Sunday, May 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Whisky goes the beer way
Liquor traders slash prices by 25 to 40 per cent
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Liquor lovers in the city never had it so good. After buying beer at cheap rates, now whisky is also available with hefty discounts. Liquor merchants in the city today slashed the rates of all brands of whisky by anything between 25 per cent and 40 per cent, thus opening a new price war in the business.

The price of premium segment whisky had effectively come down by Rs 100 a bottle, while medium and lower segments have seen a drop of Rs 50 to Rs 40 a bottle.

All major vends put up big banners today announcing the new prices which, interestingly, are lower than even the minimum selling price fixed by the Chandigarh Administration in its annual excise policy. The minimum selling of liquor is fixed to avoid unhealthy competition. A minimum price ceiling is required to maintain quality of liquor. But so far no action has been forthcoming against any vend.

In case of beer it is the maximum selling price, thus the Administration could not take any action when liquor merchants slashed rates. In case of whisky the Administration can take action and impose severe penalties, sources said.

Sources in the liquor business said a meeting of traders was held last week. The group which owns six vends adjoining the border with SAS Nagar had sought to lower the price of whisky to keep up with the competition. Other traders objected to this and the meeting ended on a sour note. Now it is like a free-for-all, with vend-owners themselves deciding the rates.

These rates will continue till an agreement on rates is again reached among the liquor merchants A source said that the city's liquor trade runs primarily on sales to the floating population and also due to large-scale purchases made by big consumers living outside Chandigarh. Last year the city consumed 8 lakh cases of whisky, meaning 96 lakh bottles. The city has population of about 9 lakh and close to 5.40 lakh is the male population.

Such huge sales are recorded as the excise duty on a per case basis is Rs 81, Rs 227 and Rs 276 in Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, respectively. The rate cut has helped reduce bootlegging carried out in labour and slum colonies. Unscrupulous persons living in slums used to buy a case of 12 bottles of cheap whisky available for Rs 700 and sell it of on per bottle basis in slums at rates lesser than the vend where each bottle of similar segment retails at Rs 100. From today the same brand will be available for Rs 60.

This slashing of rates has made the customer a king.

Segment  Old rates New rates Minimum fixed by Admn
Premium  Rs 400 Rs 300 Rs 400
Middle  Rs 225-240 Rs 175 Rs 225
Regular  Rs 130 Rs 80 Rs 120
Cheap  Rs 100 Rs 60 Rs 100



Vigilance Dept arrests municipal councillor
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 18
The Punjab Vigilance Department today formally arrested a municipal councillor of the SAS Nagar Municipal Council, Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, in connection with the disproportionate assets case registered against a former PWD minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah.

Mr Mohali, a close aide of the former Akali minister, and Mr Pradeep, a businessman of Ludhiana, were picked up by the Vigilance Department from SAS Nagar and Ludhiana on May 16 and May 17, respectively. The Ludhiana-based businessman is expected to be arrested tomorrow.

In the case of corruption, cheating and forgery registered by the Vigilance Department, it has been said that disproportionate assets to the tune of over Rs 12 crore had been accumulated by the former Akali minister through means beyond his known sources of income

The municipal councillor is the secretary of the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Trust Kalanpur, Gurdaspur. Through the Trust, Mr Langah had purchased 1 acre of land from the Improvement Trust, Gurdaspur. The Ludhiana-based businessman was said to be sharing business interests with the former minister.

Earlier, officials of the Vigilance Department had maintained that the two had just been “rounded up” and not arrested. While the municipal councillor has been in custody of the vigilance sleuths for more than 48 hours, the Ludhiana- based businessman has been in the custody of the department for more than 24 hours. Sources in the Vigilance Department said that raiding parties had been sent to different towns of Punjab, especially Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana to arrest the “touts” and certain SEs and JEs of the PWD department.

They said that complaints of illegal absorptions and departmental promotions done by the minister through his touts were also being probed.

Meanwhile, anxious relatives of the two alleged that the Vigilance Department officials were not even telling them about their whereabouts. Mr Raja Kamaljyot Singh, son of the municipal councillor, who was waiting at the Kharar courts apprehending that his father would be produced before the Duty Magistrate, said his family members did not even know about the whereabouts of his father. A similar statement was given by a relative of Mr Pradeep.

According to the sources, the status about the two key persons was being kept a closely guarded secret as vital details about the assets and the other “ touts” who operated on behalf of the former PWD minister was being extracted from them.


Dy Director held taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The UT Vigilance Department today arrested the Regional Deputy Director of the government's Song and Drama Division, Madhu Dalela, for allegedly demanding and accepting illegal gratification for releasing payments to artistes.

She was produced in the court of the UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Mr S.S. Bhardwaj, who remanded her in judicial custody for 14 days.

Dalela, who was heading the division's north western region based in Chandigarh, had been posted here about one-and-a-half year ago.

Following a complaint by Raghvendra Tiwari, who runs the Pryasshalla Kala Manch at Kulu in Himachal Pradesh, the Vigilance Department laid a trap and caught her red-handed. Marked currency notes used for the purpose were also recovered from her possession.

According to the complainant, the accused had demanded "commission" for releasing payment due to him for organising troupes to present cultural programmes in various parts of the region. A cheque for Rs 28,000 due to him in this regard was being held back by the accused.

Talking to TNS, Mr Dalip Tiwari, another affected person, said that the accused was demanding Rs 10,000 as her "commission" for releasing the cheque. She was paid Rs 2,000 on May 6 with the balance of the money to be paid later. The complainant then lodged a complaint with the Vigilance Department.

A team of the Vigilance Department, headed by Inspector Gurdial Singh, along with the complainant visited the accused's Sector 32 residence at about 10 a.m. this morning. As soon as money exchanged hands, the team swooped down on the accused and arrested her. Currency notes treated with special powder were used.


Red Cross to trace missing persons
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 18
For all those who have been separated from a loved one or have a family member or friend missing and all efforts at tracing him or her have failed, there is help available at the nearest office of the Indian Red Cross Society.

Following directions of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Indian Red Cross Society has asked all its regional branches to start a tracing service in their areas to restore family links of people who have been separated due to various reasons.

This activity gains special significance for the region since a large number of families had broken during partition of the country and many such families believe that their relatives survived the vagaries of those days and live in Pakistan. The Red Cross Society in India with the help of Red Cross Societies in Pakistan will be able to trace such persons living there. The tracing service will also be helping people locate relatives and friends who went abroad for jobs etc but never came back or lost contact with their families. Individuals who migrate to a foreign country may remain stranded there due to lack of necessary identity documents and travel papers to return home.

The Haryana Red Cross Society has taken the lead in following these instructions, has already started spreading information about their service and have asked all those people who have someone missing to contact them.

Stating that economic hardships, social problems, conflicts and natural disasters are the major causes of breakup of thousands of families across the country, Mr Raghubir Singh of the Haryana Red Cross Society said tracing and restoration of family links is one of the major activities the International Red Cross Society and over 178 national Red Cross Societies throughout the world make up for the global network of restoration of family ties.

The Red Cross Society will be also screening people in jails who have lost contact with their families over the years. “The IG prisons have been contacted for that and they will be offering us help” says Mr Raghubir Singh. “There are so many people who have gone abroad from Haryana to places like Dubai etc. Many of them have not contacted their families for decades. If the family wishes, efforts will be started by the Red Cross to locate them wherever they are and contact them.” He informs.

The Red Cross Societies follow the codes of speed, confidentiality and realism in tracing these people. The International Committee of the Red Cross has set up a tracing service in 31 state and union territory branches. More-over the IRCS is consolidating its working relationship with the tracing service of Pakistan Red Cross, Bangladesh Red Cross, Sri Lanka Red Cross and Nepal Red Cross.

The main exchange of information between the various societies will be through specially formulated Red Cross messages containing news of strictly personal nature to the family of the missing person. All this information will be kept confidential.


Two killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Lalru, May 18
Two persons riding a scooter were killed on the spot when a tanker crushed them to death on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, near here, this morning.

Mr Gian Chand and Mr Shiv Das were riding the scooter (PB-11K-8573) and were approaching the main road when the tanker (HR-14-6105) mowed them down.

A resident of Rajpura, Mr Gian Chand, was accompanying Mr Shiv Das of Gorakhpur when they met with the accident.

The tanker driver is said to have absconded from the scene of the accident after leaving behind the vehicle. The police has impounded the vehicle. The bodies were sent to the Civil Hospital in Rajpura for post-mortem examination. A case has been registered with the Lalru police station.


‘Redress public grievances promptly’
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 18
The Finance Minister, Prof Sampat Singh, today emphasised the need for redressing the grievances of the public on a priority basis and directed district officials to take prompt action on all kinds of complaints.

He was presiding over the monthly meeting of the District Public Relations and Grievance Committee here today. He asked officials to take immediate action on receipt of a complaint and not to keep the complaint pending till the grievance committee meeting. He also asked all departments to maintain a complaint register in which entries of receiving and disposal of complaints will be made.

At least 12 complaints were received in today’s meeting and nine of these were immediately sorted out. Apart from this minister also heard the individual and common complaints and marked these to officers concerned for necessary action.

The SDM has been asked to probe into a complaint regarding encroachments made by Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Barwala, against a local police official who had forcibly taken a thumb impression of the complainant in the case and a similar complaint made by Mr Chaman Lal and other residents of Barwala who had been forced by the police official to make complaints by forging their signatures.

In another complaint made by Mr Ashok Aggarwal of Pinjore, regarding pollution being spread by one flour mill, the SDM Kalka, was directed to conduct an inquiry.

Later, while talking to mediapersons, the minister justified the waiver given to farmers on depositing their pending electricity bills. He said of the pending bills amounting to Rs 500 crore, Rs 54 crore had been recovered from the consumers.

In a question regarding the poor status of government schools, the minister assured that he would take up the matter with the Education Department for upgrading one school to a model school. 


Rare manuscripts on display
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The appeal of 36 manuscripts, adorning the newly-inaugurated Manuscript Section of the Natural History Museum in Sector 10, lies in its rarity. Preserved for posterity for over a period of 100 years, these rare manuscripts met the public eye for the first time today after the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lt Gen JFR Jacob (retd), formally inaugurated the section this morning.

Taken on long loan from private donors, primarily Dr Mansingh Nirankari, a former Principal of the Medical College, Amritsar, the manuscripts belong to the 16th, 17th and the 18th centuries. Written on palm leaves, birch bark, bamboo strips and hand-made papers, the manuscripts provide great insight into the life of those times. While 12 of the Buddhist, Jain, Brahmanical, Sikh and Islamic scriptures displayed in the section are from Government Museum’s own collection, 20 have been donated by Dr Nirankari. Three have been procured from the Panjab University library. One rare janam sakhi, donated by Sardar Pritam Singh from Patiala, has been placed on the wall right at the entrance of the manuscript section. As informed by the Governor, more rare manuscripts will be donated by the DAV College management.

Most of the credit pertaining to the rich collection, however, goes to Dr Nirankari, who, instead of putting the rare manuscripts to commercial use, chose to donate them to the museum so that someday they can form a part of the Centre for Comparative Theology. With his valuable donation, the manuscript section of Government Museum today became the first museum in North India to have the largest collection for reference of scholars.

Dr Nirankari informed The Tribune about how he had collected the manuscripts. “Most of these came from Rawalpindi (Pakistan) in 1947 and were being sent for sanskaar (offering to fire) to Goindwal. My friend spotted the books and informed me. I requested Mahender Singh Giani, the then secretary of SGPC, to hand over the books to me. Since then I have been preserving them for the future.”

Following an introduction to Sikh scriptures by Dr J.S.Grewal, Director, Institute of Panjab Studies in Chandigarh, Gen Jacob, spoke about the Government Museum as having the largest collection of Gandhara Arts. He added that best efforts were being made to make the museum a favourite destination wit the Japanese tourists.

Lamenting that visitation to the museum was meagre, Gen Jacob sought public cooperation for expansion of the museum so that the ultimate aim of building up a Centre for Comparative Theology could be materialized. On the occasion Gen Jacob also released a colloquium on Gandhara sculptures, edited by Dr D.C, Bhattacharya. This colloquium offers information and details about 627 Gandhara sculptures, received by India as per share from the Central Museum, Lahore at the time of Partition. The Governor added that a computer company had digitalised all these Gandhara art sculptures and they will all be shortly put on web.

Today’s function was attended by Adviser to UT Administrator Ms Neeru Nanda, UT Home Secretary Mr R.S. Gujral and Managing Director, CITCO, Mr S.P.Singh, among others.


Commuters sweat in unending queues

Getting train reservation at Chandigarh’s Northern Railway Reservation Office in ISBT (Sector 17) has become a Herculean task. The condition of the commuters in the reservation office is pitiable. Though there are 12 counters, only 5-6 are made operational. As a result, serpentine queues are common at the counters.

Many a time, computer failure for long hours forces the commuters to stand in queues for hours together. Inconvenience to public is further aggravated in the absence of sitting benches/chairs. These are particularly needed for the old and the handicapped as they have to wait in the event of power/computer failure. Inadequate number of fans and frequent breakdown of air-conditioner due to power failure or voltage fluctuation worsens public grievances. They have no option but to sweat it out standing in the never-ending queues.

During shift change, the clerks concerned stop issuing tickets for 30- 45 minutes and the next shift takes considerable time to settle down. Consequently, precious time of people is wasted. The enquiry counter remains unmanned most of the time.

Commuters’ problems are further aggravated by travel agents who come with too many reservation slips and get tickets issued through the back door. Though only one form is accepted from a person at a time, there is no such limit for these touts. It is understood that travel agents pass on a fixed sum per seat/berth to reservation clerks. As such, the reservation staff go out of the way in helping them, oblivious of the inconvenience of those standing in the never-ending queues. Sometimes, the staff oblige their colleagues and relatives by issuing tickets through the back door.

Such is the condition of the reservation office in the heart of the City Beautiful having a monthly collection of over Rs 1 crore. It is time officials concerned redressed people’s grievances honestly and sincerely. To ease the rush and public inconvenience, private reservation counters may be opened in different sectors of the city, at least one each in SAS Nagar, Panchkula and Mani Majra. The reservation staff also need to be trained on how to conduct themselves before the people and serve them better with a smile. The Chief Reservation Supervisor should help provide adequate facilities for people like ensuring a proper sitting arrangement, fans, cold drinking water etc.

A.P. Bhardwaj, Chandigarh

Hike in cinema fares?

During a meeting with the Cinema Owners’ Association recently, Chandigarh’s Deputy Commissioner is believed to have agreed to enhance the cinema fares. If reports to this effect are true, the proposed increase will be unprecedented and against the interest of Chandigarhians.

With a view to serving the cinegoers better, an increase in cinema ticket rates was approved by the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.K. Khandelwal, as far back as 1997. It was decided then that a fund would be created out of the proceeds for providing basic amenities and services. Surprisingly, though the rates were increased, there has been no corresponding improvement in the facilities in most of the cinema halls of the city. Torn seats emit foul smell, ACs don’t work, and the general condition is totally unhygienic. Moreover, stale eatables, that too at exorbitant prices, are sold with impunity. Despite hot summer, no cold drinking water is available. Some cinema halls do have water coolers, but they don’t work. How the fund is being utilised for the welfare of the cinegoers seems to be shrouded in mystery.

Recently for a movie (K3G), the management of KC Cinema increased the cinema ticket rates by Rs10 and Rs 5 for Balcony and Upper Class respectively. This was against the rules and unfair trade practice but the Chandigarh Administration remained silent. The cinegoers are being fully exploited by the cinema managements. Interestingly, the rates for movies of shorter duration have not be reduced. Why are the cinema owners allowed to follow double standard?

It is the duty of the owners to provide basic amenities in the cinema halls. People should not be penalised by hiking ticket rates. The cinema managements should be held responsible for their failure to provide the desired facilities in the cinema halls.

The proposal to increase cinema ticket rates is uncalled for and unjustified. No increase should be allowed in public interest.

G.S.RIHAL, Chandigarh

Education without direction

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has constituted three panels to suggest reforms in (a) industry and business, (b) agriculture and (c) fiscal matters. He has also reconstituted the Punjab State Planning Board with a view to formulating a comprehensive economic policy for the state. This is a laudable step, probably an essential measure to guard against the sinking economy.

Unfortunately, however, the government has failed to recognise the contribution of education towards human resource development, which is the sheet anchor of any type of development. In fact, the government should have first set up a panel for revamping the state education system which is in a shambles. The primary education system has simply collapsed, the secondary schools are merely churning out boys and girls unable to earn their living and contribute even a penny to State GNP. Vocational education has not gone beyond the slogan stage. What is happening in Punjabi, Guru Nanak Dev and Panjab universities is no longer a guess; and everyone knows in what mess the 170 privately managed colleges are.

The education scenario is dismal and without direction. If education fails, will industry, agriculture, commerce or economy survive? Quality education is a sine qua non for every type of development, be it employment, administration, industry or fisheries. First things should come first. The government should first constitute an expert panel on education and then contemplate changes in other fields in the light of the modifications suggested by educationists.

Dr T.R.SHARMA, Patiala


An example for others to follow
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 18
The plight of an unknown woman, whose husband had collapsed in Chattbir Zoo, moved two young school teachers beyond their call of duty. Caring two hoots about the legal wranglings involved, the two women stood up to help a Maharashtrian tourist, who lost her husband while on a picnic to Chattbir Zoo yesterday.

The two women — Ms Renu Grover and Ms Mannat Dhillon — not only rushed Mr Shripal, who had collapsed at Chattbir Zoo, to the General Hospital in Sector 6 here, but stood like a rock with the distressed woman, when her husband was later declared dead. They went out of their way to make calls to relatives of the couple in Maharashtra and Delhi, informing them of Mr Shripal’s death.

Says Ms Grover: “At that time we thought of nothing else, other than the pain that the wife of the victim, Ms Pratibha, would be going through. How could we, then, be selfish and leave her alone? She did not know the local language, the place or any medical help available here. We never had second thoughts about getting involved in a police case.” With tears brimming in their eyes, the young school teachers say that throughout the sad experience, their heart went out to Ms Pratibha, who had come here on a vacation with her husband in order to relieve him of his depression. Compassion for the fellow beings, is certainly alive among the residents here.

The incident took place when the staff and students of Dikshant International School had gone for a picnic to Chattbir Zoo, about 15 km. from here, yesterday. This picnic was part of an outdoor activity organised for all 33 children and five teachers of the school , on the last working day before the summer vacation.

The children and the staff, accompanied by two peons, were humming nursery rhymes and songs as they went about from one enclosure to other in the school bus. In fact the teachers of school say that they noticed the middle aged couple look with a lot of affection as the toddlers looked in awe at various animals in the zoo. “The couple seemed to be quite relaxed and at various occasions they also tried to talk to the children,” said Ms. Mannat Dhillon, a teacher at the school.

She says that as they made the children board the bus once again to move towards another part of the zoo, they noticed that the man walking ahead of them suddenly roll down on the side of the road and collapse. It was then that Ms Renu Grover, rushed out of the bus to help him.

“I thought that he had suffered a sunstroke as it was very warm outside. I immediately called out for cold water and began throwing water on his head and face, but to no avail. We then lifted him and after shifting children on the back seats of the bus, placed him on one of the seats. Since there is no hospital near Chattbir, we rushed him to the nearest hospital-General Hospital in Sector 6 here. Though the doctors tried to revive him through cardiac massage, Mr. Shripal had died,” she says.

“Imagine the plight of a woman, who is enjoying a vacation in an unknown place with her husband, and he dies. I just thought of what would happen if something like this happened to me, while I was with my children. After that I was suddenly taken over by some force that propelled me into action to help the woman,” she adds.

The two teachers say that the district administration officials were very helpful , when they approached them later yesterday. The Deputy Commissioner asked the District Red Cross people to take over and help Ms Pratibha. It was in the early hours of the morning today that the woman finally flew back to Maharashtra, with her husband’s body.


ASI booked under Arms Act
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 18
An Assistant Sub-Inspector posted with the police control room staff here, has been placed under suspension for illegal possession of arms by the Yamunanagar police.

According to information available, ASI Bashir Khan was away on leave to his native village under Jatlana police station in Yamunanagar district. He reportedly had some land dispute there, as a result of which there was an altercation with the other party.

The local police was summoned and found two illegal firearms under his possession. A case under Sections 1, 25 and 51 of the Arms Act has been registered.

Burglary: A Sector-2 residence of a businessman was reportedly burgled last night. The house owner, Mr Nagpal, who was staying with his son in Lucknow for quite some time, had died recently. It is learnt that most of the belongings in the house have been stolen, though the exact extent of damage could not be ascertained.

Boy killed: A four-year-old child, Nimit Kumar, was crushed to death by a Punjab Roadways bus in Kalka yesterday. A case under Sections 279 and 304 A of the IPC has been registered.

3 cases of Theft: Silver ornaments and Rs 1,000 in cash was reportedly stolen from the Sector 12 residence of Ms Nargis yesterday.

In another case, an electricity meter was stolen from the Sector 10 residence of Mr Sanjay Pal Sood, during the intervening night of May 14 and 15.

Mukesh Kumar was arrested and his tractor-trolley (HR-49- 6461) was impounded after the police found him stealing boulders from the river bed.

One arrested: The police has arrested Ramesh Kumar, who is running a book stall at the local bus stand, for selling obscene literature. He has been booked under Section 292 of the IPC.


Two booked on rape charge: The local police has booked two persons, including a woman, for allegedly raping a resident of Janta Colony. The accused have been identified as Atul and Santo. According to sources, the victim’s father reported on May 16 that his daughter had gone missing. However, today he reported that his daughter returned home the same evening and she was in a state of shock.

On being asked, the girl told her father that a woman residing near their house, Santo, had asked her to get money and gold from her house so that she could be married to Atul, residing in the same colony.

When she got the money and jewellery, the duo took her to various places around the city, before taking her to Santo’s house in Sector 25. The sources said while Santo stood outside, Atul took the girl inside and allegedly raped her.

The police has registered a case. While Atul is absconding, the woman was arrested today.

Man drugged: A resident of Mohali, Puneet Sharma, was reportedly drugged on a Haryana Roadways bus while enroute from New Delhi and his belongings were stolen. Puneet had boarded the bus in New Delhi on Friday. He accepted some eatables from a fellow passenger which were intoxicated and he lost consciousness. He awoke to find himself in the Sector 32 government hospital. His bag containing cash, a chequebook, mobile telephone and clothes was stolen. The police has registered a case.

Cyclist injured: A resident of Kansal village, Pala Ram, was injured after his bicycle was knocked down by an auto-rickshaw, bearing a Punjab registration number, near the Civil Secretariat, Sector 9. The auto-rickshaw driver sped away from the spot. The police has registered a case.

Assault case: A resident of Kumhar colony, Banti, has reported that he was assaulted and beaten up by several persons near Sector 25. He has been admitted to the PGI. The police has registered a case.

Bag stolen: Sector 32 resident Suman has reported that her bag containing cash has been stolen from her residence. A case has been registered.

Car stolen: Sector 35 resident Harinder Singh has reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-H-1617) has been stolen from Sector 17. A case has been registered.



Inaugurated: Mr Surinder Kumar, Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India, Chandigarh, inaugurated the ATM and anywhere banking facilities at The Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd., Sector 17-C, Chandigarh, on Saturday. Welcoming the chief guest, Mr P.Z. Lateef Ahmed, Chief General Manager of the bank, spelt out the bank’s policy for providing latest and modern facilities. TNS

Opened: The Chief Secretary, Haryana, inaugurated MG Super Market here on Saturday. The super meat market will offer international quality meat products — fresh, frozen and marinated — from Oberois. TNS

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