C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Preparing for exams while guarding crops
Bipin Bhardwaj

Raipur Rani (Panchkula), March 2
Thousands of students in this part of the Lower Shivaliks are having a tough time preparing for the coming annual examinations with wild animals playing havoc with the standing crops in their villages.

The days in the run-up to the examinations may be precious for the students but for their parents, protecting the crops from wild animals is even more important. In fact, the farmers, often, prefer to depute their wards to the fields to protect the crops.

Herds of wild animals, including neelgais (blue bulls), boars and sambhars, have been playing havoc with crops in these villages for the past many years forcing the villagers to spend sleepless nights in their fields. The children also assist their parents during the day and guard the fields.

Darshan Lal and Nirmal Singh, both students of Class X at Government Senior Secondary School, Bhurewala, told this correspondent that they had to guard their fields against wild animals even though the examinations were round the corner. Similar was the fate of majority of students whose illiterate parents send them to guard the crops.

According to the farmers, the animals descended from the lower Shivalik Hills and other nearby forest areas during the season and attacked their fields at night destroying acres of crop. The beasts destroyed the standing crop of maize, wheat and sugarcane, besides the seasonal cash crop.

Farmers of more than 500 villages in Morni, Pinjore, Raipur Rani, Barwala, Kansal, Mullanpur Garibdas, Dera Bassi, Lalru, Chhat Bir and Bakarpur and other villages surrounding forest areas are the worst affected.

Farmers have made ‘machans’ from where they guard crops at night. A majority of fields in these areas have machans to keep a lookout for the marauders. To keep away the animals, they often set off fire crackers or beat the drums when the animals come. Apart from shooting them, the farmers even set up traps to catch these animals.

According to the villagers, the number of animal herds had increased manifold over the years who damaged the vast fields within minutes.

“Over the past 10 years, the farmers have to bear heavy losses as the number of animal herds have increased manifold”, claimed Mr Pala Ram, a farmer of Bhud village, about 15 km from here.

The farmers lamented that if the Forest Department failed to control the descending of the animals into the area, they would be forced to leave their fields uncultivated and look for other jobs to earn their livelihood.

Mr Lajja Ram, another farmer, lamented that the wild animals appeared in their fields at dusk. “If we kill the animals, we face harassment at the hands of the Wildlife Department. But if we do not kill the animals, our crops will be destroyed,” he said in distress.


Hundreds find names missing from voters list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The names of hundreds of voters of Modern Housing Complex, Indira Colony, Shanti Nagar and Rajiv Vihar, in Mani Majra area, are missing from the voter list.

The incident came to light yesterday when residents of these localities went to the Government School, Shanti Nagar, to get their voter cards made. On reaching the centre, they were told that their names were not in the list. Interestingly, most of these people had cast their votes in 1999 elections.

Sources said a revision of electoral rolls was carried out in 2001 as part of a countrywide process to revise the rolls. Probably, the names got deleted at that time, they said. Residents of Mani Majra, however, maintained no door-to-door revision had taken place after 1999. They have lodged their protest with the Assistant Election Returning Officer (AERO), Mr D.S. Mangat.

The Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, said, “We will restore the names of those who apply for it. All this is very much possible within the next two months. Elections in Chandigarh are scheduled to be held on May 10, during the last phase of polling.”

The Administration has asked the complainants to fill 6 and 8-A forms. The form number 6 is for those who have just started living in Chandigarh and have come from outside. The form number 8-A is for those who have moved to Mani Majra from within Chandigarh.

The names are deleted only after no person of that name is found residing in the house number mentioned in the list. This is reverified and in case the person is not there again, his name is deleted from the list. Officials maintain that there is no other way for the residents but to follow the schedule published in newspapers for getting their voter cards made and also for any correction in the list.


HUDA to auction 3 shopping mall sites on March 5
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 2
It’s raining shopping malls in Panchkula. Close on the heels of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) netting a handsome amount through the auction of shopping malls sites in Panchkula, Faridabad and Kurukshetra, the authority is all set to auction three more shopping mall sites in the township on March 5.

Sources told The Tribune here today that while HUDA had decided to auction malls in Sector 3 and the Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) for the first time, a site in Sector 5 (SM-5) would be auctioned again since HUDA expected a better response this time. On January 20 HUDA had auctioned two mall sites in Sector 5 and netted an amount of Rs 49.66 crore.

The SM-5 was auctioned for Rs 25.5 crore and the SM-8 for Rs 24.16 crore. However, one of the bidders had offered a minimum amount of Rs 30 crore for the SM-5 after the auctioned prompting HUDA to auction the site again.The earnest money for the SM-5 would be Rs 3 crore and the reserve price Rs 30 crore. In case of other two mall sites, the earnest money would be only Rs 5 lakh.

The setting up of the shopping malls, the source said, would give a boost to the economic activity in the state as the MNCs and other big corporations would pump in money for the setting up the malls.

The state-of the-art malls would have commercial showrooms, health clubs, call centres and retail shops besides.The development of sites would be governed by the HUDA (Erection of Buildings), Regulations, 1979, and the Haryana Apartments Ownership Act, officials highlighted.

Under the zoning plan, the allottees would be free to design the interiors so as to maximise the land use. The allottees could sell or lease out the built-up property. And in a attempt to attract more bidders, HUDA had allowed the setting up of the multiplexes in the malls.

On the need for shopping malls in the town, the sources said Sector 5 was a central sector in the proximity of the main shopping centre in Sector 7.

Besides, it boasted of main tourist spots like the Nirjhar Vatika, the Town Park (Yavinka Open Air Theatre), the City Centre and the recently-opened food joint Wah Dilli, the source added.


Cong can go it alone in North India, says Anand
Tribune News Service

The two-day trip of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, to Himachal Pradesh starts tomorrow. She will land at Chandigarh at 9.10 a.m. and proceed straight to Dharamsala. The places on her itinerary include Nagrota, Kangra, Baijnath, Sundernagar, Jogindernagar and Mandi.

On Thursday Mrs Gandhi will visit parts of Hamirpur and Una district, including Bhota, Budsar and Mehra. Also on schedule is Hudsar. A public meeting is scheduled at Lathiani from where she proceeds to Chandigarh for her flight back to Delhi.

Chandigarh, March 2
The Congress can go in for the elections in North India all alone, mainly in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The party already has an poll understanding with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.

This was stated by Mr Anand Sharma, spokesperson of the All-India Congress Committee, while addressing a press conference here today. A poll alliance, if any, can happen any time. “We have an understanding with certain political parties. However, we might contest against each other in the poll. We can sit together after the elections and work out fresh strategies”, he said.

Mr Sharma said the understanding with different political parties at the state level could differ from the one at the national level. In certain states like Kerala and West Bengal, the BJP was hardly present. In such cases we could go in for elections against our national alliances. The situation of alliances could differ before and after the elections. The party was looking for like-minded secular and democratic forces against the “communal forces who have united under the BJP coalition”.

Citing an example of work on coalition, he said the case of Uttar Pradesh was a developing issue and results could be different after a few days. The Congress was open to discussion with different parties. “The Congress is the biggest political party in the country and has the strength to go all out alone,” he said.

The screening committee of the Congress has already met on a couple of occasions to decide the names of party candidates for the forthcoming elections and the names will be announced in the coming few days. He was referring to the names for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. A crucial meeting in this regard is scheduled for March 4.

After a close perusal of the developing changes in the political situation, the party high command has decided to keep the option of alliances open. The Congress has decided to combat the communal forces of the BJP and the RSS. The Congress has extended its hands of friendship to the NCP, the RJD and the DMK.

“The BJP poll campaign, which is a mockery of democracy, smells of blatant arrogance”, he said. Even before the filing of nomination papers, they were beating the drums of victory. The BJP coalition was a desperate alliance which showed a collection of no-commonality in ideologies.

Citing instances of non-performance by the BJP, Mr Sharma lashed out at the government for reinducting the Defence Minister when a case of black money was reported right at his residence. A number of officers in the questionable defence deals had been punished, while the ministers were given a clean chit. The number of farmers committing suicide had been the biggest during NDA rule. The number of the unemployed had grown which belied government claims of giving one crore jobs each year.

“The media handed out money from the government exchequer for promotion of the ruling government was unheard off till BJP rule. The government bill on his exercise cost over Rs 750 crore,” he alleged.

“Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, being portrayed as the Prime Ministerial candidate, has shown a different face at different podiums. He began his campaign at Ayodhya supporting the Ram Mandir. During his visit to the UN, he attended a party of the RSS. One day he said we have a fight till the end with Pakistan and the next day says the skies are clear. He is trying to mislead people”, Mr Sharma added.

Mr Sharma said two years after the Gujarat carnage, newspapers till date were full of new findings of the gruesome crime committed there and the government had not filed any satisfactory reply.


Correct use of EVMs to be shown on TV
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 2
Demonstration regarding the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) would be done on the local TV channels to make the public aware about the use of such machines.

Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM, said here today that the demonstration about the use of EVMs would be done when the date of the Lok Sabha elections approaches near and the process would be repeated two to three times on the local TV channels. He said there were a large number of people who did not know how to cast their vote on the electronic machine. Moreover, many persons, who had already cast their votes on EVMs, must have forgotten the process. The aim of demonstrating the method was only to create awareness or to update the knowledge of the voters in this regard.

He said a thorough checking of the EVMs, to be used in the elections, had been carried out by junior engineers from different departments at Ropar under the supervision of Naib Tehsildar.

Mr Sharma said he had today inspected the strong room set up in Shivalik Public School in Phase VI where EVMs and other election-related materials would be stored before the process of counting of votes began. He asked the school authorities to put a metal grill on the portion from where it was missing. He said the school had three passages to the building in which strong room was located and also where counting of votes would be done. He said he had appealed to the school management to seal one passage to the building, reserved for elections, so that it could be used only by officials put on election duty.

The SDM said on-the-spot corrections were being carried out in the case of wrong entries of names and addresses in the voters list when people approached in this regard.

As many as 181 booths would be set up in the Ropar constituency out of which 68 are going to be in Mohali. The number of booths during the last elections was 205. The number of booths had been reduced to 181 as the number of voters on each booth had increased from 1,000 to 1,600.


Mishap victim’s kin accuse police of laxity in probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The family of a war hero has accused the Chandigarh police of showing laxity in investigating the death of one of its members in a hit-and-run case.

Ravinder Singh, grandson of Jagat Singh, whose name is inscribed on the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial, was killed in front of Rajasthan Bhavan in Sector 33 on the night of February 17 after he was allegedly hit by a car registered in the name of a lawyer, Mr Randeep Singh Rai.

Mr Rai has denied that his car was involved in the accident and claimed that it was parked at his residence at the time of the mishap.

The Sector 34 police station registered a case and impounded the car two days after the accident. It sent the car to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to confirm whether the car had been involved in any accident recently.

An eyewitness, Rajinder Singh Radewala, a resident of Radewale village in Karnal, had identified the car and the case was registered on the basis of his statement.

However, Vikram Singh, elder brother of Ravinder Singh, said the police had not called Radewala for the identification of the person who was driving the car. The police has not even brought the suspect before the eyewitness, he alleged.

Vikram Singh said Randeep Singh, whose sister’s marriage Ravinder had attended on that night, and the eyewitness had seen the car driver making frantic calls soon after the mishap at the T-point near Brahm Kumari Ashram.

The brother of the deceased said both of them had asked the driver to come back to the accident spot as the car had hit one of their relatives. The driver allegedly told them that he was coming back but instead ran away.

Vikram Singh said there were about 60 persons at the wedding party but the police had not contacted any of them to establish the identity of the car driver.

He claimed that before the car hit Ravinder Singh, at least five persons, including his uncle, Balbir Singh, were pushed out of the way of the car by Deepak, alias Sonu. The police has not even contacted them, he alleged.

He said car had grazed past retired Deputy Commandant Balbir Singh. He has also not been contacted by the police.

Meanwhile, the police said it was waiting for the report of the CFSL and had been trying to contact the eyewitness for three days. Vikram Singh said the police did not even inquire from the family of the deceased to call the eyewitness.

The DSP of the area, Mr S. S. Randhawa, said the investigation was on and the police would be able to solve the case soon.

Vikram Singh said Rajinder Singh and Randeep Singh could identify the person driving the car but the police had not brought anybody before them to establish his identity.


Jail inmate alleges torture by authorities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
A murder and theft accused lodged in the Model Burail Jail was allegedly beaten up by the jail authorities.

Ashish Arora complained about his alleged ‘brutal torture’ at the hands of jail authorities before a local court. The court ordered a medical examination of the prisoner at the Sector 16 General Hospital.

There are reportedly eight injury marks on the back and the legs of the prisoner. The reports of the medical examination and the X-ray test are awaited. Doctors of the ENT Department would examine him tomorrow.

Ashish Arora has been in the jail since April, 2002. He alleged that around 16 tablets of an antacid were found from him during a routine check of his barrack on Sunday. When asked by the Deputy Jail Superintendent, Mr S.S. Dahiya, he explained that he had got those tablets from the dispensary in the jail. The staff in the dispensary also confirmed that he was speaking the truth, but Mr Dahiya and five or six warders brought him out from the barrack, spread a blanket on the ground and beat him up by batons and belts on Sunday, he alleged. When Arora’s brother met him, the jail inmate told him about the incident.

Arora was arrested for allegedly murdering his brother-in-law, Joginder Singh, in Sector 23 two years ago. He is also facing a theft charge.

His brother, Sanjay Arora, alleged that his brother had now been lodged in Fansi Chakki barrack, which was meant for terrorists. Ashish was beaten up again on March 1, he alleged.

The Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) had formed a team to look into the matter. The team reportedly found that the inmate was actually tortured.

The team, however, said it did not get the version of Mr Dahia. Ashish Arora reportedly informed the team that two other inmates, Manjoti and Malik, were also beaten up by the jail authorities.

The LHRI also quoted Ashish Arora as alleging that Mr Dahia had threatened him to keep mum or the jail official would get him implicated in some other cases.

The human rights body said as the jail administration had now come directly under the police, the police was controlling the jail in violation of the Punjab Jail Manual. The body has demanded registration of a case against the jail official and his sub-ordinates.


BRO to rope in private sector for projects
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Faced with budgetary constraints and deficiency in cadre strength, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is considering to go in for contracts with private firms for projects to undertake road and bridge construction, some of which are facing inordinate delays.

"Our rules have to be changed," the BRO Director-General, Lieut-Gen Ranjit Singh, told The Tribune here today. "So far all road and bridge construction in border areas is being undertaken by the department. Roping in the private sector would not only reduce our financial and manpower liabilities but also increase our existing capabilities to undertake more projects," he said. The contracts would be over and above the BRO's existing capabilities and would also speed up the execution of projects.

General Ranjit Singh, who belongs to Chandigarh, said that the BRO was allocated Rs 1,400 crore annually and it could easily do with another Rs 500-600 crore. It is executing a number of road and bridge projects in inaccessible areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, the North-East as well as in some other border areas. Special emphasis was laid on building a network of tactical and strategic roads in Jammu and Kashmir following the Kargil conflict in 1999.

The BRO is also undertaking works to build bridges totalling 19 km in length. A large number of suspension bridges in strategic areas are being replaced by concrete bridges. "However, given the present state of financial affairs, it would take 15 to 20 years to complete the works," the BRO chief remarked.

Insurgency, vagaries of weather and non-availability of local resources were among the reasons leading to delay. Though the BRO was not being directly targeted in insurgency affected areas, he said that militants were targeting suppliers connected with the projects.

The BRO is also converting the strategically important Manali-Leh highway into an all-weather road. "Construction work is on to construct a 10-km tunnel at Rohtang Pass, but it could take another 10 years to finish'', the Director-General said.

The BRO is also leasing the latest construction equipment such as dozers, mixers and road pavers rather than purchasing them. "Purchase of equipment is a capital expenditure and is expensive," he said.

The present cadre strength of the BRO is 33,000, which is deficient by about 6,000. General Ranjit Singh said that cases have been taken up with the government to make up the deficiency.


This Holi, go for herbal colours
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 2
For lending natural colours to Holi, shopkeepers of the city are offering scented herbal 'gulal' for you to apply. The colours are available in sandalwood, jasmine, lemon and rose fragrances.

If you have any doubts, just drive down to Sector 26 grain market. You will be able to buy 100 grams of skin friendly colour for just Rs 10.

A kg of "normal" colour can be purchased for just Rs 40. On being asked about the benefits of the herbal colours the shopkeepers say, "their use will not leave the revelers red-faced, blood-eyed and breathless,".

Describing the colours as "natural drive against harmful synthetic hues", the shopkeepers add that such colours are essential as cases of skin allergies rise tremendously in the city around Holi.

Corroborating the information, a senior dermatologist working with the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) says, "synthetic colours pose serious health risks. The reason is not hard to see. They use mica powder, sand, starch and salts, along with other non-permitted agents".

Giving details, the doctor says, "the agents include Rhodamine B, Methyl, Violet Malachite and green Auramine". The ingredients, she reveals, "can cause eye irritation, besides skin allergies and respiratory problems".


Tazia processions taken out
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 2
Tazia processions were taken out in different parts of the city to observe Moharram today. Messages of brotherhood and unity were conveyed to the masses by different organisations.

According to members of the Muslim community, Tazia was taken out from the Sector 29 Mazaar. The procession reached Sector 45 Babri Masjid and then arrived at Mani Majra Masjid.

A Tazia procession was also taken out by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s minority morcha.

The procession started from Colony No 4 and passed through parts of Sector 29, 28 and Industrial Area.


No need for separate rights panel for UT, says Verma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), said here today that there was no need for a separate Human Rights Commission for Chandigarh, as people could approach the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi. He was talking to mediapersons after launching a website of the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PSHRC). He said the police in both Chandigarh and Punjab had to be sensitised to respect and protect the human rights of every individual and ensure the same were not violated in any manner.

The website, www.pshrc.net, aimed at larger participation of the people and their effective communication with the commission. The website enables complainants to know the status of their cases while sitting at any place. It also gives details about the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.


Old Ravians to visit Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
An 11-member delegation from the Old Ravians Union (ORU), the alumni association of Government College, Lahore, will be arriving here tomorrow evening after crossing over from Pakistan at Wagah.

The visitors will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar as well as a charitable hospital in Beas before proceeding to Chandigarh. They will be visiting Panjab University, Rock Garden, Sukhna Lake here as well as the cricket stadium and Fortis Hospital at Mohali. The Haryana Governor is scheduled to host a lunch for them. They will visit Shimla on March 6.


Nominees list for 4 committees poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The Municipal Corporation today received the list of candidates for elections to four committees which will handle specific job assignments. The election will be unanimous in the absence of any other names for these posts on the last date for filing the nominations.

Mrs K. Atmaram is the chairperson of the City Beautification and Environment Committee and Mrs Anu Chatrath will be the vice-chairman. Mr Dildar Khan will head the Slum Development Committee and Mr Balraj will be the vice-chairman.

Mrs Pushpa Sharma will be the chairman of the Fire committee and Mrs K Atmaram will be the vice-chairman. Mrs Anu Chatrath will be the chairman of the Enforcement committee while Mr Surinder Singh will be the vice-chairman.


BJP hails decision on electoral rolls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The local unit of the BJP has welcomed the decision of the UT Administration to redress the problems of the people whose names were missing from the electoral rolls.

A press note here today said that the party high command has pursued the matter with the Administration for long. Residents have been urged to get their names enrolled at the earliest.


Police gets printouts of Goldy’s phone calls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The Chandigarh police today obtained voluminous printouts of the lists of phone calls made from two cellphones of Gurvinder Singh, alias Goldy, arrested in connection with providing finances to Jagtar Singh Hawara. The lists indicate that MP Singh, alias Banti, had been calling up Goldy to connect him to the Germany-based Sohan Singh.

Goldy, however, told the police that whenever he received calls from Sohan Singh, his cellphone number did not come on display.

The absconding Gurdeep Singh, who drove Hawara and others up to Sirhind, had contacted Goldy on his cellphone when he was in a gurdwara in Delhi. Goldy had gone to Delhi to get an Austrian visa.

The police today asked Baljit Kaur in court to give a sample of her handwriting to match it with the one on the forms for getting two cellphones. One of the cellphones was given to Hawara, who was operating it from Burail Jail. However, she refused to give a sample of her handwriting to the police before the court.


Trader abducted, got released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Around 10 persons picked up Sanjiv Rana, a trader of Sector 44, from Uttam Corporation, the firm of his brother.

Anil Kumar, a brother of Sanjiv, reported the matter to the Sector 34 police station. A police team accompanied him to a plot in the industrial area and Sanjiv Rana was found. Two of the alleged abductors were also present there.

Anil Kumar, the proprietor of Uttam Corporation, said his firm owed Rs 40,000 to a distributor in the industrial area.


One held for stealing car
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 2
One person has been arrested on a charge of stealing a car from the Phase VII market here.

The police alleged that Rajdeep Singh, a resident of Phase XI here allegedly stole the vehicle and disposed off the music system fitted in it besides the stepne. The car, which was stolen on March 13, was recovered by the police on February 28.

He was produced in court at Kharar.


200 rural units take part in Khadi expo
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 2
Tribal dances, including the famous ‘Bihu’ dance, from Assam marked the second day of the North-East Zone Khadi and Village Industries Expo-2004 organised by the Haryana Khadi and Village Industries Board at the Parade Ground here today.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Chief Executive Officer of the board, Ms Sumita Misra, said about 200 rural-based units from the Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and the seven states from the North-East taking part in the expo.

To strengthen the marketing base of the rural industry, three buyer seller meet on hand-made paper industry on March 3, food processing also organising workshop on “Improving design, quality and marketing linkage in rural industries” on March 9.


Market Pulse
Garment ensemble unveiled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Numero Uno, a fashionable denim brand in India, has unveiled is latest collection for both men and women that promises “loads of oomph, style and comfort”.

Mr Narinder Singh, managing director of Hi-Fashion Clothings Co, says the range has on offer contemporary styles of skirts, jackets and jeans, cartgos and kurtas with sandblasted, whiskers and tinted finish.

The women’s range is priced at Rs 899, Rs 1449 and Rs 999 and Rs 1399, respectively. The two can be worn as ensembles or coordinated with other prices such as the skirts, priced between Rs 699 and Rs 999.

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