Wednesday, February 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


INLD all set to gain majority
Five councillors cross over to ruling party
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
The ruling INLD is all set to gain an absolute majority in the newly elected municipal council here with the crossing over of at least five councillors from other parties.

With two weeks left for the elapse of the one-month period for issuing the election notification, the ruling party is making efforts to woo Independent councillors, including Congressmen who had fought the elections as Independents. Already four councillors affiliated to the Congress — Mrs Anjala Kataria (Ward No. 18), Mr Mahinder Singh (Ward No. 15), Mrs Kuljit Waraich (Ward No.1) and Mr Gomti Prasad (Ward No. 29), have indicated their shift towards the INLD. Another Independent, Mr Pawan Mittal (Ward No. 27), has also assured his support

While Mr Gomti Prasad is a Congress worker, Mr Mahinder Singh, Mrs Kataria and Mrs Kuljit Waraich also had Congress leanings. They reportedly shifted their stand on the plea that the development of respective wards would suffer their if they opposed the candidate from the ruling party as MC President. These councillors, along with 12 others, had approached the party high command after the declaration of the results, asking it to throw its hat in the ring for the post of MC President. They have assured their support to INLD councillor, Mrs Seema Chaudhary, who is being projected as the President.

Sources in the Congress say that the delay in the notification of the election results is a deliberate attempt to woo their (Congress) councillors. They say the Kalka MC experiment is being repeated in Panchkula where the election notification will not be out until the party gets an absolute majority and can have its own President.

The INLD-supported candidates had won 12 of the 31 seats, including two seats by rebel leaders/ kin, but were short of obtaining two third majority required for staking claim to the post of President. With the switching of sides by the councillors, the party has now won majority.

The BJP, which was the only party to contest on its symbol, won only three seats, while the Congressmen, who defied the party high command to contest the elections when the party had boycotted them, and got 16 seats.

With the BJP declining to have a truck with the INLD here, the ruling party was left with little option than to woo the councillors aligned with the Congress. In fact, the Congress had received a setback when two other councillors, Mrs Sharda Gupta (Ward No. 22) and Mrs Renuka Rai Walia —shifted their loyalties the INLD. Though they were known to be from the Congress camp, they had been supported by the INLD. 


FCI official, wife appear before police
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh/Hoshiarpur, February 4
The controversial senior official of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Mr P.P. Singh, and his lawyer wife, Madhu Singh, appeared before the Hoshiarpur police today to record their statements in the Rs 1 crore black money case. The police has given a clean chit to Ms Sudha Gill, a co-accused, and she may turn approver against the couple.

The Hoshiarpur police has claimed to have found that the FCI official accumulated wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. It says that the disclosure was made by Balbir, a former servant of Lt Col G.S. Cheema, from whom, Rs 18 lakh of assets — Rs 5 lakh, papers of two plots, a truck and some gold ornaments — had been seized. The remaining Rs 82 lakh is yet to be traced.

Mr P.P. Singh, who had already obtained an interim bail from a local court of Hoshiarpur, reported to the investigating officer, Mr Upinderjit Singh Ghumman, Superintendent of Police (detective) at Hoshiarpur. The SP interrogated the FCI official and his wife for more than four hours and told them to report again on February 10, as he was not satisfied with their reply.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, Senior Superintendent of Police at Hoshiarpur, when contacted, said preliminary investigations had shown that Ms Sudha Gill, who ran a boutique in Sector 16 of Chandigarh, had no involvement in the case; only the disputed trunk, in which, Rs 1 crore had allegedly been kept for many months, had been found in her boutique. When found, the trunk was empty.

The SSP said Mr P.P. Singh and Lt Col Gurjeet Singh Cheema had exploited Sudha Gill by keeping the disputed trunk in her boutique. She was a tenant in Cheema’s house, now in hospital and under arrest. She met with an accident when a police team was bringing her to Hoshiarpur in the last week of January after her arrest in Chandigarh.

The Hoshiarpur police says that this money is likely to be in the possession of Lt Col Gurjeet Singh Cheema, owner of the house, who is in Secundrabad, on training. The Punjab police has sought a permission from the defence authorities to interrogate him.

Meanwhile, Mr P.P. Singh and his wife, Madhu Singh, have alleged that Lt Col Gurinder Singh Cheema, brother of Lt Col Gurjeet Singh Cheema, was part of an oil scam in the Army involving many crore rupees. Allegedly, the embezzlement was committed when he was posted at Leh. Consequently, he was dismissed from service.


Sarabjit was eccentric: Mohali cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
An eerie silence prevails at the Phase 7 house where a 45-year old tenant was stabbed to death by Sarabjit, son of the landlord. The sympathies of residents of the locality are with the assailant’s father, Sq Ldr Chamkaur Singh Mandher (retd). Said to be a religious person who is respected in the locality, the 65-year-old father was seen pleading the case of his son who entered into a quarrel with the tenants.

“I went twice to the Phase 8 police station along with Sarabjeet’s father when he had roughed up his tenants”, a neighbour who is close to the assailant’s father said.

The residents say the January 31 incident was waiting to happen. Sarabjeet would often enter into a quarrel with his tenants. Policemen at the Phase 8 police station of SAS Nagar are familiar with Sarabjeet, whom they describe as eccentric. Investigations reveal that a case under Sections 342, 437 and 452 of the IPC was registered against Sarabjeet on September 6, 1999. Some girls who were known to a senior Punjab police official had taken the “jinxed” annexe on rent. Sarabjeet had misbehaved with them and threatened them. He had objected to the police official visiting the girls. He was taken to the Phase 8 police station and was released only at the intervention of some persons of the locality.

On the condition of anonymity, persons close to the family say that Sarabjeet, a computer engineer, often quarrelled with his father but his mother used to defend him. “We often told Mandher ji to get his son examined to know the cause of his strange behaviour”, a resident of the locality said.

Sarabjeet used to object to the activities of their most recent tenants, Davinder and his brother Bhupinder. Investigations by the Chandigarh police reveal that after stabbing Davinder, Sarabjeet woke up his father and asked him to hand over the key of the car.

The Chandigarh police, however, says it has not come across anything to prove that the assailant was eccentric.


Not enough firemen to save city
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Fire Department does not have enough staff for handling simultaneous fires in the city, so, the damage may get multiplied, if a natural calamity strikes the city. According to sources, the shortage is so acute that even untrained staff members are told to drive fire engines whenever there is a fire.

“The department is at least 40 firemen short and it also needs four leading firemen and 13 officers, if sanctioned posts are taken into account,” sources in the Municipal Corporation said. The posts were sanctioned 20 years ago, while many more firemen are required today. The sanctioned posts were for four stations, while the number of fire stations has increased to seven. An estimate suggests that seven stations will require more than 100 firemen.

The Municipal Corporation had begun filling the posts last year, recruiting 44 personnel, including 26 leading firemen, but the recruitment had turned controversial amid allegations of corruption. The MC set up a committee to probe the allegations, but nothing came out of the inquiry.

The controversy has demoralised officials, who, now, shudder to take up the responsibility of recruiting firemen. This virtual ban on recruitment has exposed the city to fire hazards. The corporation has not even been able to fill the 13 posts of officer sanctioned last year for the Ram Darbar and Mani Majra fire stations.

The vacancies have been created due to the retirement of 15 personnel. The department, now, has two senior officers in place of four who were recruited as per the requirement in 1965.

Even the men-to-vehicles ratio has turned adverse, resulting in a situation where, at times, leaves of firemen are cancelled to pick them for major operations. Due to a lack of supervision, firefighting operations and maintenance of machinery have been affected, creating fatigue among the staff.

Fortunately, the corporation has been able to make some old vehicles fit again to be used, but minus the required manpower. The procurement of a hydraulic ladder to fight fires in multi-storey buildings has been hanging fire for a long time now.


Nursing Council office raided
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, February 4
Officials of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, conducted a raid on the office of the Nursing Council here today in connection with some alleged irregularities found in the preparation of results of GNM students.

Though the officials termed the visit as a routine check aimed at bringing about improvement in the working of the council.

It is said the raid was conducted on the basis of a complaint in which it had been stated that certain students had been marked absent in the result sheets even though they had appeared in the examinations.

However, the office of the Nursing Council denied that the raid had been conducted to check certain alleged irregularities found in the preparation of examination results.


Fog plays spoilsport again

Chandigarh, February 4
Thick layers of fog again hit normal schedule of rail, road and air services today while Amritsar remained the coldest with mercury dipping to 4.7°C and maximum temperatures staying two to three degrees below normal in the region.

Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar and most of the north-west region shivered as fog enveloped the entire north-west region right from Pathankot to Sirsa, Saharanpur and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, besides the National Capital Territory.

The day temperature in and around Chandigarh dipped by two degrees below normal to 20.2°C, so also in the Ambala cantonment and the city. The latter reported the high of 20.7°C while minimum was recorded at 7.6°C.

The vehicular traffic was forced to move at snails pace with headlights on till shortly before noon as visibility was reduced to almost nil. Many trains in the region ran behind schedule, by one to two hours.

Srinagar was again reeling this morning with mercury dipping to minus 2.9°C, one degree less than the normal. Jammu was colder by two degrees at 7.4°C.

Shimla was hotter at 3.9°C, by two degrees. UNI


Police rounds up ‘innocent’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In their overzealousness to check the sale of drugs outside schools in the city, cops rounded up some persons who happened to be basking in the Sun.

Though the efforts of the police in checking the presence of anti-social elements outside schools need to be lauded, the drive loses its objective when innocent persons are rounded up.

Today was the second day of the special drive. The Station House Officers (SHOs) were asked to depute police parties outside schools to keep a tab on anti-social elements.

During one such drive, a Tribune photographer came across a rickshaw-puller, Badri Mandal, who was basking in the sun near the Sector 20 masjid. Badri claimed that he was basking in the sun after getting himself examined General Hospital Sector 16. He showed the prescription slip of a doctor and medicines. Still he was rounded up.

Similarly, Rajinder, a domestic servant employed in Sector 27, was rounded up while he was watching the police action.

However, police officials said at least nine persons were rounded up near a government school in Sector 20. Similar drives were launched in different parts of the city.

A senior citizen said instead of posting uniformed persons outside schools cops in civil be deputed there.


HUDA to recover Rs 20 cr from defaulters
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
The Haryana Urban Development Authority is all set to recover over Rs 20 crore of defaulting amount from allottees of commercial, industrial and residential plots here.

A decision to evict occupants from the resumed properties and dispose of the properties was taken by the Chief Minister at a review meeting last month. Following this, HUDA had told all Estate Offices in the state to furnish details of the resumed plots or properties in the possession of the allottees.

The date of resumption and the reason why the defaulters had not been evicted, so far, were also to be given.


The passing of a legend
Tribune News Service

Amaresh Chandra Chowdhury Chandigarh, February 4
Amaresh Chandra Chowdhury, the great vocalist, a missionary, and an intellectual, breathes no more. As he heads for his heavenly abode, it is time to spare a thought for the great musician, who not only enriched his own world by mastering the grammar of Kirana gharana, but also performed acts of benevolence by virtue of being associated with the Ramakrishna Mission.

Only some days back, he was in Chandigarh, little aware that death was keeping a watch over him from some close quarters. Now that he is gone, it would serve to recall his life and achievements lest the social memory fails to give space to the legendary figure. Born at Sirajganj, now in Bangladesh in 1923, Amaresh Chandra Chowdhury, had to make a rather uncertain beginning for his career in music. The cause behind was indifferent parents who wanted to see their son wedded to a down to earth vocation. For Amaresh it was difficult to allow his parent’s desire to smother his passion for music. As the home ambience was not happy and congenial for the growth of his ambition, he used to walk upto the banks of the Padma and rehearse music, his food for thought.

His career took a decisive turn after his meeting with the legendary singer Ustad Faiz Khan, who spotted his talent and advised him to go to Calcutta and hone his talent. Taking this advice, Amaresh started his preparation for classical music with Pandit Harihar Shukla and later with Ustad Dagar Khan. The moment he felt he had imbibed enough art, he made his appearance in the concert circuits where listeners showered him with affection and praises. Among his admirers were such connoisseurs as Kumar Kishore Roychowdhury, son of the Maharaja of Gouripur and Maharaja Khemendra Mohon Thakur of Bagura.

When the academy of Music and Dance came into being in Calcutta, Amaresh joined it and learnt a great deal from renowned singers like Ustad Tansen Pandey of Dagar gharana and Romesh Chandra Bandopadhyay of Bishnupur gharana. he came out with a first to his credit and was immediately put in service at the Narendrapur unit of Ramakrishna Mission by Swami Lokeswarananda. For a long span of two years he served the mission, coming out occasionally to participate in concerts. The greatest credit of Amaresh Chandra was that he was more than a singer. His knowledge of the grammar of classical music relate to Kirana gharana added to his list of achievements. Only recently Pracheen Kala Kendra had honoured him with a special award.


Panchayat’s plea not to acquire land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Raipur Kalan sarpanch Bahadur Singh and panch Ramvir Singh Bhatti have demanded that a two-and-a-half kanal of land be not acquired for the development of Industrial Area, Phase-III.

They said four houses and 28 families, which were rehabilitated in 1952 when Chandigarh was planned, would again be displaced by the acquisition.

They said these villagers were removed from Kalibar village to make Sectors 8 and 9.

Some of them were shifted from Roorki village to make Sectors17, 18, 21 and 22.

They claimed that the acquisition of land just along the lal dora in other villages had been left out. The two leaders said the Chandigarh administration had also not acquired 2 acres of land of cremation ground, community centre, a pond and public conveniences in the village.

The leaders met the Administrator, Finance Secretary, Deputy Commissioner and Land Acquisition Officer in this regard.


Kalpana’s death condoled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Chandigarh chapter of the Aeronautical Society of India today held a condolence meeting in the memory of astronaut, Kalpana Chawla, who lost her life with six others when American space shuttle, Columbia, crashed on Saturday.

The chairman of the society, Air Commodore, S.B. Prashar, in his condolence message, said all members of the society had expressed a deep sense of loss at the tragic death of Kalpana Chawla. In her death, the country had lost an experienced and daring astronaut. She will be an inspiration for the younger generation.

Meanwhile, the staff and students of Balwant Rai DAV College for Women, Kurali, paid homage to Kalpana Chawla. 


Workshop in British Library
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 4
A workshop was organised for over 50 young members of The British Library in Sector 8, which was aimed at helping them develop life skills. Prof Jitendra Mohan, Director of Asia’s Centre for Excellence, was the resource person at the workshop titled ‘Personality: Achieving Excellence’.

According to Mr Sushant Banerjee, library manager, the workshop was part of a self-development programme. He said: “The self-development section of the library was inaugurated on January 28 last year by the Director of the British Council in India, Mr Edmund Marsden.”

Prof Mohan, he said, had written 225 research papers, worked on 14 sponsored research projects and received many awards from bodies like UNESCO, the Commonwealth, the APA and the British Council. He had received a lifetime-contribution award from the Indian Association of Sports Medicine in New Delhi.


Erratic power, water supply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Residents of a part of Maloya Colony are facing hardship these days due to erratic power and water supply in the area. Students are the worst hit.

For the past 15 days electricity voltage had been very low between 6 pm and 10 pm, making it difficult for the students to concentrate on their studies who had to prepare for their examinations that were scheduled to begin in March, said a resident.


Scooterist killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
A 27-year-old scooterist, Suresh Kumar, was killed when his scooter skidded near the labour chowk in Sector 16 here late today.

He was take to the Sector 6 General Hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Poppy husk seized

The police arrested Jai Ram from near Mandana village and Raghubir Singh from Khetparali village and seized 550 gram of poppy husk from them. In another case, Gurbachan Singh was arrested on the charge of speculation from Sector 20 and Rs 260 were recovered from him.

Cops ‘bash up’ 3 students

Three local students, including an NRI, were allegedly bashed up by cops in front of MCM DAV College here this afternoon.

However, the police has denied the allegations.

In a written statement given to The Tribune, three students — Charanpreet, Gajendra and an NRI, Sukhpreet, have alleged that they had gone to meet a friend in Sector 36 in the afternoon. But, while coming back they were stopped by three cops of Sector 36 police station, near MCM DAV College.

They alleged that the cops snatched away the keys of their car and asked them to come out. They behaved rudely and even bashed them up. They were taken to the police station of Sector 36 and their guardians called up. They were later released.

However, the students further alleged that the cops “just felt sorry” of the incident. No action was taken against those who had bashed them up.

When contacted, SHO, Vijay Kumar Bhardwaj, denied the allegations and said no one misbehaved with them.

They were simply asked to accompany the cops to the police station.

He said, “the youths boys were loitering in front of the women’s college. In such cases, the police take the loiters to the police station and call up their parents. Normally, they are released, except in cases of eve-teasing”.

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