Monday, March 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Land worth 5000 cr in Mani Majra undeveloped
Administrative failure alleged
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
A property in Mani Majra area, estimated at Rs 5000 crore worth, is getting ignored courtesy city administration’s ‘failure’ to provide a permanent administrative set-up for the township despite the office infrastructure being available in the Mani Majra zonal office of Municipal Corporation.

The estimate of the worth of 400 to 500 acres of land available for development in the area has been made on the basis of a recent auction of property which could fetch more than Rs 1 crore for a piece of 25 yard of land, Senior Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC), Mr Surinder Singh, told Chandigarh Tribune.

Development of property in New Mumbai for the Municipal Corporation had turned the Mumbai Municipal Corporation cash rich and the MCC could also realise the potential in Mani Majra area if, to begin with, at least the Assistant Commissioner-II could specifically be made available in his Mani Majra office and freed from the charge of Secretary, he said.

The Assistant Commissioner-II now sits in the Sector 17 office of the MCC as he has an additional charge of Secretary to the Municipal Corporation.

For every small thing around a population of 2.5 lakh has to come to Chandigarh for small clearances like a water connection which sometimes takes as many as three months, Mr Surinder Singh said.

The situation comes as a dampener to a person who will like to buy property in the area for business or, may be, for investment, the Senior Deputy Mayor said.

The unavailability of officers in the three-storeyed zonal office building of the Municipal Corporation in Mani Majra is baffling as Mani Majra is the only area left with the Union Territory for development that can fetch the Administration thousands of crore of rupees, he said.

The zonal office building, which has around 35 rooms, is now worth around Rs 5 crore but the city government is keeping the Assistant Commissioner-II tied to the Sector-17 office and not appointing a Secretary to the Municipal Corporation in a classic example of ‘bad economic wisdom,’ Mr Surinder Singh said.

The Municipal Corporation has been heavily dependent upon the sale of property from Mani Majra during the past several years as the new corporation set up in 1994 and elections held in December have been avoiding levying any fresh taxes.

Despite this situation, investment in the infrastructure in the area has been much below the proportion of investments required to increase the net worth of the property available there for sale to realise the best value for permanent assets.

As a result of this situation property, when auctioned, has been fetching a price much below its potential and those who buy property there have not been able to develop it due to lack of infrastructure, Mr Surinder Singh said.

The zonal office should ideally have all public-dealing offices, for which it has space, also to lessen pressure on the roads of city roads, save environment and precious petrol, the Deputy Mayor, Mr Balraj Singh, who represents the area, asserts.

He says it is beyond logic why rooms in the zonal office are lying vacant since the corporation has been created.

The Mani Majra Notified Area Committee (NAC) building had been built in early nineties and when the corporation was made its property and assets had been transferred to the MCC.

The NAC had collected funds through house tax for which the corporation had taken nine years to decide in the city and the money collected through house tax had been transferred to the MCC, the Deputy Mayor said.

The Senior Deputy Mayor said the Municipal Corporation should also study rules of HUDA and PUDA to allow property sale freely to earn on property transactions as well give the buyer a much needed liquidity to improve the market of property in the area.

Without development of infrastructure the permanent assets would be sold in distress to meet the budget targets leaving nothing for the coming generations.


Commercial site allottees seek 10 pc price slash from PUDA
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 17
Allottees of booths under the ‘Tatkal and non-Tatkal’ schemes, floated by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) last year, have sought a 10 per cent rebate in the total price of the commercial sites. Citing the decision taken by the authority to reduce the prices of the booths by 10 per cent, the allottees said the PUDA had reduced the prices after realising that the booths were overpriced.

Mr AK Jain, one of the allottees, said after PUDA decided to offer the commercial sites at a reduced price by 10 per cent, the allottee in the earlier two schemes should also get the benefit.

The previous scheme, floated in October last to allot 506 booth sites, attracted only 55 applications. The authorities have decided to do away with the provision to give the first right to chose booth sites in accordance with the seniority list in the draw of lots. The draw of lots for the new scheme was held on March 6 last.

Earlier the ‘Tatkal and non-Tatkal option’ to allot 700 booth sites had attracted 120 and 66 applications, respectively. Despite the fact that these booth sites were located in developed phases (Phases I, II, III-A, III B2, V, VI, VII, IX, X and XI), these was only a lukewarm response to the schemes which was a clear indicator of overpricing of booth sites. Booths under the ‘Tatkal' option carried a 10 per cent premium over the booths under the second category.

Under the ‘Tatkal' option, the price (depending upon the size and location) varied between Rs 8.99 lakh and Rs 16.75 lakh, whereas under the non-Tatkal scheme, the price varied between Rs 8.17 lakh and Rs 14.62 lakh. After the 10 per cent price cut, the rates have come down by Rs 80,000 to Rs 1.46 lakh.

Mr Trilochan Singh, another allottee, said charging the original price on the booths (though under the earlier schemes) would be a injustice to the allottees.


Inspector Cheema suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The UT police today suspended Inspector J S Cheema, in charge of the Crime Branch, following the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registering an FIR against him for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe in a case concerning sale of fake degrees.

According to police sources, an entry in this regard has also been made in the Crime Branch’s roznamcha. The action was initiated after the UT authorities received a formal communication from the CBI about the case against Cheema.

Cheema had been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the CBI on March 14. He has since been absconding. A complaint against Cheema had been lodged with the CBI by Ajay Kumar, proprietor of a Sector 22 coaching institute that Cheema was demanding Rs 60,000 from him.

Meanwhile, police sources say that the accused inspector is expected to surrender before the CBI tomorrow. Some of his well wishers within the police department feel that earlier Cheema surrenders, the better it will be for him as a delay will help substantiate charges against him.

The CBI had earlier arrested a Sector 15-based chemist, Sudarshan Kumar, for allegedly acting as a conduit for Cheema in collecting bribes. Sudarshan reportedly had made several statements before the CBI, which provided valuable information to the CBI. 


North Star Aviation operations soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Indian domestic aviation market is growing by about 10 per cent which gives ample score to new players to launch themselves.

This observation was made by Capt Rajiv Jha, chairman and managing director of the newly set up North Star Aviation, while addressing a press conference at ITFT, Chandigarh today. Captain Jha was here with his team to short list candidates for ground staff and cabin crew for the new airline from the ITFT, Chandigarh.

He said that he was awaiting a final approval from the government, which was likely to come soon. The airlines, which is being set up by a consortium of US-based NRIs, owns a brand-new fleet of six 150-seater Airbus 320/B-737 (NG) aircraft with bases at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. He said the mission of his airlines was to provide safe air transport services and lines of aerial conveyance (including scheduled and chartered domestic and international services) for the carriage of passengers, baggage, mail and freight.

Captain Jha said that the North Star Airline would endeavour to incorporate international standards in domestic aviation.

Captain Jha claimed that North Star would connect the entire country by investing $ 100 million (Rs 460 crore) in the first phase to induct six aircraft. All major centers, four metros, plus Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Pune and Ahmedabad would gain strength when they increase their fleet size to 15.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Gulshan Sharma, Director, ITFT, said that as a follow up of the national seminar on “Emerging Trends in Airline Industry” held in June last year, a Northern India Forum for Aviation & Sustainable Tourism (NIFAST) was set up with an aim to explore the possibilities of generating direct and indirect employment for the youth of the region.

In this direction, students who had been already imparted training in the airlines management by ITFT, were called from Amritsar, Bathinda, Dehradun, Yamunanagar, Patiala, Kurukshetra, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Dharamsala and Chandigarh for their campus interview at ITFT.


His aim is one global Indian family
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
“A larger international family of Indians, connecting NRIs and PIOs to India, unity in the Indian diaspora and involving second-generation Indians in projects back home” are among the five major targets set by country’s first-ever Ambassador-at-Large, Mr Bhishma K. Agnihotri, for himself.

Mr Agnihotri, who took up this assignment, seven days after the terrorist attack on the USA on September 11 last year, is on his first official visit to India. A Punjabi by origin and an academician by profession, he has set the ball rolling by not only travelling through the length and breadth of the USA, but also the Caribbean’s .

Besides Punjab, he plans to visit Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and may be Gujarat before returning to New York in the last week of this month.

“There are 20 million NRIs of which 1.9 million are in the USA alone,” he says maintaining that creating unity among the Indian diaspora has been his first and foremost task. “Wherever I go, I tell them that at least on a certain minimum programme they must be united . Immediately after the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament, I had 50-60 opinion-makers of the Indian community in New York together and asked them to form a Council of five to 10 representatives to give their opinion on such an important issue.

“The response from other cities, including Washington DC, has been overwhelming”. he says, maintaining that he goes only to those functions which are organised jointly by groups and not by one association or one group alone.

“Equally challenging is the task of bridging the gap between first generation and second generation Indians. I have been meeting young people. It is a three-fold task, bringing the first-generation and second-generation people together and then getting them involved in India. The second generation Indians do not want to hear about the glorious past. They feel happy if they are told the reality and asked to come and work for the motherland of their parents and grandparents.

I talk to them about how NRIs from South Africa or the USA went back and fought for India’s freedom struggle. Now I tell them they do not have to fight for a freedom struggle, but contribute for the development of infrastructure back home.

“The third major task has been to develop an expanded international family of Indians. When I went to the Caribbean’s, I met the President of Guyana, who is a person of Indian origin (PIO).There are three million Indian-Guyanese. I offered him services of Indian American doctors who would come and visit Guyana for a month or so free of cost. What I have been impressing upon them is that there should be better coordination and cooperation among Indian-Americans and Indian-Guyanese.

“For example, Indian-Fijians could be helped. We have now political clout and use this to help Indian-Fijian by raising the issue of human rights violation. So we are working on creating an international family of Indians which is close-knit and effective.

“At the same time, I also advocate that Indian-Americans or Indian-Canadians should get connected to local people, Americans in America and Canadians in Canada. They should actively participate in social, cultural and political life of the area they reside in.

After the September 11 attacks, I visited the family of Mr Balbir Singh Sodhi of Arizona who was a victim of hate violence. Unless we tell people who we are and what our philosophy is, others will not know us. Though we believe in “sarbat da bhalla” (well-being of all) unless we tell others what we stand for, people of other nationalities will not know us,” Mr Agnihotri said, recalling some of the tragic stories of Indian families who suffered during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

Mr Agnihotri says bridging the gap between NRIs and PIOs on the one hand and India on the other on social, cultural and commercial fronts was a gigantic Task.

“The NRIs and PIOs want assurance on transparency, cleanliness and single-window clearance of projects before investing in India. My job is basically to assist them to make the task of Indian Embassies easier. Things are happening. I am in the process of setting up my office in New York”.

He says the interest generated by his appointment had been overwhelming. Hundreds of people had volunteered to work for this new office. “I plan to recruit some young professionals to work on research projects connected with India. In a way, they would become Ambassadors of India in their respective areas.

The decision of the government to grant duel citizenship had also created a lot of excitement. Many second-generation Indians are so happy about it. I hope that the necessary amendment to the Indian Citizenship Act, 1952, will be through either during the current Parliament session or the next session. “It will be through within 2002,” he asserts.

He held meetings with NRI cells of both Punjab and Haryana Governments and interacted with senior functionaries of the two states and discussed a number of issues.

“I must compliment the people of Punjab for their political maturity in voting a new government to power,” he said, regretting that he would not be able to visit his in-laws at Ludhiana because of paucity of time.


Cong shuts door on Oppn members in MC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Congress has decided not to accommodate the four-member strong SAD-BJP group for the chairmenship of the 10 House committees, elections to which are scheduled for March 20 and 21.

The SAD-BJP alliance is the largest Opposition group in the House followed by three members of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM). Five Congress members, four members from the nominated group of nine and the lone member of the Opposition from the CVM, Mr Jitender Bhatia, would be supported by the Congress, sources said.

The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee today held a meeting of councillors to inform them about the party decision. The candidates would file their nominations tomorrow, the sources said. The Congress members, Mr Pradeep Chhabra (Roads Committee), Mr Kuldeep Singh (Water Supply Committee), Ms Shyama Negi (Slum Development Committee), Ms Anu Chathrath (Legal Affairs Committee) and Ms Pushpa Sharma (Apni Mandi Committee) would contest for the chairpersonship of respective committees. Mr Bhatia would contest for the chairmanship of the Electricity Committee.

Amongst nominated members, the party would support Mr Dildar Khan for the chairmanship of Environment and City Beautification Committee, Dr V.R. Verma for Sanitation Committee, Ms K. Atmaram for Art and Culture Committee and Mr C.K. Swahney for the House Tax Committee. The decision of the Congress to back these candidates would lead to their election hands down provided there was no cross voting, the sources said.

The Congress would also be strengthened as it had accommodated as many as six nominated members in different committees, including two earlier in the most powerful and permanent Finance and Contract Committee. The nine-member group of nominated councillors would also largely support the Congress as a quid pro quo for accommodating them.

The SAD-BJP alliance was denied chairmanship following its criticism of the Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, for picking up members of different committees without consulting the Opposition.


Cong drive against communalism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Congress will hold rallies, seminars and signature campaigns till April 13 to strengthen secularism and condemn communalism without attacking any party or individual.

The party had decided not to attack any party or individual during the month-long campaign, a party press note said. These decisions were taken at a meeting held here today.

The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president, Mr B. B. Bahl, MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, vice-president, Mr Rampal Sharma, the Chandigarh Territorial Mahila Congress president and Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, general secretary, Mr Subhash Chawla, Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Surinder Singh, Deputy Mayor, Mr Balraj Singh and the councillors, Ms Anu Chathrath, Ms Kamlesh and Ms Shyama Negi, attended the meeting.

Mr Surinder Bhatia, Mr J. N. Shastri, Mr Dharamvir Manchanda, Dr Onkar Jagpal, Ms Shrestha Mehta, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Amarnath Sarhadi, Mr Kamaljeet Panchhi, P. C. Premi, Mr Jagat Sharma and Mr Mohinder Singh were also present.



A decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal asking all college teachers in Chandigarh colleges to be repatriated to their parent cadres in Punjab and Haryana has sent a shiver down the spine of many senior officials which included the bureaucracy and university professors.

Almost all of the 125 college teachers on deputation are wives of people in power and they have managed through their links to extend the deputation to a few decades. The trick is that the appointment of a teacher (read this as a wife of a powerful man) is made in Punjab or Haryana and then the teacher is sent on deputation to Chandigarh where the bureaucracy dealing with such issues itself comes on deputation from Punjab or Haryana. Sounds interesting, isn’t it.

In the states it is easier to manage things than in Chandigarh as the latter is directly under the Ministry of Home Affairs and appointments are made by the Union Public Service Commission. This is not the case in the states. But this does not mean that the two states have filled in posts with undeserving people, some of them are simply genius in their fields. The latter part of the week saw several people with drooping faces while the not so lucky (meaning the not so powerful) among the college teachers had a smile on their faces.

Knowledgeable minister

When the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh P. Prabhu, visited Chandigarh to inaugurate the System Load Despatch Centre (SLDC) of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), his interaction with engineers showed he did not belong to the old school of politicos who struggle with technical matters. He had relevant questions to ask from the BBMB top brass. Mantriji went on to ask if there was provision in the computer software for expansion and addition of new programme details. The reply from the engineer explaining the working was, “Sir we have a contract for two years.” The Mantri persisted and extracted an answer on future expansion of computer software.

He went on to ask if during the winter the high tension transmission lines and the insulation discs joining two set of wires were cleaned for soiling. He went on to understand the entire computerised load despatch system of the BBMB and which place was using what amount of power. The SLDC will help stabilise the north power grid and help in quick repair time whenever the grid unfortunately collapses. On the whole he was full of questions and all of them were connected to the working. On one occasion he turned around and asked Haryana’s Secretary Power, Mrs Meenaxi Anand, if she had seen the SLDC in Delhi.

Pull up your socks

Just after the function in Chandigarh, the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh P. Prabhu, headed for the next function in S.A.S. Nagar (Mohali) where he made it clear to Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh that reforms in power sector have to come in first before any money is released for any scheme in the power sector. The minister minced no words as he asked Punjab to pull up its socks and do away with the largesse of free power to farmers.

And when the minister asked the newly elected Punjab CM to de-politicise tariff fixation and charge at least 50 paise per unit from farmers, it was an interesting situation as the free power to farmers was given by the ruling NDA ally, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of which Mr Suresh Prabhu is also a member.

The minister went on to tell Punjab officials that he was just pursuing the recommendations finalised by Congressman Dr Manmohan Singh. The minister further asked the government to give a plan to reform. The Union Finance Ministry has made it very clear that financing of projects will be linked to reforms. Even the farmers want quality power at reasonable rates. So it is time for Punjab to be back on rails. Already neighbouring Haryana has taken a lead in power sector reforms.

Unique gurdwara...

The Nanaksar Gurdwara in Sector 28 ended a nine-day programme where thousands partook of the langar. Interestingly, the gurdwara does not take donations in the golak box, has no president, no secretary and no treasurer. Still things work smoothly.

No kitchen is run and all food comes from outside prepared by the devotees. It was so much that devotee says they had 32 tubs full of vegetables, dal and other ingredients. When the devotees were fed, there was no question of wastage. The food was distributed in the labour colonies for the poor.

Ownership crisis!

House number 1747 in Sector 33 was the centre of a great controversy on the night of March 9. Owned by the Kambhojs, who have been living in the house for the past over 20 years, the house had a strange visitor that night. An old man who called himself Sarabjeet Singh Bajwa started knocking at the door of the house frantically. The owners opened the main door only to hear a confident claim from the man: "This is my house. I own it. Let me in."

Shocked, the family started requesting the man to let go and return to his own house. Despite repeated attempts at convincing him, he did not budge. Some family friends of the Kambhojs also gathered at the scene and made attempts to send the man back. For a good over three hours, he remained relentless. So much so that even after being sent away once on a rickshaw, he returned and began knocking again. Finally, the police had to be called to take him away!


The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) has failed to understand the generosity of the Chandigarh Administration in providing it a Rs 6.75 crore grant-in-aid released on February 10.

The money still lies unutilised in the cash-starved corporation.

The accounts department of the MCC has written two letters to the administration asking it to give a headwise breakup of the amount to be spent as was being done earlier.

The administration had been issuing funds for specific purposes to the Municipal Corporation in the past when it was not moving in the direction of resource generation.

The MCC seems to have failed to read the political message behind the grant: move on tax collection like the Congress did in the paid parking matter and now property tax and get the freedom a corporation would aspire for.

The official act

No matter how many developmental issues await settlement in the UT, the top UT officials normally manage to take time out for the “promotion of city as a big tourist spot.” Some days back highly placed officials of the UT Administration were seen taking a lot of interest in an English feature film being made by a local director with a local cast.

Earlier, the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lt Gen JFR Jacob (retd), was supposed to be present at the inaugural shot of “Ants”, a film being made by Sunil Babbar. But the Governor, who was recently seen at the PCA sitting in the company of actress Rajeshwari Sachdeva, could not keep his date. Other top officers of the UT bridged the gap. So we had the Adviser to the Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, and the Home Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, giving the muhurat shot of the film at Sukhna Lake. The officers were seen waving from the top of hop-on, hop-off bus. Mr Gujral also did the board clapping for the muhurat shot.

While the shot went on, people passing by the lake road awaited clearance of traffic in wonderment. One of them actually asked a cameraman: “Is this really the Adviser?”

Guru’s poise

Gurus are gurus not without reason. This fact was underlined during the bharatnatyam recital by Guru Kanaka Srinivasan at Shantikunj under the Jhankar series of the UT Administration on March 15. While the dancer was busy breathing life into her movements during the recital, the string of flowers tied around her hair loosened, so much so that it began interrupting with her movement.

For an average dancer it would have been embarrassing to miss out on rhythm on account of the disturbing string. But Kanaka managed the disruption with full control. With one graceful stroke of her hand she let loose all flowers which fell upon the performance space and complimented the divine ambience. It appeared as if the dancer’s “sudden” move was actually a part of her recital.

A festival of fun

The annual festival of Government College of Art saw the students at their creative and humorous best. While the formal stalls went on the way they were expected to, special attention was attracted by two college girls who went about riding their well-decorated bicycles all over the campus. The cycles had been decorated with buntings, ribbons and special bows. The colours were so attractive that many a visitor to the festival stood by in a corner and saw young girls at their freaky best!

Apart from that, the festival featured stalls by students who actually conducted sales through them. The college authorities did well to let out stalls to the students at a price less than the commercial cost of a stall. So there were six students dealing in art directly with the customers. They sold a large number of works created during college work. And thanks to the festival, they were on cloud nine.

Hoax calls

Bomb hoax calls in the district courts, have become a routine affair. On March 13 when the news of a bomb having been planted in the courts was spread no one took it seriously. The judges and employees remained in the courts and proceedings continued. Most litigants and advocates were reluctant to leave the court premises when a team of police personnel directed them to do so.



Dead create hell for living
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 17
A horse cart , loaded with a carcasses of a cow and pig , covered with tarpaulin, pulls up slowly near the road dividing Sector 4 and Sector 5 of Mansa Devi Complex (MDC). The cart driver and his young companion then take a turn towards the wastelands in Sector 5 , MDC. They move on for another two kilometres on the rough terrain , till they reach a dump, approved by the Chandigarh Administration . The passer's by run away from the nauseating smell, but the cart turdles on.

The duo then pull up the tarpaulin, lift the carcasses and throw these with a thud. More than a hundred carcasses are lying scattered all over this seven feet dump. Hundreds of eagles and crows , dogs and pigs, ( in the absence of vultures) that have been feeding on the other carcasses, rush towards these carcasses .

However, two other men, quickly shoo these predators away and carry them inside a tin shed for skinning. They are adept and within a few minutes, the carcasses have been skinned and thrown in with the other skeletons , for the predators.

As one moves around these wastelands, one finds that several pits , falling in Panchkula have also been illegally converted into carcass dumps.

Hundreds of residents of Mansa Devi Complex are putting up with this nausea. Even the scent of flowers, grown in the compounds gets lost. Also, eagles and crows often drop the bones in their houses.

The residents are again gearing up to face the nausea, pervading every nook and corner of their homes. Says Brig (retd.) Prem Kumar, President, Mahendra Nagar Welfare Association , " Come summer and we are all geared up to have our windows closed in order to ensure that the smell and the germs do not enter our houses. "

His views are endorsed by Mr. A.S. Bhogal, President , Rail Vihar Welfare Association. He says that they have made numerous representations to the HUDA authorities as well as the Panchkula district administration, but to no effect. " In fact the administration has turned a blind eye towards this problem. This is as good as giving a covert support to the contractor , who is illegally dumping the skinned skeletons anywhere he pleases," says another resident of Rail Vihar.

The residents of Mahendra Nagar say that a they had once caught a horse cart puller , who was dumping a carcass illegally near their housing . " He had then promised not to repeat this again, but with no one there to keep a watch over them, the practice continues, " says Mrs Satindra Kanwar, a resident.

It is not just the residents of Rail Vihar and Army Flats or those of village Bhainsa Tibba in Mansa Devi Complex, but also the residents of Indira Colony, one of the labour colonies in Chandigarh have been bearing the brunt. " The problem is worse for us as we practically stay outside in the summers. If we go inside, we cannot even switch on air coolers as this means pulling in the nausea, " says Rajinder, a resident of Indra Colony.


40 Aggarwal matches fixed 
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 17
The Yuva Aggarwal Sammelan organised a Pratham Parichay Sammelan today for eligible boys and girls to end the practice of dowry in the community.

As many as 200 Aggarwal families had got themselves registered for the sammelan. People from Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula and also from Kaithal, Ambala, Ludhiana and Jalandhar converged at the sammelan.

Mr Surinder Goyal, president of the Yuva Aggarwal Sammelan, Panchkula branch, said the idea behind the convention was to provide a platform to members of the Aggarwal community for finding suitable matches for their wards and ensure that the marriages were fixed without any dowry. As many as 40 to 45 families arranged matches for their wards. The chief guest, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member of Parliament, lauded the efforts of the youth in taking the responsibility to end the dowry system.

Mr O.P. Gupta, former Sessions Judge, said the ideology of the youth had changed with the changing social mileau. “The Yuva Aggarwal Sammelan is carrying the community forward by educating people against vices like dowry,” he said.

The Congress MLA from Kalka, Mr Chander Mohan, Mr Shyam Lal Bansal and Mr Ashok Boaniwala, former president of the sammelan were also present.


Taking stock of Kenya’s past
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
After having lived for over 200 years and having fifth-generation Africans in almost all families, the Asian-African minority in Kenya is taking stock of itself. Is it Asian or African; Indian, South Asian or Kenyan; or all of these? What are its civic, cultural, political and social identities?

This involves a fresh look at the past. This can only be done by gathering a litany of memories, images and artefacts of daily life. And most of all, by honouring the dignity of the lives led by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

“The Asian-African presence is neither sufficiently represented in history books nor in Kenyan schools or universities. Therefore, education and self-examination by the minority as by the nation itself, is overdue”, says Ms Neera Kent Kapila, a Kenyan of Punjabi-Indian origin, now serving as Assistant Curator at the National Museum of Kenya.

She is currently in town to collect material which will help her reconstruct the history of migrants from Indian sub-continent, particularly from Punjab, to Kenya and highlight their contribution to growth of modern Kenya. “I have been trying to get in touch with government museums and private collectors here for material on the subject but results have been disappointing so far. Anyone who has any material…photographs, letters, manuscripts…about his forefathers who went Africa as labourers during the past 200 years should get in touch with me at H. No 573, Sector 18-D, Chandigarh (Phone 0172-724900).

“I know a lot of Punjabis including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were taken by the British to work as labourers in Kenya. Evidence is also available that the then Sikh ruler of Punjab insisted that Punjabis should be recruited on a contract basis and not as an indentured labour which was just one step removed from slavery. I am sure there must be many Punjabi families who have maintained some kind of record of their forefathers”, she emphasises.

The presence of people from the Indian sub-continent in East Africa goes back well over 3,000 years. The presence of peoples from eastern Africa in India is also of long duration. But Ms Kapila is focussing on the Asian African presence in Kenya, and related East Africa, in a more recent period, the last two hundred years.

Many Asian-African families have settled in coastal towns such as Lamu, Pate, Malindi, Mombasa, Pemba, Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Dar-es-Salaam from the 1820s and earlier; but the development our Asian African minority as know it today emerged from the 1880s.

It was the building of the Uganda Railway (now Kenya Railways) from 1896 to 1901, and the establishment of the British colonial administration in the interior from 1895 onwards that led to a larger Asian-African community in Kenya. How does our history record them? The Asian Africans were a part of the making of Kenya, and their heritage is representative of it.

More than three decades after its independence, the National Museum of Kenya has no part of its entire exhibitions, focusing on any aspect of Asian history. This must be corrected.

Labour, not trade, is the foundation of the Asian-African heritage in East Africa. The work of the railway builders, masons, wheelwrights, master craftsmen, platelayers, artisans, carpenters, tailors, nurses dhobis, clerks and teachers as the bedrock on which later endeavours came to be based. One of the earliest examples of this was the labour of the masons from India who shared in the building of Fort Jesus between 1593 and 1596. They were brought in by the Portuguese from colonies on India’s western coast.

In succeeding centuries and particular from 1820 onwards, wooden doors, ornamentation and furniture carved and crafted by artists and master carpenters from Gujarat crossed the Indian Ocean to adorn palaces and houses from Pate, Lamu and Mombasa to Kilwa and Zanzibar, the mercantile capital then of the entire eastern seaboard of Africa.

(To be continued)


NRI cell to be upgraded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Mr B.K. Agnihotri, Ambassador-at-large of India, based in New York called on the Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr Y.S. Ratra in his office here today. Mr Agnihotri said that he was on India’s tour to know the problems of the NRIs in the country. He said that he had a special interest in Punjab because majority of the NRIs belonged to Punjab.

Mr Ratra informed Mr Agnihotri that the Punjab Government had a NRI cell in the state which would soon be elevated to a full-fledged department so that the problems and grievances of the NRIs could be redressed in an effective manner. Mr Ratra demanded that a Liaison Office of British High Commission at Jalandhar and Canadian Visa Office at Chandigarh should be upgraded. Direct international flights for the UK, the USA and Canada should be started from the international airport at Amritsar. Mr Ratra also requested for the early decision on dual citizenship for the NRIs.

The ambassador assured the Chief Secretary that he would discuss these demands with the Government of India and would make efforts to fulfill these long-pending demands of NRIs. Mr Agnihotri informed in the meeting that the Central Cabinet had already approved the issue pertaining to dual citizenship case. The decision of the dual citizenship would be implemented only after the necessary amendments in the Citizenship Act, 1955 by Parliament.

On this occasion Mr D.S. Bains, Commissioner, NRIs and Industrial Liaison, Punjab, said that immigration from Punjab had been in large number and NRI population was estimated to be more than one fourth of the population of Punjab. Green Revolution in Punjab and prosperity of Doaba was largely due to NRIs remittances. He said that NRI Sabha in the state was coordinating activities of the NRIs and also helped in their problems. To enable an NRI to get his agricultural land vacated from the tenants for which the Government of Punjab had amended Section 9 of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act in favour of NRIs. The amendment had also been made in the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949, under which an NRI could get his one residential and one non-residential building from the tenants.


Cop assaults woman, alleges son
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
A 65-year-old resident of Sector-27, Ms Surinder Kaur, was assaulted allegedly by a constable of the UT police at her residence last night.

Speaking to TNS, the victim’s son, Dr S.S. Sodhi, said the constable barged into their house at about 8 p.m. when his mother was alone, and kicked, abused and threatened her.

Dr Sodhi alleged that constable, Lakha Singh, who is a tenant in the same house, was in an inebriated state. He said following the incident, the police control room was called and a police squad arrived soon after. He said a sub-inspector also arrived and took the constable along with him on the pretext that they had to investigate another complaint elsewhere. He said he had insisted that the constable be taken for medical examination, which was ignored.

Dr Sodhi said a complaint in this regard was also submitted to the SHO of the Sector-26 police station, last night, while he met DSP Surjit Singh today.


Fight drugs

“Lets wage a holy war,” asserts Saurabh Arora, a class X student. “No, not against the members of a community or a religion, but against drugs, the real enemy of humanity”. The fight, he warns, is essential “to save the future generation from the perilous implications of drug misuse”.

Saurabh has no personal experience about drugs. Neither are his classmates, friends or relatives. He, nevertheless, came to know about the ill-effects of drug addiction during a class project. Today, he wishes to warn the residents about it through his poems and verses.

On the abuse of cocaine, he says with conviction in his not-so-mature voice: “Listen to me and please listen well, when you ride on cocaine, you head for hell”. 


Fete 2002

The State Bank Ladies Club organised ‘Fete 2002’ in aid of Gujarat riot-hit victims in Chandigarh on Saturday. A painting competition, stalls of eatables and fun games marked the fete. It was inaugurated by Mr Rajendra Kakker, Chief General Manager, SBI, Chandigarh circle. Ms Madhu Kakker, president of the club, informed that a portion of the sale proceeds of the fete would go to the riot victims. OC


Cash stolen from shop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Two shops in Sector 9 were broken into last night. Mr Gurmit Singh, who runs a refrigerator repair business, has reported that Rs 2,300 was stolen from the shop. Locks of another shop were also broken, but the shop was vacant.

In another case, Sector 42 resident Subhash Mahajan has reported that Rs 10,000 and gold jewellery have been stolen from his residence.

Sector 47 resident Rajiv Garg has reported that his house was broken into and Rs 8,500, an ATM card and some clothes were stolen. The police has registered cases.

Three arrested
In different incidents, the police has arrested three persons from various parts of the city on charges of bootlegging and seized 107 pouches of Hero whisky from their possession.

Jantana Colony resident Kali was arrested from Sector 25 with 40 pouches of liquor, while Dadu Majra resident Mohinder Pal was arrested from the same colony with 12 pouches. A resident of a ward near Chandimandir, Vijay, was arrested from the Mauli Jagran complex with 55 pouches of liquor. The police has registered cases under the Excise Act against them.

Cars stolen
Panchkula resident S.K. Goyal has reported that his Maruti car (CHF 2470) has been stolen from a parking lot of the Rose Garden. In another case, Sector 46 resident Jagdish Lal has reported that his Maruti car (HYN 23) has been stolen from his residence. In third case, Sector 37 resident Jagdish Chand has reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-A 7759) has been stolen from his residence.

A white Maruti car (CH01-T3222) was stolen from Sector 38-B here last night.

The car owner, a technical officer with the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, Mr Gursharan Singh, said an FIR had been registered with the Sector-39 police station.


A minor girl of Ambala Cantonment was allegedly raped by a youth on Friday. According to the police, a resident lodged a complaint with the Sadar police station that his minor girl was raped by a youth. The police has registered a case against Sanjay. Later he was produced in a local court, which sent him to judicial custody.

On the direction of a local court, the police registered a case of looting against two women and others on Friday. According to the police, Saroj Gauri, Parveen and others looted cash and jewellery from Pulkit Jain, a resident of Ambala Cantonment.


A truck driver was duped of Rs 24,490 in Sector 12- A, here on Saturday. This is the third incident within the past one month.

According to the police, Prem Singh, truck driver, had come to deliver bananas in Sector 1 here. He had reportedly been paid Rs 24, 490 and kept the money in the glove compartment of the truck. After he had off loaded the bananas from the truck, he was approached by two scooter-borne youths. Upon being told that he was heading back to Karnal, they reportedly asked him if he could transport some of their goods.

Prem Singh agreed to this and a deal was struck. He was accompanied by Surinder and Rajesh. The accused told Prem Singh to go to the truck union office and get a chit issued for transporting the goods, while they waited in Sector 12-A.

After Prem Singh did not return, the accused asked Surinder Singh and Rajesh to accompany them. When they returned, the accused took away the money. A case under Sections 420, 380 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.

The police has arrested Sunil Kumar, a resident of Chandigarh, on charges of gambling at a public place in Sector 16, Panchkula. A sum of Rs 2,550 was seized from his possession and he has been booked under Sections 13, 3 and 65 of the Gambling Act.

A scooter (HR-03 4737) was stolen from Sector 8, here on Friday. The police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC.

A shop near the Mini Secretariat was burgled on Saturday night. Packets of ghee, powder milk and dry fruits were stolen along with cash. A case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC has been registered. 


Spice king shares experiences
Harvinder Khetal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The king of spices, Mahashay Dharampal, today added spice to a different type of setting here this afternoon. The proprietor of MDH (Mahashian Di Hatti) masala was the guest of honour at a get-together of MDH dealers of the region in Hotel Shivalikview.

Attired in his trademark Rajasthani turban, achkan and a couple of necklaces, just as he appears on the popular packs of spices, Mahashay Dharampal shared some experiences as the 79-year-old energetic millionaire traced his success story.

Despite having studied only till class V, this deeply religious man said he had scaled the pinnacle in his chosen field due to hard work and destiny. In fact, interestingly, when in Sialkot, Pakistan, before the Partition, his father goaded him to take to some other trade if he wanted to ‘rise and do well’. But Dharampal was back to the masala trade after having tried his hand at a couple of other occupations which he gave up soon enough when he realised that they were not his metier.

After 1947, the family shifted to Delhi and started the business from scratch from a small kiosk taken on a rent of Rs 7. Today, he runs a Rs-850 million company.

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