller dhabas, serving food on wooden planks perched on charpoys, and long benches under the open sky, running tube wells, cater mainly to truck drivers. One can see the truckers lounging on the charpoys and bathing or washing clothes under the tube wells.  The larger ones – operating from under water-proof tarpaulins and swanky air conditioned halls, boasting of better upholstery and toilets and serving different types of food – Punjabi, South Indian, Chinese and Continental – are meant more for families traveling in mid segment cars and sedans on the highway. The former emphasize on keeping their environs plain and simple to let the truckers feel at home. Besides, they are not heavy on the pocket.  The latter on the other hand fix their rates slightly on a higher side to scare away the truckers.

Sukhdev Vaishno dhaba, by far the most popular eating joint, for instance serves golgappa, dahi bhalla, moong and gajar halwa, gulab jamun, ice cream, chowmeins, pizzas, dosas, pao bhaji etc in addition to the Punjabi food – shahi paneer, dal makhani, parathas, missi roti, different variants of naans and makki roti and sarson saag etc.   The popularity of the dhaba can be gauged from the fact that on an average day, it needs over 20 kilogram of white butter for spread on parathas. It sells about seven kilogram of gajar halwa and procures 150 litres of milk from local milkmen every day.

The dhaba, set up by Sardar Prakash Singh of Nawanshahr (Punjab) in 1956, employs over 150 persons including over two dozen waiters. “We are number one here. We have achieved the status in last one and half year,” gushes Anjani Pandey (25), Captain at night shift. The dhaba, having a large forecourt, which is mostly packed with cars, Scorpios and sedans, has two enclosures. While the front enclosure is covered with a tarpaulin, the one in the back has a cemented roof and walls on three sides. The front enclosure has nine shops hawking musical instruments, gifts, garments and magazines etc on its left and right. Presently run by Amrik Singh and Sukhdev Singh, sons of Sardar Prakash Singh, the dhaba is in the process of adding a fast food joint in its rear. The dhaba has three extra-large tandoors (each can bake 30 chapatis at a given time) where cooks work round the clock. The dhaba serves kheer on alternate days. There is a juice shop in the centre of the front enclosure serving mausami juice. Shiv Charan, a counter boy, listed daal roti, dal makhani, shahi paneer, kheer and curry pakoda among the specials of the dhaba. “Whatever is liked by the customer becomes special,” he adds as an afterthought. The dhaba has thirty six tables and can accommodate over 350 customers at any given time. The website of Sukhdev dhaba claims to provide catering for marriages and parties.

Apart from Sukhdev dhaba, the other popular family dhabas near Murthal are Gulshan No.1, Ahuja no.1, Jhilmil, Pehalwan, Punjabi Tadka and Zamindar.  Gulshan No. 1 claims to be the oldest in the area. So does Ahuja No.1. “My father and uncles operated a dhaba in Pakistan too. So when they migrated to Sonepat during partition, they decided to resume here,” says Kishan Lal Ahuja, the owner of Ahuja No.1.

Kishan Lal recounted an interesting tale which became a provocation for his forefathers to start the dhaba. “Once my father and uncles stopped here at a dhaba to have meals. The owner refused to serve them in plates because they were refugees from Pakistan. That became another reason for starting Ahuja No.1,” he reminisced. Kishan Lal counted current Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s wife Asha and former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal among his regular customers.  He rattled off names of yesteryear film stars like Ranjeet as a proof of Ahuja No.1’s popularity in the past: “We were number one before the court ordered demolition of all unauthorized dhabas on the highway few years back. We had to get Change of Land (CoL) certificate from the government and rebuild,” he added. Kishan Lal also accused Sukhdev Dhaba owners of indulging in unfair practices to increase their clientele. “They pay commission to the taxi drivers,” he alleged.

When asked about the favourite food of the travelers on the G T road, Kishan Lal mentioned paratha-with-butter. “They want paratha in breakfast, paratha in lunch and paratha in dinner. The south Indian and Chinese are not in demand here,” he disclosed. He also claimed that open tents attracted more customers than swanky air conditioned halls on the highway: “The open dhaba is considered inexpensive. Here the customers feel

edited version published in YUVA
Sharda University - 01/03/2010

Narendra Kaushik

Fusion dance, mime shows, drama, fashion shows, battle of rock bands, rowdies, radio jockey, board room, tattoo, graffiti, poster-making, photography and quiz competitions –the first annual festival of Sharda University was a three-day-long extravaganza where students of many colleges from Delhi and other places got an opportunity to exhibit their skills and entertain their peer group, faculty and celebrities.

                The festival called Chorus, where film director Imtiaz Ali, roadies’ vee-jay on MTV Ranvijay Singh, model Nayonika Chatterjee, quizmaster Charu Sharma, Radio city RJ Sachin, Daksha Sheth dance troupe and bands from United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA) were in attendance on different days, wrapped up with a performance from Pakistani band Jal.

             With ‘global openness’ as theme, the Chorus aimed to bring together people from all over and inculcate a spirit of fun and friendship. It regaled the audience through blend of Indian and western ensembles.

             Yuva was there in the University campus at Greater Noida, an upcoming town about 40 kilometres from New Delhi, to be part of the fun and frolic and this is what we were witness to during the multi-hued event which took place in auditoria, on a hangar in the forecourt and a large stage in the backyard.

 Day 1: The first day’s events included competitions in dance, robotic and Lan gaming. Daksha Seth’s troupe staged a mesmerizing performance. The day closed set with a musical performance by Z Waddali.

 Day 2; Jab Imtiaz Ali met Students: This was the day when Imtiaz Ali, the maker of Love Aaj Kal interacted, lectured and listened to theatre enthusiasts in the University.

                The young film maker from Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) judged a nukkad natak (street theatre) competition in a fore lawn, watched solo impromptu acting performances and took questions on Bollywood. Ali (38), who directed Jab We Met (JWM), Socha Na Tha, acted in Black Friday and written four films including Tamil version of the JWM, Kandein Kandhalai, said he was ‘amazed with the acting skills and zeal of the students of Sharda University. These students are really talented, though, I believe the scope of Nukkad Natak is not for competition but for real life’. 

                Ali, who did theatre during his college days in Delhi (he was in Hindu College), accepted that the Hindi films did not always portray reality after a student, hailing from Bihar, pointed out that Prakash Jha’s Gangajal and Apaharan exaggerated the situation in Bihar. He also judged a skit acting competition, giving different situations to the solo actors. The winners of the competition – a boy from IILM, an institute of Higher Education and a girl from Delhi University - will get to visit sets of his next movie.

                Ali was treated like a film star and loudly cheered all through the programmes. Hundreds of students encircled and craned their necks to get a glimpse of his. Ali called his acting debut a ‘mistake of youth’ adding that he had ‘absolutely no interest in acting’ and was too shy to ‘bask in the limelight’.

                The director of mushy romances surprisingly claimed he felt ‘agnostic’ about love. Talking about Kareena Kapooor’s garrulous character in the JWM, he said he came across many such girls and most of them happened to be from Punjab.  His theatre background exposed him to Punjabi culture as he visited different parts of Punjab to perform natak there. Ali’s next film will be about a Delhi guy who becomes a musician.

                When asked whether he followed any film makers, he said his approach towards film making was ‘pretty uneducated’. He admires Anurags (Basu and Kashyap), Vishal Bharadwaj and Raju Hirani who like him tell their own stories. He said he really liked 3 Idiots. 

                With his curly, long locks, easy demeanour and colloquial speech, Ali became an instant hit with the students. When somebody asked him about his hair, he said he did not go for a cut out of ‘laziness’. 

                Besides Ali, the second day belonged to Charu Sharma, the quizmaster, cricket commentator and former manager of Royal Challengers, Bangalore. Sharma quizzed the students in his inimitable style in an auditorium and later judged a beauty pageant of boys and girls. During the pageant, male and female students from different colleges including a Tanzanian boy walked the ramp and answered questions from the judges. The pageant was followed by ramp walk by a group of real models comprising many nationalities. Famous model Nayonika Chatterjee led the models in showcasing certain spectacular designs. The ramp walk got maximum whistles from the crowd of students. Day two also hos

edited version published in YUVA
Drugless Therapies - 18/02/2010

 Looking at Sonu Garg (15), class 10 student of a school in Panipat, may remind you of some medieval cavemen tribes who love to coat themselves in mud. Or it may hark you back to bizarre and adventurous sports like mud racing, mud-wrestling or mud-bath people in different parts of Gloucestershire (England), Columbia (America) and other parts of the world indulge in to make their adrenaline flow and seek attention. Or in case you are a film buff, it may take your mind back to cover of magazines where almost nude and painted-in-motley-colours Demi Moore and Pooja Bhatt were splashed.  

Soaked in brown slimy mud from head to toe except his striped underwear and eye balls, Sonu, son of a businessman, makes for an excellent photo opportunity. But that is not the reason why he stands covered with the sludge. He does it to lose flab. In fact he has already lost some of it in the last one week since he joined Naturopathy Centre (NC), a naturopathy and yoga institute in Patti Kallyana, a non-descript village in Panipat district, located on the right of national highway one, about 70 kilometres from New Delhi.

“I’ve lost 5 kilogram in last seven days and plan to lose another 24 kg before I go back to Panipat,” claims Sonu who was 109 kg when he enrolled in the NC. Mud pack is one of the several therapies, naturopathy prescribes for obesity, skin disorder, itching and stomach ailments. It is also considered the most effective. “It is a kind of Brahmastra (the deadliest weapon that is obtained from God and has no counters) in naturopathy. It opens the pores on skin,” interjects Vikas Saxena (31), a naturopathic doctor in the NC.

Besides getting a mud-pack once in three days for one hour, Sonu is buried in soil on alternate days and given oil massage, steam bath, sauna bath and other hydrotherapies every day. To cleanse his stomach, he is given enema in morning. He is also put through a yoga and exercise (cycling, twister, walker, grinder etc) regimen to burn calories. More importantly, Sonu’s daily diet comprises aonla water, fruit salad, sprouts, boiled vegetables and lemon water. On certain days, he is served chapattis and milk. There are no fried snacks, oily parathas and spicy chats.

Like Sonu, there are 17 other patients in the Centre who have enrolled for obesity, slip disc, paralysis, amoebiasis, joint pain, thyroid, gastroenteritis and other psychosomatic diseases. The Centre is part of Swaadhyaya Ashram, a 42-year-old private institute set up by late Om Prakash Trikha and spread in over 25 acres of lush-green land. The ashram is run by a 50-member trust called Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. Apart from housing the 100-bed Naturopathy Centre, the ashram is home to an orphanage, a computer centre and a cowshed.

The Naturopathy Centre works on the hypothesis that human body has tremendous regenerating and healing capacity of its own.

The Centre looked after by two naturopaths – Vikas and his wife Ritdarshini – and nine other attendants, treats all ailments except terminal diseases like AIDS and certain types of Cancer. In some cases, it overrules even surgeries. This is what has happened in the case of Brajesh Gautam (39), a video editor with DD-I who dislocated his right disc sometime back. “I was advised surgery. But even in that success was not guaranteed. I heard that 95 percent of disc operations fail,” he recollects. When Gautam arrived in the Centre, he could not sit for prayer. A fortnight of rigourous massages, hip, steam and sauna baths and he is able to walk. But the pain persists. “I plan to stay for another one and half months to get cured,” Gautam discloses.

The Centre gets its clientele largely from Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, states in Northern India. But there is always a sprinkling of people from other parts of India and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), settled in Dubai, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia.

For instance, Madhyama Naswa (20), daughter of a chartered accountant (CA) settled in Dubai, has come to the Centre ‘for getting thin’. Madhyama, who is also training to be a CA, weighs 105 kg. She heard about the Centre from her cousin in Faridabad and came here first one and half years ago. “This is my second visit. I’ve taken a break from CA training. They put me through different water, air, soil therapies, enema and physical exercises to remove toxins from my body. I feel relaxed and clean and wish to lose 20 kg in one and half month,” she says, sitting in a yogic posture.

              Charu Sharma (30), employee of Royal Bank of Scotland in Gurgaon, looks at obesity as symptomatic of multiple problems. Sharma, a housewife, cannot conceive unless she brings her thyroid under control. She was referred to the Naturopathy Centre by a friend of her mother, a teacher in a Delhi school. “I’ve lost 5 kg within a week and wish to cut it down from 80 kg to 60 kg before I returns to Gurgaon,” Sharma says pacing up on a treadmill.

Edited version published in Yuva
Therapies under naturopathy & yoga


 Steam Bath: For steam bath, a person is wrapped in a plastic cabin with only his head popped out of it. A wet towel is kept on his head. The steam is passed into the cabin from a boiler through a plastic pipe. A steam bath opens pores, soothes sore muscles, increases circulation, and provides a generally relaxing and healthy experience.

            Sauna Bath:  Sauna room is a small room or cabin designed out of wood or plastic to experience dry or wet heat sessions. Sauna may provide some relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis and may also alleviate pain and improve joint mobility in patients with rheumatic disease. During Sauna as well as steam bath, the patient is asked to massage his limbs continuously.  

            Kati Snan (hip bath):  A hip bath is a specially designed type of bath tub, filled with hot, cold or lukewarm water, which is intended to submerge the buttocks and hips of the bather. A hip bath is supposed to promote healthy circulation and stimulate the digestive system.  

            Spinal Bath: This bath, also administered in a specially designed tub with its back raised to provide proper support to the head of the patient, provides a soothing effect to the spinal column and thereby influences the central nervous system. The bath can be administered at cold, neutral and hot temperatures and helps in curing insomnia, depression, fatigue, hypertension and host of other diseases.

            Mud Therapies

Mud Pack: Under this fresh mud is smeared on the body of the patient for about an hour. This improves the complexion, relieves joint and muscle pain, removes toxins, opens pores on the skin and improves digestive system.

Mud bath: In mud bath, the patient is asked to lie in a tub filled with mud. The mud contains various minerals and cleanses skin and helps in purification of blood.  

Dipping in soil: The patient is asked to lie on the ground with only underwear around his loin. All his limbs except face are covered with soil. It is supposed to be relaxing.


Different types of oil like mustard, olive oil, coconut, sheesham and other ayurvedic concoctions are used to massage a patient. It helps in rejuvenation, removes dead skin, tones the internal organs and maintains blood circulation.

Sun bath

  For sun bath, a patient is wrapped in a plastic sheet under the sun. It cures skin diseases, cold and number of other diseases.


Different Asanas (yogic postures), pranayam (breath control), anulom-vilom (inhale from one nostril, exhale from another), different physical exercises and meditation are practised for relaxation and fitness. “Wellness of the mind is most important factor for physical well being,” says Kushal Kumar who teaches Vedic philosophy in Indian Institute of Yoga & Naturopathy in South Delhi.

Diet-control and Fasting

            Fasting is also considered an essential element of naturopathy. Naturopaths prescribe diets to the patients according to the need of calories for their bodies and ailments they suffer from.


Edited version published in Yuva
Fiza of Chand Mohammad is New Agony Aunt

By Narendra Kaushik

Fiza of Chand Mohammad has become a rallyingpoint for women who have been betrayed in love

‘All publicity is good publicity’ so goes a popular phrase.

Anuradha Bali alias Fiza who shot to fame in December last year for her marriage with Chander Mohan Bishnoi alias Chand Mohammad, elder son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, will vouch for this.

 Although her now-on-now-off love story has been called off once again in January this year with Chand returning to his former wifeSeema Bishnoi and religion and asking ‘who is Fiza?’ Fiza (37), a former assistant Attorney General of Punjab and Haryana states, is still reaping its benefits. In fact the aftermath of divorce, reunion and divorce seems to have added to her charisma and public persona.

 Fiza is the new ‘agony aunt’ and celebrity-available-for-inaugural-ceremonies for hundreds of men and women who have either been betrayed in love, denied justice or have nobody to turn to for cutting a tape. There is constant stream at her door of people who wish to share her anguish, enrich from her bitter experience, enlist her support for their fight and invite her for launch events and prize distributions.

 There are models. There are women from Mewat, the disgrace of otherwise developed Haryana. There are wives of paramilitary personnel. And there are local politicians who have an axe to grind against the Bhajan Lal family. Fiza is constantly on the go to empathize with people, break new ground, inaugurate tournaments and lecture women gatherings.

 “Somehow I am able to help people in getting justice. People who have been cornered in their life look up to me,” she declares, tossing back her hair with her right hand. She points to Krishna, wife of a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel from Jhajjar district, who wants her to get an old police case reopened. Krishna’s father lost his legs in a brutal assault by his neighbours and subsequently died. According to Krishna, the case was closed before the perpetrators of the assault could be punished.

 Fiza, the agony aunt-cum-counsellor, has a simple modus operandi. She lends her shoulder and ear to the victims assuring them complete anonymity. Next she calls up the accused and requests him to mend his behaviour. In case the request falls on deaf ears, she threatens to use the media to expose him. “I’ve threatened a number of highly-placed bureaucrats and politicians. In most cases, they chicken out,” she claims laughing with full-throated ease.

 Ask her whether she has forgiven Chand Mohammad and she counters: “How can I? No female can forget such an incident. He converted to Islam to marry me and has reconverted to go back. He is a master of flip-flops.” Fiza has filed a rape case against Chand and the next hearing is slated later this month. She regrets her marriage: “He married me for sex. It was a drama. The powerful make fun of law. It was a blunder to trust him.” She does not understand why the police did not take cognizance of her complaint against Chand. “Had I died after consuming the overdose of sleeping pills, my case would have been like Ruchika’s case,” she says referring to her hospitalization after Chand went missing.

 Fiza assumes her victory in marginalization of Bhajan Lal family in Haryana politics: “God has given me justice. Chander Mohan is dead politically. Jasma Devi (wife of Bhajan Lal) finished third in the assembly polls.” All legislators of Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) defected to Congress leaving the former to plough a lonely furrow. 

 Her film career, like her marriage, has proved to be a non-starter. She was ejected from Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao much sooner than expected, is out of Kamaal Khan’s Deshdrohi II and disillusioned with realty shows now. She claims to have refused to be part of Big Boss. “Pacific offered me Rs 25 crore (?) for my real story but I was not in the right frame of mind to accept it,” she discloses with a tinge of regret.

 The rumour mills are rife that she married Chander Mohan for his property. But Fiza dismisses them with utter contempt. “He offered me Rs. 5 lakh in alimony but I rejected it. I am not fighting for money. This is a fight for woman’s dignity,” she says, buried in a sofa in her three-storey flat in Sector 48 C close to Chandigarh-Mohali meeting point.

 The house came into focus in December 2008 first when Chander Mohan and Anuradha Bali became Chand Mohammad and Fiza, married and swore ‘true love’ for each other terming their relationship ‘pious’. Fiza coyly smiled into the cameras and declared to the world, “Chander Mohan is no less than a hero for me as he took the bold step of giving a pious name of marriage to our relationship.” ChanderMohan too made public his admiration for her, “I am proud of Fiza that despite knowing that I had nothing (Bhajan Lal has willed his property to Seema Bishnoi and three children of Chander Mohan) with me, she married me. She is very caring, understanding and has always helped me in my times of need.” He was apparently referring to his dismissal as Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana and disowning by his father.  The lovers then sought appreciation for their ‘bold’ step.

 In the first quarter of last year, the house was witness to melodrama as Fiza alleged abduction of her husband and the latter divorced her on phone and through SMS. In June 2009, Chand again trooped into it seeking ‘forgiveness’ from Fiza and claiming that he had uttered ‘talaaq’ word only twice. But before she could say she had forgiven him, he once again stormed out calling his marriage a mistake. The latest is that the father of three children is now asking ‘Fiza who?’ 

 Yet the last may not have been heard on six-year-old Chand Mohammad-Fiza affair.

edited version published in YUVA
Crusading bureaucrat - 15/11/2009

Narendra Kaushik


A five feet high boundary wall on Hapur road in Ghaziabad should act as a guide for municipalities in the national capital on how to spruce up New Delhi for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG). The wall which cloaks GDA (Ghaziabad Development Authority) office from the motorway is an evidence of what a determined and innovative municipal officer can do to keep his city clean and at the same time drill some civic sense into the general public. The ochre colour wall, joined to the road by a pavement on the left, is unusually spotless with not a trace of spit or dirt smeared on it.


Till a few months back the wall was a kind of open public convenience which reeked of bladder discharge and repelled people with its unbearable stink. It was a huge embarrassment for the passers-by and also one of ugliest spots in Ghaziabad for several months. Then one fine day, Ajay Shankar Pandey, Municipal Commissioner of Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation (GMC), decided to change it. He ordered installation of a mirror on the wall with a message What you are doing is being watched by the world scribbled in Hindi on it. The mirror proved to be a deterrent but not unbreakable. But Pandey was in no mood to give up. He got an unbreakable mirror installed on the wall. Today the mirror has been taken off yet nobody dares to sully the wall.


Pandey (46), a 1986-batch Provincial Civil Service (PCS) officer is a satisfied man today. He replicated the mirror idea on a major intersection in the city - Mohan Nagar crossing but again the mirror was broken. In the first week of October, he installed an unbreakable mirror there and hopes it to dissuade nuisance makers. Pandey, who has headed GMC since July 19, 2007, says he borrowed the mirror idea from some private persons. “I have seen private persons putting up mirrors on their outer walls to stop people from urinating on them,” he informs.


Besides the mirror installation, Pandey, originally from Allahabad, has implemented over half a dozen other novel schemes to check malpractices in the GMC and civic nuisance in edited version published in YUVA

campaign against violence in schools

Narendra Kaushik


December 2007: Two VIIIth class students in an upmarket school of Gurgaon shot dead their classmate with a licensed revolver belonging to the father of one of them. They attributed the killing to bullying by the victim.


A 10th class student in Goregaon stabbed a classmate in the eye with a ballpoint pen allegedly for teasing.


May 2008: Rashmi Maurya (17) shot herself with her fathers revolver in Mayur Vihar area of New Delhi after her lover Hitesh refused to marry her.


August 2008: Five persons suffered injuries after Avaneesh, teenaged son of a Delhi Police constable, fired at them with his fathers licensed weapon.


The fascination for physical violence among school children and teenagers is nothing new. In fact 65 percent of the crime in the country is committed by young.  


But when Principal Magistrate of Juvenile Justice Board, Delhi, Illa Rawat, during hearing of a case where father of a teenager fired from his licensed weapon to terrorise his sons rivals in April last year, asked Additional Commissioner of Police (Licensing) S Sundari Nanda to start an awareness programme for safe custody of licensed weapons, it provoked her to reflect on as to why teenagers were resorting to sub-culture of violence.


Nanda could have very well told the magistrate about how her department was already educating the weapon licensees through brochures etc. But she along with her Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Varsha Sharma decided to be proactive and involve children in their movement against

edited version published in YUVA
Delhi CM eats nuts, chana to avoid poll stress

Narendra Kaushik


Yoga, nuts, chana, lemon water, light dinner and music is what helps Sheila Dixit, Delhi Chief Minister and Congress candidate for Chief Ministership of national capital again, beat the stress of polls.  She addresses about a dozen meetings in a day. Yet there are no overt signs of exhaustion. Probably because she has not cut down her sleep hours. Despite her hectic schedule and round-the-clock activity taking place at her official bungalow, she manages six hours of sleep.


Her day begins at about 6.30 AM with treadmill and yogic exercises. She eats breakfast and zips off for election campaign two hours later. She addresses meetings for four and half hours. During this period, she munches on nuts and chana and drinks lemon water in her vehicle and makes up for the lost energy.


The moment the clock strikes 1 PM it is time for lunch.  There are no catnaps for her after lunch and she resumes her campaign shortly afterwards. The meetings go on till 8 PM after which she takes a light dinner comprising either toast and an egg or salad. Later she attends a strategy session with her campaign managers for about 45 minutes. They deliberate on how to counter the accusations hurled at her government by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They also finalize the jingles and messages, they will publicize through hoardings, television telecasts, public meetings and FM radio. During one of these meetings, they zeroed on “Can not afford to stop the Congress in response to BJP slogan “Cannot afford Congress” on inflation. Her two sisters and daughter are part of the strategy group.


Before turning in for the night, she religiously listens to music – Indian classical, western classical or film music – and reads for about twenty minutes.


In between addressing public meetings, she speaks to government employees – like Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), NDPL (New Delhi Power Limited) and New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) – and Congress workers at her residence. Addressing public meetings and interviews with electronic and print media, is also her way of taking steam out of her system.


“A decision on Afzal will be taken by the President. We have not let him off. The BJP let off three terrorist in Kandhar,” is her riposte to BJP charge that she has been sitting on Parliament attack accused Mohammad Afzal. On inflation too she denies the BJP allegation with “I took all measures to contain inflation. Tell them when inflation at the centre was 10.5 per cent, in Delhi it stood at 5.2 per cent.”


She takes credit for Metro, flyovers and introduction of air-conditioned DTC buses in Delhi and promises a changed Delhi after the Commonwealth games in 2010. Her campaign managers say she does not lose her poise come what may. But the next six days are going to be tougher on her health as she plans to increase the number of daily meetings from 12 to 25. She definitely will have to cut down on her sleep hours. 

Sakaal Times (Edited version published)
Threat to leave or political stunt?

Narendra Kaushik


Karnal: Tucked behind a mango orchard, her two-room rented accommodation in an unauthorized colony was literally invisible in Karnal, the city named after Mahabharata warrior Karna. Though she was Secretary of women wing of Kuldeep Bhishnoi’s fledging outfit Haryana Janhit Congress, not many people in Karnal knew about her and she lived an obscure life till November 5 evening when, according to her, three Haryana youths threatened her to leave Haryana and go back to Maharashtra. Kalpana Suryavanshi and her painter husband Vijay Singh Suryavanshi has since become a celebrity couple.


The Suryavanshis, who shifted from Jalgaon to Karnal over a decade back, have a regular stream of VIPs walking into their humble dwelling since last Wednesday. From top bureaucrats of Karnal to politicians like self-styled anti-terrorist front leader Maninderjit Singh Bitta, it is almost like a-VIP-a-day at their door. They have visited Delhi and met Gandhi scion Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi. State politicians have phoned them and assured protection. Even Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hudda has promised to take strict action against anti-social elements. Karnal police have posted round-the-clock security outside Suryavanshi’s residence.


Moreover, Kalpana Suryavanshi has resigned from Janhit Congress and is all set to join Congress on November 23. The threat has given a definite boost to her political career. Now she no more looks at the incident as retaliation to Raj Thackeray’s anti-North Indian campaign in Maharashtra. For her it was part of self-pleasing antics of some drunkards and should not be taken seriously at all. “They said go back to Maharashtra or you will be shot dead. They looked drunk,” she says. Her husband interjects that they got over the threat last week itself pulling out an old photograph of his with late B G Patil, a former district Congress President in Jalgaon. He said he was also associated with Congress in Jalgaon.


People in Karnal city clearly look at the incident as a political stunt done by Kalpana Suryavanshi, mother of three children, to boost her sagging career. “Yeh sab politics hai (This is all politics). Why would anybody threaten Suryavanshis? They did not even know about their Maharashtrian identity,” comments a tea stall owner near Sadar Police station in Karnal city.


Doubts have crept in the minds of Karnal police top brass too. “This may have been done due to politics. The very fact that she is a political leader shows she has been accepted,” says Ashwin Senvi, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Karnal. Senvi asked why only Suryavanshis were threatened and not any other Maharashtrian family. There are a few hundred Maharashtrian families in Karnal. Over a hundred of them reside in Saraf bazaar (gold market) alone. “May be they are not paying rent. They have been changing houses frequently,” Senvi added.


Other Maharashtrians also doubt Kalpana Suryavanshi’s intent. “It is not Maharashtrians-versus-Haryanvis. It may be political. She has met Rahul Gandhi. She is doing a publicity stunt. No Maharashtrian is with her now,” claims Abhay B Dusane, Production Manager in Poshak Seeds, a private company located on left of G T road. Dusane said Kalpana would face a problem as she and her husband would be under suspicion and constant watch now. Dusane said somebody might have threatened Suryavanshis for fun.


Gian Dev Gavai, another Maharashtrian who has lived in Karnal for a decade and half, said Haryanvis respected Maharashtrians and would be the last to threaten them. Dusane recounted an incident when he was stopped by a traffic policeman for driving wrongly. “He asked me where I was from. When I told him that I was from Mumbai, he simply inquired about a film actor and let me go.”


Anil Patil and Mahendra Ugale expressed doubts on the incident. “Kuchh nahin hua (Nothing happened). I do not know how it has been created. I have been living here for 8 years and never faced a problem,” Ugale, an Estate Manager with Poshak Seeds, said. They even criticized Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh for reacting to a non-issue. “There is no point in raising a non issue,” they asked in chorus.

Sakaal Times (Edited version published)

Bhiwani boxers - 24/09/2008

(Edited version of this feature was published on August 24, 2008)

Narendra Kaushik

As your car hops into Bhiwani the first thing you notice is there is no cricket frenzy in this desert city. Despite an Indo-Sri Lankan one-day match being on, the shopkeepers are not glued to television sets, hidden under their counters and there are no onlookers craning to get a glimpse of the latest score outside electronic shops. Desperate to know fate of the match, you enquire at a tea stall, ‘Bhai saab match ka kya hua?’

‘Match is only in evening’, the shopkeeper says with a frown. To substantiate his reply, he pulls out sports page of a vernacular paper and points at a schedule given on it. The schedule is of a boxing bout involving local pugilist Vijender Kumar.

Welcome to Bhiwani, the Cuba of India, where match means only a boxing bout. The city has four private boxing clubs and a government stadium and Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel where boxing is the main sport. Hundreds of boxers train their punches there in morning, afternoon and evening. Despite the streets and roads flooded with sewage water, you can see boys and girls walking in and out of these clubs. They have no complaints that the arid city, hitherto famous for being home of late Bansi Lal who ruled Haryana several times, has become a story of neglect and indifference. They would rather talk about how ‘Mukke ki danadan’ (the power of punches) of Bhiwani pugilists has brought a pile of medals to the country including a bronze in the current Beijing Olympics. “The district boxers have won over 160 medals for the country in international events. They have also rustled up more than 300 medals since 1966,” says Kamal Singh, President of Bhiwani Boxing Club (BBC).

Four Indian boxers including quarter finalists of Olympics Akhil Kumar, Jitender and Semi finalist Vijender Kumar trained in the BBC in the past under boxing coach Jagdish Singh. Such is the dominance of Bhiwani in boxing in India that Kamal Singh could count on his fingertips names of four boys who have represented other districts of Haryana and won medals in national games. 13 Sportspersons, majority of them boxers, have received Arjun Awards from the district till date.

Akhil Kumar(27) who lost to a Moldova boxer in quarterfinals in Beijing Olympics alone have won number of medals in International events including Gold medals in 4th Commonwealth Federation Boxing Championships in 2005. He also won gold medal in 54 kg category in Commonwealth Games next year. No wonder Akhil’s pictures adorn paint-peeled walls of Jagdish Singh’s BBC though the boxer trained in the club only for three years from 1998 to 2001. “He is best boxer in the country,” Singh claims.

The BBC currently has 250 boxers on rolls. 15 of these are tomboyish-looking girls. There are five punching bags under a tin roof. Hundreds of boxing gloves are stored in a room. There is also a television set. But it is mostly switched on to watch boxing bouts. “Our coach does not like cricket. It is time consuming,” says Manoj Singh, a boxer in the club. The road leading to the club is flooded with knee-deep sewage water. The edges of the road have turned squelchy. Still girls and boys boxers gather in the club to train punches. “This is our favourite game. We started from school,” declares Pinki, a college student, surrounded by four other girls. Children from villages around Bhiwani commute on cycles to the club everyday to get training.

There is another private boxing club about a kilometre from the BBC. Run by Sanjay Singh, a former boxer and son of legendary boxer late Captain Hawa Singh, the club has 80 boxers undergoing training. There are no facilities here and the boxers train on punching bags tied to roof of a staircase. Many of the boxers stay in a single-room hostel. They sleep on floor, drink water from a pitcher and have no coolers. Sanjay however, still hopes to see at least a few of them competing for medals in international events soon.

Besides the BBC and Sanjay Singh’s boxing club, there are two other private boxing clubs in the city - Dhankhar Boxing Club, Bhupi Boxing club. The state and central government have boxing clubs at Bheem stadium and Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel where about two hundred boxers hone their skills.

Sanjay Singh estimated the number of boxers currently training in the city at over 500. In comparison, cricket is being taught only in Bheem stadium.


They do not wear any jewelry – not even the customary nose or ear rings. Their dress generally comprises shirts and jeans. They have never used make up and have cropped hair. The female boxers in Bhiwani do not look as feminine as the girls in any other part of the country.

In fact, due to their hardened skin, it is difficult to differentiate them from boys. And they pack no less power in their punches. “Haryanvi people are very strong,” says Pinki (17), a college student and boxer training in Bhiwani Boxing Club when asked why she took up boxing. Pinki has been training for over four years. She claims to have speed, power, gym and guile, required for boxing. Pinki is among the 15 girls training in the BBC. Pinki said four of the BBC female boxers were attending a camp for Asian Boxing Championship in Hisar.

Talking to Sakaal Times, a group of female boxers in the BBC demanded that women boxing be included in Olympics. They claimed to have passion for the game. One could see it when they walked into ankle-deep drain water to get out of the club.


Boxing to Bhiwani is as old as the state of Haryana (created in 1966). And the credit for this goes to late Captain Hawa Singh, a winner of Arjun Award and Dronacharya award. Captain Hawa Singh won gold medals in two Asian games consecutively in 1966 and 1970.

Captain Hawa Singh joined Sports Authority of India (SAI) as a coach in 1986. Pritam Dalal, a physical instructor in Baptist senior secondary school, says Captain Hawa Singh trained over 2000 boxers in Bhiwani. When he passed away on August 15, 2000, his body was cremated in Bheem Stadium, a rare honour for any sportsman in the state.

Captain Hawa Singh had so much passion for the game that he would pick up children from nearby villages on his cycle to train. To make things easier for him, most of his disciples got good jobs in Railways, Police, Army and private companies. “He planted a sapling which is now giving fruits to the country,” says his son Sanjay Singh, who retired from Tata Steel two years back to train boxers in the city.

Sakaal Times
Shooting stage - 07/09/2008

(Edited version of this feature appeared in Sakaal Times)

Narendra Kaushik

He cringes and breaks into sweat, every time he watches, hears or reads about an encounter. His heartbeat shoots up and his first reaction is to duck for cover. The memories of an incident which happened at Connaught place on March 31, 1997 flood his mind.

Tarun Preet Singh (28), the lone survivor of fake CP encounter for which ten policemen including alleged trigger-happy ACP S S Rathi were convicted last year, knows what fake encounters are all about. Tarun, then a teenager, hid behind the seats when police rained bullets on him, Jagjit Singh and Pradeep Goyal on a busy intersection in Connaught place without asking any questions. Jagjit Singh who was driving the vehicle was killed. So was Pradeep who was sitting on seat next to the driver.

Tarun was pulled out of the car and shot number of times. In total he received seven bullet injuries. He was in coma for seven days. Yet he survived. “Jab koi encounter ki baat karta hai, mere ko abhi bhi dar lagta hai. Kabhi-2 encounter ke sapne bhi aate hain (when somebody talks of encounter even now I get scared. At times I also get nightmares of encounter),” says Tarun sounding frightened. “When I look at policemen, I feel like killing them,” he adds, revealing deep-seated wish for revenge.

Deedar Singh and Dinesh Goyal, brothers of Jagjit Singh and Pradeep Goyal, who waited for a decade to get justice, are suspicious of most encounters. “Sab promotions ka chakkar hai (All this is done for promotions). Police were given a free hand after 1994 and that is why I lost my brother,” says Deedar Singh matter-of-factly when asked about comments on encounters. Dinesh remember how the police fabricated evidence to somehow implicate Pradeep, Jagjit and even their relatives. “Two of us are still facing trial for vandalism in Delhi hospital where they conducted postmortems on bodies of Pradeep and Jagjit. We were only protesting against their manipulation attempts,” he claims.

Like Tarun Preet Singh, Ashaq (name changed) of Meerut, escaped a stage-managed encounter involving a local criminal called Shafiq some years back. Ashaq’s only fault was he gave lift to an unknown Shafiq on his scooter. The police did not want to spare him as he was witness to Shafiq’s killing in a fake encounter. But a friend of the SHO, involved in the encounter, got him reprieve after promising that he would never talk about the incident.

Besides CP, Meerut and Gujarat’s Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s encounter of November 2005 for which suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara and 13 other policemen are behind the bars, there are number of fake killings in Jammu & Kashmir which have been under scanner including ‘pathribal fake killings’ of five civilians in Anantnag district of Kashmir on March 24, 2000. CBI probed the Pathribal case.

J&K police have also charge sheeted certain army personnel for killing of one Shaukat Ahmed Kataria (25), a resident of Doligam area of Doda district. The army had alleged that Kataria was Abu Zahid, a foreign terrorist and killed in an encounter with Special Operations Group (SOG).

Despite there being a question mark on encounters, ‘Dirty Harrys’ of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh feel they are ‘unavoidable’. “If somebody wants to catch Dadua (a dacoit gunned down recently) without an encounter, he will be attempting suicide,” claims Amitabh Yash, head of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF). Yash is sure there is no dearth of desperado criminals in UP who are out to kill policemen.

Yash heads a team of 135 NSG-trained commandos in the STF who are proud to kill. The STF, Yash says, has almost flushed out dacoit gangs from the state. No wonder, UP more often than not figures in top three in the country when it comes to number of encounters in a year. According to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the state contributed 122 encounter deaths out of total 252 deaths from March 2007 to August 2008. The state reported 82 alleged police encounters (total 125 in the country) from March 2006 to February 2007.

Ironically UP is battling no insurgency. Yash, however, finds nothing ‘abnormal’ about highest number of encounters in UP. “We lose highest number of policemen in encounters. In last year we lost six commandos. There is so much lawlessness in the state and there were also dacoits.” Yash even defends an encounter of 2006 in Allahabad where policemen were filmed killing an unarmed man. “They (television channels) only showed killing of the man (was shown last year). They did not show how this man hurled a bomb at the policemen from their bike and killed our constable,” he said.

Yash claimed that it was difficult for him to motivate his men for an encounter as chances of death in the encounter were high. He complained that bureaucracy was reluctant to dole out rewards to encounter cops.

Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) Special Cell in Delhi, who claims to have 51 encounters under his belt, says that most of the encounters are unavoidable. “You can’t catch a Pakistani terrorist,” he quips.

Interestingly, there are only a handful of encounters which have been proved fake. “It is most difficult to find evidence against an encounter because there are no witnesses. Moreover they have the backing of responsible police officials,” asserts Suhas Chakma, president of a Delhi-based group, Asian Centre for Human Rights. Chakma claimed that encounter deaths concerned the NHRC much less than the custodial deaths.

Another reason of why police get away with dubious encounters is states’ disregard to NHRC guidelines on encounters. The NHRC guidelines, issued in March 1997 and updated in December 2003, asked the states not to award any out of turn promotions or gallantry awards to policemen involved in encounters till their gallantry was established. The NHRC also instructed the states to order magisterial inquiry into all such deaths which occurred in the course of police action. The commission said kin of the deceased should be associated in magisterial inquiry.

Instead of associating kin of the deceased in the probe, the police hound them to keep quiet. Fortunately, Supreme Court is taking cognizance of complaints against encounters. After ordering a probe into Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi’s deaths, the apex court earlier this week issued notice to Gujarat government on another alleged fake encounter. The notice was issued on a petition seeking CBI probe into encounter of Javed Gulam Mohammad Sheikh in June 2004. Hindi cinema lyricist Javed Akhtar has also petitioned the SC on encounters in Gujarat.

*Delhi’s Encounter Cops Rajbir Singh, the biggest encounter specialist of Delhi, who was shot dead in an unsavoury incident in Gurgaon in March this year, was a strong votary of extra judicial killings.

 “What do you do with terrorists?” he often asked ‘doubting’ journalists. Singh, who was promoted from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) within one year, was involved in over 40 encounters. He was also credited with solving Parliament attack and Red fort shootout cases.

Rajbir also figured in number of controversial encounters including the one which happened in Ansal Plaza,

Sakaal Times
Sacha Sauda is good business - 29/06/2008

(Edited version of the story was published in Sakaal Times)

Narendra Kaushik

Sirsa:He wears funky caps, fancy silk robes and drives around in imported flashy cars within the premises of his dera. He shops from high-end malls. You might have seen him waving to his disciples from a luxurious rath which chugs on a railway track specially laid in his dera. He has two cave-like bungalows to his disposal alone (his family lives somewhere else). The old cave has a gate which opens towards a girl’s hostel. The caves are guarded by women sentries at night!

The CBI says he used the gate to abuse girls. He runs dairies, a revolving restaurant, schools, colleges, factories, bakeries, beauty parlour and even a club.

Strange tastes for a man who claims to have ‘renounced’ the world and who keeps his family in a separate house. Baba Gurmeet Singh alias Ram Rahim, the head of Dera Sachha Sauda, who has been in eye of a storm since his private guard shot dead a Sikh protestor in Mumbai, is a complete paradox.

More than anything else, Singh (41) is a very shrewd businessman. He owns hundreds of acres of land in Sirsa (Haryana) and other places. His disciples grow grains and vegetables on it. They also rear cattle, operate restaurant, factories and other enterprises on it. They toil day in and day out.

Dera Sacha Sauda’s website says that the disciples residing permanently in the dera work 18 hours a day. In return, Singh does not even pay them minimum wages, prescribed by the government. Whatever he pays them is also called ‘prasad’. But the biggest irony of all this is – Singh sells his products to his labour at a very high premium. Only foods and vegetables produced in his dera are sold as prasad in the dera.

If only biscuits of the dera are sold in ‘Satsang bhawans’ within the dera premises, outside the satsang bhawans even reddish is sold as prasad. “When the price of reddish falls to 50 paisa per kg in the market, he stops selling it outside. He sells it within the dera at Rs.2 per piece and calls it prasad,” says one of his disciples in Sirsa dera.

A revolving restaurant, run in a lake within the dera, is one of the most expensive eating joints in Sirsa. The two-storeyed restaurant called ‘Kashish’ serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of the waiters serving in the restaurant are paid only Rs.1, 400 per month. Obviously they can not afford to eat there. The restaurant mainly caters to top echelons of the dera in Dera Sachha Sauda.

Singh was born in a feudal family on Tuesday, 15th of August 1967 in a small village named Gurusar Modia in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan. His father Sardar Maghar Singh is a landlord and head of the village. Shah Satnam Singh Mastana, the second head of Dera Sachha Sauda, declared Singh his successor in September 1990. Singh’s daughter is learnt to be married to son of a Punjab Congress leader H S Jassi. His married son Jasmeet Singh is called ‘sahebzada’ (prince) in the dera. There was also a time when he was fond of wearing jeans, t shirts and moved around on motorbikes.

Girls questioned by the CBI during the investigation of two murder cases involving Gurmeet Singh, said they had his photographs on motorbikes. Singh has lakhs of followers in Haryana, Punjab and other states. They prostrate before him chanting ‘Dhan-dhan satguru tera hai asra’.

Baba Gurmeet Singh’s dera claims not to owe allegiance to any particular sect or religion and to be an institution for spiritual emancipation.

Leaders from various political parties including Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) chief Om Parkash Chautala, Akali Dal supremo and present Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal visited the dera before the controversy over Gurmeet Singh’s Guru Gobind Singh-like attire broke out last year. There were allegations that he supported Congress during last assembly elections in Punjab.

Gurmeet Singh is extremely powerful and people in Sirsa are scared of talking against him. Such is his fear that a Sirsa District and Sessions judge could make no headway in a probe against him ordered by Punjab & Haryana High Court in 2002 on allegations of sexual exploitation of Sadhvis by him. In his report submitted to the High Court on September 11, 2002, the Sessions Judge noted: “As regards the sexual abuse of girls in the Dera, nobody in the Dera is prepared to disclose anything in this respect. There is no access to the hostel where the sadhvis reside without prior permission of Baba Gurmeet Singh or the Dera authorities.”

The firing in Mumbai by his private guards is no exception. His guards are known to take law into their hands on slightest of provocation. His earlier guards are still cooling their heels in jail for murdering journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati in Sirsa and his close confidant and disciple Ranjit Singh in Kurukshetra allegedly at his directions.

Sakaal Times
Politics or No politics - Priyankas writ runs in Congress

Narendra kaushik

Kamaspur (Haryana): Priyanka Gandhi nee Vadra may not be in active politics as yet. But for inhabitants of Kamaspur, a green hamlet right stones throw Delhi-Karnal highway about 45 kilometres from the national capital, a letter from the Gandhi-Nehru scion has done within months what all other politicians of Haryana failed to do in over a decade.     

A letter from Priyanka to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda is about to get them a mortar road and upgrade a girls school from middle to secondary level, two most cherished and long-pending demands of the village. This over-a-kilometre-long road will connect two extreme ends of Kamaspur, leading them right into their farms. More importantly, it will link approach road of the village to Dhamma Pathan, an international Vipassana centre, patronized by S N Goenka, Priyanka visited last year for her third course in Vipassana.  

Priyankaji ne hamara kaam chutki mein kar diya. March mein road banna shuru ho jayega (Priyanka has done our work. Work on the road will start in March this year,” says Rabhubir Singh, an elderly person in Kamaspur who met Priyanka alongwith four other villagers and took up the demand in June last year when the Gandhi scion did an eight-day meditation course in the Vipassana centre. Singh claimed that since the land on which the road was to be laid belonged to village panchayat, the latter had already passed a resolution and handed it over to the PWD. 

During her meeting with the villagers Priyanka said that the road would be laid because the state was ruled by her party. “Kyon nahin hoga. Zaroor hoga. Hamari party ki sarkar hai. Koi dikkat nahin hogi (Why will it not be done. It will definitely be done. It is a Congress government in the state. There will be no problem), she told the village elders.  

Immediately after meeting the villagers, Priyanka paid a visit to the girls school and inspected the path. Subsequently she shot off a letter to Hooda listing the two demands of the village. Senior secretary in CM office Shadi Lal Kapur immediately telephoned District Education Officer, Sonepat and chief of PWD department in the district and instructed them to initiate paper work. It was found that though the road faced no impediments, the school did not meet the state norms to be granted a higher status.  

According to school headmaster Mahendra Singh Gehlawat, the school had only 3 acres of land, two acre less than the requirement. But who could dare tell this to 10 Janpath? Haryana government found it easier to revise the norms and make it possible. Last week state Commissioner Director General, school Education K K Khandelwal said that now schools with 2 acres of land would be upgraded to secondary and senior secondary level. 

Gehlawat told Mumbai Mirror that the education department had since asked for a second request from the school. He hopes to see an up gradation order anytime before the new session in April this year. Did anybody say amen.  

O P Rana, manager of the Vipassana centre, said that the laying of the road would facilitate better access to the centre and leave a good impression on foreigners and VIPs like Priyanka Gandhi who enrols in large numbers there for meditation. Besides the usual ten day-long courses, the centre runs special 20 and 30 day courses for old mediators. It also runs short courses running into three and eight days.

                  Why Priyanka looks at peace with herself?  

Vipassana has done to Priyanka what politics has failed to do so far. This is one field where she has definitely done better and is more involved than her brother Rahul. While the Amethi MP has done two courses on meditation, she has finished three. She says she gets enlightment, peace and calm from vipassana discourses and meditation makes her antermukhi (introvert) at all times. 

“The atmosphere at Dhamma pathana was very inspiring - serious and conducive to meditation. I found the discourses very enlightening....In the course I was able to meditate to deeper levels. It was particularly interesting for me as I arrived with the impression of having a calm and peaceful state of mind,” Priyanka wrote in a letter at Kamaspur Vipassana centre after her eight day course in June last year.  

During her stay at the centre, Priyanka left all the staff and the villagers who turned up to meet her bowled over with her humility. “She lived like a very simple person. There were no airs,” centre head O P Rana recollected.  

In an advice the centre, Priyanka suggested that all mediators including her be told to sweep their meditation cells. “Perhaps the sweeping of meditation cells can be done by each mediator him/herself. This can be suggested to them during the briefing,” she wrote.     

The village delegation led by former village Sarpanch Choudhary Dhajja Ram during its 20-minute long interaction with her, too found her down-to-earth. In her talks with the villagers, she even referred to her visits to Raebareli, parliamentary constituency of her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She complimented them for being less fussy and demanding than people in Raebareli. “She spoke very well and kept smiling. She appreciated that we did not make noise,” reminisced Rabhubir Singh, a member of the delegation. 

Interestingly besides her older sibling Rahul, Priyankas grandmother Indira Gandhi was also heavily into meditation. Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, supercop Kiran Bedi are the other celebriti

Mumbai Mirror?Metro Now (Edited version published)
State makes clean sweap of loo awards

Narendra Kaushik

Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) is one distinction that has not only catapulted Maharashtra on top in the country as far as number of winner Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) is concerned but would also bring appreciation from President A P J Abdul Kalam.  

Out of 4945 village, block and district panchayats, chosen for the total sanitation Puraskar for 2006-07 from 24 states in the country, 1974 PRIs are from Maharashtra alone. The number two and three in the list - Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh - are behind by far - by close to  1,400 PRIs.  

No wonder, Maharashtra government has to hire a full 18-coach train from Indian Railways to bring the winners to Delhi and book over two dozen hotels and guest houses of government institutes for them. The train, hired for Rs.37 lakh, started from Kolhapur on Wednesday, will carry winners from over a dozen districts and reach Delhi on Thursday morning. Winners from remaining districts will arrive on their own. The awards will be presented by Kalam here in Ambedkar stadium on Friday. 

Mumbai Mirror caught up with some of the winners from Latur district. Lodged in a hotel in Old Delhi, they sounded upbeat about the award and the glory associated with it. “We constructed toilets in every house of our 100-home village in last six months. Now nobody in my village defecates in open,” said Gunde Rao Rodge, sarpanch of Aanchnal village of Latur flanked by Prakash Patil, Rajender Jadhav and other winners.  

Access to toilets of entire PRI population, schools and anganwadis and overall cleanliness are the criteria for the Nirmal Gram Purskar which was instituted in October 2003 by Rural Development Ministry. Rodge who will receive Rs.50,000 and a memento on Friday said his next objective was to win the highest award, established under Maharashtras Sant Baba Gadge Abhiyan. The award consists of Rs.25 lakh cash. 

Balaji Karbhari Achwalkar of Achwala village in Devni division of Latur hoped for a repeat of last year when the president impromptu invited all the winners for tea. “More important than the award is that kalam is going to address us,” he said.  

Shanta Sheela Nair, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water Supply in Rural Development, who is incharge of the Nirmal Gram Puraskars, attributed Maharashtras success to its promotion of cleanliness through institution of state awards. 

Interestingly, even in 2006 Maharashtra was numero uno as far as number of winner PRIs is concerned. Out of 769 PRIs awarded for cleanliness, 381 were from the state. In 2005, the state had 13 in the list of total 40 PRIs.  

The sanitation campaign has an outlay of Rs.11,375 crores out of which central governments shares is Rs.7,092. In just three years, the campaign has resulted in over 3 crore rural households, 4.6 lakh schools and anganwaids having their own toilets.  

Under the scheme, a population criterion has been prescribed. While the lowest cash prize for a gram panchayat is Rs.50,000 (for less than 1000 population), the highest is Rs. 5,00,000 (for population of 10,000 and above). For Block Panchayats the cash prize is between 10 lakh to 20 lakh.  

The PRIs have to undergo scrutiny at four levels to qualify for the award. 

Mumbai Mirror (Edited version published)
Zeenat for UP Don ; So is reel villain Ranjeet

Narendra Kaushik

Controversial politician D P Yadav who seems to have become a social outcast in Delhi due to alleged involvement of his son Vikas Yadav in Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara murders, has obtained a character certificate from Bollywood.  

Yesteryears beauty Zeenat Aman and reel villain Ranjeet are campaigning for D P Yadav and his wife Urmilesh Yadav calling them sharif and achhe aadmi who have been taking care of the poor people. The duo has even lent a helping hand to sop opera of Urmilesh who is contesting from Bisauli assembly constituency in Badaun district (about 65 kilometre from Etah) on ticket of her husbands political outfit Rashtriya Parivartan Dal (RPD). 

While Urmilesh is telling voters Vikas Yadav ka armaan, unki maa ka karo samman, Ranjeet and Zeenat are painting her a bebas maan whose child is in jail due to a political conspiracy.  

Ranjeet who acted in over 550 films and was notable for films like Lawaaris, Namak Halal and Amar Akbar Anthony is exhorting about 2.5 lakh voters of Bisauli that they should make Urmilesh happy by electing her to assembly. “Maan ki aankhen sooni hain, khusiyan lauta do,” he repeats in meeting after meeting with D P Yadav. Though he hails from a village in Punjab, he claims to have studied with Yadav, considered Don of Western Uttar Pradesh.  

The opponents of Urmilesh Yadav tried to counter her victimisation campaign by roping in Nitish Kataras mother Neelam and Jessica Lals sister Sabrina. Though the latter would not want to see Yadav couple into the assembly, they could not join the campaign. While Neelam is a government servant, Sabrina could not identify with Yadavs opponents.  

Sabrina castigated Zeenat for having joined D P Yadavs campaign saying she has lost her marbles. She said it was fitting that Ranjeet, a reel villain, was campaigning for a real don. Urmilesh Yadavs Samajwadi Party (SP) opponent Kunnu Babu also liked the irony that a villain had brought a villain from Mumbai and a finished actress for electioneering. Babu who defeated Vikas Yadav in last assembly polls, claimed that the film actors campaigned for Yadav family members for money.  

Zeenat Aman, when contacted, claimed that she was campaigning for Yadav couple because they were very old family friends since college.  She said that D P Yadav and his wife were exceptional people who had done genuinely good amount of work for the people. She claimed the country needed people like them.  

When told that numbers of criminal cases were pending against D P Yadav, she said that she did not know anybodys politics and whatever she was doing was on a personal basis. She denied she had taken money to campaign for Yadavs.  

Interestingly, Zeenat had campaigned for Congress candidate R L Bhatia in Amritsar in 2004 general elections. She had then sung paeans in the praise of secular congress and even reportedly joined the party. On Saturday, however, she denied it saying that she believed in virtues of secularism.   

Mumbai Mirror (Edited version published)
Killer Sonias Sapna Money-Money

(Edited version published)


Narendra Kaushik


As you walk into the swanky mansion at Litani mod, about 45 kilometres from here, a spooky thought sends a chill down your spine. With paint-peeled walls, unkempt chandeliers, a swimming pool filled with dirt, cobwebbed rooms and bathrooms and scattered photographs, the fully air-conditioned mansion, spread in over 2 acres of land exudes a sense of abandonment and death.  


Skeletons of jonga jeep are placed on your left while the space on your right is occupied by an old rickety oil truck. This is the mansion which late Relu Ram Puniya, an independent MLA and a billionaire built in the midst of his 100 acre farm land about 15 years back. And this is the mansion which became a cause for ghastly murder of his family by his own daughter Sonia and her husband Sanjiv in August 2001.  


Today the mansion houses, if one goes by account of Relu Rams old servant Amar Singh, besides Puniyas younger brother Ram Singh, his wife and sons of his five other brothers, spirits of the dead. “Relu Ram often calls me at night and inquires about people who would come to him with their grievances,” Amar Singh who recently quit his job, told Mumbai Mirror sitting on a cot outside the mansion where his master heard people when he was an MLA.  People in nearby villages also claimed to have heard stories on ghosts. 


But Ram Singh dismisses the claim contemptuously. “We have never seen or heard ghosts and we live here for over three years,” he said as he guided us to the three floors where Relu Ram (50+), his second wife Krishna (40+), daughter Priyanka (15), son Sunil (22), daughter-in-law Shakuntala (21) and grandchildren Lokesh (4), Shivani (one and half year old) and Priety (45 days) were clubbed to death. 


The mansion with a parking on first floor and swimming pool in the backyard, is estimated to be worth Rs.3 crore.  It stands in the middle of 100 acre farm land (valued at over 10 crore) far from the villages. Apart from these Relu Ram was believed to have owned a bungalow (worth Rs 70-80 lakh according to conservative estimates) in Faridabad, shop worth Rs.40 lakh in Punjabi Bagh area of Delhi and over 10 shops (worth Rs.10 crore) in Nangloi, a town in Outer Delhi. He also owned a Tata Safari, number of tractors, a Tata Sumo and huge amount of gold jewelry and cash. He earned all this from his business of kerosene oil.  


Sonia, according to her own confession made before a judicial magistrate, wanted all this for herself, her husband Sanjiv and son only and thus eliminated all her family members, in-league-with-her-husband. The couple did this with the help of an iron rod and a khukhri. Since both were taekwando players, they knew exactly where to hit to kill. Though they also had a licensed pistol on the fateful night, they used it only to threaten Sunil.  


After killing her family-members, Sonia wrote a suicide letter and tried to own up the crime alone. She thought her husband would save her from law. But forensic examination of blood-soaked clothes of Sanjiv, which he attempted to burn, found on them trace of blood of all the dead.    


Sanjiv and Sonia, awarded death sentence by Supreme Court last week, have been shifted to Ambala jail. Families of Relu Rams brothers and his clan are happy justice has been done in the case. “Insaaf hua hai (Justice has been done). Now no daughter will try what Sonia did to her parents,” said Ram Singh.  


Interestingly in her confession, Sonia also disclosed that her father Relu Ram killed his first wife and had illicit relations with number of women. She alleged her father was biased towards Sunil, his son from first wife and ill-treated her.


Ironically, Sonia mother Krishna also had a dispute with her husband over property. She wanted him to bequeath the property to her daughters Sonia and Priyanka. 


May be used in the box:


Mumbai Mirror/Metro Now
3 Maha Ministers to go on Night Safari in South Africa

Narendra Kaushik

Blurb: The ministers Jayant Patil, Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and Babanrao Pachpute will visit South Africa, Singapore, UK and France to study wildlife there. 

Three Ministers of Vilasrao Deshmukh government - Finance Minister Jayant Patil, Tourism Minister Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and Forest Minister Baban Rao Pachpute and over half a dozen officials from Forest ministry - will be off to South Africa on a night safari next month on the protext of studying wildlife sanctuaries there.  

They will also visit Singapore, United Kingdom and France too during their fortnight long excursion and look for consultants who can help Maharashtra government replicate international sancturies at  Gorewada in Nagpur and Goregaon in Mumbai.  

While the Nagpur zoo, to be set up in 1800 acres of land with facility of day and night safari for Rs 400 crore, was recently cleared by Deshmukh cabinet, the plan on international zoo at Goregaon, according to Pachpute, has been finalised and will shortly be put up before the state cabinet for approval.  

Maharashtra government is learnt to have cleared the expensive foreign jaunt and the proposal will soon be sent to central government for approval. 

Talking to Mumbai Mirror here at Maharashtra Sadan, Pachpute said that the idea on the foreign jaunt struck them when they did not find consultant of international repute for the proposed zoo at Nagpur.  

“Four parties applied against our tender. But none of them was of international level,” he claimed adding that they would look for consultants in Singapore, UK, France and South Africa, seek wild animals and talk to forest officials of the respective countries.  

The zoo at Gorewada in Nagpur will have separate sanctuaries for birds, wild animals and acqua animals. Pachpute expects the zoo to give employment opportunities to 40,000 people.  

The proposed zoo at Goregaon (Mumbai) will be located on forest land belonging to forest department (200 acres) and animal husbandary (100 acres). With a distance of 8 kilometres from the airport, the zoo will have food plaza and parking. Both the zoos, will be built on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis. The cost of Goregaon, Pachpute said, may go up beyond Rs.1000 crore.  

The idea behind setting up international zoos at Nagpur and Mumbai, Pachpute said, was to attract more foreign tourists to the state. “We have three tiger reserves in Maharashtra. But none of them is of international repute,” he regretted.  

Before setting off on the foreign safari, Pachpute is going to Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh to observe day and night safari there for two days from September 29.  

The foreign jaunt will need clearance from Pachputes parent department at the centre (Union Ministry of Environment and Forest), Union Finance Ministry, Union Home Ministry and finally political clearance from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).  

Mumbai Mirror (Edited version published)
Tricked into lose-all deal - 08/08/2005

(Edited version of the story appeared in Sunday Mid-Day)

Concluding part of trade in Brides series-Narendra Kaushik

Nuh (Haryana): A handicapped, unkempt husband and lunatic brother-in-law is not what Ratna (40), an orphaned widow from Kolkata, had bargained for when she tied the knot with Arjun Punjabi (60), a widower in Nuh. Nor had she visualised the bitter legal wrangles she is involved in with Arjun’s brothers for his share in ancestral property. She thought by marrying Arjun, she would no more be a liability on her younger brother and get a secure future. Today she has been left to rue her decision.

“I’ve no money to pay for my husband’s treatment or my travel to Kolkata. If my parents were alive, I wouldn’t have married him”, she says alleging that Arjun and his relatives cheated her family by saying that Arjun inherited a bungalow, number of shops and prime agricultural land from his father in Nuh.

Ratna is not the only Paro (local name for women from Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Orissa who are settled in Mewat) who was tricked into marrying an old widower in the region. There are hundreds of her ilk in over 550 villages of Mewat district of Haryana, situated on South of Delhi.

Yet, Ratna is fortunate Arjun did not pay for her and cannot taunt her. Nor does she have to cope with with Arjun’s second wife, a ‘souten’. Saira, 35, faces occasional ridicule from her husband Ghulam Rasool, a rickshaw puller, even after the birth of their seven children. “I paid Rs 3,000 to a pimp Ayub and gifts to Saira’s family members,” says Rasool adding that he had married his younger brother to a girl from West Bengal. Saira, however, is in touch with her family members and occasionally visits them.

Khatoon of Nagina village has no such comfort. Her mama (maternal uncle) brought her from Sonaikala (Assam), sold her off for Rs 3,500 to a man and decamped.

As you criss-cross Hathin, Nuh and Firozpur, Nagina, the four towns of Mewat district, you come across hundreds of Bangla, Assamese, Bihari and Hyderabadi women married to widowers, handicapped and old men.

Mariam (30), who admitted to having been bought by Ishaq (50) in Malai village, said her husband paid Rs 3,000 for her. Ishaq claimed he bought her after his second wife died during delivery. He has eight children from three marriages. You also find a few cases of men having lied to their in-laws to get a second wife.

A Wahab Khan, an STD booth operator in Nuh, has brought Afsa, a second wife from Hyderabad though he was arleady married to Khurshidan and had three children from here. Khan and Afsa denied he lied to her parents but the first wife Khurshidan claimed otherwise. “Mere husband ne unko bataya meri biwi nahin, mere bachhe nahin” (My husband told them I don’t have wife and children), she said.

The police in Nuh have filed couple of such cases where men brought a second wife after lying about their marital status. Sarfuddin Mewati, a social worker in Hathin, told Mumbai Mirror that the Mewat region was steeped in illiteracy and unemployment and education for girls meant reading Quran, tending cattle and cooking. Another reason why Mewat has a liking for women from West Bengal, Assam and Bihar is that it has good number of drivers who travel to and from these states and help their fellow Mewatese in bringing Paros.

Flesh trade route

* Male-female ratio in Haryana’s Mewat district is skewed against women

* To compound the problem, the area is plagued by high rate of delivery-related deaths, thus bringing down the number of potential brides

* Also, a good number of Mewatese are drivers who travel through states like Assam, Bihar and West Bengal where they buy brides from

* Many of such brides are lured with the promise of better life. In many cases, they are tricked into marrying a widower or even a married man

Sunday Mid-Day