Sunday, February 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Hotels go high on Cricket World Cup
Monica Sharma

Craze for souvenirs

  • Excitement is in the air. Kids have posters of their favourite cricket stars glued to walls and the insides of closets. Postcard-size pictures and stickers of cricket stars are also being exchanged among friends. In at least one school, student members of a cricket club are assembling to pray for India’s victory.

  • Most students have “ordered” their parents not to send them to school on match days. Children are after their parents for not only 29-inch colour TVs with their “almost-there” effects, but also new cricket bats. Every kid wants to be attired in the team colour — blue.

  • Catering to the demand, some of the shops in the city have salesmen dressed up like cricketers, who are also offering World Cup schemes and souvenirs. You can buy Indian team caps and the other stuff by shelling out Rs 150 to Rs 300. Discount coupons are also being offered.

Chandigarh, February 8
Cricket buffs, eagerly waiting for the Indian cricket team to enter the field during the World Cup, will, now, be able to celebrate Ganguly’s big knock or drown their sorrow after he gets out, with invigorating beer, sitting in front of giant screens in bars and pubs here.

It may sound incredible, but a large number of eating and drinking joints spread throughout the city have made special arrangements for the big occasion. That’s the reason why, sitting in comfortable sofas, guzzlers will be able to savour special cocktails and mocktails, besides sumptuous snacks, while watching their favourite batsmen and bowlers in action.

A bar in Sector 17 is even planning to offer beer “on the house” every time an Indian batsman hits a six. “We are working out the modalities,” the senior manager of the bar says. The others are offering special discounts on drinks every time an Indian player scores a century. This will be in addition to the regular discounts offered during the “happy hours”, from 11 am to 11 pm.

Little wonder, a large number of city folk are calling up the joints, seeking details of the offers and making reservations. Mr Rajinder Sharma, a cricket fan who lives in Sector 23, has made reservations in a Sector 35 pub for all days India are playing.

Mr Raghunandan, business executive in a multinational organisation and a regular visitor to a Sector 35 restaurant-cum-pub, says: “Gone are the days when fans would sit glued to the television sets at home during the World Cup matches. I remember having seen the market corridors deserted during the previous World Cup, because everyone was at home, watching players in action.”

He also says: “Now, things have changed. Thanks to the special arrangements, you will not have to make excuses for not joining friends at parties on match days. You will, now, be able to savour cricket and enjoy your favourite snacks at the joints.”

Another young executive, Mr Ravi Sharma, says: “You may find it hard to believe, but you enjoy a match more at an eatery than at home. The reason is not hard to see. Every time a batsman hits the ball hard, the entire hall gets up to cheer. When a batsman gets out, everyone in the hall shares your sorrow.”

Earlier, you could watch the matches live on giant screen only in a limited number of joints, including Hot Millions II and English Garden, both in Sector 17. Now, you will be able to enjoy the facility also in Maya Palace and Hotel Classic, both in Sector 35, and Blue Ice in Sector 17. You will be able to catch the action live on the TVs placed in strategic corners.

Hotel Classic and Maya Palace are also offering favourite cocktails, mocktails and snacks of the Indian team. Khyber has also planned a special menu. In Hotel Sunbeam, a big screen has been put up in the coffee shop.



Mastermind behind income tax refund fraud
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The preliminary inquiries conducted by the Income Tax Department into the fraudulent withdrawal of IT returns on the basis of fake documents reveal that the fraud was intelligently designed by professional Chartered Accountant N.K. Garg. He withdrew a total of Rs 24 lakh through 52 returns filed in different wards at different times.

Presently, the accused is under police remand for investigation by the UT police. He surrendered before Mr C.S. Mohal, CJM, on February 1 following the registration of an FIR against him. He will again be produced before the relevant court on February 11. As many as 297 files, two registers and 12 PCs were seized from his office by the investigating officer of the local police.

The Chief Commissioner of IT Department, North-Western region, Mr Vijay Khanna, said N.K. Garg had filed a number of returns on behalf of several persons. All the returns had certain tax deduction certificates attached with them. In all such cases, the claim of tax deducted was more than the tax liabilities of the person. Consequently, a refund was claimed in all such cases.

Raising suspicion, some of the returns were picked up for verification of TDS certificates. In TDS certificates of Delhi, it was found that no tax was deducted and paid to the Union Government of India on behalf of the persons who filed their returns in Chandigarh and subsequently, claimed refunds. In other words, the TDS certificates issued by Delhi concerns were only fake documents and did not actually certify the deposit of taxes in government treasury.

The inquiry officials also recorded statements of the directors of the payer companies who admitted that the TDS certificates purported to be issued by them were actually not issued or signed by any official concerned of the company. After going through the records of the companies, it was revealed that the companies that deducted on behalf of the persons claiming their refunds in Chandigarh through Garg had no dealing with the assesses. Therefore, TDS certificates attached with the returns filed by Garg were clearly forged with the intention of claiming refunds only.

Further investigations carried out by the officials of the IT Department in respect of the refunds that were issued in some cases prior to this verification revealed that Garg was himself operating the accounts of a number of persons for whom he had filed returns. The refunds that were credited into these accounts were withdrawn and used by Garg himself. Addresses shown against certain companies in the bank did not exist in most of the cases. Mr Khanna did not rule out the possibility of bank officials involved in this scam.

Income Tax Officer of ward 4(3) was deputed along with a technical assistant to go to the SBI, treasury branch, Sector-17, to establish the trail of four refunds that were issued on the strength of fake documents. Verification of refunds issued in the case of M/s Sagar Traders and Contractors revealed that a refund of Rs 75,759 was encashed through HDFC account in Sector-35 where the address given was 11, Quiet Office, Sector-35, and the account was operated by N.K. Garg, auditor.

Stop payment instructions were issued for two refunds in the case of Shivalik Chemicals and Allied Industries and Krishna Enterprises. Interestingly, the copies of account opening documents, received in the case of Victory Traders and Krishna Enterprises showed N.K. Garg HUF as partner. However, in the IT returns, he was not shown as partner.

A refund of over Rs 1 lakh in the case of Robin Enterprises for the accounting year 2002-2003, came for approval from Ward-4(3). The case was processed on AST. The PAN was found genuine. However, after manual verification of the files, it appeared to be an “entry” case. Total receipts of Rs 46,23,745 were balanced by payments for labour charges of Rs 32,22,330. TDS was deducted on gross contract receipts but not on these sub-contract payments. The net profit was only 0.5% and was overwritten to show 3.9% in the tax audit report of N.K. Garg as partner in Bajaj Ajay and Company. The audit report was perfunctory. The TDS certificates did not mention the name of the ward where the return was filed.

In reply to a question, Mr Khanna said there was also a possibility of involvement of postal officials in helping the accused in receiving the registered letters at fake addresses. It is worth mentioning that refund vouchers are dispatched through registered post to the applicants.


Refund vouchers a puzzle for cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Even as senior income tax officials yesterday ruled out the possibility of involvement of its officials in the IT scam, the refund vouchers landing at fake addresses of the firms and companies floated by Chartered Accountant, NK Garg remain a mystery.

As per the set procedure, the IT Department sends a refund voucher to the claimant, which could be a company, a firm, an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF’s), through a registered post.

The Chartered Accountant did receive return vouchers at fake addresses. Some of the addresses of SCF or residential houses mentioned by the claimant do not exist. Then who received the return vouchers and who gave information about the vouchers being dispatched ?

The IT officials shrugged responsibility, saying that delivering registered post at fake addresses could be a mistake of the postal department.

Though police officials refuse to comment on the progress of the case, sources said the CA had opened at least 74 accounts in six banks — Bank of Punjab, Punjab National Bank, HDFC, Vyasa Bank, Punjab State Cooperative Bank, Corporation Bank. Details of the accounts opened by the CA in other cities could not be ascertained.

So far information on accounts of nine companies, 12 firms, 37 individual accounts and 16 Hindu Undivided Family (HUF’s) accounts have reportedly come to light. Back


50 pc Puncom employees opt for VRS
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 8
In a mass exodus, the first of its kind under the shadow of disinvestment, over half the employees of Punjab Communications Limited (Puncom) have sought to be relieved from service.

These employees have availed of the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) offered at Puncom in the wake of the pending disinvestment by the Punjab State Electronic Development and Production Corporation (ECP).

Sources in Puncom confirm that over 400 employees out of the total 750 have decided to quit the company. The last date of opting for voluntary retirement was yesterday. According to sources, some employees will start leaving from day after tomorrow.

The employees who have opted for voluntary retirement are evenly spread between various classes of employees in the office. ‘‘Surprisingly, a large number of the younger workers have also opted to leave,’’said a source. The employees are being given all post-retirement benefits.

Puncom, a giant in the telecom sector, was incepted in 1981 by the Punjab Government to give a fillip to the telecommunications industry in the region. It is one of the five companies scheduled for disinvestment by the Punjab Government.

The company’s infrastructure is said to be worth 73 crore and the net worth over Rs 182 crore. The Electronics Corporation of Punjab had invested in 74 per cent of its total shares initially and five per cent of these shares were sold by the ECP in the open market, making a profit of over Rs five crore in the bargain. The rest of the 69 per cent share of ECP in the company is up for sale.

According to the sources, if the company gets a price anything above its net worth, then it breaks even with the government’s investment in the company, keeping in view the market rate of the company’s shares. Otherwise, there are chances of the government losing in the bargain.

The last date of receipt of financial bids for the ECP shares is February 21, but no bids have been received till date. According to Mrs Vinni Mahajan, Director, Punjab Disinvestment Commission, five companies have expressed interest in buying the company, but no financial bids have been received yet.

Out of the five companies that showed interest in bidding for the company, only Shyam Telecommunications, HFCL, and Videocon have visited the company. The sources pointed out that all companies, during this visits had commented on overstaffing.


Rape case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 8
The victim in the Shimla-girl rape case today recorded her statement in the court of the UT Judicial Magistrate. She claimed she did not know any person mentioned as accused in the case by the police. The victim stated that only Surinder Sharma was shown to her by the police.

The case has been adjourned for further recording of the statement of the victim on March 13.

Meanwhile, a bail plea moved by one of the accused, Baldev Singh, was today adjourned till February 13 for further arguments.Back



UT needs more cops: Jacob
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Rapid socio, political and economic transformation coupled with its unique geographic and political profile, makes Chandigarh vulnerable to militant activities, opined the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), while speaking at the conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security.

Chandigarh has been strengthening its law enforcement apparatus. The focus is on capacity building of the police machinery. Special attention is being paid to police stations, as their role is pivotal in not only the prevention and detection of crime and maintenance of public order, but also in collection of intelligence.

Similarly, due emphasis is being laid on upgrading the capabilities of its special branch. Scope of intelligence coverage has been enlarged and internal security and counter-intelligence are the prime focus.

Chandigarh has a small force of 4,500 officers and men. Its growth has not been in pace with the growth of the city and its satellite towns. During the last decade (1991-2001), the population (9 lakh) of Chandigarh recorded an increase of about 40%. The disturbing feature of this growth is the burgeoning increase in population, estimated to be about 3 lakh in slums and areas lacking civic amenities. A significant increase is due to migration from other states. The possibility of foreign nationals migrating to the city masquerading as residents of other states cannot be ruled out.

Keeping in view the emerging threats, proposals for sanction of additional manpower for the Chandigarh Police need to be approved by the Government of India at an early date, the general demanded.


Gypsies add zing to carnival
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
There was something very fresh about the Plaza Carnival this evening. Way from routine, the organisers today managed a great cultural show, which was made memorable by “The Gypsies”.

The Gypsies, a musical band from Delhi, held the audience captive at Sector 17 Plazza as singers Samuel Bernard and Manisha Narula presented beautiful numbers, blending various forms of music to suit the taste of every kind of viewer.

It may be recalled that last time the carnival had to be postponed on account of bad weather. Today, however, the Tribune-sponsored event more than compensated for the last time by bringing a great musical teant to the city. The Gypsies, who have been into creation of music and its presentation, have given musical scores for television and have performed at several places in the country. They are great at live concerts, as was visible this evening during the carnival. The singers presented a wide variety — right from Hindi and English to Punjabi.

Songs were interspersed with attractive dances on peppy music by Kirandeep kaur, Gaurav Anand, Ricky Dhiman, Pooja Nayyar and Aditi Chawla. At the artistes’ corner, talented students of the Government College of Art, Sector 10, sketched portraits and painted pictures.

The carnival costume characters mingled with the audiences, which came in great numbers, and also distributed sweets.


Ex-Deputy Mayor expelled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The former Deputy Mayor of Chandigarh, Mr Balraj Singh, has been expelled from the primary membership of the Chandigarh Pradesh Valmiki Sabha for a period of six years for anti-sabha activities and using defamatory remarks against the sabha. He has also been expelled from the post of Patron of the sabha.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Chandigarh Pradesh Valmiki Sabha held today, held under the chairmanship of Mr H.C. Kalyan, president of the sabha.


Woman Home Guard missing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
A 25-year-old-woman Home Guard volunteer of Punjab, has been reported missing from her house in Maloya colony since February 1. The husband of the woman, Pawan Kumar, who is employed as an operator with the Sector 39 Water Works, told the TNS that his wife was deputed in the security wing at the local airport.

On February 1, she left for duty and never returned. He said she daily reported at the Sector 17 office of the Indian Airlines and then went to the airport for the duty. The family of the woman said the police had lodged a daily diary report (DDR) on the basis of a complaint lodged by them.

The woman’s husband said that he suspected that Bablu Khan, a resident of the same colony had abducted his wife.


Defending love and its symbols...

IN times when love has come to be defined by concepts borrowed from the West, it becomes important to understand what it really means, the worth it carries and whether it is a feeling to be formally reiterated on occasions as Valentine’s Day.

In our own city we have witnessed stand-offs on non-issues that become issues on the occasion of February 14, the Valentine’s Day — Geri Route being the most visible. A lane that serves as a haven for lovers all round the year is sealed off on the day, which is all about love. The issue that surfaces then is whether love hangs so thick in the air around the geri route that its closure on the day should cause ripples in young hearts.

The views differ, just as feelings do. Starting from today, we bring to our readers their own views on “what to do with the Geri Route, which is not less than a symbol of love for the youth of this city....”


Balance law and pleasure

The need today is to create a balance between law and pleasure. If the Geri Route is cordoned off, the young will look for another popular site for their jamboree. No doubt that this route, which is the ‘Garden of Adam and Eve’, has witnessed unpleasant scenes, but a pragmatic approach by the police is the only solution. When impurities in water are filtered, the water becomes potable. The science of governance should wield a strong influence so that the crowd that has gathered for pleasure is filtered of undesirable elements rendering the day enjoyable.

G.K. Chopra, # 2845 SEC-37/C, CHANDIGARH

“Closure of Geri Route not wise”

There is nothing wrong if the youth of the City Beautiful enjoy and celebrate the Valentine’s Day at the Geri Route. Abrupt closure of the route by the Chandigarh Administration is not seen in good taste. Last year’s decision of cordoning off the route was not good. It would be better if the UT Administration thinks of a plan which does not obstruct the flow of celebration. The day comes once a year. There is no harm in letting the youth to be and in allowing youngsters to celebrate the day with fun.


“Imposed discipline never lasts”

Like last year, this year the police should not completely seal the City Beautiful’s Geri Route. This I say because imposed discipline is not lasting. It creates confusion and offends the youth. The youth should, instead, be allowed to learn about the elements of discipline at their own level. If they know the significance of decorum, they will automatically maintain it. You cannot maintain order by exerting pressure, which only serves to dampen young spirits that soar high on the Valentine’s Day.

*SHIX 26:

Let love bloom

“Love is in the air” — I went through this headline yesterday and could experience the feeling which surfaced in my life a few years ago when I was in my teens. That season was surely a lovable one — the one that preceded Valentine’s Day. It was a time when final exams would be approaching and the love line, at the same time, ticking. The route, which we call the Geri Route, is not just about concrete that can be sealed when the need arises. It is about emotions of youngsters who used to take this road (and I am sure they still do) in the hope of catching a glimpse of their loved one. When I look at the past, all I can do is smile without regrets. Everything about the pre-Valentine Days was beautiful — the leafy autumn which looked beautiful from the Geri Route, the bursting card shops, girls and guys purchasing gifts for their friends.

I can relate with what the youth feel when their love is restricted or when they are prevented from expressing what they want to. I remember how in the absence of freedom to meet someone I loved, I scanned through countless messages of love in newspapers, hoping to find the one meant for me. After days of pain, Ankur called me up. He reached out to me and our bond grew stronger. Today seven years after the Valentine’s Day of 1996, me and Ankur are on different paths. But I still go through love messages that flash in newspapers. And I still feel the Geri Route should never be closed.Back


Beant Singh memorial to house exhibition centre
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
A nine-acre ground adjoining the Beant Singh project in Sector 42 is proposed to be used as an exhibition centre on the lines of Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The Chandigarh Housing Board is to be entrusted with the task of building infrastructure like roads and providing other amenities.

A proposal in this regard is all set to be tabled during the forthcoming meeting of the high-level Beant Singh Project Committee. The exhibition centre will be part of the Beant Singh memorial project as the area is within the land allotted to the project.

Such an exhibition centre will make the Beant Singh project economically viable as the proceeds will be used for the upkeep of as well as new facilities.

The facility will bring in more conventions, tourism and revenue.

Already, a multi-purpose convention centre is to come up within the under-construction Beant Singh memorial in Sector 42.

The complex will house a restaurant.

These changes have been suggested by the executive council of the Beant Singh memorial project.

Construction work on the centre will begin after re-designing the originally planned library. With the advent of the Internet it was opined that a huge library was required. The space could be used for other purposes as well.

In the past one year the Punjab Government has been making provision for funds for the memorial.

The UT and Punjab has joined hands to build the memorial.


Rs 1 lakh stolen from glove box
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
An employee of Raja Forging and Gears today reported to the police that a sum of Rs 1 lakh was stolen from the glove box of his scooter parked outside the Sector 8 branch of Indus Ind Bank.

The employee, Rakesh Kumar, working at the Manimajra office of the company, said he had withdrawn Rs 1 lakh from the Sector 17 branch of Punjab National Bank and kept in the glove box of his scooter. He then went to Sector 8 to deposit a cheque in IndusInd Bank. When a came out from the bank he found that the cash was missing from the glove box.

A police official said a gang, specialising in stealing money from the glove boxes of scooters, had been active in the city for the past several months. The issue was discussed at an inter-state meeting of police official held recently at Panchkula. The officials said the Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh) police had informed that the gang members hailed from Azad Nagar in Muradabad.

Purse snatched
Two motor cycle-borne youths snatched the purse of the wife of a former Union Minister, Mr Vinod Sharma, in Sector 9 here on Saturday.The purse contained Rs 30,000 in cash and other valuables. The victim was coming from a beauty parlour when the incident occurred. The police has registered a case.

One dead in road accident
The body of an employee of the UT Electricity Department was found lying near the Punjab Engineering College on Friday night. The victim, Rajbir Singh, was posted at the college. A police official said it appeared that some vehicle had hit the deceased as his cycle was found lying along side the body.

Held for stealing
The police has booked Kewal Singh, a resident of Manikhera district, Muktsar, for allegedly stealing a wallet containing Rs 500 cash and some documents from the pocket of an advocate, Mr Vivek Guleria, at the Sector 17 Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) here. The police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC. In another case, Mehboob Alam, a resident of Mani Majra, reported that Rs 4042 were stolen from the cash box of his office on the night intervening February 6 and February 7.

A Maruti car ( CH 01 N 9684) parked in front of Grewal Ice Park in Sector 9 was stolen today. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered by the police. In another case, Bhag Mal, a resident of Sector 34, said his black Mitsubishi Lancer car was stolen from his residence on the night intervening February 6 and 7. The police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC.

Darshan Singh, a resident of Mani majra, reported that his car ( CH 01 C 4309) was hit by a truck near the transport light point. The driver of the car was injured in the accident. The driver of the truck, Ashok, was arrested and bailed out. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Held for eve-teasing
The Women and Child Support unit of the local police has launched a special drive to check incidents of eve-teasing in the city.

10 teams, including the lady staff, were deployed outside Government College for Girls, Sector 11, Government College for Girls, Sector 42, SGGS College for Girls, Sector 26, Home Science College, Sector 10, and MCM DAV College, Sector 36, yesterday.

One person, Raja Ram, was arrested near the MCM DAV College. A case under Section 294 of the IPC has been registered.


Two chemists arrested
The police arrested two persons from different chemist shops allegedly for selling certain drugs, without doctor’s prescription, here today. The police reportedly laid trap at two shops and caught chemists by using decoy customers.

Those arrested are Sanjay and Om Prakash, Amit Gupta of a chemist shop in Sector 11, however managed to escape.

Employer held
A woman resident of Chandi Mandir Cantonment today alleged before the police that her employer, R.D. Shandilya, had outraged her modesty and issued threats to her. The accused has been arrested and a case registered under Sections 354 and 506 of the IPC.

During the past 24 hours, at least four persons were injured in two different road accidents.

Sukhwinder and Charan Singh were injured after the scooter they were riding was hit by a Tata Sumo near Nada Sahib yesterday.


Plant opened
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 8
A Indo-German-Japanese joint venture plant to manufacture oil seals, valve stem seals, radial shaft seals, etc. for automotive industries was inaugurated at the Industrial Area here yesterday.

The plant, Sigma Freudenberg Nok Private Limited, was inaugurated by Dr Peter Stehle, Managing Partner of Freudenberg and Company, Germany, and Mr Masato Tsuru, Chairman of NOK Corporation, Japan.

Sigma holds 50 per cent shares in the company, while the other 50 per cent is held jointly by the German and the Japanese. The company has been set up with an investment of over 30 crore wherein the latest plant machinery and equipment imported from Germany and Japan have been installed.

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