Friday, March 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC approves 2 pc tax on commercial property
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The Municipal Corporation here today approved 2 per cent tax on the annual rental ‘’rateable’’ value of commercial property, and 1.5 per cent on government buildings amidst separate walkouts from the BJP-SAD alliance and the Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM).

The majority party Congress, while passing the 2 per cent rate, turned down demand of at least 5 per cent rate by a section of the councillors who pleaded that inviting public displeasure for such a small rate, which is unviable also, was a risk not worth taking.

While the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal and the CVM opposed imposition of the tax, terming it as a ‘’deceitful act of the Congress’’, most of nominated councillors said the Congress moved half-heartedly on imposing tax. As a result the rate of tax would be unviable as the Municipal Commissioner, Mr M.P. Singh, had recorded in the minutes of the Finance and Contract Committee meeting.

An unviable tax rate immediately resulted in the Horticulture Department getting Rs 1 crore this year against last year’s provision of two crore, roads this year got Rs 3.80 crore against last year’s revised estimate of Rs 11 crore, street lighting got Rs 40 lakh against last year’s allocation of Rs 50 lakh, villages got nothing against last year’s provision of Rs 20 lakh.

The Congress leader in the House, Mr Subhash Chawla, quoted minutes of the meeting in 1998 when a BJP councillor, Mr Prem Sagar Jain, was quoted as saying that 10 per cent was the lowest and most appropriate rate of tax.

Mr Chawla sounded conciliatory, saying as even earlier estimates were not based on any survey, 2 per cent rate was sufficient and the ‘’matter could be given a fresh look once sound scientific surveys are available.’’

Though Mr Chawla claimed the budget estimates to be realistic with highest hopes being pegged to the sale of property, with lower provisions for the sectors mentioned above realisation of the best value for the property will remain a distant dream and the sale of property could be under distress.

The Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, reading out her budget proposals in Hindi, said the Congress, as per its promise, had made a higher provision of Rs 4.39 crore as against that of the fiscal 2001-2002 Rs 2.87 crore, Rs 2 crore for councillors fund, Rs 50 lakh for community centres, awards for best employees and sweepers and study tours of officials and councillors to inculcate a new work culture in the corporation.

Former Mayors and BJP and SAD councillors Ms Kamla Sharma and Ms Harjinder Kaur, alleged that the budget had only sought to fudge data and did not have any account of around Rs 13 crore less grant from the Chandigarh Administration.

They said the allocations to sectors like horticulture, roads and street lights would not even suffice repair, dashing the hopes of the people to get new facilities in the sectors.

The House, before passing the amount to be realised from the property tax, made a provision for relaxation to small booths, details for whom will be decided later.

Gainer sectors are public health with the fourth phase of 20 MGD Kajauli water works getting Rs 11.60 crore, Rs 7 crore for hydraulic platform-cum-turn table ladder and rehabilitation getting Rs 1 crore in the budget 2002-2003.

The Rs 161.83 crore budget — Rs 115.77 crore for non-plan and 46.06 crore on plan — had provided for Rs 86 crore grant from the Chandigarh Administration despite the city government approving only 73.14 crore grant recently.

Rs 2 crore have been allocated for new pipelines, Rs 2 crore for sewage plant near Dharamgarh village, Rs 60 lakh for water supply to Manimajra and Rs 10 lakh for creating a new public health division and Rs 31 lakh on computerisation,

The guidelines for property tax would be formed in the next meeting of the House, the Commissioner, Mr. M. P. Singh, said.

The budget debate became stormy with the leader of the BJP and SAD, Ms. Kamla Sharma opposing the imposition of 2 per cent tax claiming the BJP did not allow any tax on the people.

CVM leader in the House, Mr Jitender Bhatia, opposing the tax, led party members Ms Harpreet Kaur Babla and Vijay Singh Rana for a walkout to return later in the proceedings.

The debate was joined by Mr P.C. Sanghi, Dr K.S. Raju, leader of the Congress in the House, Mr Subhash Chawla, Ms Amar Kulwant Singh, among others.

The members including Mr Raju and Mr Chawla, urged the Mayor to give a representation to the Administration to immediately decide the corporation’s share in taxes collected by the city government as per the provisions of section 90 of the Punjab Municipal Act, extended to Chandigarh.

Mr Chawla indicated that the Administration would honour various promises for taking a positive decision on property tax and provide a matching grant that would fetch the corporation at least Rs 7 crore that would be collected through property tax.

Mr M.P. Singh said that though the amount approved in the plan was less than what had been shown in the books, assurances had been given to provide the amount shown in the budget.

He also said the corporation would be getting rights for display of advertisements on toilets, big sized garbage spaces and streetlights, which would bring healthy revenue.

The budget debate once virtually plunged into a din when the BJP councillor and former Mayor, Mr Gyan Chand Gupta, sought explanation from the Mayor on action against the Deputy Mayor, Mr Balraj Singh’s wife for alleged embezzlement of Rs 5 lakh.


Chandigarh Budget Rs 758.35 crore
Energy gets Rs 224.76 cr, education Rs 136.23 cr

THE total expenditure for the Union Territory of Chandigarh for the year 2002-03 has been fixed at Rs 758.35 crore. This is higher than the revised estimates for 2001-02 of Rs 734.10 crore. The budgeted estimate for 2001-02 was Rs 702.50 crore. Total non-plan expenditure for the year 2002-03 has been fixed at Rs 598.35 crore — up from the revised estimates of Rs 579.99 crore of the previous financial year.

Within non-Plan expenditure, energy has received the highest allocation of Rs 224.76 crore, followed by education (Rs 136.23 crore), transport ( Rs 65.20 crore), housing and urban development (Rs 56.44 crore), education (Rs 30.76 crore), and labour (Rs 3.78 crore). An amount of Rs 17.62 crore has been earmarked for miscellaneous purposes under non-Plan expenditure.

Of the total expenditure, Rs 744.78 crore would constitute revenue expenditure, while the remaining Rs 13.57 crore would constitute capital expenditure. The revenue expenditure for 2002-03 is higher by Rs 37.36 crore than the revised estimates of 2001-02.

The capital expenditure for 2002-03 shows a significant decline of Rs 13.11 crore than the revised estimate of 2001-02. The revised estimates of capital expenditure for 2001-02 is Rs 26.68 crore, higher than the budgeted estimate of Rs 20.23 crore.

On the revenue side, the total revenue for 2002-03 is estimated to be Rs 684.99 crore, up by Rs 26.58 crore of the revised estimates of 2001-02.

The Budget for 2002-03 estimates an increase in tax revenue than the revised estimates of 2001-02. The tax revenue for 2001-02 is estimated to be Rs 395.25 crore — higher by Rs 14.75 crore than the revised estimates of 2001-02. The non-tax revenue for the year 2002-03 is estimated to be Rs 289.74 crore, up from Rs 277.91 crore, the revised estimate of 2001-02. 


Budget disappoints middle class
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Hike in the LPG by Rs 40 per cylinder and no additional relief to individual tax payers in the Budget-2002 has disappointed the salaried class.

“The budget has only burdened the common man further. Reduction of Rs 1 per litre in petrol prices can, in no way, compensate the Rs 40 increase in an LPG cylinder”, said Ms Harbhajan Kaur, a former principal adding, “Instead of reducing prices of luxury items, the Finance Minister should have thought about the middle class people”.

Expressing discontentment over absence of any relief to individual tax payers, Wg Cdr (retd) H.S. Sodhi said the Budget should have provided some relief like reduction in taxation rates for the individuals. He said the cut in savings rate by half per cent would hit those who are dependent for their income on interest from the savings.

“Increase of surcharge to five per cent from two per cent for those in income bracket of Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh would be a major blow especially to the salaried class. Measures like this and rebate reduction on savings by 10 per cent would make a person drawing salary of, say, Rs 20,000 a month ending up paying almost half of his salary in taxes only”, lamented Mr S.K. Nayar, Assistant Director, Bhakra Beas Management Board.

City residents, however, appreciated the steps towards housing, petroleum and diesel, and tourism. Measures relating to the petroleum industry would help both the consumer as well as the industry, said Mr Amanpreet Singh, Secretary, Chandigarh Petroleum Dealers Association. Mr Amarjeet Sethi, chief patron, Property Consultants Association, Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar, said the Budget was favorable for the housing sector. “Measures like no prior approval for transfer of property, reform of rent control laws, rationalisation of stamp duty regime and effort towards infrastructural development are commendable”, he added.

Appreciating the proposal of increase in plan outlay for tourism, Mr Subhash Goyal, president of the Confederation of Tourism Professionals, said this would be conducive for the growth of this sector.

Measures for the banking sector like investment by foreign banks would help improve the banking scenario in the country, said Mr G.S. Channi, of Centurion Bank. He said introduction of banking bill that will happen in near future was also a positive signal for the banking industry.

On proposals including permission to mutual fund companies to invest in companies abroad, permission to Indian companies to invest upto $100 million in foreign companies etc, experts feel it would broad base the avenues and prove beneficial for the financial sector. “Mutual fund managers can now explore safer investment opportunities in the markets abroad and give higher and stable returns to the investors”, said Mr Umesh Sood, branch head, Investsmart India.

Expansion of service tax net further to beauticians, insurance companies, event management companies etc would be harmful for the consumer, said those in the industry. “In case of insurance sector, for instance, service tax would ultimately lead to higher premiums which the customer has to pay”, said Ms Payal Sharma, Director, UGCE-IIT (IRDA), approved insurance training institute.

Reduction of CVD on cellular phones and pagers and increased allocation to this sector would help increase mobile penetration in the country, said Mr Vinod Sawhny, MD, Spice Telecom.

The pharmaceutical industry, however, was not much cheered up by the Budget proposals. “The Finance Minister seemed to have forgotten the research and development aspect for the pharma sector, which is one of the most important requirements if we have to compete globally”, said Mr V.K. Mehta, Joint Director, Ind-Swift Laboratories. The decision of reduction of custom duty for important drugs does not make much of difference to our industry as most of the drugs today are indigenously manufactured, he said”.


PUs estimated budget stands at Rs 89.62 cr
New demands for next academic session estimated at Rs 2.80 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Panjab University has an estimated budget of Rs 89.62 crore for the forthcoming financial year (2002-2003). This is about Rs 5 crore less than the ongoing financial year, when a sum of Rs 94 crore was earmarked for PU affairs.

The estimates of Rs 89.62 crore, when compared with the original budget estimates of this year, are more by Rs 3 crore. Last year the budget estimates were recorded as Rs 86.05 crore. Later grants and certain revisions were affected taking the sum to Rs 94 crore. A large part of the budget is specifically sent to PU through the Chandigarh Administration while the Punjab Government is the other contributor.

The ‘new and additional demands’ for the forthcoming academic session are Rs 2.80 crore. The amount of Rs 2.80 crore is only 40 per cent of the total demands received from the various departments, reliable sources indicate. These demands could go up.

The budget first comes up for discussion at the Board of Finance meeting, and will be finally approved by the university senate in March. The tentative budget estimates for the proposed University Institute of Engineering and Technology stands at an expected income of Rs 2.15 crore ( on an assumption of full seats capacity utilisation). The expected expenditure has been shown as Rs 1.96 crore.

Each separate course in the institute will have 65 seats. Of the total as many as 30 will be seats for the students who come by an open merit, as many as 30 will be paid seats and the remaining five will be reserved for NRI-sponsored and industry-sponsored candidates. The university proposes to start only four courses in the forthcoming academic session.

The Board of Finance will ‘consider the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor to create a post of director ( professors scale) on contractual basis for execution, planning and management of various activities in relation to the new bachelor of engineering courses in the university for the proposed University Institute of Engineering and Technology’ from the forthcoming academic session. The university proposes to spend a certain amount from the interest on fund for higher education and research on infrastructural development and repairs.

The Vice-Chancellor has sanctioned a sum of Rs 1.40 lakh out of 15 per cent of the interest earned on the fund for higher education and research for re-carpeting the approach roads to the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The VC has sanctioned a sum of Rs 2.64 lakh out of 15 per cent interest generated on the fund for construction of parking area in front of the basic medical science building. One of the proposals is the Vice-Chancellor’s recommendation of making a provision of Rs 3 lakh for purchase and installation of four punching machines for computerised monitoring of attendance of the employees in the Administrative Block.


Admn bans carry bags for foodstuffs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The Chandigarh Administration today banned the use of polythene bags for packaging food stuff, making it totally illegal and punishable under law.

This comes following a notification this year, of the rules governing the bye-laws, enforcing a ban on manufacture and usage of polythene bags and containers.

The notification prohibits manufacture and use of polythene bags and containers: It says no trader or vendor shall use carry bags or containers made of recycled plastic, irrespective of the thickness of carry bags or containers for the purposes of storing, carrying, dispensing or packaging of foodstuffs.

No person shall manufacture and no trader or vendor shall sell or use any carry bags or containers made of virgin plastic or recycled plastic, if the thickness of the said carry bags or container was less than 20 microns, say new rules.

The first offence will result in imprisonment for a term of one month or Rs 1,000 as fine or both. Subsequent conviction shall be punishable with double the penalty provided for the first offence.

The Commissioner MC or an authorised officer shall be competent to confiscate the banned material under proper inventory. The banned or seized material shall not be returnable.

It shall be lawful for the Commissioner or authorised officer to get banned or seized material destroyed to avoid recirculation. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the authorised officer regarding the seizure may make a representation to the Commissioner, MC within 5 days.

The seized and confiscated material of such a person shall not be destroyed until his representation is decided. In the duties of the Commissioner, the rules says , he will be competent to appoint authorised officers for carrying out the purposes of enforcing these bye-laws. He will be competent to allot areas to particular authorised officers for inspection, with a view to carry out the aims and objects of these bye-laws. For implementing the provisions of these bye-laws, the Commissioner or the authorised officer may, at any reasonable time enter and inspect any place or premises where he may reasonably believe that the banned material is being manufactured, stored, used or sold.

Carry bags and containers made of recycled plastic and used for purposes other than storing and packaging foodstuffs shall be manufactured using pigments and colourants as per Bureau of Indian Standards specifications. Carry bags and containers made of virgin plastic shall be in natural shade or white, meaning thereby that colour addition is not permitted. The minimum thickness of carry bags made of virgin plastic or recycled plastic shall not be less than 20 microns.


‘Partisan’ demolition staff in action
Tribune News Service

Dab Kauri (Panchkula), February 28
The Department of Town and Country Planning today carried out a drive against illegal structures here which had come up in contravention of the Periphery Control Act.

Eleven of these illegal structures, farmhouses, shops and other commercial establishments in Dab Kauri, Kot, Billa, Madanpur and Nadda villages and on the Morni road were demolished. The drive began in this village, 20 km from Panchkula, at around 11 am and the staff moved from here towards Ramgarh. The drive ended after 5 pm, when the last saw mill on Morni road was demolished.

The drive went off peacefully. One reserve unit of the local police assisted the department employees. A JCB machine was put in use.

The demolition staff spared the constructions within the 900-metre radius of the Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory (TBRL). These farmhouses, constructed in Kot and Billa villages, belong to the rich and famous of the region. These had earlier been demolished in September last.

With the state government having failed to delegate powers to the local administration under the Defence Act, the administration finds it difficult to control violations under the Punjab New Capital Periphery Control Act in this area. The Department of Town and Country Planning had made at least three requests to the local police, seeking its support to carry on its demolition drive, this month, but these had been turned down.

There are 7500 unauthorised constructions in more than 150 villages of Panchkula’s periphery. Of these, 800 to 1000 structures are on government land, 500 to 600 within 30 metres of the restricted belt of the national highway and a scheduled road and 400 to 600 in Chowki and Saketri, which are to be acquired by the Haryana Urban Development Authority. About 2500 constructions have come up on areas now within MC limits.


Paid parking making matters worse
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, February 28
Prevention is better than cure, so goes the saying. But here in Sector 22, the remedy has resulted in ailment. Instead of easing traffic congestion, the real motive behind the introduction of paid parking system in the city, it has led to traffic bottle necks, at least in Sector 22 market area.

The reason behind this problem is not very hard to see. For parking your car on a chunk of land adjoining Kiran cinema, you have to pull out Rs 5 from your pocket, even though you have to pay Rs 3 less for leaving behind your vehicle in Sector 17 or Sector 8.

“As a result of this discrepancy in parking fee,” says a provision store employee, Mr Des Raj, “people prefer to park their vehicles right in the middle of the road, totally indifferent to the problems they cause to other commuters and visitors”.

If you do not believe what Mr Des Raj says, go to Sector 22 market during office hours, or even in the evening. You will be forced to agree with him. While the paid parking lot remains vacant most of the times, cars can be seen parked all over the road even in front of no-parking signboards.

“It is virtually a one-way zone even though there is nothing official about it,” asserts Mr Dhruv Kaushik, an executive working with a multinational organisation, “what I mean to say is that if you commit the mistake of driving down to the market in your car, you will not be able to drive back as there will be a stream of cars in front of you and a sea of vehicles behind you”.

Agreeing with him, Sector 23 resident Lovleen Kakkar says, “I always ask my driver to drop me at the market and go back home. After I finish my shopping, I call him up to pick me. Even though I have to spend double the amount on petrol, I think it is worth it. At least, the car doesn’t get scratched in the process”.

Learning from his past experience, Mr Dinesh Khanna, a retired Punjab government employee, has started walking down to the market from his Sector 21 residence. “Driving a two-wheeler is no more safe in the city. Parking your car is nothing less than an ordeal especially in markets. So, I have stopped using vehicle for going to market,” he says.

But walking down to the market is just not possible for young Harman. As a result, he has stopped going to the market. “Every time I used to take dad’s car to the market, it used to get dented. Walking down to the market is just not possible for me as I stay in Sector 33. So I have stopped going to Sector 22”.

Visitors to the market claim that the traffic police and flying squad personnel, always present on the spot, do little to check haphazard parking.

Denying the allegations, a senior police official says, “We are aware of the problems being faced by commuters and are doing our best to solve it. For the purpose, we are in touch with the Municipal Corporation authorities and will soon come out with an effective strategy”.


Evacuee’ farmers have a field day
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 28
Ownership of over 1,200 acre of land in Sohana and Mauli Baidwan villages, acquired by the Land Acquisition Collector (LAC) of PUDA a year ago for five new sectors (76 to 80), continues to be in the possession of the ‘evacuees’. The ‘evacuees’ are farmers, waiting for yet another yield of wheat crop.

Seems strange. But going by official records the possession of around 1,200 acre of land in Mauli Baidwan and Sohana villages — which was free from legal incumbrances, was taken over by the engineering wing of the PUDA in the months of May and June last year. But farmers seem to have had the last laugh by sowing wheat on the land and taking the plea that since the crop was unripe, they could not evacuates the land.

Not denying the involvement of the officials concerned, sources in the department say that the issue had been brought to the notice of the estate office — the custodian of the land.

Already, the office of the Land Acquisition Collector has distributed over Rs 124 crore as land compensation for acquiring 1,272 acre of land of Sohana, Mauli Baidwan, Lakhnour and Raipur villages. Around 61 petitioners had gone to the Punjab and Haryana High Court against dispossession of their land and were granted stay. Of these 35 petitioners had withdrawn their case.

Sources in the department said the officials of the estate office had been informed about the illegal practice of sowing crops by the farmers. But action was awaited. Investigations reveal that a part from sowing wheat, some of the evacuees allowed illegal quarrying on their land in Mauli Baidwan villages. Cases of farmers cutting trees against which they had already taken compensation have also come to light.

An official of the engineering wing said the department would have to incur additional costs in laying roads on the lowlying land which had been used for illegal mining. As per norms, mining can not be undertaken without the permission of the authorities and if permission was granted, a royalty had to be paid. A farmer, on condition of anonymity, said by the time the engineering wing would begin development works, another yield of the wheat crop would be ready. He said it was a set practice among villagers whose lands had been acquired for urbanisation to take the ‘crop plea’.

Last year, the estate office had to deploy forces to till standing crops on PUDA land in Sector 65 A, adjoining Kambali village.


T.K. Ramasamy cremated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Mediamen of Chandigarh today bade an emotional farewell to Mr T.K. Ramasamy, Editorial Adviser to The Tribune, who died here yesterday.

His nephew, Mr V.A. Krishnan, lit the pyre in the presence of a large gathering consisting mostly of journalists. Also present were Dr R. P. Bambah and Justice S.S. Sodhi, members of The Tribune Trust. Wreaths were placed on the body on behalf of Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor, The Tribune, Mr Harbhajan Singh Halwarvi, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, The Tribune Employees Union, Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana, Director, Public Relations, Punjab, Chandigarh Press Club and a few other bodies.

Those who attended included Mr R.N.Gupta, General Manager, The Tribune, Mr Vijay Sehgal, Editor, Dainik Tribune, Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), Chairman, Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi and Maj-Gen Rajendra Nath (retd).

Chandigarh Press Club remained closed on Wednesday as a mark of respect to the departed soul. A condolence meeting will be held at the Chandigarh Press Club tomorrow at 11 a.m.Back


No headway in Riaz’s spy links
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
After the arrest of an alleged Pakistani spy Mohamad Riaz by the Chandigarh police.

No further developments in the one-and-a-half-year old case has resulted this week. This exposes the UT police's hamhanded approach towards sensitive matters. Further, a difference of opinion on the purpose of Riaz's stay in the city has cropped up between official statements issued by the UT IGP, Mr B.S. Bassi, and claims made by certain officials privy to the investigations.

While the IGP today maintained that the sole purpose of Riaz coming to Chandigarh was to obtain false documents, sources in the intelligence as well as police functionaries privy to the investigation state otherwise. According to intelligence sources, obtaining false documents is much easier in a place like Delhi than in Chandigarh. Sources add that Riaz was in the city to target sensitive installations in the area for espionage is a strong possibility as past experience revealed that spies generally obtained documents and identification papers of the area they intend to operate in so as to merge into the local populace.

Riaz, a murder accused in Pakistan, had arrived here in March, 1999, and was residing in Sector 45 under the name of Vikramjit Singh. The fact that he was able to acquire a passport, for which he paid Rs 7,000 to an agent, and other documents issued by the Administration point to a glaring lapse in the verification process.

He had been arrested by the Delhi police in September, 2000, and a case had then been registered against him under various provisions of the Official Secrets Act and the Foreigners Act. As per police records, he belongs to Okara district of Pakistan.

According to sources, the Delhi police recovered an Indian passport (A8099372) issued by the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, a ration card and a driving licence, all issued in Chandigarh. Further, he had operated a bank account in the Bank of India and had his name included in the voters' list.

Sources add that a special team of the Delhi police had then visited the city verify the authenticity of the documents. Representatives of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had also visited the city to carry out their own investigations into the matter.

Claims made by the UT police chief that the police has investigated into the matter have revealed that there have been no further developments into the matter and the results of the verification of documents carried out by the police after registering a separate case in January are the same as that of the Delhi police.


Gujarat train tragedy: city police alert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Following coaches of the Sabarmati Express being set afire by miscreants near Ahmedabad yesterday, the local police have beefed up surveillance in the city and tightened security measures at communally sensitive places.

Police increased its presence around places of worship and positioned additional men and mobile patrols at various strategic places. Vigil has also been stepped up at the bus stand and the railway station to keep a check on the movements of any suspicious characters. Plain clothesmen have been posted at the bus stand and other strategic points.

Police Control Room personnel, stationed at strategic points around the city have been asked to remain extra cautious and keep a sharp lookout for any suspicious movements or incidents.

Vigilance has also been stepped up at all entry points to the city. Beat officers responsible for border areas have also been directed to remain extra vigilant and keep an eye on “side entries” to the city through foot-tracks and “kaccha” paths emerging from various slums, villages and farms dotting the city’s periphery.

Even the Traffic Police, which has launched a special drive to ensure the use of seat belts in light vehicles, has been asked to keep an eye for suspicious elements and report accordingly.


Chandigarh bandh today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The local units of the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad here today gave a call for Chandigarh bandh tomorrow in protest against killing of kar sevaks in Gujarat.

The Samata Party also decided to support the bandh call in a meeting held here today under the chairmanship of its chief, Mr Hemraj.

The BJP held a meeting today to condole the death of kar sevaks in yesterday’s incident and criticised the 'so-called' secular parties like the Congress and communists for their failure to condemn attack on Hindus. Party sources said they would have raised a hue and cry if the affected had been either Muslims and Christians.

Senior BJP leaders, Mr Satyapal Jain (MP), Mr Yashpal Mahajan ad hoc chairman, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, Ms Kamla Sharma, both former Mayors, Mr Purushottam Mahajan and Mr Desraj Tandon, in a joint statement condoled the death of the ‘’kar sevaks’’.

According to Mr Vijay Singh Bhardwaj, press secretary of the parishad, the decision on bandh call was taken at a meeting of various Hindu organisations held this morning. Representatives of the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal, the Hindu Parv Maha Sabha, the Kendriya Arya Sabha and the Shri Balmiki Sabha took part in the meeting.

He said all these organisations unanimously condemned the ‘planned’ killing of 58 kar sevaks and termed the incident as a cowardly terrorist act by anti-social elements. “It is shocking that those who consider themselves as progeny of Babur are not allowing Hindus to construct three main temples in the country, although they themselves were responsible for demolishing more than 3,000 temples in India,” he said. The educational institutions and other essential services would be exempt from the bandh call, he said.

According to Mr Rajesh Mahajan, vice-president of the Chandigarh Shiv Sena, their workers would assemble at the sena office in Sector 22 at 10 a.m. and would get all markets closed at 1.30 p.m., they would march towards Sector 17 and would burn an effigy of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Adhivakta Parishad — All-India Lawyers Association — today sought the setting up of a special court for taking appropriate legal action against those responsible for torching the Sabarmati Express in Gujarat.

Condemning the act, secretary H.C. Arora asserted that an attempt to destabilise the nation had been made by anti-national elements. “It is a matter of serious concern that some of the political parties were maintaining silence over the matter to appease the minority vote bank,” he added, before asking Gujarat residents “to exercise restrain in this hour of crisis”.


Work in the district courts here remained suspended in protest against the torching of four coaches of the Sabarmati Express by unidentified miscreants at the Godhra railway station in Panchmahal district of Gujarat.

The District Bar Association has decided to give a strike call in protest against the ghastly act which claimed over 50 lives. The association condemned the act and demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident. 


PSHRC orders probe
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 28
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a news item — “Cops summon ‘harassed’ girl’’ — published in Chandigarh Tribune on February 7 and directed the Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, to hold an inquiry into allegations levelled against the Vice-Chancellor of the Punjabi University by a student. The Commission also directed her to submit the report within six weeks. The Commission also felt the news item should be registered as a case under the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The news item stated that a student of Department of Fine Arts, Punjabi University, Patiala, sometime back submitted a complaint to Vice-Chancellor, Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, alleging that she had been mentally harassed for the past two years by being forced to decorate his residence during a marriage function. She had alleged that she was told to wear a white suit with Phulkari dupattas during functions to be attended by VIPs and making panels and rangoli decoration at various places in the university and outside.

The student had shot off a missive to the Punjab Governor and Chancellor of the University, Lieut. Gen. (retd.) J.F.R Jacob, alleging that she was being targeted by the Vice-Chancellor for having made the complaint and that she feared for life and career. The news item had also stated that the girl was being summoned by the SHO, Police Station, Sadar, Patiala to present herself before him with regard to a complaint submitted against her in the police station.

The Commission also directed the IGP (Litigations) to procure a report from the IG, Patiala range and submit the same to the Commission on or before the next date of hearing. The IGP (L) shall communicate with the IG, Patiala range on telephone and direct him to tell the concerned SHO not to harass any student of the Fine Arts Department of the Punajbi University by summoning them to the police station. The complaint shall come up before the Commission for further consideration on March 27.


Insurance policy decried
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 28
Kidney transplant recipients have decried the policy of the nationalised insurance sector for not extending the benefits of health insurance to kidney transplant recipients.

Fighting an endless battle against the policy of the insurance companies, recipients lament that insurance companies refuse to insure them under the medical insurance policy. Talking to mediapersons, Mr Harinder Pal Singh, who is a former member of the Indian Kidney Forum, a resident of Phase IV here, said he had come across other such persons who despite leading a normal life were not covered under the medical insurance policy.

He said the health insurance policy should not be confined to healthy persons and the requisite changes had to be made in this regard.


Where joy may turn into grief
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 28
A tragedy is waiting to happen at the Silvy Garden in Phase X here, with a toy-train for children malfunctioning and three paddleboats leaking.

The contractor who runs the amusement facilities has been waiting for the past five months for the staff of the SAS Nagar Municipal Council to repair these. A stop-gap arrangement by the civic body staff to plug the leaks in the boats has met with little success.

Mr Asa Ram, the contractor, is fed up with the attitude of the civic body staff. “I have offered to surrender the agreement. I am suffering a loss of around Rs 15,000 per month,” he says. A small merry-go-round has also not been completely assembled.

The water body is filled with around seven feet of water and leaking boats can wreak havoc on unsuspecting visitors. Two large red boats, beyond repair, are being used to dry clothes.

The civil wing of the council has so far failed to deliver physical possession of the eating joint auctioned in September last. A room in the basement is being used as an eating joint. The contractor alleges that certain officials in the civic body are interested in giving the contract to someone else.

The Executive Officer, Mr Bhagwan Garg, says he has directed the Municipal Engineer to remove the shortcomings. The President of the civic body, Mr Kulwant Singh, says the contractor has yet to sign an agreement with the civic body. An official of the civic body says the contractor should have seen the condition of the toy-train and the paddleboats while taking charge of these.


Phone of ASP office withdrawn
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 28
The telephone connections in the Phase 1 police station and the office of the Assistant Superintendent of Police in Phase 4 here have been temporarily withdrawn by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) owing to pending bills for around Rs 1 lakh.

The telephone lines of the Phase 8 and Sohana police stations have been made one way.

Sources in the police Department said due to shortage of funds the telephone connections had been temporarily withdrawn from time to time. 


Woman crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 28
A young woman was crushed to death by a trailer near the BEL factory here this evening. It is learnt that Gyanwati (25), an employee of the factory, was on her way home on a Scooty (HR-03D-1974) when she was crushed by the trailer (HR-37-2395). She died on the spot.

The accused driver fled in another trailer that was following his trailer.


Child’s body found, bears strangulation marks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The body of an unidentified boy, aged 10 - 12 years, was recovered from Sector 23 today morning. The body bears strangulation marks on the neck. No other injury marks are visible on other parts of the body.

According to the police, the body, stuffed in a jute sack, was recovered alongside the nala adjacent to the grape nursery in the sector. The sack, with the deceased’s head sticking out from the sack, was noticed by the local beat constables at about 10.15 a.m.

The deceased was without clothes and was wrapped in several layers of cloth, including a sheet, a mattress and a blanket. A pair of trousers, thought to be that of the deceased, was also recovered from the sack.

Police sources say that it appears the sack containing the body was thrown from the bridge over the nala. They estimate the incident to have occurred during the late hours of yesterday.

The body has been sent for postmortem. Police are also verifying recent missing persons’ reports and are pursuing several angles to establish the identity of the deceased.


Bid to outrage minor’s modesty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The police has arrested a resident of Bapu Dham Colony, Bablu, for allegedly attempting to outrage the modesty of a minor girl residing in the same colony. According to a complaint lodged by the girl’s mother, the accused had called her daughter over and then confined her to his jhuggi. He also threatened the minor to keep quite about the incident. The accused has been booked.

Scooterist hit: Sector 40 resident Geeta was injured after her scooter was knocked down by a Punjab Roadways bus near the Sector 43 ISBT. She was admitted to the Sector 32 government hospital. The police has arrested the bus driver, Amrik Singh, a resident of Rorkee, and registered a case against him.

Theft cases: Sector 26 resident Surinder Kumar has reported that his Bajaj Chetak scooter (CH-03-F-2267) has been stolen from the same sector. The police has registered a case. Sector 38 resident Harish Kumar has reported that 16 plastic chairs, four tins of mustard oil, two tins of ghee and some utensils were stolen from his house. The police has registered a case.


Theft case: The police has registered a case of theft of telephone cable on the night of February 25 from Saketri. Mr Didar Singh, Subdivisional Officer, Telephone, has complained that 150 metres of the cable had been stolen by some miscreants.

Police remand: The two accused of abduction of three-year-old Arshdeep Kaur from her Sector 12-A residence on February 25, Satnam Kaur and Lovepreet Kaur, were today remanded in police custody till March 4. The two women were produced in the court of the JMIC, Ms Aradhna Sahni. They were arrested yesterday from Patiala and the child was recovered from them. They were caught by the police when they had come near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib to accept the ransom.

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