Sunday, January 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Four dead, 5 hurt in accident
From Bipin Bhardwaj
From Our Correspondent

ZIRAKPUR, Jan 1 — As many as four persons, including three of a family, died on the spot and five others were seriously injured in an accident on the Zirakpur-Patiala National Highway near Nabha Sahab village on Saturday afternoon.

According to the police a truck (CH-01M-5018) of Coca Cola company rammed into an Ambassador car (DL-1C-5601) on the way to the Chhat Bir Zoological Park with nine persons in it. The truck was overtaking the car and collided with it while trying to avoid another vehicle coming from the opposite side.

The dead include Rajan Sood (40), his wife Sunanda (35), their son Arshad (8) and Sagrika. The couple and Sagrika died on the spot while Arshad was declared dead by the doctors at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, in Chandigarh.

Those who received serious injuries include Simmi (32), Kannu (10), Rupal (12), Abhey (10) and Kuldeep Singh, driver of the car. All are at the Sector-32 hospital in a critical condition.

Mr Shankar, an eyewitness said: “After the accident the truck and the car skidded to the berm of the road with the tyres of the truck about four feet up in the air. The injured trapped inside the car were rescued by passers-by and those working in the fields surrounding the area.”

As the Chandigarh Tribune team reached the spot, the dead bodies of Rajan, Sunanda and Sagrika were lying along the side of the road. There was blood splattered on the road. The pieces of the broken windowpanes were scattered within a distance of nearly 50 yards from the spot.

Hundreds of road users gathered there to lead to a traffic chaos. The police personnel deployed there had a tough time to segregate the gathering. The driver of the truck had reportedly fled from the spot after the accident.

The victims were from Himachal Pradesh and had settled in Sector 46. Simmi (32), had come to see her sister Sunanda from Palampur during her children’s vacation. They had planned to visit Chhat Bir today and Shimla tomorrow.

This is the second accident in this town within the past 48 hours. Earlier, a collision involving a Tata Sumo, bearing a temporary number, and a Honda City Car (CH-01W-4111) and a truck (HR-37-1548) on the Kalka-Ambala highway near Lohgarh village had resulted in the death of Neelam Puri, a resident of Sector 19 of Chandigarh on Friday afternoon.

According to the police, the deceased was rushed to the Sector 32 hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. The driver of Tata Sumo fled from the spot. A case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code had been registered at Lohgarh police post. Back

Bride returns with hijacker's gift
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — "The hijackers were kind to us and I was even given a beautiful shawl by one of the hijackers on December 27, my birthday, at Kandahar. We never thought that it was such a big event and were overwhelmed to see a sea of humanity at the airport when we arrived at Delhi, said Pooja who arrived to a warm welcome in Chandigarh late this evening. Her husband, who had gone to collect the luggage, would be in the city late tonight.

Dressed in fine clothes, the radiant bride answered queries from relatives and well wishers who had gathered at the decked-up Mani Majra residence of her in-laws, despite being tired. She and her husband, Rakesh, were aboard the ill-fated flight, IC 814, which was hijacked on December 24.

"I was talking to my husband when the hijackers came into our section of the plane at about 5.05 p.m. and announced that the plane had been hijacked and everybody should keep their heads down and remain calm. Our initial reaction was of panic and some of the women and kids started crying. It was good in a way, since the crying was instrumental in getting several mothers released later on.

The hijackers then searched all handbags of the passengers and took all the belongings to the front of the aircraft. They wore monkey caps and spoke to us in Hindi and English.

The first day everybody was terrified. We did not what was happening but as the days passed, we came to terms with our captivity." "Nobody knew that it was such an international event, we thought we would be let off in a couple of days but it stretched on to a week," she said with a smile amid hugs from her relieved mother.

The hijackers were rude to some persons and slapped those who raised their heads. After two days, the women were allowed to move freely in the aircraft, while the men had to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. They addressed all women passengers as sister and said they were true muslims and would kill themselves before harming any hostages. It was on arriving here that I came to know that a fellow passenger, Rupin Katyal, had been killed by them, she said.

They said they had been armed only with a knife and a pistol when they hijacked the plane. However, later on, they were seen brandishing guns, although they did not reveal how they got these.

The hijackers repeatedly spoke about the injustice being done to the people of Kashmir by the Indian government. The people are being killed and forced to live in a regime against their wishes. They later told us that the government was taking a long time in negotiations. We asked for only 21 persons to be freed initially, but they did not have any sympathy towards the hostages, she said.

However, after overcoming the initial fear, another major problem we faced was that of good food. As the stock on board ran out, we were served non-vegetarian fare at Kandahar. The naans (bread) too were not tasty and most of the time, I had to make do with kishmish, fried rice and oranges. The water was also rationed.

While she was lucky to have her husband by her side, some of the couples were separated. We thought once the whole episode was over, should we travel by taxi or take a bus to Chandigarh. I did not know the entire family would be at the airport to receive us, she said. Drum beats could be heard outside. Reacting to another query, she said she would never visit Kathmandu again.Back

A traumatic millennium experience
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — Celebrating the millennium in the city proved to be a traumatic experience for three Non Resident Indians (NRIs), who had a first-hand account of hospitality — Punjab Police style.

British nationals Rajdeep (24) and Ravinder Gill (19), both brothers, and their friend Surjit Mann (26), had come to Chandigarh to celebrate the millennium and were putting up at the Mountview Hotel in Sector 10. They had booked their tickets for the party in advance and were looking forward for the event.

Mr D.P.S. Gill, father of the victims, said after arriving at about 7. 30 they had checked in and after a change of clothes were standing outside the lobby calling up their friends at about midnight in London to check how were things going on there. Suddenly, a couple of boys tapped Rajdeep on his shoulder and asked him to take a photograph. Since he was busy on the phone, he refused to do so.

The boys went away and came back a few minutes later accompanied by several of their friends and encircled Rajdeep. They accosted him and asked him how could he dare refuse one of them. Rajdeep replied that he was busy on the phone and anyway it was within his right to refuse. Seeing that the situation was getting out of hand the trio backed off and went to their room (345 and 346).

“While they were taking about the whole affair they heard a knock and assuming that some one of the family might have come, they opened the door. They were surprised to find several policemen in uniform. We came to know later that they were Punjab Police personnel, standing in front of the door”, Mr Gill said.

Without any provocation and without telling them what the reason was they pulled all three of them by their hair from the room and started thrashing them. They later dragged them from the third floor of the hotel and dumped them in a Gypsy parked outside.

Mr Gill said an elderly Sikh gentleman accosted the cops and asked them to let the boys go free. The policemen were finally called off by a gentleman sitting in a white Contessa car bearing the registration number CHO1S 0010. The attackers later went away in their vehicles. Enquiries at our level reveal that he is a Punjab IAS officer, he alleged.

Terming the entire episode as barbaric, Mr Gill alleged that the staff of the hotel not only gave the cops their room numbers but did not intervene when they were being attacked and thrashed. “Is it not the duty of the hotel staff to protect their guests and look after them?”, he questioned.

In the melee, one gold chain, a gold bracelet, one cellular phone and a winter jacket were also taken by the cops, he added.

A report has been lodged at the North Police station and further investigations are under way.Back


Millennium babies thrill parents
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — Apprehensions of disruption in services due to the Y2K problem nothwitstanding, about ten couples became proud parents of babies born during the first six hours of the new millennium in the three main hospitals of the city.

It was a night of anxiety and excitement, particularly for those whose little ones stepped into the world between 12 midnight and 1 a.m, as the hospital authorities had apprehened power failure and had put up notices for switching off equipment for some time. Nearly 32 “millennium babies” were born in these hospitals till 4 o’ clock in the evening.

The General Hospital, Sector 16, which had the maximum deliveries today had more girls than boys among the newborns. For the five women who delivered during the first six hours, the thrill of having a child on the first day of the millennium was much more than the disappointment of having a girl child. Of the 16 deliveries till 4 pm, there were 7 boys and 9 girls.

Ms Nirmala of Janata labour colony, Sector 25, was perhaps the first to deliver at 00.35a.m “The new millennium has given me a beautiful ‘tohfa’ in the form of this girl as my family is complete. I have a 4-year-old son,” said an excited Nirmala.

Ms Jyoti Sharma, who had a baby girl at 1.20, a.m expressed her gratitude to God for a healthy child and accepted her as His blessings. She has a three-year-old child. Her parents are happy as they feel that the child born on a special day will bring them good luck.

For another mother, Ms Sushila, who had a second girl, the thrill of having a millennium baby was great. “We might think of an interesting name for her to signify her birth at the beginning of a new century”, said her husband, Mr Ram Kumar, a resident of Bapu Dham.

The joy of Ms Hardeep Kaur, of Balongi, who delivered a baby boy at 4.08 a.m, knows no bounds. She not only had a boy as her first child, but also because he was born at the start of the new millennium.

Similar feelings were expressed by Ms Rita Devi, who had a daughter at 5.30 am, and Ms Narinder Kaur, who gave birth to a son at 6 am. Narinder’s husband, Mr Dharamvir Singh, said, “We are happy to welcome a baby boy as a first born on the occasion of the new millennium.” He will always be proud of the fact that he came into this world at the dawn of the new century.’’

To the five cases admitted at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, four girls and one boywere born. According to information available, Ms Paramjit Kaur of Ropar delivered a boy at 5.17 am, while Ms Komal Grewal had a daughter at 5.35 pm. They also expressed happiness on having normal healthy children.

Contrary to this, more boys were born at the PGI. Of the 10 children born in the hospital till 4 pm, there were 7 boys and 3 girls. Ms Kulwinder Kaur of a village near Landran, gave birth to a son at 4.22 pm. She is happy but is a little upset as the child has some congenital disorder. However, she is hopeful that he will soon be healthy and normal.

Ms Sumitra of Dadu Majra colony is on top of the world after giving birth to a healthy baby boy. “I am grateful to God for this wonderful gift”, she said. None of these proud mothers had planned it like this. Some of them are expecting to get exciting gifts from some companies who have promised to do so. Interestingly, some prominent nursing homes in the city had no newborns during this period.Back

Living under electrocution danger
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Jan 1 — The hub of most commercial activity in the township, Sector 7 has gradually gained popularity for the vast range of items available in the market. However, the sector has its dark side too and ironically it is connected with light.

Though the showrooms that make the market place attractive to residents are all very well done up, the booths behind the showrooms are eking out an existence living in their shadows. Also, the parking lot in front of these booths is being taken over by roadside rehris which are perpetually parked there.

Just overhead is a web of wires stretching from electricity pole and going right up to these booths. The exposed wires are a potential danger to the booths while the open sockets and meters on the electricity pole pose a danger to passers-by.

A fire hazard waiting to happen is all the wires and poles in the Sector 7 market are about and the condition of these has continued to deteriorate over the years. One shopkeeper said: ''A couple of years ago there was a major fire in one of the showrooms because the electricity department had failed to take notice of the danger posed by the dangling wires. The shopkeeper lost a lot of items in the fire.''

Another shopkeeper said: ''The problem posed by loose wires can also be attributed to the stop-gap arrangements made by the shopkeepers themselves. Some of them are seen fiddling with the wires in case electricity goes off. One has even developed a novel way of pelting stones at the sockets to get back his lost connection and surprisingly it works all the time.''

Meanwhile, others continue to live in constant danger with frequent sparking from the wires. One opined: ''Only when one or two persons are electrocuted will the electricity department sit up and take notice. Till then there is little hope of any action and the problem has become more acute in the past few years with an increase in the number of shops in the vicinity.'' He added that the problem had been there for over five years now.Back

Destitute have special guest

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — The Punjab Governor and Administrator of the UT, Lt-Gen JFR Jacob (retd) today visited Bal Niketan, Sector 15, and the Missionaries of Charity, Sector 23, to celebrate the New Year.

The Administrator announced the enhancement of monthly maintenance grant to the niketan from Rs 250 to Rs 450, and later announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the upkeep of Missionaries of Charity. Accompanied by the Adviser, UT, Ms Vineeta Rai, the Deputy Commissioner, UT, Mr M. Ramshekar, and other officials, Lt-Gen Jacob first went to the niketan, where about 34 orphaned children presented a song and dance programme and welcomed him with roses and painted New Year cards.

The Administrator then presented a bouquet to the children and distributed food to all the inmates.Later, taking the round of dormitory rooms, the Administrator said the rooms should be made brighter and cheerful and some pictures should be supplied by the Administration. He asked the Administration to arrange additional indoor games for the children there.

After attending a prayer meeting at the Missionaries of Charity, the Administrator took a round of the nursery, where over 85 abandoned children were being looked after. The Administrator tried his hands at holding the babies, while confessing that he did not have any experience with kids. Other officials also took turns to hold and play with the children. These officials were later greeted with loud cries of “Happy New Year” by mentally retarded children.

The elder children of the home then presented a cultural programme in the honour of the Administrator. He then distributed sweets and blankets among the inmates.Meanwhile, on the eve of New Year, Gen Jacob went around in the city distributing blankets among those spending the night without any shelter on their heads.

Accompanied by Mr M. Ramshekar and Senior Medical Officer of Punjab Raj Bhawan, the Administrator first went to the area opposite the bus stand and then to the markets of sectors 18 and 19, where rickshaw-pullers were spending the night in open corridors.These persons were also medically examined and were given medicines on the spot. Some of them were also sent to hospitals after examination.Gen Jacob also went to the open area in Sector 35 opposite Bajwara Market, where people had erected temporary structures to live in.Back


Pedestrian succumbs to injuries
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — A pedestrian who was hit by an unknown truck yesterday, succumbed to his injuries at the PGI here today.

According to the police sources, Mr D.S. Grover, a resident of Sector 15, was hit by a truck, the driver of which fled from the scene. The pedestrian was shifted to the hospital with serious injuries yesterday and died today.

Bribe taken: Home Guard volunteer Baldev Singh has been arrested for taking a bribe from a Pathankot resident.

Mr Tarsem Lal lodged a compliant that the accused, on the PCR vehicle duty, had stopped his Tata Sumo (PB-06-B-1993) near the Attawa Chowk and demanded money to let him off. He reportedly took a bribe of Rs 50.

A case under Sections 7 and 13 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered at the Sector 36 police station.

Liquor seized: The police has arrested five persons under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act for possessing liquor beyond the permissible limits. 50 pouches of whisky and 48 bottles of liquor were seized from them by the police. Those arrested are Rita, Sanjeev Sood, Mohinder Singh, Inderpal and Bodh Raj.

Bicycle stolen: Mr Arjun Singh, a resident of Sector 30-A, said his bicycle was stolen from the Sector 30 market.Back

Purse snatched from woman
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Jan 1 — Another incident of snatching has been reported from the township. In the latest incident, a scooter-borne youth snatched a purse from a woman near Bank Colony market in Phase X here yesterday.

According to the information available, a clean-shaven youth in his early twenties came on a scooter bearing a registration number of Chandigarh, and snatched the purse from Ms Surinder Kaur, of Phase X. The purse contained cash and some documents.

The victim, in the description given to the police, said the scooter used by the snatcher was without the spare wheel. A case under Sections 379 and 431 of the IPC has been registered. Back


Prices of small cars likely to go up
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — Prices of almost all cars in the small car segment are expected to go up substantially within the next week or ten days. This has made people rush to buy cars, thus pushing up the premium on small cars. The sales of second-hand cars also have been brisk .

Even after paying a handsome premium ranging between Rs 7,000 and Rs 30,000, people are preferring to buy cars now instead of waiting for some days. Prices of the Zen , the Maruti 800 CC and the Omni van from the Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) stable will go up between Rs 15,000 and Rs 24,000 from January 3, according to reports.

Prices of other small cars like the Santro manufactured by Hyundai are expected to go up between Rs 9,000 and Rs 14,000, according to sources. The TATA’s are also jacking up the price of Indica, sources in the automobile sector said. The figure is yet to come out. Meanwhile there is no hike expected from Daewoo for its 800 CC Matiz or from Premier for its model the Uno. These cars also fall in the small car segment.

Naturally, with the price hike around the corner, the premium is also up. Till about 10 days ago all cars like the Maruti 800, Zen , Santro and the Indica, were available “off the shelf’’. Now, says Mr Harbir Singh, a car dealer in Sector 7, the TATA Indica is commanding the highest premium among small cars at Rs 30,000 over and above it’s price.

Maruti dealers — a total of three in the city — have been selling up to 100 cars a day each. The average was no more 20 to 25 cars till the second week of December. And in some cases discounts ranging between Rs 2000 and Rs 2,500 were also offered during the first week of last month.

By the second week of December, the automobile sector was rife with reports about an impending price hike from Hyundai, forcing several people to make a quick choice. This demand also fuelled the premium in the market. Today the Santro is commanding a premium between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000, depending upon the variant of the model one wants to buy.

In the past four days Hyundai is reportedly taking an undertaking from customers that the additional cost of the vehicle, in case of the hike, will be paid by the customer.

Meanwhile the consistently selling Maruti 800 CC, standard model is now selling at a premium of Rs10,000. The deluxe version of the same segment can still be had “off the shelf’’. The Omni van is also commanding a premium between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000. The Zen that is positioned directly in competition with the Santro is also selling for Rs 10,000 over and above its schedule price.

Sources said the sellers are not ordinary people who booked cars for their own use after seeing some profit in it. “Why would a person who has booked a car for himself sell it as he will also know about the price hike?’’ questioned the source. The car dealers, who deal in sale-purchase of vehicles, made quick bookings after sensing that the price hike was around the corner. Mr Harbir Singh says: “After the hike is effected by the companies, the sales of new ones will be slow as people will wait to readjust their budgets.”

As the premium is prevailing in the new car segment, the sale of second-hand cars cannot be behind. Mr R.G. Singh a dealer in second-hand vehicles, said the prices may not have gone up but the sales that had slowed down have picked up. But this may be a temporary phase that will be over by the middle of this month, said an old hand in the business. Back

Traders seek approach road
From Our Correspondent

PANCHKULA, Jan 1— The Traders Association of Sector 16, Panchkula, in its general body meeting held here today, expressed gratitude towards the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for completing the construction roads in the sector market.

The association, however, urged the authorities to fulfil its pending demands, including an approach road to the market from the main road, inner roads for inter-connectivity of shops, adequate streetlights in the market and construction of the dispensary marked for the sector in the market.

The association also lamented the low voltage and frequent electricity breakdowns in the market.Back

Unauthorised vendors selling stale vegetables
From a Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Jan 1 — With the presence of unauthorised vendors in the weekly vegetable market, farmers are left with huge quantities of ‘unsold produce’. The market is organised by the market committee near Ram Darbar every Friday.

The market supervisor, Mr Malkiat Singh, said around 100 farmers bring their vegetables to this market but unauthorised vendors, who outnumber farmers, also sell ‘stale vegetables’ in this market, which they bring from the vegetable market of Sector 26. They are harming the interests of vegetable-producing farmers, he says.

The committee authorises farmers after verifying their credentials to sell their produce here. It charges Rs 10 per farmer per day and pay Rs 100 as ground rent to the Chandigarh Administration. The committee fixes the prices for the day and listens to complaints of customers against the authorised vendors, but it has no control over unauthorised vendors. “We have requested the Administration to move these vendors away, but in vain,” Mr Malkiat Singh adds.

Mr Rajinder Singh, market pradhan, says they bring fresh vegetables and sell these at wholesale prices but have to suffer losses as their vegetables are left unsold. He complains that other vendors, who sell garments, fruits, spices etc, also come there and cause inconvenience to farmers and customers. They are not paying any ground fee to the Administration.

On the other hand, the unauthorised vendors maintain that the market committee cannot stop them as the ground does not belong to it. Customers say they can purchase every essential commodity from this market at cheap prices. Back

Tanker operators’ stir
From Our Correspondent

AMBALA, Jan 1 — The Haryana Petroleum Tankers’ Operators Association has decided to observe strike from today till January 3 in support of their demands. A decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the state executive of the body held at Ambala yesterday.

Mr Prem Soni, a spokesman of the association said the corporation authorities did not consider their “genuine demands” after repeated representations and requests. He said the carriage contact rate settled between the authorities of the IOC and the association a few years back expired on September 30 last year. The association had been demanding a new rate contract. On November 1 the association had observed one-day token strike in protest. The authorities had assured them to consider their demand but later they backed out.

Meanwhile, the Senior Terminal Manager of the IOC, Ambala depot, Mr Akhilesh Gupta, said the association had a conversation with the IOC, Delhi office and the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum. Back

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