Sunday, November 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU to study rejected appointments
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Following an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Panjab University has decided to re-look into the appointments rejected earlier (December 2000).

The appointments under consideration had been made during the tenure of Prof M.M. Puri, the last Vice Chancellor. The university has not specified the number of rejected cases under consideration and there is a difference of opinion on the issue.

Of all the non-approved cases, Mr Paramjit Singh Kang, Dr(Mrs) Sween, Mr Davinder Kumar Marwaha and Mr Ved Prakash had filed a writ petition in the High Court where the court made its observations. It was said that “ we are of the considered view that there is no appropriate decision taken by the respondent(Panjab University) upon due application of mind and after examining the record in that regard. The order suffers from application of mind. We specifically grant liberty to the university to take a decision based on record and due application of mind.” It has been clarified that “any observation made in this order will not effect the decision which the respondent university wishes to take”.

The Vice-Chancellor has constituted a committee under Justice D.V. Sehgal to look into the case. Other members include Mr R.S. Verma, Prof R.D. Anand, Mr Ashok Goyal, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, Prof Santosh Sharma, Principal Tarsem Bahia and the Registrar. The committee will “examine” all the cases of selection which were rejected by the Senate in December, 2000, on need basis keeping in view the financial crunch being faced by the university”.

Prof Charanjit Chawla had pointed out in the Senate meeting of September, 2002, that “ the issue had basically cropped up in 1999 when the Government of Punjab and the Centre had objected to bulk appointments being made by Panjab University unnecessarily. In July, 1999, the Centre through a circular directed the university that no person should be placed on the panel. Persons should be placed only on the waiting list. “ He urged that only genuine, need-based and merit cases should be reconsidered”.

Prof K.N. Pathak, the Vice Chancellor, said that he was not against anyone. During his ‘tenure only 14 appointments had been made and that too strictly on need basis and only for departments where new courses were started. The filling up of the posts from the reserved categories was done on directives of the concerned commission’.

Prof Madan Gopal Gandhi said: “It seemed that the university Syndicate had not applied its mind. The intention of the court was that the records pertaining to these selections should be gone through. In this case the records of the selection committees were not opened”.

The university decided that “ the issue be referred to a five to seven-member committee (to be constituted by the Vice Chancellor) to examine all the cases of selection which were rejected by the Senate in December, 2000, on need basis keeping in view the financial crunch being faced by the university”


‘Seat sharing’ bares chasm between Cong units
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The All-India Congress Committee president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, was a witness to the rift between workers of the Punjab and Chandigarh units of the party here today.

The feeling was aggravated amongst Chandigarh unit workers with the Punjab Congress workers occupying most of the front seats in the CII conference hall where Ms Gandhi addressed the party workers and referred to bringing ‘family culture’ in the party.

One of the workers of the Chandigarh unit also brought this to the notice of Ms Gandhi saying the Punjab unit had been giving them step-motherly treatment. The Punjab Congress had an opportunity to retort the allegation with one of the workers asking Ms Gandhi to get the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, a seat on the dais when he was left without a seat as others, including the CTCC president Mr B.B. Bahl, and the Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, had already occupied seats.

The Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, sought to assuage the feeling by getting the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president, Mr B.B. Bahl, to thank Ms Gandhi at the end of the programme.

The Chandigarh leaders, around 60 of whom were allowed in, were peeved when they were not allowed to enter the premises in the morning with the SPG only having a list of five entrants, including Mr Bahl, Ms Lalit Joshi, Mr Pawan Bansal (MP), Mr Vinod Sharma (former Union Minister) and Mr Parampal Singh Matharoo (vice-president).

The enquires later revealed that the list of entrants from the CTCC had not reached the security staff. The Punjab Congress had already sent a list of 398 persons, including journalists.

The top two Congress leaders of the city, Mr Pawan Bansal and Mr Manish Tiwari (former president of the Indian Youth Congress) were caught in the SPG arrangements with the former getting delayed to enter the conference hall and latter failing to appear for welcome of Ms Gandhi on the airport.

Mr Tiwari’s absence in the list of welcomers became very conspicuous as on earlier occasions he had always been going to receive senior party leaders at the airport. The Tiwari faction here was feeling slighted at the neglect of their leader.

The UT Congress leader, Mr Shreshta Mehta, sought to draw attention of Ms Gandhi by seeking time for the UT unit. Just behind the woman worker was a banner saying a former MP ‘Vinod Sharma welcomes Ms Gandhi to the city’.

Certain Congress workers said a look towards the banner gave an impression that those sitting ahead of the banner were Mr Sharma’s sympathisers. Almost all Congress leaders were sitting at this place because of the delay in the release of the list by the CTCC.

Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, got a rousing welcome from the Congressmen of Punjab prompting the UT workers to say ‘seat ko salam ho raha hai’.

The organisers did not miss the opportunity of reminding the workers of the sacrifices of their leaders by playing the song “Ai mere vatan ke logo..... jo shaheed huan hein unki jara yaad karo kurbani.”

Mr Hanspal and Mr Bahal counted achievements of the party under Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but forgot Lal Bahadur Shastri and Narasimha Rao. They said Ms Gandhi would become the Prime Minister.


Cops heave sigh of relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today adopted well the Punjabi culture, wearing salwar kurta and having traditional Punjabi food before leaving the city.

Ms Sonia Gandhi’s also stole some private moments with her relative, Ms Kanta Dogra, to relish ‘sarson da saag’ and ‘makki di roti’. Immediately after the ex-servicemen rally at the Sector 46 hockey stadium, Ms Gandhi left for Ms Dogra’s residence in Sector 5 around 1.30 pm and had lunch there. Ms Gandhi seemed to be following family tradition, as her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and husband Late Rajiv Gandhi also spent time with Ms Dogra during their visits to the city.

Ms Gandhi seemed to have enjoyed the food as she reportedly told party leaders of UT, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, who had made a beeline to see her at the airport.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Haryana Congress president Bhajan Lal, Leader of Opposition in Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Himachal Pradesh Congress president Ms Vidya Stokes, CTCC president B.B. Behl, local MP Pawan Bansal, Punjab Congress President H.S. Hanspal, Mayor Lalit Joshi, Punjab minister Rajinder Kaur Bhatal, OSD to Punjab Chief Minister Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, Political Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Rana Gurjmit Sodhi were present at the airport.

Earlier, over 100 Congress supporters, armed with banners and party flags, had to wait for hours at the airport chowk to have a glimpse of the cavalcade of Ms Sonia Gandhi, comprising at least 45 vehicles. She reached the city about one-and-half-hour from the scheduled time of 9.30 am.

The police had made elaborate arrangements to avoid any traffic jams and succeeded in its efforts. Cops were posted on the route since last night. Mr Om Prakash, Deputy Superintendent of Police, was manning the airport chowk. Mr Parag Jain, SSP, was in charge of the entire security arrangements. Over 800 police personnel of the UT police were posted for the visit of Ms Gandhi, addition of other forces.

The vehicular traffic coming from the Ambala side was put on hold at the airport chowk for about five minutes when the cavalcade crossed the chowk for the CII headquarters. The traffic on each road was blocked only minutes before the cavalcade and the traffic was let off immediately after it had passed.

There was no major chaos near the stadium and only the dividing road of Sectors 32 and 46 was closed for traffic. The police heaved a sigh of relief when the aircraft of Ms Gandhi took off around 3 pm.

Earlier, journalists and a large number of Congress workers found it impossible to enter the CII hall with the SPG refusing to allow anybody in without passes issued earlier. The SPG had been given a list of those who had been issued passes and many of Congress workers, finding their names missing from the list, returned disappointed.


Rent Act: traders seek Sonia’s help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Representatives of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal have sought the intervention of the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi in getting the rent control notification withdrawn and decided to organise, a chain fast from Monday.

The mandal president, Mr Jagdish Arora, and the vice-president of the body, Mr Kamaljit Singh Panchhi submitted a memorandum in this regard to Ms Gandhi at the Sector 46 rally here today, according to a mandal press note.

The decision to observe the fast at the Sector 17 Piazza was taken at a meeting at Mr Arora’s house. The mandal also decided to contact the BJP leadership as well for seeking its support on the issue. The Traders Association of Sector 17, in another press note, issued here today, objected to a statement of the Adviser to the Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, that the bandh had been just a “break” for traders been working continuously for more than 10 hours. It said the statement showed that the Administration was hand-in-glove with the house owners’ association.


Jaspal Bhatti ki advice

My advice to all those who have intentions of grabbing rented properties is to fight more vigorously. I appreciate those agitators who are paying Rs 2,500 per month for those commercial buildings whose market rent is more than 50,000 and yet they raise slogans against owners, the Administration, Rent and Control Act amendments.

Instead of asking for petty changes to the Rent Act, they should demand that once a tenant has paid rent for more than five years, he should have equal rights of ownership. The landlord will not have the right to go to court once he has committed the foolishness of renting out his premises. The tenant should have the right to discontinue the rent if the owner demands an increase in the rent in a louder pitch. Advice to owners: My advice to owners is to fight for more powers to harass the tenants. In fact they should demand ‘Tenant Harassment Act’. Apart from the rent, they should ask for 50% of the profit from the tenants’ business. They should have the right to increase the rent every week or preferably once a day. And in case the tenant fails to pay, he could be shunted out without notice. Tenant or landlord, my advice is to keep your greed high and make unethical profits.


Rights panel with villagers against IAF
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, November 23
Inhabitants of Zirakpur, Lohgarh and its surrounding areas took up the issue of the ban on construction within 900 m of the outer fence of the defence installations with the All-India Human Rights Watch at Dera Bassi here today.

The villagers urged the body to take up their case with defence authorities and the civil administration. The popular opinion at the meeting was that the defence authorities had woken up after massive structures had already come up there.

The Punjab Government had formed the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat by merging seven villages and notifications in this regard were published in several newspapers. The government had also sought objections before issuing the final notification that made the area a nagar panchayat, but no one had turned up then.

The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) and the Town Planning Department gave colonisers licences to begin housing construction, for which, huge money was charged. After all this, the government had been unfair in prohibiting construction in the area, it was said.

Mr Narinder Sharma, general secretary of the Ilaqa Zirakpur Bachao Committee, said the ban had served as a way of duping not only colonisers but also thousands of persons who had bought land to build houses here. Representatives of the affected 30 villages said the Air Force authorities were harassing innocent villagers in the name of protecting a “defunct” radar. They said, instead of objecting to construction on 11,000 acres that had been fully developed, the IAF should shift its 15-acre Lohgarh installation to a safer place.

Ms Arvinder Kaur, general secretary of the All-India Human Rights Watch, said the body had decided to side with the agitators against the government and the IAF.


Bogus voting’ mars Bar Council polling
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, November 23
The second phase of polling to the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana elections was allegedly marked by bogus voting and mismanagement, in various districts and tehsils of Punjab and Haryana today.

A special observer was manhandled in Amritsar and some of the contestants demanded repolling at some of the district and tehsils alleging booth capturing. Finding government machinery helpless in ensuring free and fair elections, some of the contestants arranged for the video-filming of polling booth at their own expenses.

As many as 23,000 advocates were registered with the Bar Council from Punjab and Haryana and 86 polling booths were set up in Punjab and Haryana, for the polling today.

The Returning Officer of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr Nirmal Singh Dhillon, said the elections were held smoothly except for a few complaints of mismanagement and booth capturing. He said the complaints of serious nature were received from Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur and the Deputy Commissioners of the areas concerned were requested to maintain the law and order.

Mr Dhillon informed that 27 special observers, including 15 in Punjab and 12 in Haryana were deployed following complaints of bogus voting in various polling booths. Sources revealed that many of the contestants have complained to the Returning Officer that some of the contesting members were interfering in the elections. They have requested the Returning Officer to appoint “Special Observer”, to look after the sensitive poll’s booths.

Punjab and Haryana had provided official machinery and manpower to conduct the elections. The counting which began at 10 am continued till 5 p.m. In the first phase of the polling to the bar council held in Chandigarh on November 21, 60 per cent of the members cast their votes at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. There were also number of complaints of mismanagement and bogus voting received by the Returning Officer.

There were 117 contestants in the fray and some of the prominent advocates contesting elections include — Council Chairman Dr Anmol Rattan Singh Sidhu, honorary secretary C.M. Munjal, G.K. Chathrath, N.K. Nanda, Navkiran Singh, Bhim Sen Sehgal, B.S. Billing, H.S. Gill, Daya Chaudhary, Paramjit Singh Goraya, Balwan Singh Suhag and Kiran Bala Jain, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, Ms Daya Chaudhary, Mr Jai Vir Yadav.


PGI faces another tough deadline
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Union Health Secretary and the PGI authorities have failed to persuade resident doctors on the evening OPD issue. The doctors said here today that they would take a tough stand, if the PGI Director and senior officials did not get in touch with them by Monday.

With the Union Health Secretary, Mr S.K. Naik, telling the doctors to sort out the issue with the PGI Director, the resident doctors said an amicable solution, now, depended on the authorities. “If at all the PGI has to introduce the evening OPD, there is no solution but to recruit a separate cadre of doctors to run this facility,” the residents said.

The residents said they had already given a memorandum to the Union Health Minister in this regard.


‘Law-abiding tenants are safe’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Pind Bachao Committee has hailed the decision of the Chandigarh Administration to amend rent laws and sought the removal of the condition of Rs 1,500 monthly rent for property in the villages of the Union Territory. The rents are much lower in the villages than the urban areas.

In his reaction to the bandh by the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, Mr Angrez Singh Badheri, president of the committee, said property owners in Chandigarh and its villages should not fear the bandh, as 40 per cent traders were property owners in Chandigarh. “The bandh cannot be called successful when the owners themselves are up in arms against the mandal,” he said.

“The changed rent laws are not against law-abiding tenants. These are a big setback for the middlemen who have already rented out premises at low rates. They have either sublet the premises to third parties on ‘pagri’ basis or demanded big sums from owners to vacate the premises,” he said.

“The old rent laws could be used to blackmail tenants by subletting,” said Mr Angrez Singh. He said the inaction, in this regard, of the Chandigarh Administration, the Income tax Department and the Judiciary was surprising, as no one had been penalised for amassing huge wealth in the shape of ‘pagri’.


MIA faction alleges misuse of funds
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 23
A faction of the Mohali Industries Association (MIA) led by Mr Tarsem Bansal held a meeting outside the association’s office here today. Its members locked the office from outside, stating that if they were not allowed to use the office premises, they would not allow the other group to make use of it.

During the meeting, leaders of the group alleged that office-bearers of the association had misused a huge sum of money from the association’s account in Andhra Bank here. ‘‘This money was meant for all those who had become members of the association and cannot be used by the office-bearers who consider themselves in power,” Mr Bansal said while addressing the members. The Bansal group demanded that fresh elections to various posts of the association be held so that these differences could be sorted out.

The MIA was, in July this year, divided into two groups following differences among its leaders regarding the validity of the office-bearers chosen. While the group led by Mr B.S. Baidwan states that they still retain their powers and posts in accordance with the constitution of the association, the Bansal group asserts that its office-bearers represent the association.

About a month ago, the Bansal group had forcibly entered the association’s office premises and the matter was resolved with the intervention of the police. Following this incident, Mr B.S. Baidwan had issued show-cause notices to the office-bearers of the Bansal group and on a subsequent meeting held on November 21, expelled them from the membership of the association.

Meanwhile, Mr B.S. Baidwan has stated that the Bansal group had no legal authority or right to use the premises or the lettterhead of the Association. ‘‘The matter is in before the court and the Registrar of Firms and Societies has refused to recognise their elections of September 2. Therefore, I request them to refrain from such activities and wait for the court’s decision on the issue.


Trustees meet Capt Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
Two trustees of the Puri Foundation U.K, Mr Anil Puri and Mr Ashwani Puri and Chairman of Development Trust for Mullanpur Garibdas yesterday met the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at his official residence and briefed him of various plans of the foundation regarding development of Mullanpur Garibdas village and its surrounding areas.

The foundation is planning to set up a technical college in the village and the village panchayat has earmarked land for the same. The announcement regarding the college was made while the Chief Minister was in the village to inaugurate a school building constructed by the foundation.

According to Mr Arvind Puri, president of Youth Welfare, Sports and Health Club, Mullanpur Garibdas, who also attended the meeting said they also met the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mahinder Singh KP, the Industry Minister, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr S.K. Sinha, the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, and the Secretary Technical Education, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, the Secretary Rural Development and Panchayat, Mr J.R. Kundal.


Estimates for ‘Sarkar Aapke Dwaar’
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 23
The district administration will prepare estimates for announcements made by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, during the third phase of “Sarkar Aapke Dwaar” programme within a fortnight.

The decision was taken during the district officers’ board monthly meeting held here under the chairmanship of Ms Satwanti Ahlawat, Deputy Commissioner, today. She, said that work in this direction should be initiated immediately. She urged officers to motivate the public for investment in small-saving schemes so that fixed targets could be achieved within a stipulated period.

She also asked the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Goyal, to call a meeting of bank officers for providing loans to unemployed youth under “Pradhanmantri Rozgar Yojna”. Officers of Public Health were directed to ensure sufficient drinking water, who in turn informed that a new tubewell would be installed at Kanuwala village and people of at least four other villages will be benefited.

The DC directed officers of the UHBVN to ensure regular power supply of at least two hours to tubewells from where water was being supplied to other villages. She directed that three 66 KV substations at Kalka, Mansa Devi and Sector 3 should be completed at the earliest. 


MC launches drive to rid city of pig menace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Municipal Corporation yesterday launched a campaign for an indefinite period to make the city pig free in the wake of reports of Japanese encephalitis and directed the police to register cases against owners of pigs.

The MC staff could barely catch 22 pigs from Maloya, Daddu Majra and Sector 25 Janata Kumhar Colony after hours of search in these localities as the number of pigs in the city is claimed to have come down drastically after the campaign in July.

The Medical Officer, Health, Dr G. C Bansal, said the corporation would file cases against the pig owners who had got their animals released after filing an affidavit. He said the corporation would start contempt of court proceedings against those who brought back pigs to the city after undertaking not to do so on an affidavit.

Dr Bansal also said the Municipal Corporation would contact the police and ask it to book owners of pigs for "endangering the lives of people."

The stern stand of the corporation has come after it gave a one-time exemption of feed charge in a House meeting while freeing pigs on affidavits that they would not be brought back to the city.

But the corporation had to launch another drive within months of catching 730 pigs in July.

The corporation this time sold these animals outside the Union Territory and even sent its staff to Ambala to ensure that the animals were not brought back. The MC had earned Rs 8 lakh from the sale of animals.

In an earlier campaign, the corporation had caught as many as 300 pigs and piglets to rid the city of the animals but in the wake of the spread of cholera it had to launch another campaign in which more than 700 animals were caught. The issue had become socio-economic with a particular caste having social association with the animal and their income depending on it.


Bugga mesmerises at carnival
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
When the Punjabi folk is blended with Western pop music and has someone like Satwinder Bugga to carry it off, the result is enchanting. This is exactly what happened today at Plaza Carnival in Sector 17 where the singer performed on an open stage drawing a huge crowd and keeping them mesmerised.

Bugga, famous for his hit albums like “Tera nachna bara kamal” and “Kudi Punjaban lagdi hain,” sang for about an hour at a stretch. As he sang “Tera nachna kamal —”, “Mera rangla Punjab”, “Ishq Ishq” and “Kudi Punjaban lagdi hain”, most of the audience who knew every word and every dance step by heart, could not resist singing and dancing, along with Bugga and his group.

Bugga’s journey into the world of music was initiated by his guru Charanjit Ahuja. His debut album “laayian yaaranan ne mehfilan” had hit the market in 1990 but it was his second album “Tera nachna kamal” in 1997 which took him to top. Others that followed included “Tweetan wala jatt” and the superhit “Kudi Punjaban lagdi hain.”

The carnival which is being organised by the Centre for Carnival Arts in association with The Tribune presented individual dance items presented by Ankur Salwan, Rahul Sharma, Jatinder Jot Khaira, Disha Sareen and Amit Walia. The usual trappings of the carnival- sketching and tatooting booths also did brisk business.


Symposium on trends in automotive industry
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 23
By producing the system of stock-less production, the Japanese industry has made the system of inventory management obsolete and gained cost savings of over 10 per cent.

This was stated by Prof R.N. Nauhria, Head of the Department of Production Engineering, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, at a symposium on emerging trends in the automotive industry held at the PCA Stadium here today.

Organised by the Canadian Institute of International Studies, the symposium aimed at giving the automotive industry an opportunity to get first-hand exposure to various global practices in marketing and manufacturing.

Mr Robert Emptage, Dean, Automotive Technology at Georgian College, Canada, spoke on trends in automotive technology with special reference to emission controls and hydroforming. Stating that emission standards had undergone a sea change, he pointed out that the Indian market had taken a positive step towards a healthier environment recently.

Mr Bruce Miller, Coordinator, Mechanical Engineering Technology at Georgian College emphasised on the need for enhanced practical training along with study and better apprenticeship programmes.

Mr Gautam Nagwekar, vice-president, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (Automotive sector) spoke on the ways and means of launching new products in India.

Mr Geoffery Dalton, Professor, Canadian Automotive Institute, Georgian College, emphasised the need of objectivity in the satisfaction index so as to eliminate the bias factor.


Automobile association to issue IDLs
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
The Chandigarh Administration yesterday empowered the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI), Chandigarh, to issue international driving licences (IDL) to its own members up to November 28, 2003. The applicant should have a valid Indian driving licence, valid travel ticket, passport and visa.

The fee for grant of IDL shall be charged Rs 200 per licence and the IDL prepared by the AAUI shall be countersigned either by the Under Secretary (Home) or Joint Secretary (Home) or Joint Secretary (Finance) or the Home Secretary, on behalf of the Administration.


Educating people with tricks
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, November 23
They play with fire to douse the flame of superstition burning in the hearts of ignorant residents. Clad like saints in white kurta pajamas, they descend upon a village, eat embers and pierce tongue with a trishul before driving away an “evil spirit” from a “possessed maiden”.

After performing these “feats”, they do not collect money like some of the fake tantriks do. Instead, theatre artist Raghavinder Tewari and his troupe reveal the secret of their tricks to the gullable crowd. And their motive is to educate the masses against getting caught in the trap laid down by tantriks.

“It happens so many times,” says Tewari, “A thug, posing as a tantrik, comes to a village. As soon as a crowd gathers around him, he dabbles with burning embers before swallowing these. Or else, collects holy ash from thin air before distributing it to onlookers. If this is not sufficient, he distributes water from an empty bowl. This is not all. One look at a girl with ruffled hair is enough for him to pronounce the judgement that she is under the influence of evil spirits.”

“The story,” he asserts, “doesn’t end here. The tantrik directs the parents to get Rs 5,000 for capturing the unholy ghost. After pocketing the money, he reads out a few mantras, waves a wand and transfers the spirit into a coconut. In extreme cases, he even fools the unsuspecting villagers into arranging for an animal to sacrifice. He even gives the parents a proof of his success. In front of their innocent eyes, he pours water on a coconut. And lo, within seconds, it catches fire”.

More and more villagers, impressed by the tantrik’s supernatural powers, come forward with their complaints. More tricks follow. More money is taken out till the people, with empty pockets and hearts full of hope, thank the tantrik for blessing them.

“There is, however, one thing that the villagers, even the educated class in some cases, do not realise. Performing these tricks is easy and anyone with a little practice can do it,” says Lalit Verma. “That’s is reason why we go from village to village, city to city, requesting residents not to be fooled into believing the fake tantriks”.

But how do they do it? “Well, we can simply tell people not to get carried away by what they see,” says Lalit. “But that is not effective. So, we act and teach them.

For the purpose, a group of 12 from Delhi assemble in a village and in front of their eyes pierce their tongue. We do not actually pierce our tongues, but allow the trishul with a bend in the middle to slip around it. This is not all. We eat burning “kapur” after playing with it. Anyone can do it. Handling it for less than three seconds in one go does not burn the hands. That is why we, like the tantriks, shift “kapur” from one hand to the other”.

They too can gather holy ash from nothingness. “It’s hidden. A saint we knew was in a habit of impressing the masses by giving them “parshad” of holy ash after merely swinging his arm in the air. It used to fall from his photograph also. Well, we did the same thing. The only difference was that in our case the ash was coming out of Hema Malini’s portrait.”

And how did the idea of creating awareness among the masses come to their minds? “We learnt about 40 tricks from a professor, Mr B Premanand, within two days. He had initially started this awareness campaign. Prof Premanand was the one who encouraged us to carry on with the campaign”.

Giving details, he asserts, “We have already conducted the campaign in Daddumajra, Mohali, Dera Bassi and some schools in city. After Chandigarh, we will be going to Punjab”.


Daily loot at Pipali bus stand

PIPALI is an important bus halt on the Chandigarh- Delhi highway. All Haryana Roadways buses stop here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is only one canteen and the rates of various items are displayed on the wall. One of the items is “thali” priced at Rs 20 which looks reasonable. But the actual position is quite different.

During late evening hours, there is a heavy rush and one can find 8-10 buses at a time. When you place order for a thali, you are served with dal, salad, curds, and chapatees are served as per the requirement. After the meals, when you proceed to the contractor to foot the bill, you get the shock. He asks for anything between Rs 45 and Rs 50 for that simple thali. If his attention is drawn to the displayed rate list on the wall (which reads Rs 20 for a thali), he very disdainfully tells: “Wo sab bakwass hai; Asli rate list yeh hai” (all that is humbug and the real rate list is here) and you are shown a moveable small plate, kept by him near the counter, carrying item-wise rates of all items and there is nothing like the thali rate.

There is no point in arguing with him because by that time the conductor and the driver also come out after taking free VIP meals and are in a hurry to make a move. Even otherwise, they extend their fullest support to the contractor who serves them free VIP meals everyday. Most of the passengers confine their anger and reaction to just cursing the contractor and the government for this daily robbery on the highway.

If this is the state of affairs on a main national highway, one can well imagine the situation in the remote areas. Till some time back, the situation was same on all Panjab state highways. However, when the government swung into action, we used to get thali at bus stands just for Rs 15. The reason why such highway robberies remain unnoticed is the fact that nowadays no public representative like MLA, MP or senior government officer moves in a bus. As a result, they are deprived of the opportunity to have a first-hand information of the problems which affect common masses.

Has the Om Prakash Chautala Government got any plans to stop this highway robbery? Over to the Chief Minister of Haryana.


Fragrance garden

A foreigner when asked about his impression about India replied: “In India, every place is a urinal.” I am ashamed to admit that he is painfully right and points towards uncivil and uncouth demeanour of the public, and general apathy, inconsiderate and uncaring attitude of the civil authorities in providing public conveniences, particularly in parks. Proper maintenance and upgradation of parks is essential because they help the residents stay fit, relieve stress, and make them positively contributing responsible citizens.

The Fragrance Garden (Sector 36), which is a host to thousands of health-conscious joggers, walkers, and exercise enthusiasts every day, is surprisingly without the basic facility of a urinal. The absence of this facility puts most of the people to a lot of inconvenience, especially ladies and old people with health problems. This beautifully laid garden is also without the facility of drinking water.

The Chandigarh Administration would do yeoman service to its residents by providing the above mentioned facilities on priority. I am aware that such public requests are generally ignored due to the pre-occupation of the authorities concerned but past experience shows that things get done wherever the dynamic Chandigarh Administrator and Punjab Governor goes. A visit by Lt-General J.F.R Jacob (retd) to the Fragrance Garden would certainly help in getting the needful done, making it more fragrant to every health-conscious visitor.


Bizarre experience

I was driving into Chandigarh along Madhya Marg recently when the cars in front of me stopped very suddenly for some reason, and I had to brake quite abruptly as well. As a result, a scooter, which must have been following too close behind me and was unable to stop, crashed into the back of my car and the rider fell onto the road.

When the police came, they told me that I had to make a “compromise” with the scooter rider because they said that his scooter was a smaller vehicle and was more damaged than my car. Even though I explained to them that it was not my fault, they told me that if I didn’t compromise and pay the scooter rider, they would impound my car and take it to the Sector 26 police station.

They were not in the least interested to see driving licences, insurance papers, etc., which normally should be produced at the time of an accident. As I had an urgent appointment, I could not afford to waste any time and I was obliged to hand over Rs.500 to the scooter rider, after which the police told me I could go.

I am a foreigner living in Chandigarh. I have driven in many countries but I have never known anything as bizarre as this, where you are forced to pay an incompetent rider/driver for damaging your car.


Why punish students?

The authorities of Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School (Sector 26) have punished some girl students who had applied mehandi on their hands on the eve of Karva Chauth. Students say punishment was unfair and unjust. But there must be discipline in the schools and students should also follow the rules. Karva Chauth is a festival and has its values. Schools should also go liberal for such moments. The other convent schools did not object for henna.

Many schools in the city organise henna competitions and students do participate. About three months ago, a competition was held on henna. Issues such as this should be resolved between the school authorities and parents across the table in an amicable manner.



ISKCON organises rath yatra
Tribune News Service

ISKCON devotees dance in front of the chariot of Lord Jagannath during a rath yatra in Chandigarh on Saturday
ISKCON devotees dance in front of the chariot of Lord Jagannath during a rath yatra in Chandigarh on Saturday.

Chandigarh, November 23
The local chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) here today organised the annual Lord Jagannath rath yatra on the pattern of Puri rath yatra.

A large number of devotees from India and abroad participated in the procession.

The chariot carrying Lord Jagannath, Lord Baldev and Devi Subhadra was decorated and was being pulled by devotees.

The rath yatra started from Sector 28 at 1 pm and passed through Sectors 27, 19-27, 20-30, 21, 22, 22-23 and concluded at the Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36. A langar was also organised to distribute prasad.

This year’s rath yatra is dedicated to global peace and welfare.


Meeting postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The November 25 meeting of various journalist organisations from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Delhi called to condemn the murder of Sirsa journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati has been postponed after family members of the late journalist decided to hold “kriya” on the day, according to the Haryana Patrakar Sangh President, Mr K. B. Pandit.

The meeting had been called to register protest against the murder, and demanded a CBI inquiry into the murder.


Tension in Sohana village
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 23
Tension prevailed among residents of Sohana village here today following differences with a group of Radha Soami sect followers regarding ownership of a piece of land in the village.

While the villagers led by the sarpanch alleged that the Radha Soami sect followers had, in a night-long operation, removed religious structures from the common (Khera) area of the village, the Radha Soami followers denied these allegations. Both the groups were claiming that the Khera area is theirs.

The villagers also alleged that even one of the sevadars was picked up by the Radha Soami followers last night and kept in captivity and released in this morning when the villagers contacted the police.

The sect followers however, said that out of the eight canal Khera land, only two canal was with the village, the rest was now theirs in accordance with the PUDA orders. The police is investigating the matter.


Freak mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 23
A 23-year old woman, Ms Manjit Kaur, was seriously injured when a block of wood fell on her head in Pinjore. A truck was reportedly passing by when the block of wood came under one of its wheels and flew off, hitting the victim standing nearby. She has been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh and is stated to be serious.


Faked CD racket: 3 nabbed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
The police claims to have busted a racket and nabbed three persons. They were involved in a business of pirated compact disks and video cassettess of Hindi and English movies in Sector 40. The police raided various music shops after a copy right protection company informed the police about the alleged piracy.

The company had also told the police about a CD and video cassette piracy unit in a Sector 40 house but the equipment could not be seized as the persons involved managed an escape before the police could raid the place. The police has rounded up three persons from Sector 40 in the connection.

About 2,500 CDs and 500 cassettess have been seized, most of them are either are of unreleased movies or of those whose video rights have not yet been issued. The price of the seized material has been valued at about Rs 3 lakh.

The raids were conducted after Mumbai-based copyright protection company carried a week long survey in the city markets and informed about the piracy to the police. Members of the copyright protection company also accompanied the police during the raids. The raids started at around 12 noon and continued till 5 pm.

It is being suspected that such CDs and cassettes worth lakhs of rupees are doing rounds in the city and it is difficult to check the practice, said a senior police official.

Some of the pirated CDs and cassettess which were seized include that of ‘Agni Varsha’, ‘Payasa’, ‘The Guru’, ‘Sky Dew’, ‘Eye’. The police was in process of registering a case when the reports last came in.

The police has also rounded up three persons, Vikas Kumar, Lovi and Naresh in the connection. The trio had reportedly told the police that they were not involved in manufacturing of pirated CDs and in fact these were being supplied to them.

According to the official, Ludhiana leads in the business of pirated CDs and video cassettes but these days such CDs and cassettess are being copied at a large number of place, including Chandigarh. The general practice is that a master copy of a particular movie is purchased from grey market and then it is copied on hundreds of CDs and stickers are pasted on them.


Four theft cases registered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
A fax machine was stolen from Sector 46 residence of Mr A.K Katyal here yesterday. Mr Budh Ram, a resident of Burail village, reported to the police that 22 vibrator machines were stolen from a ground in Sector 44-C on the night intervening November 21 and 22. Someone has stolen mobile phone from car of Mr Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Sector 38 (West). Meanwhile, Atul Sharma, a resident of ITBP Colony, has been arrested allegedly for stealing spare wheel of a scooter. In a police complainant, Mr Joginder Singh of Sector 32 told the police that the accused was caught red handed.

Injured: Mr Dineshwar, a resident of Sector 45, was injured and admitted to the PGI after the scooter he was riding was hit by an unidentified car near the traffic lightpoints of Sectors 20 and 30 on Wednesday.

A resident of 3BI, SAS Nagar, Mr Davinder Pal Singh, was also admitted to PGI after the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a Tata - 407 truck near the traffic lightpoints of Sectors 29 and 30 on Wednesday. Two cases under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC have been registered.


Challan against 4 in rape case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
The UT police today filed a challan against four persons. Ram Lal, Surinder Sharma, Narveer and Baldev, charging them with raping a Shimla-based girl. Meanwhile, the UT police has not framed any charges against M.K Jain and N.K Jain.

According to sources, the UT police has stated that Senior Haryana Bureaucrat and former Home Secretary of Chandigarh, Mr N.K Jain, has not joined the investigation so far therefore no challan can be filed against him. However, a supplementary challan can be filed against him later on.

The four accused, Narveer, Ram Lal, Surinder Sharma, and Baldev are presently lodged in the Burail jail. M.K Jain had already been granted anticipatory bail in the case. The victim in the case had also been granted anticipatory bail.

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