C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Protect city’s unique character: Centre
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The Centre today asked the Chandigarh Administration to ensure that no further encroachments took place in the city, to protect its unique character, even as it assured to consider extending the maximum possible compensation for acquired land in Mani Majra.

At a meeting of the Home Minister’s Advisory Committee for the Union Territory of Chandigarh here, Mr Shivraj Patil stressed that development of Chandigarh should take place in harmony with the vision of the builders of the city if it had to retain its unique character.

The meeting, convened after about 20 years at the initiative of Mr Patil, discussed various issues, including the issue of acquisition of land in Manimajra, compensation for the acquired land, rehabilitation of slum-dwellers and devolution of functions and powers to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) and Panchayati Raj institutions in the Union Territory.

The meeting, chaired by Mr Patil, was attended among others by Minister of State for Home S. Raghupathy, the Administrator of Chandigarh and Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Lok Sabha MP from Chandigarh Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mayor of the MCC Anu Chathrath and Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal.

Mr Patil desired that devolution of powers to the Municipal Corporation and Panchayati Raj institutions in Chandigarh be done as per the provisions of the Constitution.

“Financial resources should be transferred to these local bodies as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission,” the Home Minister insisted.

While calling for all-out efforts to prevent further encroachments in the city, Mr Patil said efforts should be made to prepare a comprehensive package for rehabilitation of slum-dwellers including provision for schools, hospitals and community centres.

Earlier, Mr Bansal pointed out that the compensation being awarded to the persons, whose land had been acquired by the Administration in Mani Majra, was “meagre” and not as per the “current market price”. He demanded that enhanced compensation must be awarded to them in line with the present market price.

He also drew the attention of the Home Minister to representations sent to the Centre by residents welfare associations from the Mani Majra area against the move.

Mr Bansal wanted an assurance from the Centre that 18-odd villages in the Mani Majra area should not be uprooted without enough compensation and alternative sites.

Detailing various developmental activities initiated by the MCC, Ms Chathrath pointed out that the corporation could do much more developmental work than at the present if some of the revenue-spinning departments were brought under its jurisdiction.

“At present, most of the departments under the corporation are expenditure-oriented and not revenue-oriented,” she said.

She called for bringing the construction and maintenance of all city roads under the jurisdiction of the corporation with adequate fund support.

At present, some roads were under the jurisdiction of the Chandigarh Administration and others under the corporation, she said.



Centre’s no to ‘general exemption’ of houses beyond ‘lal dora’
S. Satyanarayanan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The Centre is opposed to any “general exemption” of houses constructed beyond “lal dora” in Chandigarh from acquisition as it would lead to haphazard growth, which will impede planning and general development of the city.

However, as a humanitarian-compassionate gesture all such structures beyond “lal dora” could be considered for exemption based on the various considerations like age and continuity and whether the structures have been raised by villagers or by selling the area in small plots for profit making and the planning requirements.

This view of the Centre has been spelt out in the agenda papers circulated during the meeting of Home Minister’s Advisory Committee for Chandigarh here today, chaired by Mr Shivraj Patil and attended among others by Chandigarh Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd).

In response to the demand for the regularisation of the houses built beyond “lal dora” of the villages, the Centre is of the view that since the area of the city is limited and is left with only few thousand acres of land to cater to the future needs of the city, any general exemption of “lal dora” is not called for.

In addition, the bara’s and assets created by panchayats and village common land are also duly considered for exemption so that village can operate as self-sustained unit,” it said pointing out that “such exemptions are counter-productive and lead to more demand for exemption or further expansion of ‘lal dora’”.

The Centre has also pointed out that most of the constructions raised beyond “lal dora” are by unsuspecting persons who have purchased land through the unscrupulous propertydealers.

“The Land Acquisition Act also does not provide any special protection to the ‘lal dora’ or any other land from acquisition for the purpose of exemption from acquisition,” it said adding “thus, all structures beyond ‘lal dora’ and their use for any purpose other than agricultural is in violation of Sections 5, 6 and 11 and thus punishable under Section 15 of the Periphery Control Act”.



Move on ‘lal dora’ welcomed

Chandigarh, September 26
The recommendation of the Home Minister’s Advisory Committee not to uproot the residents living outside the lal dora of villages has been welcomed by the members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), representing the residents living outside the ‘lal dora’ of UT villages.

The issue was raised during a meeting of the committee in Delhi today. Confirming the decision, sources said it had been recommended that demolition of structures outside the lal dora be kept in abeyance till the issue was thoroughly discussed.

The members of the JAC said the recommendations would have an impact on the move by the Chandigarh Administration to acquire land on which Deep Complex had come up in Hallomajra village. The residents of the Deep Complex had been agitating against the move by the Administration to acquire about 33 acres of land without any rehabilitation plan.

Meanwhile, the Deep Complex Welfare Association today began its indefinite fast. TNS



Gang behind 14 killings busted
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 26
In a major breakthrough, the Kharar police has busted the gang responsible for the brutal killing of 14 persons in Punjab and Haryana in the past one year.

The 11-member gang belongs to the nomadic Kalandar tribe of Uttar Pradesh and has been found to be responsible for incidents of killing and loot at Banur (Patiala) in October 2004, in Lalru (Patiala), Mullanpur (Ropar) and Ambala in May 2005.

Their most recent attack was carried out on August 7 at Chajjumajra village in Kharar in which three members of a family — two brothers in their early 20s and their 65-year-old uncle — were bludgeoned to death and eight other members of the family were injured.

Led by Akeel, a resident of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh, nine members of the gang had been arrested by the police, said the SSP, Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, at a press conference here today.

Giving details of the gang’s modus operandi, the SSP said it was operating in collusion with the Dheha tribe that lived in various areas of Punjab. The Dhehas would recce the areas where a crime could be committed by the Kalandar tribe. “They would focus on rich isolated houses where access was easy. After thorough recce, the target houses were identified and the UP-based gang informed,” said the SSP.

“Akeel was more active in this area as he lives with a woman in Banur whom he had bought many years ago. His two sons, also gang members, have been arrested. The 11-member core gang swelled to over 20 when an attack was planned. These persons travelled by train and used Ambala and Rajpura stations to embark and disembark. From the temporary camping place to the targets, they travelled on foot or stolen bicycles which were discarded after use like their weapons,” said Mr Surinder Pal Singh.

Stating that the typical attack of this tribe was carried out in three steps, the SSP pointed out that the main objective of the gang was to first kill. “These persons do not focus on loot. First they immobilise the occupants of the target house by hitting on the heads in their sleep so that they cannot react. The house is then thoroughly searched for cash and valuables and before leaving the house the dead or injured occupants are locked in rooms,” he said.

The gang members would carry out these crimes in their vests and shorts, the SSP said, adding that only the leader of the gang, in this case Akeel, would wear a special shirt — “salooka” — with hidden pockets to collect cash and valuables. “In fact, the gang is divided into killers, searchers and guards,” said the SSP.

Among those arrested by the police are Khabid, alias Salman (20), Shabid (18), both sons of the gang leader Akeel, Dilwala, alias Dilshad, alias Imran (30), Patla, alias Salim (30), Gobind (20), Shamma, alias Sham Lal (35), Lakha (45) and Bhura (45).

The police said all these were residents of Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh except Lakha who was from Dheha Basti, Kharar. Lakha and Danny, a resident of Banur, both relatives of Akeel, were the ones who identified target houses for the gang in this region.

Three pistols and various cutting and hammering tools have been seized from the gang.

The gang members were presented before the Kharar court today, which remanded them in police custody for seven days till October 2. Mr Surinderpal Singh said the other persons arrested by the police during investigations of these crimes would be let off.

Responding to questions from mediapersons, some gang members confessed to having committed the ghastly crimes. Akeel’s sons said they had been forced to lead a life of crime by their father.

The gang killed 14 persons and injured 15 during the past one year. They had struck at Banur on October 13, 2004, killing four persons and injuring one.

On May 8, 2005, they struck at two places in Lalru, killing three persons and injuring five. On May 10, they struck at Tira and Mastgarh villages in Mullapur Garibdass, killing four persons and injuring three.

On May 12, they struck at Mata Sauntli Mandir and Mukandpur, injuring one person and on August 7 they struck at Chajjumajra village, killing three persons and injuring six.



Violence up, courtesy macho pride, liquor
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Grilled sandwich packed with cheese, tomato, violence and thrill — if you have not savoured it all, just drive down to your favourite youth haunt late in the evening. Chances are that you will get to roll action on the tongue absolutely free, along with your preferred blend of cold coffee and ice-cream. For, incidents of violence are on the rise in joints frequented by youngsters all over the city.

Eat this: Just two months ago, the son of a senior Punjab IAS officer, accompanied by a friend, was assaulted in a Sector 8 party joint, without any provocation, apparently. Even months after the incident, the two continue to receive threats.

Dead-drunk youngsters, trying to break the queue for ordering a burger in a Sector 9 fast food joint, entered into an argument with others waiting patiently for their turn last week. Within minutes, chairs started flying in all directions. Fortunately, the bouncers managed to “bring the situation under control”.

On Friday last, two youngsters were caught by the Chandigarh Police on the allegations of creating a ruckus in a Sector 11 coffee bar. The duo reportedly attacked an employee and damaged articles after the staff refused to serve coffee just before the closing time. Both of them were under the “influence of liquor” when they allegedly attacked the workers.

Sources in the police headquarters say such incidents are not uncommon in the city. Though exact data is not readily available with the men-in-khaki, the sources assert that every day one or two such incidents take place.

Of course, all of them are not reported to the police. In some cases, the warring sides prefer to settle scores among themselves without police intervention. In others, the fight ends in a compromise.

Quoting rough figures, the sources say a total of 65 cases of causing hurt were registered by the Chandigarh Police last year. As many as 38 such cases were registered from January 2005 till last month. In fact, 10 cases were registered by the police in August alone.

Of the total, a substantial number of cases was registered after youngsters clashed late in the evenings after having a drop too much. In almost all the incidents, girls were either directly or indirectly involved.

The sources add that although no one has seriously been injured in the clashes so far, the possibility of a Jessica Lall incident taking place in the city could not be ruled out. For, the youngsters have been pulling out revolvers to “scare the life out of their opponents”.

Though security around youth hangouts has been beefed up considerably over the past few months following such incidents, the cops are yet to achieve the desired results, the sources admit.



PU examinees a harried lot yet again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
It was harassment time for students at the Panjab University examination branch once again today. While the compartment examination for postgraduate and graduate classes begin tomorrow, the university has yet to declare the reevaluation result of many candidates.

It was sheer chaos at the examination branch in the Administrative Block of the PU as students tried to find out their reevaluation results, forms for which had been filled out by them at least three months ago.

An agitated Sandhya, who had come from Abhor, said she had applied for the reevaluation of her BA III functional English paper but was yet to receive the result.

“The authorities are asking me to go ahead and take my compartment examination. But how can I do that without knowing my result?” Same was the case with most of the other students.

Chaos also prevailed as the PU authorities had today called students to issue their duplicate roll numbers. Harried students complained that the authorities should have issued the roll numbers earlier.

“I am here to collect my roll number and I also have to take an examination tomorrow. With all this rush how will I make it in time home,” said Rajinder Kaur who had come from Ferozepore.

This is not the first time that students have faced harassment at the hands of university authorities. Chaos is witnessed every year during the time of examination here.



4 held guilty in Sachin kidnap case
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr J.R. Chauhan, today held four persons guilty in the Sachin Garg kidnapping case. Sachin, son of a top industrialist and philanthropist here, Mr Mahesh Garg, was kidnapped in April 2003 and released after a ransom of Rs 1 crore was paid by his family.

The court held the accused guilty after the prosecution said that they had recovered Rs 97 lakh cash and valuables like mobiles and a swanky mobike worth Rs 2. 20 lakh from the accused — Gaurav Bhalla, his cousin Munish Bhalla, Gaurav Mani and Sanjay Nai, alias Sanju. The defence had pleaded that the charges were fabricated.

The quantum of punishment for the four accused will be pronounced on September 29. Three other accused in the case — Pankaj Bansal, Amit Verma and Govind — were acquitted of the charges by the court last year.

The lure of easy money and ambition of living it up led the youths to kidnap Sachin for ransom. The money had been distributed among the accused, while a major portion of the ransom money was kept in a bank locker by Gaurav Bhalla. This amount was also recovered by the police from a locker in a Sector 10 bank.

The Panchkula police had solved the kidnapping case within a fortnight of this having been reported. Gaurav Bhalla, son of a Haryana ministerial employee, was the mastermind behind the kidnapping. The accused were arrested by the police after it traced the mobile number from where the ransom calls had been made to the victim’s family.

Gaurav Bhalla had earlier befriended a close relative of victim Sachin Garg. It was through this relative that he gained information about Sachin and then masterminded the kidnapping. The victim was kidnapped for ransom on April 1, 2003. The victim, then a student of Class XII in a local school, had gone to play cricket with his friends. He was reportedly followed by the four accused in a car (HR-35- 0012), and kidnapped at gunpoint on the Sectors 17/ 18 dividing road. Sachin’s car was later abandoned on the Zirakpur-Rajpura highway and the family was contacted on the night of April 1. They reportedly got two calls from the miscreants demanding a ransom of Rs 1 crore.

The family had been asked to pay the ransom amount in the PGI, Chandigarh, following which Sachin was let off by his captors at the Sector 20 market on the night of April 2, 2003.

During the trial, as many as 37 witnesses were examined by the prosecution and four were examined by the defence.



Canadian move on immigration welcomed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 26
The news that the Canadian Government plans to boost the immigration number up to 1,00,000 each year has came as refreshing relief. The new plan would be unveiled next month, which means Canada would open its doors to 320,000 immigrants a year by the time the plan was fully implemented in five years.

Welcoming the decision of the government, Lieut-Col B.S. Sandhu, Chairman and Managing Director of WWICS (Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services), said in a press note today that, “This is great news for people who wish to immigrate to Canada; I feel that once this plan is implemented immigration to Canada will be easier and this is a great opportunity for Indian skilled professionals.”

He further added Canada accepted 2,35,000 permanent residents last year, within its target range of 2,20,000 to 2,45,000 new residents per year. This new plan would implement a long-standing liberal pledge to increase immigration to 1 per cent of population. At the core of the changes was a philosophical shift that would see the immigration department became a worldwide recruiter of newcomers to Canada, instead of simply processing applications.

The new plan was expected to be broadly based on these key themes: welcoming more immigrants and encouraging more of them to settle outside big cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where they had traditionally settled in the past. Better matching the skills of immigrants with jobs, that was matching skills to the requirements of the Canadian economy, To become more adept at responding to the changing needs of the labour market; making it easier for temporary workers and foreign students - who already know the country and its languages - to remain here.

The Canadian Government would be making more efforts to start the transition while immigrants were still in their native countries, waiting to make the move. The Canadian Immigration Minister said, “We need to have a process that allows for the integration process to begin the moment an application is deemed to be ready. That could include language training and familiarisation about life in Canada.”



Chandigarh Calling

Driving dangerously

The young are reckless and relish in breaking rules, even those of road safety. This leads more often than to disaster and we have enough road accidents to prove this point every day. But the rides to disaster continue in spite of that. Here we have a picture of a private mini bus of Haryana all set to leave the city flouting all rules of road safety. Tribune photographer Parvesh Chauhan who clicked this picture of a bus load all set for disaster points out that there are as many commuters on the rooftop as in the bus. The youngsters in a hurry to reach home are full of fun and beans and the owners of the bus seem to be exploiting the dare of the youths to make a quick buck. Let us all wake up to such recklessness and bring an end to driving dangerously.

Lights on

A first-time visitor to the PU campus wondered why the residences of the faculty were in the dark. The ready-witted host, embarrassed by the non-functioning streetlights, shot back, “The administration thinks the power of knowledge is enough to light up the place…!”

Mobile mania

What was the first thing that Indian Idol finalist Rahul Vaidya bought with his earnings? A mobile phone no less_ the reason, a girl of course who could afford a cell phone while he could not! “I used to get Rs. 25 per day as pocket money. In that I had to manage my bus fare and spend for my girlfriend and me. How could I manage to buy a phone and be in touch with her?” So, the lure of the SMS hit our very own idols! Indian Idol, Abhijeet Sawant of course, “bole toh,” was in the midst of an “affair” when this prince of television was crowned king. He and the girl bid adieu to each other, there was far too much pressure to adhere to and the women, they never let him be! Ah the pressures of popularity. But Abhijeet and Rahul are not complaining, after all it’s a change: “girls chasing us instead of the other way round.” Clutching ‘Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus’ in his hand through the press conference, Rahul sure is on the right track!

Smelling a rat

What was meant to be an outing where the sisters could chill out and enjoy a meal in the swanky eating joint, turned out to be such a dampener! While they were tucking into the meal, a huge fat rat scurrying across the plush interiors was enough to whittle down their appetite since they had visions of the rodent scurrying through the kitchen (and foodstuff). They decided to complain to the manager, who ambled along with the look that seemed to say ‘what’s this ruckus for a mere mouse’. He announced in a formal tone that the rat had “been taken care of.” When it ran across the room once again. When the guests insisted on asking for the complaint book. After what seemed an eternity, an employee appeared not with a complaint register but with an exercise book, enough to make them blow their top off. The duo was so fed up that they walked out in a huff_ that’s what suited the management. Hygiene doesn’t always match the hype.

All readymade

It is the era of everything readymade. This fad seems to have extended to academic projects that children have to submit as part of their senior school tests and even examinations. Recently, a mother was shocked to find out that her daughter was the only one who slogged it out downloading material on a project for her Plus-II physics test. All others in her class had taken the easy way out by buying a readymade project from professionals who make a living doing this along with the business of tutorials. So much so many of them even give advertisements in newspapers offering their services for projects and other material required for practical examinations. Little wonder that academic standards are falling. 

Catwalk to politics

Sunil MannFor Sunil Mann, Grasim Mr. India 2004, life is about getting into politics no less! For this tall, strapping, humble lad, with his roots firmly planted in his little village in Haryana, this is the only way he can pick up social issues and be a “giver of hope.” Lack of education and discipline amongst children and clean drinking water is what he hopes to target when he does make his mark. So why did he take to modelling? “If one is famous the entry is easier,” he says with a disarming smile. So, with one eye on the ramp and the other on theatre, he is all set. He charmed the audience with his sweetly broken English, as he did with his earnest reply, “I am doing theatre with Barry John and he says to speak only in English, so I am doing just that.”

Contributed by: Aruti Nayar, Gayatri Rajwade, Nirupama Dutt


Passing Thru

What is the purpose of your visit to India?

Peter Dutton, Senior Creative Director, L’oreal, New Zealand
Peter Dutton, Senior Creative Director, L’oreal, New Zealand

I have been associated with L’oreal for the past four years. I have come here to conduct master classes and workshops on the latest trends in hair styling at all L’oreal collaboration saloons across the country. I have been training experts in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi. Chandigarh was our last stop.

What is your emphasis in these training classes?

Precision cutting — going back to the basics of cutting and creating clean lines. The modern-day look is all about disconnected variable lengths and asymmetric finishes. Both long and short cuts are in vogue, but the preference is more on a neat look and easy-to-maintain hair styles.

Which colours are in vogue?

Pastels, mostly golden brown and copper. In India, the preference is more for dark colours ( dark browns, chestnut brown) with streaks of lighter hues. One should go in for a professional range of colours for lasting results and keep changing the colour regularly.

Indians like to use henna as a colouring agent and conditioner? Is it good for the hair?

No, I personally do not recommend henna. It completely dries the hair and does not even let hair colour stay on.

— Poonam Batth



‘Minor’ girl’s father approaches police against ‘in-laws’
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, September 26
For two “minors in love” it has been nothing short of a harrowing experience. In spite of a seven-month-pregnant girl’s desire to live with her “husband”, her father today approached the Chandigarh’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for registration of a case of rape and kidnapping against the “groom” and his family.

Demanding action against them, the girl’s father in his complaint alleged that the accused had been keeping his 14-year-old daughter in illegal confinement against her wishes.

The girl, belonging to Indira Colony, was initially convinced by the accused into leaving her parent’s home, he added.

The father also claimed that the “groom” and his family had connived with the local police and forced him into entering a compromise with the accused in December, last year.

He said on November 16, last year, after being unable to locate his minor daughter, he had reported the matter to the police.

He claimed that though he wanted a kidnapping case registered against the accused, only a missing person report was lodged by the police then.

The father added that he was subsequently called to the police station and was informed about his daughter’s alleged marriage in Surat.

Though he was against it, he said, the police forced him to give a “no-objection” undertaking.

Things did not end here. The father claimed that on September 8 the “groom” along with others entered his house and thrashed him.

Instead of listening to his woes, the police implicated him and his family in a false case of “assault”. They were bailed out after being remanded in judicial custody, he added.

Seeking justice, the father claimed that his daughter had told him in clear terms that she had been raped by the accused and detained against her will.

Refuting the allegations, the girl reportedly told the police that she was staying happily with her legally wed husband.

As such, there was no question of her being raped and kept in illegal confinement by her husband. Belying her father’s claims about her being a minor, the girl insisted that she was 19 years old.

She claimed that her father had initially given his consent to the marriage, as evident from his statement recorded by the police in the daily diary report recorded on December 2, last year.

In his statement, her father had clearly stated that he had no objection to their marriage.

“Now, under some provocation he was levelling serious allegations against my husband,” she alleged.

The “groom” added that the girl was not forced into tying the knot with him. His family too was in favour of their marriage. As such, they should be allowed to live peacefully, he said.

A senior police officer said they were looking into the matter. “We will take action, if required, only after listening to both parties,” he said.



Training policy puts IAF in difficult spot
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Introduction of a “Just-in-Time-Training” policy for air force technicians has resulted in a piquant situation. Operational airbases and technical establishments are putting up with an increasing number of junior-level technicians who are not fully qualified and trained to work on aircraft.

The policy has cut down basic training from 24 months to just eight to nine months, after which technical airmen are posted to operational squadrons. They are sent for refresher courses when they become due for promotion. The effects of the policy, introduced by Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy over a year ago, are now beginning to be felt.

Besides, the new policy has resulted in the technician spending the first few years repeatedly travelling to and from his unit to training institutions, causing administrative hassles for IAF units.

“Just-in-Time-Training” is a practice apparently imitated from the private sector after the former Chief of the Air Staff visited the United States and decided to apply the same principle in air force training.

In the private sector, employee turnover is very fast and often an employee, who has been fully trained by the company, leaves after a few years. To deal with this exigency, many employers are resorting to the practice of breaking the training curriculum into capsules spread over several years. An employee is imparted only that much training at a time which enables him to perform his functions for a projected period. Further training is imparted in capsules as his career progresses within the company.

The policy was introduced in the IAF about two years ago. “It is now that we are beginning to feel the implications of the changes then brought about,” a senior IAF officer said. “This is unsuitable for the IAF as the engagement period for airmen is 20 years and exceptions are very few. Hence imparting step-by-step training makes little sense,” he added.

Refresher courses, officers said, are no doubt welcome, but it should not be at the cost of basic training and laying a sound technical base for airmen to build their expertise upon. Eight or nine months, they said, is too little a time for recruits to learn about aircraft. Several base commanders have learnt to have taken up the issue with higher authorities up the chain of command, highlighting the problems being posed by the policy.

The new policy has resulted in the training being spread out over a period of several years. Moreover, till the time they are fully trained, their effective utilisation is limited. This, officers say, is affecting maintenance activities and task schedules.

Prior to this, a two-year consolidated training was being imparted to airmen for the technical stream at the time of their joining the IAF. Senior officers say that now there is constant movement of airmen coming from and going for training.

Over the past decade, several changes have been made in the training policy. Earlier, technical airmen used to undergo a one-year basic training course and then they used to be sent to operational squadrons for two years to get a hands-on experience. They used to return to the training establishments for another year for advanced training. Later, the institutional training was clubbed and the tenure at squadrons between the training stints was done away with.



Sat Mahajan not averse to gubernatorial post
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Mr Sat MahajanChandigarh, September 26
Mr Sat Mahajan, Himachal Minister for Revenue, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, said here today that he was not averse to accepting a gubernatorial post.

“I am not in race for the post of the Himachal Chief Minister and the high command is free to utilise my services anywhere as I am a disciplined soldier of the party,” Mr Mahajan, who has long been considered a competitor to the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, in the state politics, said here today.

Virtually accepting Chief Minister’s supremacy, the Kangra stalwart said Mr Virbhadra Singh had been the state Chief Minister five times and the Union Minister twice and commanded respect both from the state and central leadership.

I had no regrets in life as during my long chequered career I had remained the state Congress chief three times besides holding all important portfolios in the state Cabinet, he added.

Accusing the Punjab and Haryana Governments of being “jealous” of the industrial development of the state, Mr Mahajan regretted that both the states had failed to complete the 10-km stretch of the Chandigarh-Baddi Road in their respective jurisdictions.

With a view to bringing transparency in the functioning of the Revenue Department, the state government had decided to computerise the record of about 700 of the 3,000 panchayats during the current year. And to take “power to the people”, it had been decided to hold the meetings of the gram sabhas four times a year. The presence of government functionaries concerned would be mandatory at such meetings, which would approve all plans for the development of the rural areas.

Mr Mahajan said a single-window system had been created under the leadership of the Chief Minister for the speedy approval of industrial projects. Under a new initiative, the government had allowed the private colonisers to create housing infrastructure for the huge industrial work force in the state, he added.



Cong infighting far from over in MC
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
The political turmoil within the two factions of the Congress in the Municipal Council House is far from over.

While the faction owing allegiance to local Member of Parliament Selja Kumari is now threatening to take absentee councillors from rival faction to task, the rivals are all set to give a notice of no confidence against President Tarun Bhandari.

Congress councillors owing allegiance to local MLA and Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan along with BJP councillors are likely to give a notice for no-confidence motion against the MC President within the next two days.

Sources said around 20 councillors (in a 31-member House) have been holding meetings and are likely to meet the Deputy Commissioner soon and give him a notice for a no-confidence motion.

After the motion is submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, he will appoint an officer, who in turn will convene a meeting of the General House, where the MC President will have to face the no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, the continuous absenteeism by at least four councillors in the MC House is likely to affect their political future.

These councillors, including three women, have failed to attend three consecutive meetings of the General House of MC in three months.

While the lone male councillor among them, who represents one of the elitist Sectors here, has attended just one meeting this year and only one meeting in 2004, one of the three women councillors has not attended any meeting last year and only attended the meeting called for passing the no-confidence motion against former President Seema Chaudhary in April.

The other two women councillors have not attended three consecutive meetings of the MC House.

According to section 14 (c) of the Haryana Municipal Act, 1973, if a councillor, without reasonable cause in the opinion of the state government, absented himself for more than three consecutive months from the committee, the government can remove these members.

Councillors who support the MC President, including some INLD supported councillors, are now planning to move the state government for removal of the absentee councillors.



A few ‘liberated’ girls from Leh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
For the 30 students — all girls — of the Women’s Empowerment Centre (WEC), Nimu (Leh), who visited Delhi, Jaipur and Chandigarh, enlightenment has meant an opening up of new vistas.

They are now more “liberated” than any of the men folk in their villages. They have seen the world beyond the Great Himalayas and they all realise that their homeland has a long way to go.

Be it a ride in the famous metro of Delhi, a shopping spree in big malls of Jaipur or a glimpse of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, everything has been new and exciting.

Meeting with dignitaries like UT Chandigarh Administrator and Governor of Punjab Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), senior Army officers in Jaipur and Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit, the trip has exposed them to varying experiences.

The trip has broadened their horizons and the different regions visited do not seem strange exotic places far away but a part of their homeland.

For most of these girls, life did not exist beyond their villages with sarpanch being the highest figure of authority for them.

Wide roads, vehicular traffic, people, clothes, culture, food, everything seemed unusual, curious and uncommon.

The endeavour, initiated by 299 the Field Regiment on behalf of the 3 Arty Brigade under the aegis of “Operation Sadbhavana”, was made with the aim of providing an insight into the cultural heritage and life of cities and people beyond the Great Himalayas with a view to amalgamating the people of Ladakh into the national mainstream. The contingent started from Leh on September 16.

The group embodies the confinement — mental and physical — that possesses the residents of the cold, idyllic settings of the state.

Maj Sumeet Arya, who brought the contingent from Leh, said: “These girls have crossed four mammoth ridges of the state to come out of their homeland to reach other parts of India. The ridges have become symbolic of their mental ignorance that emerges out of being confined behind some of the highest passes of the world.”

As the group bids adieu to the city, which is the last leg of their tour, they have valuable memories and deconstructed beliefs to take back with them.



Market closed in protest after shopkeepers beaten up
Our correspondent

Mohali, September 26
The Phase X market was closed here today in protest against the alleged beating up of shopkeepers by a tenant.

The market remained closed for more than two hours. A delegation of shopkeepers, headed by Mr Sham Bansal, president of the Kiryana Merchants Association, met the SP, Mr Varinder Pal Singh, in connection with the case. They demanded strict action against the landlord and his sons.

The DSP, Mr Harpreet Singh, said that out of the three persons against whom a case under sections 323, 324, 507 and 34 of the IPC was registered two have been arrested. They are Hardeep Singh and Surjit Singh, both residents of Phase X. Their father, Darshan Singh Matharu, was admitted to the GMCH, Sector 32, after he got injured in the clash.

According to the police, Mr Rameshwar Dass, who was running a kiryana shop in Phase X, and his son also got injured in the clash.

Mr Bhupesh Goel, a son of Mr Rameshwar Dass, said that the SP had asked the DSP to investigate the matter. The market association had written a letter in connection with the clash which would he handed over the DSP.



Tree plantation drive initiated
Tribune News Service

Mr A.J. Philip (sitting extreme left), Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune, plants a sapling on the banks of the Maharaja Ajj Sarovar in Kharar on Sunday.
Mr A.J. Philip (sitting extreme left), Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune, plants a sapling on the banks of the Maharaja Ajj Sarovar in Kharar on Sunday.

Mohali, September 26
A tree plantation drive was initiated by the Senior Associate Editor of The Tribune, Mr A.J. Philip, on the banks of the Maharaja Ajj Sarovar in Kharar yesterday.

Mr Philip appealed to the audience to plant trees in order to save the environment adding that in case a tree has to be cut, two should be planted in its place. Mr Philip was the chief guest at the tree plantation drive organised by the Maharaja Ajj Sarovar Vikas Parishad that takes care of this historical lake spread over 152 kanal of land in the outskirts of Kharar.

The SDM Kharar, Mr Darshan Singh, exhorted various NGOs and social service organisations in Kharar to come forward and contribute towards the reconstruction of the sarovar.

Speaking on the occasion, a former Municipal Council chief Kharar, Mr Tara Chand Gupta, demanded that the Punjab Government should release grant for the maintenance and upkeep of the historical lake.



Haryana Roadways workers to ignore strike call
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
The Haryana Roadways Workers Union has decided not to participate in the strike call given by INTUC for September 29.

A meeting of representatives of INTUC unions of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Kalka was held today under the chairmanship of Mr Raghbir Singh. He said workers were being misled into believing that the Haryana Government was retrenching employees.



2 held for bid to extort Rs 2 lakh from widow
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 26
Two persons were attested today on a charge of attempting to extort money from a widow living here.

The police said tonight that the two suspects, Vivek Kumar and Manoj Kumar, had allegedly demanded Rs 2 lakh from Ms Balbir Kaur, a widow living with her three children in Phase XI here. She had earlier shifted from Hallomajra in Chandigarh where they owned a house. They had also allegedly threatened the family with dire consequences and told it not to tell the police.

The police said the suspects first wrote a letter to Ms Balbir Kaur in which they showed that they knew her late husband and gave details about the members of the family.

Later, they contacted the family on the phone and demanded Rs 2 lakh.

The police said that the widow’s daughter, Harpreet Kaur, received a phone call from one of the suspects telling the family to bring Rs 2 lakh to Hallomajra. The family suspected that the men were earlier their tenants at Hallomajra.

The family then fixed the meeting point at Jagatpura village, near Phase XI here, and also informed the police.

The DSP, Mr Harpreet Singh, said that the police then laid a trap late in the evening for the suspects and arrested them. The DSP said a case had been registered against the arrested men under Sections 387 and 506, IPC, on the complaint of the widow’s daughter.



Former Sarpanch booked
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
A former Sarpanch of Kanderwala village in Raipur Rani block has been booked by the police on charges of embezzling money meant for the development works in the village.

A case under Sections 406 and 409 of the IPC has been registered against Nasa Ram, on a complaint of the Raipur Rani Block Development Officer, Mr K.C. Attray. The latter has accused Nasa Ram of having embezzled Rs 15,000.

The BDO has alleged that the money was meant for development works like the laying of pucca phirnis, sewers and pucca roads in the village.



Motor cycle stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The theft of a motor cycle from the Panjab University campus was reported to the police, while two persons were taken into custody on the allegation of gambling at public places during the past 24 hours.

A spokesman of the Chandigarh Police said Dan Bahadur of Dhanas had complained to the cops that his Hero Honda motor cycle (CH-03-F-7882) was stolen from near Panjab University’s gate No. 1. A case of theft under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Bittu of Sector 29 was taken into custody from near the rehri market on the charge of playing satta, while Brij Mohan of Dariya village was arrested from Mauli Jagran on a similar allegation. They have been booked under various provisions of the Gambling Act.

The spokesman added that Vinod Kumar of Dadu Majra Colony was “caught red-handed” while allegedly stealing a rickshaw belonging to Suresh Kumar. A case has been registered.



Blueprint on UT tourism policy released
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Chandigarh has the potential to become a tourist destination, both for the domestic and international visitors, in view of its natural and man-made attractions that range from its unique architecture to the peaceful environs of its forests.

This was stated by Mr Vivek Atray, Director Tourism, Chandigarh, here today while releasing the strategic blueprint of a tourism policy prepared by the Chandigarh Tourism Club at a function organised on the eve of the World Tourism Day with focus on youth tourism.

Appreciating the suggestions and ideas given by the students who spoke on youth tourism, Mr Atray said that they needed their energies to be channelised in the right direction.

The strategic blueprint envisaged the creation of environment conducive to attracting increased private investment in the tourism sector and a more meaningful role for the government. It suggested identification and development of new activities, strengthening of present tourism-related infrastructure with opening of new centres, promoting accommodation projects, food-oriented projects, entertainment projects, and service oriented projects.

Encouraging training facilities for developing a pool of human resources for tourism-related activities by private sector was also suggested in the blueprint and to make tourism a “people’s industry” in this region.

The blueprint also called upon the Chandigarh authorities to provide various incentives for setting up of hotels, health resorts, amusement parks besides augmentation of the transport facilities. New hotel projects should be exempted from the luxury tax while entertainment centres should be exempted from entertainment tax for 10 years from the date of commencement of commercial operations. A master plan at micro and macro levels for tourism promotion needed to be prepared, the blueprint suggested.

More than 600 students from the Institute of Hotel Management, Food Crafts Institute, the ITFT, Chandigarh, and from other educational institutes participated in the quiz programme.


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