C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


2 youths stuck at Malasia airport
Duped by travel agent

Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 5
The craze for greener pastures has landed two youths from poor families of Punjab in trouble. Duped by a travel agent of Faridkot, the victims, identified as Lakhvir Singh (27) and Raju Singh (22) belonging to Vidrokey village of Moga and Burj Hari Singh village of Ludhiana, respectively, are stranded at the Kuala Lumpur airport for the last fortnight.

Travel agent Jagtar Singh from Manuke village in Moga and a partner with Ticket Trawells, allegedly took Rs 1 lakh each from them to send them to Malaysia on work permit.

The two, however, were detained at the airport by the Malaysian airport authorities, telling them they could not enter the country for they had no proper documents. Not only this, the contact of Jagtar at Kuala Lumpur took away Rs 40,000 that was with them on the pretext of getting them to enter the country, leaving both at the mercy of people visiting the airport. The youths are now surviving on the rice offered by the security staff at the airport, claimed an Australian NRI from Panchkula, Sandeep Chandan, who during a halt on his journey to India recorded their tale of woe on camera. He also took their addresses as well as phone numbers of their parents.

Kuldeep, brother of Lakhvir, told this correspondent on phone that his brother, along with another relative, Raju, had left for Delhi on Octber 21 to board a flight for Malaysia. He and his father, besides Lakhvir, used to work as daily wagers and in the hope of a better future, they decided to send Lakhvir to Malaysia.

Sister of Raju, too, had a similar story to tell. “We are a family of labourers and sent Raju by hypothecating the ornaments at 3 per cent rate of interest. Now, the family is trying hard to get him back and even paid Rs 60,000 more to the same travel agent in this regard,” she said.

The travel agent, however, took the money, but has been avoiding them or even taking their calls.

Lakhvir, when contacted on phone by this correspondent last evening, said both of them were detained by the Kuala Lumpur airport authorities as soon as they reached there on October 23. They were told that their was some problem with the tickets. Being illiterate they could not understand the real thing, he said.

He did not want the story to be published, fearing a backlash of the travel agent. He added that his men had already confiscated their passports at the airport and could harm them at his instance.

Jagtar, on the other hand, denied that Lakhvir and Raju were stranded at the airport. He claimed that the families had paid him the money to get them back and the boys had already returned to their families. He later switched off his phone.



Samwarthak stays, but not as DPI
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Adopting a middle path on DPI (Schools) Samwarthak Singh, who embarrassed the UT administration by being in touch with one of the prime accused in the cash-for-job scam in the education department, the administration has decided to retain the HCS officer in the city.

However, the controversial officer would lose the important charge of DPI.

The administration seems to have worked out a compromise formula, apparently in a bid to bail him out. The final decision on Samwarthak, which has the stamp of approval from Raj Bhavan, runs counter to the recommendations of the Education Secretary-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer, Ram Niwas, who suggested his repatriation to Haryana for “unjustified behaviour”.

While Ram Niwas had sought his repatriation, Administrator SF Rodrigues put his foot down since “no evidence” was found against the official during police investigation.

The shifting of the DPI is being seen as a part of damage control exercise by the administration’s top brass who want to give the scam a quiet burial.

Samwarthak has been in the eye of the storm for two months when the police blew the lid off the scam with the arrest of the accused on September 5.

The case was later transferred to the UT vigilance to ascertain the allegations that Samwarthak and the accused were in touch through SMSes.

However, the police, in a virtual clean chit to Samwarthak, found that though the official was in touch with the accused, no “evidence” was found against him.

A senior official said his successor would be named tomorrow.



Porn Row: St John’s gets notice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
With an art teacher of St John’s School being accused of instigating students to view and join “adult” sites, the UT administration has served a show-cause notice on the school authorities, who in turn have initiated an inquiry into the matter.

Reacting to the complaint filed by a parent against the teacher, the school authorities have claimed that they had not only received the complaint, but had also repeatedly requested the complainant to furnish supporting evidence, which he failed to provide.

According to a written response to the complainant, the school authorities asserted that in an emergency meeting of the managing committee, the responses of the complainant and the teacher were analysed. Though the teacher denied the allegations, but considering the gravity of the charges, the committee has decided to look into the matter.

“As per rules of the Institution Chapter 13 (Penalties and Disciplinary Authorities), if the secretary of the managing committee finds the explanation unsatisfactory, he would serve upon the employee a chargesheet containing the allegations, along with the material proposed to be relied upon,” the letter stated.

The communication expressed surprise on the complainant approaching the media, claiming that disclosure of certain incidents were never made to the schools despite repeated requests made to him by the principal regarding the proof that he might have, which the school could act upon.

Stressing on the fact that the complainant had till date not provided any “ material proposed to be relied upon”, the school authorities demanded it within 24 hours so that the committee could proceed with the inquiry.

Meanwhile, the teacher has proceeded on leave to ensure a fair inquiry.



Flats, booths for ’84 riot victims
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 5
A ray of hope has emerged for hundreds of Mohali-based ’84 riot victims who have been awaiting the allotment of residential and commercial sites here.

The Punjab government has sanctioned around Rs 14 crore for the construction of 200 booths and 87 dwelling units here. The money was released after the government agreed to bear 50 per cent of the cost of the flats. The remaining would be charged from the allottees.

The rehabilitation policy had been pending with the government for the past two years. While GMADA had been insisting on allotting the properties on calculated rates, the issue had been lingering on at the government level.

The Financial Commissioner, Revenue and Rehabilitation, in a communique to GMADA, said the allotment policy had been reviewed and it had been decided to dispose of pending applications. Such flats would also be allotted in other towns of Punjab. The policy of the previous Congress government to fix quota of plots had been done away with.

Sources said prior to the decision, GMADA had decided to auction the flats, but now these would be allotted after PUDA and GMADA adopted government policy on the allotment of flats to the riot victims.

Apart from the booths, at least 87 low and middle-income flats have been identified in various sectors. The allotment would be made on the basis of claim applications submitted to the Deputy Commissioner. But the allotment would be made on the current allotment price, varying between Rs 18 lakh and Rs 43 lakh, depending on the category of flats.

As per the rates worked out in 2007, the price difference to be charged from an allottee for a low and middle-income flat was Rs 33,000 and Rs 88,000, respectively.



Dengue cases in city touch 18
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
With three positive cases of dengue being reported in the past 72 hours at the GMCH, Sector 32, the total number of people infected with the disease in the city has gone up to 18.

UT nodal officer of integrated disease surveillance programme HC Gera said all patients had been suffering from fever for the past four days. They were detected with dengue when their blood samples tested positive. Earlier, the UT health department had registered 15 cases of dengue in October.

The department terms it as a normal phenomenon as these were favourable months for the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. “In 2008, the dengue cases in October were 41 and 38 in 2007,” he said. He attributed the lower numbers to delay in the onset of monsoon and less rain.

“The situation is not serious. We are carrying out anti-larvae spraying and fogging,” he said. “If a patient has low blood platelet count, it cannot be considered to be dengue. It can also be due to viral fever or vivax malaria. Therefore, until the time a nodal centre or government doctor does not diagnose it as a case of dengue, we cannot comment on it,” he said.


Headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, pain in moving eyes and low backache. Temperature rises quickly and a rash may come on the face and then disappear. The glands in the neck are often swollen


Spray DDT or flit, prevent stagnation of water, cover doors and windows with mesh and screens and apply a mosquito repellent cream on the exposed parts of the body. There must be proper drainage for dirty water.



2-day remand for Nari Niketan attendant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Bajinder Singh, the attendant at Nari Niketan, who was arrested yesterday for his alleged involvement in the rape case at the centre, was sent to a two-day police remand by a local court here.

The police had asked for a four-day remand claiming that the victim had named him after recovering from the initial shock.

The accused, a resident of Sector 56, was arrested yesterday, increasing the number of arrests in the case to five.


Police fails to initiate action
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 5
The police has failed to initiate any action in removing habitual encroachments from roadsides even when the Municipal Council had for the first time made a request in this regard nearly two months ago.

After failing to remove the habitual encroachments from roadsides at its own level, the council had sought the police help to get footpaths and other areas vacated. The council authorities had written a letter to SP (Traffic) on September 10 requesting the police to take action against persons, who failed to vacate the roadside footpaths, despite several attempts by council employees. A copy of this letter was also sent to the Deputy Commissioner. It is learnt that the police had not only failed to take any action against the encroachers but had not even bothered to send a reply to the request of the civic body.

However, the Deputy Commissioner on getting a copy of the letter of the council had asked the police to initiate the action against the encroachers. A copy of the letter was sent to the council, which the civic body in turn sent it to the police making another request for the action. The police action was sought against Assa Ram and Harpal Singh who had encroached a footpath near Silvi Park, Phase X, for selling fruits, Kishan Pal, who sold fruits on the footpath near Majestic Hotel and some women who sold fruits on a footpath near the Phase XI Chowk. An employee of the tehbazari wing said it was difficult to stop some of the persons from encroaching footpaths because of political intervention. But residents moving on the main roads faced problems, as these encroachments proved to be traffic hazards because people parked their vehicles on roadsides to buy fruits.

Political leaders had told the council employees not to seize fruits of offenders but only items like baskets, etc. It was easy to seize illegal rehris but difficult to remove roadside vendors, as they sold fruits by spreading it on sheets and made little use of other items like baskets.



Smuggling Network
Cops go easy on arrest of liquor contractor
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 5
Even as Panchkula superintendent of police Amitabh Dhillon has denied of any pressure on the police for hushing up the case regarding alleged nexus among cops, bureaucrats and accused of duping banks, the sources told The Tribune that the police had already relaxed on the issue of arresting a liquor contractor of Ambala, who was instrumental in selling the vehicles of gang.

Earlier, the police had raided his house and working place three times following which the accused had gone under ground.

Later, reeling under the pressure of high ups, the police had conveyed to the contractor that it was ready to give up his chase provided he helped them in recovering the vehicles sold through him by the gang.

The police had narrowed down its scope of investigation on the issue.

While the documents have clearly mentioned the names of local as well as Punjab police officials on the pay roll of the accused, it has neither questioned the officials concerned regarding their names found in the list of gang members, nor it conveyed the matter to the police.

The Panchkula SHO, whose name is figured during the investigation, is still holding the important responsibility without any hindrance due to his political connections, despite the fact that an inspector in detective staff was transferred when it was observed by the authorities that he was using delaying tactics, said sources.

The two main accused Lovelesh Aggarwal and Amardeep Singh Thakur have been running many liquor vends in Chandigarh and neighbouring areas of Punjab. The police officials involved in the investigations feel that the Punjab police officials whose names have been mentioned in the payment list of the gang either were assisting the gang in smuggling liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab or were sleeping partners in their business.

Aggarwal also seemed to be in a hobby of keeping credit cards of several banks. The police has recovered 31 such cards from him.

The police, however, is perturbed over the fact that the victim bank officials were not ready to lodge a formal complaint against the accused.

The police has sought the list of vehicles financed in the name of accused from a nationalised bank of Sector 20 in Panchkula, finding that the bank authorities did not bother to initiate any action against the accused though the accused had been not depositing the EMIs against the huge auto loans.

The reason, however, was not difficult to find. The gang had hired a house in Sector 6 for entertaining their patrons. The house was also being used to torture those who dared to ask them for returning loans.

Manager of a private bank without coming on record told the police official that he was forced to sit on one of the chair and two persons kept on slapping him while Amardeep was sitting there keeping a gun on the table.

The gun, however, was found to be a toy gun, the sources said.



Beware criminals, PCR men on watch
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Expanding its horizon, the Police Control Room (PCR) wing of the Chandigarh Police has caught over 20 criminals, including snatchers and liquor smugglers, and has issued over 6,000 information slips of traffic rules violators in the last few months.

Senior officials had directed the PCR staff to remain vigilant and immediately react to the information about any incident of crime. The wing had arrested 23 criminals, including 12 snatchers, four liquor smugglers and seven thieves from June 1, 2009, to October 31. The personnel had recovered 10,440 bottles of various brands of liquor, a stolen car, an auto-rickshaw, two motorcycles, 16 batteries and other articles, including Rs 1,602 from snatchers and thieves during the period.

After being rewarded with 115 class-I commendation certificates and 66 class-III commendation certificates and bagging Rs 74,000 as cash reward in four months, the wing has outclassed other special wings in nabbing criminals. This is in addition to their routine duty of attending to emergency calls and accidents.

The PCR had been asked to provide information about the traffic rules violations. The PCR personnel had issued 6,665 traffic violations information slips from August 23 till date this year and forwarded the same to the traffic police for further action.

“Though the PCR personnel are not authorised to issue challans, yet they play an active role in booking the violators. It was seen that the motorists indulge in traffic violations, believing that the PCR could not initiate action against them. But with the new system in place, challans are being sent to their home through post,” said DSP (PCR) Roshan Lal.

With 537 police personnel and a fleet of 63 vehicles, including 35 Gypsies, 25 motorcycles and three trauma highway vans, the wing had attended to 19,469 calls, including 14,510 of miscellaneous nature, 4,274 accidents spots, 654 calls pertaining to noise pollution and 31 phone calls from senior citizens. The PCR personnel had returned valuables and cash amounting to Rs 1,28,297 to the family members of 2,564 road accidents victims.

The Chandigarh Police had provided Bajaj Pulsar motorcycles, which are deployed in the area of each of the 11 police stations in the city. In an attempt to nab the snatchers, the personnel on these motorcycles had been asked to leave their points and patrol the area to track the snatchers after getting direction from the control room. They are also instructed to go to any part of the city to nab the criminals.

Displaying exemplary honesty, a patrolling party had recently handed over Rs 2 lakh and four mobile phones of a road accident victim in Hallomajra to his family. Not in this, in their call to the duty, several personnel of the PCR were injured while nabbing the criminals. Constable Nirbhey Singh was injured while catching a motorcycle thief, who tried to speed away after hitting him.

UT SSP SS Srivastva said till date 118 PCR personnel had been rewarded for their achievements.



UT to prepare list of heritage buildings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
The Chandigarh administration has decided to formulate a list of heritage buildings in the city for their preservation and maintenance.

A meeting in this regard was held today under the chairmanship of UT Finance-cum-Planning Secretary Sanjay Kumar. It was deliberated to initiate an exercise to compile a list of local heritage buildings of which a final list of buildings will be made for projection of the city’s heritage buildings.

The Finance Secretary said the city was known internationally for its architecture and urban planning and there was a need to preserve it. The agenda will be prepared in a month and would be discussed with the members of the Archaeological Survey of India and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs for their recommendations.

Deliberations were made to look at the city beyond Le Corbusier planning and take along the historical importance of the city at the world level giving it a universal value.

The Finance Secretary said the city’s heritage list would help the administration to focus and concentrate on the identified buildings and take necessary steps for their restoration. Various important buildings like the Capitol Complex, the Government Museum and the Art Gallery, the College of Architecture, the College of Art and the Government Press, which are still being used as per their original use and are living monuments, would get due recognition after the exercise is over.



2 more test positive for swine flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Two more persons, including a 49-year-old doctor from the surgery department of the GMSH-16, and a Class IX student of DAV, Sector 8, tested positive for swine flu today, taking the overall tally to 61.

“The doctor, a resident of Panchkula, who has been tested positive, has been put on Tamiflu course.

“He was showing symptoms of swine flu, like running nose, high fever and bad throat. We had collected his throat and nasal swab samples yesterday and his report has come positive,” UT nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera said.

The UT health department has quarantined four doctors of the same department of the GMSH-16 as they were in close contact with him. Gera said, “We have also informed the Panchkula health authorities for quarantining his family members.”

The DAV student, who has been tested positive, is a resident of Sector 50. The UT health authorities have suspended Class IX of the school till Wednesday.

Meanwhile, two suspected cases of H1N1 influenza from Panchkula and Patiala were reported here today. “Throat swab samples have been sent to the PGI for lab tests. The reports will be come in a day," said Gera.

Till now, over 370 suspected cases of swine flu were reported in Chandigarh hospitals, of which 61 tested positive. Three deaths, one each in Chandigarh and in its neighbouring town of Mohali, have been reported in the region till now.



Pensioners seek hike in medical allowance
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 5
The Defence Accounts Pensioners Welfare Association has demanded additional quantum of pension for persons falling in the age group of 65 to 75 years, as their medical expenses increase with age.

HS Pasricha, general secretary, said pensioners falling in the age group of 80 to 100 years had already been granted 20 per cent to 100 per cent basic pension as per the provisions of the Sixth Pay Commission.

Similarly, pensioners below 80 years should also be given additional pension/ family pension as medical bills went up with age.

Government was paying Rs 100 per month as medical allowance, which was very less, because prices had gone up drastically. He said pension should be hiked at a rate of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the basic pension and the medical allowance should also be increased to Rs 1,000 per month.

The association said the increase in the water supply and sewerage charges directed by the government should not be implemented, as the charges were revised without any rationalised policy and urged the government to reconsider the matter.

Announcements made by the government about various plans for the development of Mohali were appreciated by the association but stressed that “What is promised and what is delivered has to match.” The association pointed out that the office of Punjab State Electricity Board was shifted from Sohana, which had created problems for residents for paying power bills, as the new office was located at a far-off place. It also urged the authorities concerned to take action soon.



Blankets distributed among ragpickers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
As part of the social security programmes, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator SF Rodrigues and his wife Jean Rodrigues visited ragpickers colony in Sector 56 here this evening and distributed blankets in each dwelling unit.

Members of NGOs, senior officials of the Chandigarh administration and the Chandigarh Housing Board accompanied the Administrator.

The Administrator listened to the grievances of the inhabitants of the colony and directed the Chandigarh Housing Board chief engineer to improve the living conditions and make necessary renovations of the structures in the colony. He also asked the officials to monitor the facilities on regular basis and coordinate with the departments concerned to set things right.

Rodrigues asked the director, Social Welfare, to institutionalise a programme for creating a household goods bank where people from affluent strata of the society could deposit their spare unutilised household articles, including clothes, utensils, furniture, for distribution among the colonies inhabited by the disadvantaged sections of the society.

Rodrigues enquired about their well-being of the ragpickers and exhorted them to educate their children and empower themselves by availing the benefits of various schemes being implemented by the Chandigarh Social Welfare Department.



Traffic restrictions

Chandigarh, November 5
Once bitten twice shy. This adage holds good for the police. After the death of an ailing man at the PGI gate during the Prime Minister’s visit a couple of days back, the Chandigarh Traffic Police today issued a traffic restriction advisory for motorists in the wake of swearing-in ceremony of the Haryana ministers at the Haryana Raj Bhawan tomorrow. The commuters have been advised to avoid using certain routes around the Raj Bhawan from 8 am to 2 pm. The traffic restriction will be imposed on the Golf turn to Hira Singh Chowk, from Hira Singh Chowk to Sukhna Lake and from Sector 7 to Vigyan Path. — TNS



Vigilance helpline

Chandigarh, November 5
The Chandigarh administration has issued three separate phone numbers for promoting vigilance awareness in the city. Complaints can be directly reported to Home Secretary Ram Niwas at 0172-2743410, SP Vigilance Madhur Verma at 0172-2740735 or Officer on Special Duty, Vigilance, Pramod Kumar Vashisht at 0172-2740012. The Home Secretary and the SP Vigilance can be contacted at any working day during the office hours whereas the third number is functional round-the-clock. — TNS



Mohali doc for research meeting
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 5
Fortis Hospital, Mohali, today announced that its senior consultant, endocrinology, Dr KP Singh, has been invited to address the annual meeting of RSSDI (Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India). Dr Singh will be talking on “Accord vs Advance”. The seminar will discuss the diabetes care and research in India and is being held from November 5-8 in Ahmedabad.



PEC Fest
Traffic violations mark road show
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Rampant traffic violations marked the road show ahead of PEC Fest, which is scheduled from tomorrow.

The rally reportedly organised to display vigour, passion and enthusiasm of the students was actually a cavalcade where hundreds of students could easily be spotted driving without helmets and doing stunts on bikes, cars and jeeps.

While for college authorities it was a show of youth power, for the traffic police it was nothing but a menace.

“A car rally does not give you a licence to create ruckus on the roads. Nobody was wearing a helmet. The educational institutions are responsible for the act of the students and they should ensure that they break no rules or norms for such events. If they want things to continue this way, then we will soon be forced to restrict such activities to the campus only,” said a senior official.



Media Fest
Photo exhibition a crowd puller
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
The Media Fest organised by the School of Communication Studies, Panjab University, started with a documentary competition, which had entries highlighting several issues like environmental pollution, slum life, special children, etc.

The competition was followed by several fun activities like a face and T-shirt painting competition pivoted around the theme, “Dimag ki batti jaloa”.

The photography exhibition on the theme “Colours of SOCH” was a major crowd puller other than the qawwali night organised in courtesy with the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (SAARC, FOSWAL).



Dance by 500 kids enthralls audience
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
The staging of the much-awaited students’ production, “Mohey Rang De”, marked the conclusion of the founders’ day celebrations at Vivek High School today.

A dance extravaganza performed simultaneously on six stages by 500 students mesmerised one and all. The visual treat directed by Amal Allana, chairperson of National School Of Drama, with sets designed by her equally renowned husband, Dr Nisar Allana, was a resounding success and probably the best way to mark the completion of 25 years by the school.

The lyrics attributable to Madan Gopal brought alive the rural heartland of Punjab, which was further enhanced by Natasha Rastogi and Manish Halder through detailed choreography and execution of the production.

The essence of the play was an appreciation of one’s roots and also celebration of the birth of a girl child.



Govt school students visit St Kabir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5
Students of Government High School, Mauli Jagran, visited St Kabir Public School today as part of the ongoing partnership initiative programme.

As per the programme, the management committees of both schools have proposed to work together to share their best practices, infrastructure and facilities.

The endeavour started off with an inspiring message from St Kabir’s director JP Singh and followed by the performances of the students of both schools.



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