C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Car thieves’ gang busted
11 vehicles recovered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
A truck driver and a computer expert ganged up to make easy money by stealing vehicles and selling them on forged documents.

The fact came to light when the Chandigarh Police arrested three members of an inter-state gang of car thieves and recovered 11 stolen vehicles from their possession. The police said the accused had stolen over 60 vehicles in the past from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Mumbai.

ASP (Central) Madur Verma said the gang was busted with the arrest of their kingpin, 42-year-old Surjit Singh alias Makhan of Ferozepur, on August 20. His interrogation led to the arrest of two persons, including a postgraduate diploma holder in computer applications, Vikas (29) alias Sonu of Bathinda, and Deepak Kumar of Faridkot. Sonu, who claimed to have cleared mains of the Rajasthan Administrative Services, prepared fake registration certificates of stolen vehicles.

The accused had also disclosed names of their six accomplices. One of their accomplices, Parshotam Lal of Sector 22, is lodged in Burail Jail in a cheating case, Satish alias Romi is in Faridkot Jail, while Jagseer alias Seera is in Bathinda Jail. The remaining three - Giani, Gopi and Lovely - are still at large.

About their modus operandi, the police said the accused used to target vehicles sans security gadgets and give anything between Rs 50,000-60,000 to those who stole vehicles and then around Rs 30,000 to 35,000 to the person who prepared fake documents and a similar amount to the mediator who sold the vehicle. The stolen vehicles were generally sold to taxi-drivers who could not afford a new vehicle, the police said.

Surjit Singh said, “We targeted the vehicles which were generally used for taxies. Earlier, I used to steal vehicles, but now I have included youngsters in my gang.”

About the formation of the gang, he said: “We get introduced during our stay in jails,” he added.

The ASP said the investigating officials had so far recovered 11 vehicles, including three Mahindra Balero jeeps, a Mahindra Scorpio, a Toyota Innova, two Tata Indica cars, two Maruti Zen cars, a Mahindra Pick-up truck and a Maruti 800 car from them. The police has also taken into its custody blank registration certificates, copies of driving licences, forged stamps, blank affidavits, blank insurance cover notes, blank form 13 and 16, a laptop, a printer and other equipments, including a handheld drill machine, with which they used to break open the steering wheel lock.



Criminals exploit chinks in crime record bureau
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Taking advantage of the slow process of inclusion of data of stolen vehicles in National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), the organised inter-state gangs of car thieves prepare fake documents and get the no-objection certificate (NOC) of stolen vehicles before the police sends their details to the NCRB.

The car thieves, who have a target of stealing a car in a day, are deft enough to forge documents in a couple of hours and complete the formalities in a few days to sell off the vehicle.

Exploiting the delay in procedural formalities to include the details of the stolen vehicles, including registration numbers, engine and chassis numbers, the car thieves, abreast with latest printing technology and knowledge of computers, forge documents in a matter of hours, said ASP (Central) Madur Verma, while sharing information after an inter-state gang of car thieves was busted in the city.

Sources said generally it takes around three-four months to post the details of stolen vehicles on the NCRB list.

Moreover, the delay of police in registering a case gives ample time to the car thieves to complete the formalities. They get the police clearance certificate that the vehicle is not involved in any crime and use the same to forge other documents.

Surjit Singh, kingpin of the car thieves’ gang, said they had a target of stealing one car a day. Disclosing about his network, he said they started stealing vehicles in 2004 and had gone to Nepal at least 10 times to sell stolen vehicles. “It is very easy to sell a stolen vehicle in Nepal. The buyers of such vehicles come to you if your vehicle has a Punjab or Haryana registration number,” he said.

Efforts should be made at higher levels to reduce the formalities in flashing information about the stolen vehicles or used in crime at national level to curb the crimes, said a police official. 



Sofat’s cousin held in Morni robbery case
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 23
More than a month after the shootout incident and alleged robbery of Rs 33 lakh at Morni near Mandhana on July 19, the police today claimed to have made a breakthrough in the incident with the arrest of one of the conspirators, Varinder Sofat, a cousin of the prime accused, Sumit Sofat, from Mohali here today. A case under Sections 307 and 120 B of the IPC has been registered against him.

Varinder was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to frame a Ludhiana resident along with his sons.

It was on the evening of July 19, Dr Sofat had alleged, that he was attacked by six people when he went to Morni with one of his friends Dr Ravinder. While his driver Nelson was injured, Rs 33 lakh lying in his Tata Safari was taken away by the assailants, Dr Sofat had alleged.

An Audi car was to be purchased from that money from Chandigarh and when he could not complete the formalities to purchase the car that day he decided to visit Morni, Sofat told the police while accusing Ramesh Pashan, and his two sons, their driver Ranjit, and two other unidentified persons of the attack.

Both the parties reportedly had a dispute over a piece of land. Dr Sofat was facing criminal charges for allegedly making forged documents in order to grab a 1200-yard prime land of Ramesh Pashan on the Ferozepore road, for which he was arrested by the Ludhiana police on November 10.

The Pashan family, however, denied Sofat’s allegations, as he had hatched a conspiracy to avenge his arrest on their complaint last year. Moreover, they presented photographs, and a CD containing footages that they were present in Nirvana Club on that afternoon as the ring ceremony of Vinayak, the elder son of Ramesh, was being solemnised.

Following this, Sofat started avoiding the police and even tried to get anticipatory bail from a local court on August 7.

Meanwhile, he allegedly attempted to frame Ramesh Pashan in a rape case at Dehradun, which ultimately boomranged and Sofat himself was booked by the Uttrakhand police in a rape case.



Three commit suicide in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
A teenaged girl and a man in his mid-twenties allegedly committed suicide in various parts of the city today. In another incident, the decomposed body of a man, who apparently committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance, was found in the jungle area near Dhanas here this evening.

The police is yet to ascertain the reason behind the death of the girl in the absence of any suicide note, while suicide note left behind by the man indicated toward an unsuccessful love affair as the reason for the suicide.

About the suicide of the girl, the police said 17-year-old Akashdeep Kaur, daughter of head constable Pritam Singh, was found hanging at her residence in police lines Sector 26 here. The police is yet to ascertain the reason behind the extreme step taken by the girl. She was a 10 plus one student in government school in Sector 19. Her father had gone to their native village, while her mother had gone to the market when the girl hanged herself, said the police.

Giving details about the second death in the city, the police said 24-year-old Sohan Lal was found hanging at the residence of his relative in Sector 20 here this evening. He was painter by profession. The death came to light when the friend of the deceased Jaswinder Singh found the door locked form inside and there was no response to his calls. He called the police, which broke open the door and found the man hanging from ceiling fan.

The body bore injury marks on head and other parts of the body and shaving blade having blood marks was found on the spot. Blood was oozing out of the nose of the deceased. The recovery of the suicide note and finding the house being locked from inside the police ruled out any foul play behind the death.

The police said the man had also cut his hair and put them in his suicide note.

Earlier late in the afternoon, the police recovered a highly decomposed body lying in the jungle area near Dhanas. The police later identified the deceased as 51-year-old Ramesh Chand Chaudhary of Aman Colony in Dhanas. His family was informed about the death and they reached the spot.Pankaj, the son of the deceased, told the police that his father, who was working in Parwanoo, had gone missing since August 11. He left for the office and they contacted his office at around 10:30 am that day and learnt he did not reach there. 

The police recovered a bottle of poison from the spot along with the bag containing the lunch box. The police suspected Ramesh had committed suicide following some dispute in his family, which inquired about him from his office after a few hours he left home. The bodies have been shifted to the hospital for post mortem into all the three incidents. Meanwhile, the police has initiated inquest proceedings into the deaths at various police stations.



Teachers working as clerks
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 23
A number of schools in rural areas of the district are facing a shortage of teachers, as some of these schoolteachers have been working as clerks in the absence of staff at the District Primary Education Office (DPEO) in Panchkula for the past decade.

The DPEO office in Sector 7 has not been given even a single clerk since 1995 when Panchkula was made the district. The office handles the administrative work of 274 primary schools in the district.

Although the office had demanded for one supervisor, one assistant, three clerks, a driver and a Class IV employee, no one was recruited against these posts and the work was assigned to some teachers. Now some teachers from rural areas were deputed as clerks in the office.

With the re-deployment of teachers as clerks, things have gone from bad to worse in some schools. While a teacher from a Morni school was working with the DEPO, the school was being run by only one teacher who has to handle different classes.

DEPO Nisha Sharma, when contacted, said the district had sanctioned more than 800 posts of teacher for 274 schools. However, only 674 regular teachers were there to teach students and the shortage was being filled by guest teachers.

Though “re-deployment” of teachers as clerks was affecting the studies of students, there was no other alternative, she added. 



4 cops suspended for custodial death
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 23
Four police officials, including the in charge of Sirhind police station, have been suspended following custodial death of a truck driver.

The authorities have also suspended a munshi, an ASI and a guard in this connection. Some unidentified persons had beaten up a truck driver, Maman, on Thursday after a window of his truck hit a motorcyclist on GT Road near Sirhind.

The unidentified persons brought the driver to Sirhind police station. The incident took place in the morning and the driver was made to sit in the police station till the evening. The cops then allegedly handed over the body of driver to the cleaner for a treatment at the civil hospital.

The cleaner, Pradeep, accused the police of killing the driver. However, the next day, the complainant withdrew his complaint reportedly under pressure of cops and local politicians. 



Take the load off
Raveen Thukral

I vividly remember how as kids we used to sit in front of those not-so-smart looking black and white television sets, stored so preciously in wooden cabinets, and watch the Independence Day speech of the Prime Minister from the Red Fort. It was more or less a ritual that was followed every August 15 before we rushed to the terrace to fly kites.

But there seems to be a general lack of interests in such things now, especially among the kids of the present generation. And frankly, one can't blame them for this as given a choice many of us would too do the same.

Like kites have become a passé in these modern times of Play Stations and X-Boxes, speeches too have become boring and predictable, thanks to the overexposure of events by the media — the 24 hours television news culture and the internet.

So, one wasn't expecting much from the speech of the UT Administrator, Gen (Retd) SF Rodrigues. But interestingly, while he talked about his social endeavours, the metro rail, the IT Park et al, he gave a slip to the controversial Medicity project, which incidentally did find a mention in his "message" circulated to the press two days before his ceremonial address at the Parade Ground.

In the message, Rodrigues had referred to the Medicity project as an "innovative programme" of the administration for upgrading health infrastructure in the city. One can't really say whether this reference was a slip or not but dropping it from the address was prudent, since reports appearing in a section of the press now indicate that the special audit into the mega projects by the Union Home Ministry has found several discrepancies in them.

Notwithstanding General Sahib's personal views on the Medicity project, there is no denying to the fact that the city's health infrastructure is crumbling and is in a dire need for upgradation. A visit to any of the city's main hospitals, the PGI, the GMCH 32 and the Multi Speciality Hospital Sec 16, would show how over burdened they are.

Long lines in OPDs, never ending waiting lists for surgeries, spiralling queues at the laboratories and shortages of beds in wards, both general and private, have become a routine affair. Worse, there is no hope for any improvement as nothing is being done to change the situation. The situation will only deteriorate if allowed to continue as it is.

The propagators of the Medicity may like everyone to believe that the project is thus a panacea to the healthcare problems of the city but that's not true as the troubles actually lie elsewhere. If the functioning of the city's hospitals is getting crippled today, the poor health infrastructure in the neighbouring states, mainly Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, has a lot to do with it.

The city presently has a ratio of 23 hospital beds per 10,000 people. While these figures may sound incredibly low, they appear impressive when compared to 10 in Punjab and five in Haryana. However, the WHO recommends a minimum ratio of 30 beds for 10000 people.

Figures can be a lot confusing but sometimes they are imperative to understand the magnitude of the problem. So let's have a look at the figures obtained from the PGI.

In 2008, as compared to 15799 "indoor" patients from Chandigarh, 11908 from Punjab, 8713 from Haryana, 3834 from Himachal Pradesh, 2091 from UP and 15742 "others" were admitted to the PGI for treatment. Even if one keeps the "others" out, the number of patients from the neighbouring states was 26,546, almost 10,000 more than those from the city.

In the OPD, as compared with the 1,26,770 patients from the city, 2,13,458 people from these neighbouring states (almost 80,000 more than the locals) were treated at the PGI in 2008. In addition to these there were 1,25,840 "others" also.

PGI officials reveal that these "others" are patients who come from as far as Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Similar is the case at GMCH 32, where 52 per cent of patients come from the neighbouring states.

As for the state of Punjab's healthcare, nothing can be more shameful than the fact that the three 'top' medical colleges and hospitals of the state — Patiala, Faridkot and Amritsar — were pulled up by the Medical Council of India (MCI) last year for having inadequate faculty, poor infrastructure and shortage of paramedical staff. The MCI had then reportedly threatened to cancel the accreditation these colleges.

To escape such action, the Punjab health department often indulges in mass scale transfers of doctors and specialists from one hospital to another before the MCI inspections and reverses them after getting the required clearances. Other hospitals in the state too suffer from shortage of staff and poor infrastructure.

With the situation no better in Haryana, patients from these states have no options but to rush to Chandigarh for treatment of even regular ailments. The data from GMCH 32 indicates that the turn out of patient from these states even in the general medicine OPD is as high as 48 percent.

So more than the upgradation of the city's medical infrastructure as such, the answer to improving medical services in the city may lie in strengthening the health care facilities in the periphery and other parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Such steps will reduce the burden on the city's hospitals where services are on the verge of collapse.

A Medicity or PGI like institutions on the outskirts of Mohali and Panchkula thus could be the answer for taking the load off from the city hospitals and making them efficient and patient friendly.

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com


Regiment celebrates diamond jubilee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Army’s 140 Air Defence Regiment (Self-Propelled) celebrated its diamond jubilee at the Chandi Mandir military station here today. A series of social events spread over a month were being organised to commemorate the occasion.

A special sainik sammelan was held today. It was attended by a large number of serving officers and jawans as well ex-servicemen of the unit. Maj-Gen JP Singh, the senior-most serving officer from the regiment, addressed the troops and exhorted them to maintain regimental traditions and strive for professional excellence.

A diamond jubilee newsletter and a first-day cover issued by the Army Postal Service were also released on the occasion. A special mandir parade, blood donation camp, fun games and sports competitions are among other events being organised to mark the occasion.

The unit was raised as 140 Medium Regiment of the Territorial Army (TA) at Meerut in 1949. It was the first medium regiment to be raised after Independence. In the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the regiment had the distinction of becoming the only TA unit known to have taken part in an offensive into the enemy territory, when it supported the operations along the Ichhogil canal in Pakistan.

In the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the unit, which had been converted into an air defence regiment in 1966, provided cover to the Pathankot airfield, Thein Dam, and the Mirthal and Madhopur bridges. The unit was the first to be equipped with a self-propelled air defence weapon system in 1977. It protects the vanguard of the offensive formations of the Army.

The regiment has produced eight Generals including two Director-Generals of the Corps of Army Air Defence. Its roll of honour includes two Vir Chakras, two Shaurya Chakras and two Sena Medals. For its excellence in all spheres, the unit was awarded Special Unit Appreciation by the Director-General of the Army Air Defence in 2005.



Govt Apathy
More ex-servicemen to return medals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
In protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the government towards their demands, more ex-servicemen would return their medals to the President. About 15,000 medals have already been deposited at Rashtrapati Bhawan on four occasions earlier.

According to a statement issued by the Indian Ex-servicemen’s Movement, the medals would be collected from across the country and brought to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 13.

Thereafter, a delegation of ex-servicemen would proceed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to deposit them with the President, the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

The statement said a huge gap still existed between pre and post-January, 2006, retirees, and that was expected to widen further.

Senior officers were drawing far less pension than their juniors, it said.

The statement said the concept of three assured career progressions (ACP) had been accepted by the government, but the same had not been applied to old pensioners.

Further, while implementing the Supreme Court judgment in connection with fixing pension of Major-Generals, the government had accepted that the concept of granting the same pension to pre and post-1996 retirees would be applicable.

In the same way, the government should have applied the concept in case of pre and post-January 2006 retirees also, the statement added.



CHB soft on violators
Board sleeps as allottees flout building rules
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Spurt in building violations in nearly 46,000 flats of Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) in the city should see proportionate demolitions. However, keeping with its lacklustre record, the CHB is going soft on the violators, who continue to flout building bylaws by undertaking illegal additions and alterations.

The data provided by the CHB showed that the number of demolitions by the board in 2008 has come down to 206 compared to 283 in 2007. In 2006, the board undertook 76 demolitions with only one demolition in 2004 and 2005.

CHB's demolition record

2008 2007 2006 2004-05
206 283 76 01

This too when the board has a full-fledged 15-member enforcement wing headed by an executive engineer, who directly reports to the CHB secretary.

Interestingly, there is also a huge mismatch between the number of demolition orders (2,196) issued during the last 10 years and the demolitions carried out.

“Building violations is a big business for board officials. If the administration wants Chandigarh to remain ‘City Beautiful’, it must take building violations seriously. The CHB should be made to put its house in order,” said RTI activist Krishna Kumar, who sought information from the CHB under the RTI Act.

It is a common knowledge that a majority of around 46,000 dwelling units constructed by the board, housing about one-fourth of the city's population, not cared two hoots for the building bylaws. The violators had made illegal additions and alterations in the backdrop of the indifferent attitude of the board officials. And the violators justified the additions and alterations as “need-based” due to increase in the family sizes.

And for years, the CHB Housing Federations has been demanding relaxations in the building bylaws keeping in view the changed scenario and changing needs of the allottees.

Official sources, however, claimed that large-scale demolitions were not possible as the demolition was a process and a large number of violators appeal to the competent authorities, which delayed the process.

Replying to another RTI application, the CHB recently said that it had no records available for the number of encroachments and building violations in its dwellings.

Recently, certain RTI activists in the city, while accusing the CHB of having links with building mafia, had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him to mark a CBI inquiry into the bank balances and assets of the officials of the board and their family members.



GPA holders protest hike in charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
General power of attorney (GPA) holders of the Shivalik Cooperative House Building Society, Sector 49-A, today protested against the “unjustified” enhancement of charges by the society management.

Alleging that the management was trying to scuttle the GPA notification policy of the Chandigarh administration, the members alleged that instead of transferring flats in their names, the administration had put “unjustified” financial burden on them ranging from Rs 4-6 lakh.

Even the appointment of an administrator by the Cooperative Department has failed to improve things as he too was issuing same notices to them that were issued by the previous management.

Meanwhile, Satish Chandra Sharma, general secretary of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Council, flayed the Cooperative Department for scuttling the implementation of the GPA policy.

While the department officials ignore orders of senior officials with impunity, they are adopting double standards in dealing with individual society cases. The administrator appointed in the case of Labour Bureau Society, Sector 49, to oversee transfers in the names of the GPA holders was withdrawn and managing committee restored allegedly on its assurance to do the needful within three months, the protesters said.

The department is taking no notice of arbitrary interest and penalties being levied on GPA holder by committees to scuttle his option to get the transfer of the flat in his name. The Cooperative Department is a mute spectator to all these malpractices, they alleged. 



Raids on to arrest Babla
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The police is conducting raids to arrest Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla, who has reportedly gone “underground” after daring the police to arrest him on August 19.

Sources said the police was conducting raids at various suspected hideouts of Babla in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. His cellphone has been put under surveillance. Babla had claimed that he was implicated in the case at the behest of the UT Administrator.

A police official told Chandigarh Tribune that call details of Babla’s cellphone traced his location near Dera Bassi at 3.30 pm on August 19 and it entered into roaming area after sometime. The police is also keeping an eye on Babla’s close associates and their call details besides exerting pressure on his family for producing him.

Investigators had got the statement of three witnesses recorded before the magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). One of the investigating officials said there were around 15 witnesses in the case, who were yet to be examined and efforts were on to record their statements under Section 164 of the CrPC.

“Recording statements before the magistrate is a time-consuming process. Otherwise witnesses are coming forward to get their statements recorded against him and evidences are being collected to corroborate the same,” an official said.

The police has requested experts of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to give reports about the computers taken from the market committee office.

A case of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy has been registered against Babla, former chairman of the market committee, and Rakesh Sahny, president of the Arthiya Association of the Sector 26 Grain Market. Babla has been framed on charges of committing irregularities in the allotment of 69 platforms on August 18.

Meanwhile, the Sabzi Mandi Arthiya Association today appealed to the authorities concerned to probe the matter before making any arrests.

Following the rules, a committee headed by SDM (South) Prerna Puri had done the allotments, the association said. 



Proposed hike in power tariff opposed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 22
The Consumers Protection Federation and Consumer Protection and Awareness Council have condemned the proposed hike in power tariff by the Punjab State Electricity Board ( PSEB) .

The consumer welfare bodies said the tariff which was between nine per cent and 11 per cent would put an additional burden on the common man.

NS Gill, president of the council, said they had been appealing to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission for not increasing the tariff, as there was enough scope for the PSEB to cut costs by eliminating pilferage of power.

A drive should be launched to recover outstanding dues from consumers, he added.

President of the federation PS Virdi said residents were already fed up with the long power cuts imposed by the PSEB in residential, industrial and commercial areas. Heavy power bills would only aggravate their woes.

When the Prime Minister and the state Finance Minister were against giving free power to the agricultural sector in times of acute power shortage then why the authorities did not pay any heed to stop the practice, Virdi asked.

Free power through kundi connections was allegedly being used by farmers in connivance with the PSEB employees. The PSEB had to face huge losses but no action was taken against any official.

Virdi said octroi was abolished in the state by the former government benefiting traders but the common man was being forced to pay octroi imposed on power.

Virdi urged the PSEB authorities to check transmission losses, power thefts and recover outstanding payments.

With the power shortage in the state, shopping complexes should be denied licences, he said. 



Admn to start paid parking system
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 23
In order to cope up with haphazard parking and checking the thefts of vehicles in the markets, the district administration has decided to start the paid parking system in the town.

An auction for the purpose has been scheduled at Mini cretariat tomorrow morning. Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Yadav said the parking in the markets of the town would be on the pattern of neighbouring Chandigarh.

While the visitors were facing harassment at the parking lots in the town due to haphazard parking and lack of security, the municipal council and HUDA authorities were asked to take some initiative in this regard, but following their refusal, District Red Cross Society had been handed over the responsibility, said Yadav.



Planning committee chief takes charge
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 23
Today’s coronation of Sukhbir Badal’s trusted lieutenant NK Sharma as the chairman of the District Planning Committee was indicative of the changing political situation in the region.

Putting at stake the political ambitions of many, his coronation had a clear message for the aspiring leaders to play to the tune of their master’s voice. To congratulate the young leader, many senior Akali leaders descended at the office of the Deputy Commissioner.



No check on beggary in city
Jyoti Rai

Chandigarh, August 23
Claims to check beggary in the city that went extremely loud last month after a meeting by the Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Social Welfare seems to have gone mute now.

When it comes to beggars, the administration seems to have failed in following a holistic approach in sanitising the city with emphasis on rehabilitation of beggars.

Piecemeal efforts to get rid of beggars by force, with last month’s policing and raids in the city, have failed to yield any results. Beggary thrives in the city like any other business with a strong information network. The beggars easily come to know of any raids beforehand and they easily manage to escape and hop to a safer location. Come evening when the police go off duty, and one can easily spot beggars in most of the sector markets in the city.

From small kids in rags, women with their half-bare bosoms and a child clinged to them to handicapped children and adult beggars, there is no dearth of beggars in the city. Most beggars come from slum areas in the city, including Bapu Dham, Dadu Majra, Mani Majra, Colony No. 4, Colony No. 5 and the periphery. Not more than 20 per cent of the kids involved in beggary go to school.

Six-year-old Manju who begs with her group in Sector 17 and 22 markets said: “The police does not let us beg now, they ask us to run away or scare us to be put in jail. I don’t wish to go to the school because my mother beats me up every time I go there and not work. Now, I and chotu (her friend) carry boot polish and brush in our bags in case some one questions us. It’s become difficult now, as we are beaten up on days the business is low.”

Saroj, married with two kids, begs in Sector 15 market. When questioned on the policing on beggars in the city, she sarcastically smiles and comments: “Koi kuch nai kehta (nobody questions us). We are doing what we ought to do. Do you see any police here?”

Social activists and NGOs in the city voice serious concern on how the administration’s focus is primarily creating a picture of a city that is free from beggars rather than dealing with the problem at ground level.

Social activist Sangeeta Vardhan, Vatsal Chaya Trust, comments: “Just shooing these beggars off is not a solution. Kids need to be rehabilitated. When the police catch them and slap, them they run to other markets and places like Ambala and Panchkula. When the situation calms down, they return.”

“Be it the sector markets, bus stand, railway station or any of the traffic lights in the city, beggars are everywhere, surprisingly, with an attitude demanding nothing less than Rs 10. Lukewarm attitude of the administration will not help. It will have to enter the deep waters and address the root problem otherwise the situation will only worsen,” comments social activist Ummat, chairman of Saitara Ummat foundation.



PGI’s swine flu lab courts controversy
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Barely four days after the PGI’s swine flu lab started functioning, it is already courting a controversy following the “positive” result of a hospital employee, who virtually bypassed all norms and got herself tested at the lab without the knowledge of the nodal officers of the UT and the institute.

Even as the UT authorities were today informed about the “positive” results of a relative of the infected PGI employee, a 38-year-old woman of the publication department, nodal officer, HC Gera, expressed surprise at being kept “in dark” by the PGI about the first case. Gera claimed that he had brought this to the notice of the UT Director Health Services and would be informing the Health Ministry about the lapse.

Admitting that there had indeed been a “communication gap”, PGI’s nodal officer for swine flu, Dr Ashish Bhalla, said the patient had gone directly to the lab in the virology department, and they conducted the test without informing him. “It was only after the test result confirmed swine flu, the case was brought to my notice,” he said.

Gera said as per norms, no one can go for tests directly, as a data has to be maintained and all people coming in contact with even the suspected cases are to be monitored. “Unless this is followed, maintaining correct records wouldn’t be possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, two fresh cases of suspected swine flu were reported at government hospitals today. A 26-year-old student with symptoms of swine flu, admitted to Isolation ward of GMSH-16, who had come back to his residence in Mohali from Mumbai a week back. Another 31-year-old, Zirakpur resident reported at the GMCH-32.

While other family members of PGI employee, who tested positive for H1N1 virus yesterday, have been quarantined at their residence in Sector 15, Panchkula, one of her relatives was declared a swine flu patient today.



150 examined at check-up camp

Chandigarh, August 23
A one-day free health check-up camp and sanitation drive was organised today at Tanda village, Mohali, by NGO Prayaas.

A team of 20 members, comprising of Infosys employees and doctors, reached there in the morning. An eye check-up and general check-up were covered under this camp.

Around 150 persons were checked in the eye camp and around 80 spectacles were distributed to them free of cost. In general check up, around 250 persons were diagnosed. — TNS



e wild wild web
Will e-book revive the book reading habit?
By Anil Maheshwari

Over 270,000 books are available for Amazon Kindle-Amazon’s new wireless reading device, which is making waves in the US and Europe. It has been described as an alpenhorn blast of post-Gutenbergian revalorisation. In the Wall Street Journal, the cultural critic Steven Johnson wrote that he’d been alone one day in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, when he was seized by the urge to read a novel. Within minutes, thanks to Kindle’s free 3G hookup with Sprint wireless-they call it Whispernet, he satisfied his craving. Writing and publishing, he believed, would never be the same. Are printed books, the most important artifacts of human civilization are on the road of obsolescence.

“It has reinvigorated my interest in reading,” another reviewer said. “I am hooked,” another said. And the Kindle 2 is selling: in April, tech blogs reported that 3,00,000 Kindle 2s had shipped since it was released on February 24.

Another commentator said he enjoyed reading outdoors, where he had, he confided, a “wonderful back yard, nice pool, and all that.” He was pleased to discover, while Kindling poolside, that the wind didn’t make the book’s pages flutter. “There’s just the one page,” he explained.

Sure, the Kindle is expensive, but the expense is a way of buying into the total commitment. This could forever change the way some people read. A satisfied user writes, “I’ve never been a fast reader. I’m fickle; I don’t finish books I start; I put a book aside for five, ten years and then take it up again. With the help of this wireless Kindle 2 I have been pulled into a world of compulsive, demonic book consumption.”

Lying face up in a white-lined casket is the device itself. It is pale, about the size of a hardcover novel, but much thinner and it had a smallish screen and a keyboard at the bottom made of tiny round pleasure-dot keys that resisted pressing. It has a greenish, sickly gray screen which is eye-soothing. You can also change the type size as per your taste.

The New Yorker comments “There’s no clutter, no pile of paperbacks next to the couch. A Kindle book arrives wirelessly: It’s untouchable; it exists on a higher, purer plane. It’s earth-friendly, too, supposedly. Yes, it’s made of exotic materials that are shipped all over the world’s oceans; yes, it requires electricity to operate and air-conditioned server farms to feed it; yes, it’s fragile and it duplicates what other machines do; yes, it’s difficult to recycle; yes, it will probably take a last boat ride to a Nigerian landfill in five years. But no tree farms are harvested to make a Kindle book; no ten-ton presses turn, no ink is spilled.”

Instead of ink on paper, there’s something called Vizplex. Vizplex is the trade name of the layered substance that makes up the Kindle’s display-i.e. the six-inch-diagonal rectangle that you read from. The prospect of Vizplex first arose in the mind of a scientist, Joseph Jacobson, who now works at MIT’s Media Lab. Sometime in the mid-nineties, according to a colleague, Jacobson was sitting on a beach reading. He finished his book. What next? He didn’t want to walk off the beach to get another book, and he didn’t want to lie on the beach and dig moist holes with his feet, thinking about the algorithmic beauty of seaweeds. What he wanted was to push a little button that would swap the words in the book he held for the words in some other book somewhere else. He wanted the book he held to be infinitely rewriteable-to be, in fact, the very last book he would ever have to own. He called it “The Last Book.” To make the Last Book, he would have to invent a new kind of paper: RadioPaper.

E Ink’s first big, visible customer was Sony. Sony bought a lot of Vizplex display screens for its Reader, the PRS-500. Sony set up an online bookstorefor selling its machines. Sony is, of course, a deft hand at handheld design. Its reader was very good, given the Etch-a-Sketch limitations of the Vizplex medium, but it lacked wirelessness-you had to USB-cable it to a computer in order to load a book onto it-and Sony had no gift for retail bookselling. Hundreds of thousands of Sony readers have sold and one can now read 5,00,000 public-domain Google Books on it in ePub format-but, oddly, people ignore it.

Along with Sony several other companies rushed to develop Vizplex-based devices. Amazon was one of them. But the Kindle 1 wasn’t an improvement. Page turning was slow and was accompanied by a distracting flash of black, as the microspheres dived down into their oil-filled nodules before forming new text. Its screen wasn’t like reading actual paper. It was not as bright and there was glare if the light was too direct. It had several other problems.

Undeterred, the folks at Amazon gave the Kindle 1 a hose blast of marketing late in 2007. To counter the threat, Sony boosted its advertising for the PRS-500, but it couldn’t compete.

Amazon’s product engineers soldiered on, readying the revised version-smoothing the edges and fixing the most obvious physical flaws. They made page turning faster, so that the black flash was less distracting, and they got the screen to display sixteen shades of gray, not four, a refinement that helped somewhat with photographs.

There was another problem with the revised Kindle-fading. Some owners found that when they read in the sun the letters began to disappear. Readers had to press Alt-G repeatedly to bring them back. Amazon remains fully committed to electrophoresis. Heartened by the Kindle 2’s success, Amazon introduced recently a bigger machine-the thumb-cramping, TV-dinner-size Kindle DX. The DX can auto-flip its image when you turn it sideways, like the iPod Touch and on it you can view-but not zoom on or pan across-unconverted PDF files.

The Kindle DX’s potential is considered a replacement for textbooks and paper printouts of courseware. The Princeton programme in this regard is underway in the US.

If you want to read electronic books there’s another way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kindle for iPod” application onto it. It’s completely silent. Hold it a few inches from your face, with the words enlarged and the screen’s brightness slider bar slid to its lowest setting, and read for ten or fifteen minutes. Each time you need to turn the page, just move your thumb over it, as if you were getting ready to deal a card; when you do, the page will slide out of the way, and a new one will appear.

One cannot read books on Kindle 2 in India in the absence of a link such as Whispernet, a 3G hookup with Sprint wireless in the US, but days are not far off when this sensational development will be available to the eager Indian bibliophiles.

The writer is an editor with Instablogs.com (anilm@instablogs.com)



CityScope Letters
Tit-for-tat policy against Indian culture

I do not agree with what Ambika Soni says. In India, I don’t know how many VIPs and VVIPs are there, but none exist in Canada or the USA.

Everybody is equal before the law. If you want to enjoy VIP status, don’t venture out of your VVIP shell. As per my guess, there are 200000 people in India, who enjoy the VIP status. Indians have themselves spoiled politicians, police and bureaucrats.

I am here in Canada for the past 10 years and have never seen anybody being treated as VIP, leave aside VVIP status.

Why do you people make so much fuss when it happens in a foreign country, that, too, as per the law of the land? Why don’t you speak up when this is happening in your own country?

Ashwani Chauhan Edmonton, Canada

FBI official did his duty

This is in connection with ‘Tit of Tat’ by Raveen Thukral (17 August). We fully agree with him and really admire the FBI official to strictly follow the rule of the book, irrespective of the visitor being checked for security and immigration on arrival.

Perhaps, Indian film celebrities and politicians force their super special status everywhere without realising the serious implications, security risk for others and no respect for the rules and regulations of the visiting nation.

The Americans went through the agony of 9/11 and tightened security at the airports. Not Indians alone, everyone has to go through this process. In USA , Bill Clinton, former President of USA, often visits a famous Indian restaurant “Tamarind” and waits in a queue for his turn.

Tony Blair, ex-Prime Minister of UK, willingly stand in a queue with other passengers and goes through the normal frisking and gets his baggage checked to help the officials to do their job. They are great people, humble and not with false egos.

Our politicians and film celebrities like Khan must take a lesson and learn to be humble. The worst is that Shah Rukh attributed this due to his being Khan or from a particular religion.

The suspected reason for this may be Khan's latest controversial film which was shot in US “My name is Khan” regarding racial profile of a Muslim in USA after the 9/11 incident.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar

Security checks vital

Raveen Thukral’s ‘Tit for Tat’ in the cityscope brings to the fore the ‘hurt inflicted on the egos’of the VVIPs while being frisked at international airports. Fortunately or unfortunately, such incidents make headlines in Indian media. Ambika Soni scouting for tit-for-tat treatment to ‘them’ in the run-up to King Khan incidents and ‘for example I too was frisked’ brings out the same hurt feelings.

In his earlier stories, Raveen Thukral has very candidly drawn the contrast of the mindset of Indian and US officials assigned such duties. It is very clear that while the US officials work keeping their nation’s security on top, the Indian counterparts simply are apt to believe that the VVIPs of the country are above the factor of ‘national security’.

Satish Chandra Sharma, Progresive Enclave

No retaliatory policy please

Raveen Thukral has provided ample food for thought in his article: “Tit for Tat” (August 17). The biggest problem with us Indians is that we don’t behave like commoners and show VIP tag even in places where none is expected to be aware of such status.

Rather than pursuing a retaliatory policy of “Tit for Tat” as suggested by Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, we should follow Indian cultural value of humility, as all our scriptures enjoin a man to shed ‘ahankar’.

America’s success in preventing any terrorist attack on their soil after the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 is mainly due to the fact that they scrupulously and ruthlessly follow the rule book in enforcing security procedures.

Lajpat Rai Garg, Panchkula

Scrap VVIP culture

I have been living in the USA for the past 20 years but did my schooling and college in Chandigarh. I read the online Tribune everyday. Your editorials regarding VVIPS are wonderful. We need to get rid of this culture if we have to be become a great nation. Corruption is everywhere, as it is a human trait. The difference is that in the West if someone is found doing illegal things, he is punished. How many ex-Chief Ministers or federal ministers land up in jail. Why do we spend crores on VVIP security. There should be no security except for the head of the government. That money can be spent on improving civic services, which India lacks.

Ajay Dhillon, USA

Follow rulebook

While writing on the issue, the writer has appreciably thrown light not only on what happened to Shah Rukh Khan at Newark airport but also on the work culture that we have. It is notable that our security personnel at the airports need not be blamed, as they are mostly very courteous.

Proper training and effective implementation of the rulebook is the need of the hour.

The example of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair should serve as an example for our VIPs and VVIPs to act and respect the law rather than saying “Don’t you know I am a VIP”.

Satish Gupta, Panchkula

No tit for tat

Raveen Thukral’s prudent article “Tit for tat”, ( August 17), quoting Ambika Soni’s suggestion “tit for tat”, evidently, for American visitors in the backdrop of SRK’s detention at Newark airport, is of greater significance in so far as vigorous security checks that are required to be applied by Immigration and security authorities for ensuring the national security are concerned.

There are world-level threats from fanatics of various radical groups of which Indian intelligence agencies has also got inkling. Even the Prime Minister of India also referred to such threat perceptions in the CMs meeting held on 17 August at New Delhi. The American authorities did what they should have done when a name Khan appeared on the monitor. India should follow suit and apply uniform yardsticks for all visitors without prejudice to their nationality. Our uproar over such happenings lowers us diplomatically in the world estimation in the matter of security and perhaps that is why India has been kept on the watch list.

Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali.

Media hype

I fully endorse the views expressed by Raveen Thukral in his write-up on "Tit for Tat"(Chandigarh Tribune, Aug 17).

The detention and interrogation of Shah Rukh Khan by the American Security Agencies on his arrival at the Newark Airport in New Jersey may have embarrassed the Indians a lot. But it is surprising that such a routine affair has been blown out of proportion by us Indians at home and abroad.

Every passenger is frisked and questioned by the US security at the immigration counter at the American airports, whatever be the status of the passenger. In the words of the US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, "Celebrity or unknown, our job is to act on information that others have given us."

After the 9/11 horror, it is right that the US Government has tightened its security system effectively, as a result of which there has been no terror strikes in that country.

R K Kapoor, Chandigarh

No compromise on security

‘Tit for Tat’ in the context of film star Shah Rukh Khan’s detention and questioning at Newark airport is a political remark meant for public consumption. It may be recalled how shabbily respectable Indians of minority community were treated by Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Police while travelling from Punjab to see Asian games in Delhi.

If the bag of Tony Blair, long-time British Prime Minister, can be opened and searched at IGI Airport Delhi, why to fume over frisking and questioning of Indian VIPs at airports of other countries?

The FBI official was only doing his duty.

No doubt, after the 9/11 attack, America is behaving like a wounded tiger, mauling Muslim nations and individuals. A majority of North American Muslims are of Asian Origin having “brown” complexion. All “browns”, including Hindus and Sikhs, from North India get mistaken as Muslims and have to face awkward questions such as “Do you eat pork” at many levels. Indian embassies should enlighten the North American public and officials on this issue through press and media.

S.S. Beniwal, Chandigarh



School students turn entrepreneurs
Jyoti Rai

Chandigarh, August 23
Class XI greets students with heavy books, extra classes, private coaching, entrance preparations and fear of facing board exams the next year, despite all this, a group of 33 students at Vivek High School, Sector 38, are running a company on 
their own.

Class XI students run a company without any financial help, whatsoever, from anyone and they call it Inspirated J.A. Company.

This feature has remained with the school from the past 13 years. Last year, the company managed to deliver the maximum dividend till date.

With president Sahil Chopra, 24 board of directors and several other recruits, the company began its business with a capital of Rs 8,000 divided into 800 shares of Rs 10 each.

From last year’s operations, the company earned a net profit of around Rs 90,000 and has decided to contribute around Rs 18,000 to the JACO programme and the rest Rs 80,000 will be distributed among the shareholders. Every shareholder will get a dividend at the rate of Rs 90 per share.

The company has six active divisions, including the finance department, personnel department and four units under production department. The company made Ccap-o-corns (food items) this year, along with paper products, chalks and taking orders for book binding. Before starting the production, the company members prepared an elaborate business proposal, indulged in an extensive market research and then decided upon the 
minor details.

“The company is in operation for past four months in a year. For this span of four months, we reach school at 5 am for production. During recess, we put up our stalls on the school premises and after school, we stay back to wind up,” said Harsimar, one of the board members.

Vineet, from the personnel department said: “We even pay rent to the school to use the company room, including electricity charges. On the sales made, we give one per cent commission to the school. Like any other company, we have wages fixed for the members- per piece basis.”

Company members add that being a part of this company has taught them all tricks of entrepreneurship. Apart from learning leadership and teamwork, they say they have achieved self-confidence and attained better bussiness sense. The company members even go out for company visits and even invite guest speakers for guidance.

“The aim is to train and equip these young students with best of the experience at an early age. The company has proved to be tremendously effective in bringing about business sense among students,” said HS Mamik, chairperson, Vivek High School.

“The company is now recognised as a corporate unit with the help of Junior Achievement Worldwide. The participation certificates will benefit the students for their career,” said faculty member Mushtaq Ahmad.



From Schools & Colleges
Hostellers given welcome party
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
A warm welcome was extended to the new hostellers at Guru Gobind Singh College for Women at Freshers’ Nite celebrated in the college hostel. S Gurdev Singh Brar, president, Sikh Educational Society, was the chief guest at the event.

Students from Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab presented the regional dances of their home states. Various musical items also had the audience enthralled.

The most anticipated event of the night was Miss Fresher’s contest. Sumedha was crowned Miss Fresher. Winners of the other titles are first runner-up: Shikha.

Second runner-up: Radhika.

Miss Charming: Bidtalakshmi.

Best Attire: Karishma.

Miss Talent: Kamaljeet.

Principal Dr. Harinderjit Kaur welcomed the new dwellers of the hostel and appreciated the efforts of the participants.

Freshrers’ Meet: Chandigarh and Panchkula chapters of the ICWAI organised a “Freshers’ Meet” at Bhawan Vidyalaya, Sector 27, here today. “The programme was organised to enhance academic abilities and develop communication skills and overall personality of the budding “Cost Accountants”, said secretary Anil Sharma.

The programme began with lighting the lamp by the founder member of Chandigarh chapter RL Prabhakar and Central council member of the ICWAI Balwinder Singh.

Around 200 students of the ICWAI gave power point presentations on various topics, like cost accounting standards, international financial reporting system, direct and indirect taxes, analysis of financial statements, personality development and limited liability partnership. Other topics of discussions and deliberations included recession, child marriage and Swine Flu.

Chandigarh students can now avail the opportunity to study at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management and Glion Institute of Higher Education, the hospitality and hotel management schools based in Switzerland. The two Swiss schools offer Indian students a chance to be part of the rapidly growing Indian travel and hospitality sector.

Pimo Mazurzack, regional admission director, Laureate Hospitality Education, Montreux, Switzerland, which operates the two premier schools, said, “The traditional Indian view of the hospitality sector has undergone a sea change and graduates from our schools are in high demand in the travel, hotel, restaurant, cruise-ship sectors and even large corporate houses.”



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