Saturday, February 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Dollar dreams land youth in debt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
After having failed to reach his promised land — the USA — Pushpinder Singh (20) got depressed. His debt-ridden parents have now put their house on sale to repay the loan raised to pay Rs 6.6 lakh to a Kharar-based travel agent who duped Pushpinder.

Pushpinder’s father, Mr Paramjit Singh Sahota, told TNS that he paid the amount to Resham Singh to send his son to the USA on a lucrative assignment in a tissue paper-making factory. He alleged that Resham Singh had duped many other persons as well. Two FIRs against him have been registered in the Kharar police station in November and December, 2002, after preliminary investigations conducted by the SSP, Ropar.

Showing the medical reports of his son, he said Pushpinder was admitted to Government Medical College Hospital, Chandigarh, on October 3 last year and remained there for nine days. He was referred to a psychiatrist who opined that he was suffering from “nervous illness”.

He said his son had not fully recovered and was presently under medical examination. Pushpinder is staying with his uncle, who is a doctor.

He said that Pushpinder abandoned studies when he was in BA first year, hoping that he would go to the USA. Having failed to reach there the depressed youth also lost a huge amount that was raised through loans. Mr Sahota said they had put their house on sale to repay the loan amount as the travel agent did not returned the amount

An FIR was registered against Resham Singh under Sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the IPC in December last on the directions of the DGP following a joint complaint by Jaspal Singh of Kharar, Dharam Singh Sandhu of Chandigarh and Paramjit Singh Sahota of SAS Nagar. A total amount of Rs 17,40,000 was allegedly taken by Resham Singh from the complainants, of which Rs 6.6 lakh were paid by Pushpinder’s father. When contacted, an official of the Punjab police said the matter was under investigation.

Another FIR was registered against the same person in the same police station on the complaint of Gurjant Singh of Daunkalan village on November 22, 2002, alleging that Resham Singh had taken Rs 6.77 lakh from him for sending him abroad. He was neither sent abroad nor was the money returned to him.

Interestingly, all four complainants are related to Resham Singh. Another complainant, Jaspal Singh alleged that Resham Singh had duped many other people.

Meanwhile, in a letter written to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Jaspal Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh Sahota and Mr Dharam Singh have demanded that the inquiry in this matter be handed over to a senior official of the Punjab police posted outside Ropar district. The Chief Minister’s office has forwarded their application to the ADGP (crime) for necessary action.



Concession to PU girls remains
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Panjab University will continue the concession of allowing private candidature, exclusively to girl students. A high-level committee of the university has recommended that girl students should be allowed the special concession of appearing as private candidates in annual examinations. The benefit extends only to social sciences and languages.

Hundreds of girls who due to family circumstances or for other reasons are forced to stay at homes will benefit from it.

The university has also decided to go into the details of coaching academies that are misguiding students by using the words “affiliated to PU” in their prospectus and through advertisements in newspapers. The university will also go into legal implications of the exercise and seek necessary redress.

The committee had been constituted following a representation of Principal Harmit Kaur, a fellow, seeking discontinuance of the practice of allowing special privilege to girl students. Her representation was relevant in the context that certain academies were exploiting the students. These institutes ran on the pattern of colleges and made their students appear as private candidates in the annual university examinations.

The members of the committee which met under the chairmanship of Prof S.K.Sharma, Dean University Instructions, included Ms Harmit Kaur, Principal Harinderjit Kaur, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, Prof Charanjit Chawla, Principal Usha Gupta and Mr Ashok Bhandari. The committee appreciated the concern of Ms Harmit Kaur regarding the ‘nefarious’ activities of coaching academies, particularly in the Ludhiana region.

In order to streamline the process, it has been recommended that the university should not accept examination forms of private candidates in bulk. Roll numbers to private candidates will not be accepted in bulk, as was the practice of such academies approaching the university directly on behalf of the students. The roll numbers will be sent to the permanent residences of the students. For this the candidates will be expected to send the proof of their residence along with the application forms.



UK minister opens vulture care centre
Tribune News Service

“Vultures and politicians share a few common characteristics,” said the British Minister for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, Mr Elliot Morley while talking to mediapersons.

“As a keen ornithologist, vultures and politicians share common characteristics. Neither of us enjoy universal popularity. We are not always particularly beautiful. We can create quite a flap if disturbed too much. But I think, and I am sure India’s vulture population would agree with me that we both do society an essential service. However, whilst there is little risk of politicians dying out as a breed, the same cannot be said of the vultures.”

Panchkula, February 7
The British Minister for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, Mr Elliot Morley, inaugurated the first of its kind vulture captive care centre for Gyps species of vultures at Pinjore today.

The centre is being funded by the Government of the United Kingdom under the Darwin Initiative Funds for the survival of Gyps vultures. The project began in October 2001 and will continue up to March 2004. The centre aims at studying the vultures, isolating the virus and to identify the infection leading to their decline.

The minister, talking to mediapersons, said it was the only centre of its kind funded by the Darwin Initiative. He said it was a high-priority and high-quality project as these vultures could face extinction in 20 years.

Mr Morley said the Government of India was involved in the protection of environment and had taken major initiatives in this direction. United Kingdom Government would contribute Rs 1.1 crore over a period of three years for this project. The Haryana Government has allotted land near Pinjore for the purpose.

The British High Commission in New Delhi was also contributing Ł 15,000 for the satellite tagging of migratory Griffon vultures. By knowing exactly where they migrate, the scientists hope to be able to develop a greater understanding of the risks of any viruses crossing over to the vulture populations outside India.

The project in charge, Dr Vibhu Parkash, said research would be conducted at the Poultry Research and Diagnostic Centre in Pune and the Vulture Care Centre, (Pinjore) to know the kind of virus affecting the vultures.



Plane engine retrieved
Tribune News Service

Rola Heri, February 7
Russian heavy machinery operated by Air Force personnel failed to extricate the British era aircraft in one piece from the Markanda river-bed today. The process of retrieving the aircraft wreckage, believed to be of a Spitfire, has not made significant headway. Ropes tied around the aircraft’s wings tore into the structure. The IAF personnel, however, managed to take out the engine along with the tail portion. They are facing difficulty in taking out the cockpit, fuselage and the wings which are buried deep in the river-bed. More skills are required to recover a vintage aircraft with minimum damage to the structure as against the recovery time in the case where a fighter plane crashed in Chor Mastpur village last year.

The Air Force officials are reportedly planning to cut up the aircraft into pieces to make the extrication process easy.

Despite over five decades, the condition of the aircraft is not beyond restoration. Time has not erased the beauty of the aircraft which perhaps met a worse fate while being extricated than when it crashed. The crash doesn’t seen to have caused extensive damage to the aircraft.

The recovery of the intact engine has put a question mark on the statements given by some villagers that vital parts of the aircraft had been taken away by the Air Force personnel when it had crashed.

The number of people visiting the wreckage site has steadily been increasing and the police, besides the IAF personnel are having difficulty in keeping them at bay.



Bottled water: probe ordered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
A probe has been ordered into the exposures relating to unclean bottled drinking water. Samples have been collected from all over the country, said Mr Sharad Yadav, Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs, while talking to mediapersons here this evening. A joint secretary-level official will conduct the probe within three weeks, the minister said.

Three days ago a Delhi-based NGO using European Economic Commission water testing norms, had said bottled water in India was unsafe for human consumption and contained harmful particles. The NGO, Centre for Science and Environment, claimed that the water was unsafe. The NGO had used the “capillary method” of testing, while in India the “packed column method” is used to test the water. The report will include suggestions on changes, if any, on testing methods and on purity of water.

“The report will be transparent in everyway and all efforts will be made to ensure that strictest norms are followed for bottled water.” Mr Yadav also said: “We have taken the report seriously and nobody will be spared.” However, he clarified that there was no proposal to stop the mid-day meal scheme. It is just that the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was to pay Rs 500 crore to the Food Ministry by way of arrears of grains supplied in the past few years. The Finance Ministry had asked to the Food Ministry to get the money from the MHRD. “This is an inter-ministry matter and in no way will this lead to the stoppage of the mid-day meal scheme.”

On excess stocks of foodgrains, Mr Yadav said, the situation was under control and there had been no drop in procurement levels. An export allocation had been made for lustre-less wheat.

Mr Yadav flanked by the president of the local unit of the Janata Dal (U), Mr Surinder Bhardawaj, and the President of the youth wing, Mr M.P.S. Reen, said he had come to meet party workers. He said he would not be going to Himachal Pradesh during the elections.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Chakki Owners Association presented a memorandum to the minister highlighting that Chandigarh is a non wheat producing area and earlier the Food Corporation of India (FCI) used to allocate wheat to the city to meet the demand of locally-grinded atta (wheat flour). The National Consumer Awareness Group and the Chandigarh Jewellers Association asked the minister to get the rent act, which was imposed in Chandigarh recently, withdrawn from the Government of India.



Evasion of customs duty detected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Central Excise and Customs has detected collective evasion of customs duty to the tune of Rs 22 crore by four export-oriented units of Gujarat.

According to Mr Nirmal Singh, Commissioner, Central Excise and Customs, Valsad Commissionerate, four export oriented units — the Shiv Metal Corporation, Shree Shakti International (Vejalpore), Shree Shakti International (Kabilpore) and Sidhi Vinayak Impex — imported goods free of customs duty during the past some months and diverted them to the local market.

“They cheated the government of the customs duty as exemption is given to only those units who re-export these goods at competitive prices. Raids were conducted on the premises of these four units between January 29 and February 5. The raids were led by Central Excise officials to collect evidence about diversion which was sought to be covered by fake exports and also by invoices (sales) of finished goods to fictitious firms in the domestic market.

“In fact, hardly any manufacturing had taken place by using the imported duty free material. Instead the material was diverted to the market. The Shiv Metal company claimed it was exporting brass and copper utensils to China through the land customs station at Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh. Investigations, however, revealed that no such export had taken place. Instead it was found that the unit had diverted the imported goods to the market and evaded payment of customs duty.

“The same unit also made a false declaration about the copper contents in the duty-free imported copper inputs with an intention to evade customs duty,” said Mr Nirmal Singh. Similarly, Sidhi Vinayak had been allegedly indulging in trading activity without the permission from the local development commissionerate as required by the law. It claimed exports worth Rs 3.58 crore last year but could not substantiate them. Raw material worth Rs 5.12 crore lying in the units has been impounded,” Mr Nirmal Singh said.



Kitchen that left Jacob steaming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Slush in kitchen, broken sinks and vegetable peels all over the kitchen floor greeted the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), when he paid a surprise visit to Panchayat Bhavan here today. He gave the officials seven days to set things right and said he would revisit the place to review the changes.

On reaching Panchayat Bhavan, General Jacob asked the manager of Panchayat Bhavan, Mr S.S. Brar, to take him to the kitchen. When he entered it, he found the kitchen full of slush, with hasty steps being taken to clean it. Apparently, the staff had heard about the arrival of General Jacob.

The manager was unable to give a satisfactory reply regarding the poor condition of the kitchen. Mr Brar told the Administrator that there were 27 rooms and some dormitories in the building, besides some halls, that were let out for various exhibitions. For renting out a double-bed room Rs 500 was being charged, whereas, the rent for a dormitory was Rs 30 per bed.

General Jacob visited various rooms, where he found windowpanes broken and the upkeep poor, at which, he said: “You should provide the people with good service, as you are taking a Rs 500 rent for each room. You should use your profit to improve the services the maintenance of Panchayat Bhavan that is frequented by budget tourists.”

Later, he went to various dormitories and found the upkeep poor there as well. He said it must be difficult to live in dormitories in summer, as the rooms were poorly ventilated. The stinking and clogged toilets on every floor made General Jacob extremely upset.



Need to modify judicial system: scribes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The media plays a constructive role in projecting the problems of the people, but the mechanism to redress grievances does not lie with the media. Stating this while addressing delegates at a symposium on Media and Violence, Mr Amar Chandel, Deputy Editor, The Tribune, added that though it was desirable for the media to be able to go beyond just highlighting problems, such a proposition was not feasible.

He said the judicial system had to be modified as the media did not have the power to punish, adding that the media was forced to remain silent on certain issues because the laws were such.

Mr Chandel observed that the media could not thrive unless public support was there to break the nexus between the forces encouraging violence.

Delegates from 10 states, besides the city, are attending the symposium being organised by the National Council of Churches in India in collaboration with the Department of Mass Communication, Panjab University.

Stating that the media was a victim of violence, Mr Chandel said there had been attempts to gag the Press. Citing the example of the government’s reaction in the Tehelka episode, he said what the government did by way of terrorising reporters was a dangerous sign.

Mr Ashok Malik, Assistant Editor, Dainik Tribune, said it was true to some extent that the media was glamourising violence, but added that it was so because that was what people read. He maintained that violence in society was increasing and the media could not ignore it.

The seminar was inaugurated by Mr H.G.S. Dhaliwal, SP (Operations), Chandigarh Police. The Head of the Mass Communication Department, Panjab University, Dr Sanjay Wadwalkar, delivered the keynote address.



2 labourers suffer burn injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Two migrant labourers suffered burn injuries when they poured kerosene into an earthen oven at a construction site in Sector 27 late to night. The victims, Kalia and Amrica, were rushed to the PGI emergency. The condition of one of the victims was said to be serious.

While Kalia has received 80 per cent burns, the other victim, Amrica, suffered 25 per cent burns. The victims along with three other labourers had recently been engaged at a house under construction in Sector 27. An eyewitness to the incident, Lal Bahadur, told TNS that all five labourers were making preparations to cook their meals. Kalia and Amrica, who were standing near the earthen oven, caught fire when they poured kerosene in it.

A fire tender had to be called to control the fire. The victims hail from Behrich village in Uttar Pradesh.



11 held for mob attack on DIG’s house
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 7
A man named Gopal Shukla ‘Pappu’ and ten other members of the Labour Union of Chandigarh were arrested here today on the charge of leading an attack on a house under construction and beating up the labourers working there.

The case against them was registered late yesterday on a complaint lodged by Dr Rajwant Singh, DIG Hyderabad. Dr Rajwant owns the house that was attacked by over 200 members of the union in Phase XI here yesterday.

According to the police, the president of the union has also been arrested, but some other co-accused are still at large.

Dr Rajwant Singh has alleged that the mob led by Pappu, his former construction contractor, assaulted and threatened the labourer working on his house. He said it had happened under the nose of the police. Gopal Shukla had said here yesterday that Dr Rajwant Singh owed him a large amount and the union members had visited his house to ask for it.



Woman hacked to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 7
In a gruesome incident, a 65- year- old woman was hacked to death by unknown persons and her feet were chopped off at Ramgarh village yesterday.

The incident came to light late last night when Ram Chander, husband of the victim, Mohri, found her mutilated body in bushes near their hutment. The victim’s throat had been slit with an axe and her feet severed. The body was lying in a pool of blood. The police has found the axe and suspects are being interrogated.

Talking to TNS, Ram Chander said he was a mason and they had migrated from Rajasthan about 15 years ago. “As usual, I left home last morning for work and she was at home. However, when I came back around 6 pm, I found that she was not there. Generally she goes off during the day to meet her friends and so I kept on waiting for her to return till 7 pm,” he said.

As it grew dark, he got worried and decided to go and look for her. “I decided to go and see in the wasteland. I could not see because of the darkness. While walking in the darkness, I stumbled upon something. I lighted a match and saw her lying there,” he said in a choked voice.

Though Ram Chander said the motive behind the murder was most likely theft as his wife was wearing silver anklets weighing over half a kilogram, the police thinks otherwise. It said the fact that it had been unable to recover the severed feet from the vicinity of the crime spot is strange. “It could possibly be a case of a tantrik taking away the feet for some puja,” it said.

Ram Chander denied this theory and said his wife was not visiting any tantrik. He said he had adopted his brother’s children but they were visiting their real parents in SAS Nagar.

The police has registered a case under section 302 IPC.



Swarovski outlet opens in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
There is good news for those who have been longing for a diversified market of gifts and collectibles in the city. Swarovski, world leaders in the manufacture of full cut crystal, opened a full-fledged section at Ethos in Sector 8 today.

Mr Shiv Kumar, country head, Swarovski, India, said: “Chandigarh may be a non-metro in terms of numbers, but as far as the lifestyle is concerned it well qualifies as a metropolitan city. That is precisely why we have chosen Chandigarh for organising a two-day crystal fest, which also marks the launch of Swarovski Collector’s Society (SCS) in the city.

Chandigarh is the only non-metro to have this society, membership of which is open to all. We have a membership fee, depending upon the duration and for every member who joins, we have special crystal gifts.”

So you have swans, a bagful of hearts and animal figurines, all in crystal — pure and sparkling. The launch of the SCS in the city was marked by the launch of Antonio — the annual edition crystal piece for 2003 meant only for society members.

Swarovski has the tradition of introducing special crystal line for each year. This year’s theme “Antonio” is the latest addition to the ongoing “Magic of Dance” trilogy. Antonio is a highly expressive piece named after Antonio Ruiz Soler, one of the first Flamenco dancers to achieve world fame.

Talking about the workshop as also the society, Mr Shiv Kumar said: “Swarovski Collectors Society was launched in India in 1987, subsequent upon tremendous success of Swarovski collection. The society was formed to provide a forum for crystal enthusiasts to share their passion for crystal.

Today the society is flourishing with over half a million members across the world. Also, database of the company, which has its head office in Austria, is the largest known database in the world.”

After heading Rayban for a long time, Mr Shiv Kumar moved on to pioneer the world of crystals in India. He was especially chosen by Swarovski to head the Indian division of precious crystals. Today, with a team of 25 persons, Mr Shiv Kumar heads a growing market, which thrives on standardisation.

“I love saying one thing: if you take a mythical flight from India to New York you should not find any difference as far as Swarovski is concerned. We follow the same standards across the world and for us, consumer is king, irrespective of the geographical region he inhabits.”



Ahatas’ worry hoteliers

Chandigarh, February 7
The Hotel Association of Chandigarh today demanded that action should be initiated against illegal guesthouses, hotels and restaurants operating from unauthorised premises in the city. The trend of ‘ahatas’ and liquor shops in tin-sheds should be stopped in the excise policy. The association said hotels, guesthouses and restaurants had been functioning from general trade category SCOs without any sanction. TNS


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |