Friday, March 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


4 Holi revellers die in mishap
Tribune News Service

Parwanoo, March 20
Four friends, who were going uphill to celebrate Holi, were killed in a freak road accident near the Timber Trail resorts yesterday. They belonged to the same neighbourhood in Pinjore.

The victims — Saurabh Kalra (22), Gaurav Sharma (22), Sohan Lal (19), and Amit Kumar Sood (25), — had parked their motor cycles (HR-12A-1243 and CH-03F-8808) on the roadside of National Highway- 22, as they waited for four other friends to join them, in their ride to Chakki Mor, when the accident took place at about 1 pm yesterday.

Eyewitnesses told Chandigarh Tribune that a Canter (HP-64- 0250), coming down to Parwanoo, reportedly hit the hill beyond the parked motor cycles, and with the impact moved backwards, crushing the youths to death under its wheels. The driver of the Canter, Bant Ram, could not control the vehicle and it fell down into a 250 ft gorge. Bant Ram, however, survived the accident, though he was seriously injured.

A large number of Holi revellers who were going uphill to celebrate the festival, including the four friends of these victims — Moni Dahiya, Gagan Arora, Pitambar and another youth, saw the accident and stopped by to see if they could help the victims. While two of the victims, Gaurav and Saurabh, had died on the spot, Amit and Sohan Lal died on the way to the ESI Hospital, Parwanoo. It was then that their families in Pinjore were informed about the accident by the friends of the victims.

A few passers-by had also climbed down into the gorge and rescued the driver. He was brought up on the highway and was rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh, and is said to be unconscious. A case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered against the driver.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on Pinjore. Shops in the Model Town area, on the Pinjore- Nalagarh road remained closed to mourn the death of the four youths. Besides friends and relatives of the bereaved families, even strangers from Pinjore and nearby hamlets, came in to offer condolences to the four bereaved families.

The families of Saurabh Kalra and Gaurav Sharma were too shocked to speak about the accident. Saurabh’s mother kept on wailing that he had not even informed them the he was going for a drive uphill, and had she known about their plans, she could have stopped them. A close relative of the family, said though the duo had been friends since childhood, they grew closer after the marriage of Saurabh’s sister, Puja, with Gaurav’s brother, Munish, last year. “It was Saurabh, who had introduced Gaurav into his group of friends. They were playing Holi outside and suddenly decided to go uphill for a drive,” he said.

At Sohan Lal’s residence, his kid brother and mother were in a state of shock. His father, Balbir Singh, a scrap dealer, in a choking voice, said that his son had met him in the main bazar and had informed him that he was going uphill. “I asked him not to go, but he pleaded and so I relented. He was the light of my eyes ... mere budhape ki laathi tha. Woh ek aadarsh beta aur bhai tha. Na sharab aur na cigarrette peta tha. Jab woh itna achcha tha to Bhagwan ne use kyon bula liya. Ab mein apne aap ko kaise samjhaon ke jo hua woh Bhagwaan ki marzi se hua.”

Similar scenes were witnessed at the residence of Amit Kumar Sood, who is survived by a four-year-old daughter from his first marriage, his wife whom he married six months ago and mother. Relatives said he was divorced and got married again. His mother was away to Delhi and his wife, Anju, was alone with his daughter, when she got the news of the accident. The victim’s mother and his three sisters managed to reach here only last night and he was consigned to the flames this morning.



Three die in related incidents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
It was literally a “ bloody” Holi for many as complete mayhem due to drunken driving, brawls and roadside accidents kept doctors at various city hospitals more than busy as three persons died and over 100 cases were reported by the time the riot with colours got over.

According to information, a daily-wage earner, Naimuddin, who was injured after the bicycle he was riding was hit by a scooter, today succumbed to his injuries at the PGI.

The scooter was being driven by Tarun Francis (17), son of a nurse in the PGI. Police sources said the scooterist was not holding a driving licence and a case under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC had been registered. Tarun was arrested and later released on bail. The victim, who was reportedly in an inebriated state, was working at a construction site in the PGI.

The Holi celebrations proved to be fatal for Harbans Singh, a resident of Basenpur village in Mullanpur, when he was hit by a scooterist, Som Nath, near the CTU workshop in the Sector 25 colony. The scooterist was arrested and bailed out. In another case, Rani, who had received injuries when the rickshaw on which she was travelling, was hit by a Maruti Zen, today succumbed to the injuries at the PGI. The driver of the car sped away from the spot.

Two persons were injured in road accidents. Chote Lal, a resident of Dhanas, complained to the police that he was hit by a scooterist, Harwinder Singh, near Dhanas village. The victim was admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

In another case, Lalin Kumar, a rickshaw puller, was injured when he was hit by a jeep near Dev Samaj College in Sector 45. The driver of the jeep fled from the spot. The victim was admitted to the Sector 32 GMCH.

Meanwhile, relatives of the three persons whose bodies were brought to General Hospital, Sector 16, for post-mortem, had to face inconvenience as the mortuary staff was found to be missing. They lodged a complaint the Director, Health Services, Dr C.P. Bansal.

Dr Bansal said he had personally spoken to the family members and the matter had been sorted out.

It was the Sector 16 General Hospital, where doctors remained the busiest as a total of 55 cases were reported between 8 am and 8 pm yesterday. “Interestingly, a majority of the cases that came to us were a result of drunken driving or brawls with 32 medico-legal cases (MLC) being registered,” said doctors at the General Hospital.

Women, too, did not lag behind as far as drunken driving or roadside accidents were concerned as some of them landed up at hospitals, smelling of alcohol.

Though a majority of the people who were brought to the General Hospital had minor injuries and were discharged, five were referred to the PGI with head injuries and fractures.

The number of cases that came to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Holi was comparatively less at 23. Six cases were of serious head injuries due to assault and brawls.

While there were only two cases of eye injury and one of skin abrasion, the rest were alcohol related. Harbans Singh, a resident of Kumhar Colony, was declared brought dead at the GMCH after he was hit by a scooter.

Though the PGI failed to provide official figures, yet it is learnt that almost 25 different cases were reported on Holi. Rani from Sector 22 and Naimuddin, a labourer, were declared brought dead at the PGI, after they were injured in roadside accidents.

PANCHKULA: Triple riding, helmetless driving, using of pressure horns and playing loud music in cars and two-wheelers were more of the rule than an exception. Though the police had been deployed at all strategic locations and at all entry and exit points in the district, its emphasis was only on avoiding law and order problems, much to the glee of traffic violators. About 60 persons were rushed to the General Hospital and private hospitals for injuries sustained in drunken brawls/fights/road accidents and due to skin allergies, by the time the celebrations got over. While 10 persons were admitted with fractures, four of these patients were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. A few cases of head injuries were also reported.



Candlelight procession against war
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 20
As the coalition forces launched an attack on Iraq in the morning, city residents sat in front of the television sets for hours together watching news channels for the “latest developments”.

Alive to the possibility of war breaking out in the Gulf soon after the expiry of the 48-hour deadline issued by the USA to Iraq President Saddam Hussein for leaving the country along with his sons, they switched on the sets even before sun rays entered their rooms.

As the cameras focused on the deserted streets of Baghdad before the offensive began, they hoped against hope that nothing would happen. Some last-minute development would prevent the war from taking place, they were somehow sure of the fact.

Residents have no stakes involved. None of their relatives are living in Iraq.

The prices of petrol and the possibility of its shortage was not the reason for their concern. But, the fear of losing thousands of innocent lives in the attack made them sit on the edge. So far the youngsters had not taken out processions against war, but now they regretted their inaction.

Meanwhile, residents on way to Sukhna Lake could be seen walking with transistors next to their ears, listening to the news and analysis on BBC’s Hindi service. At around 8.15 am, as the news caster announced the attack on Iraq, they stood still, listening to the details with patience. Some sat down on the embankment of cobbled stones discussing war strategies.

The USA would not be able to win the war in 10 days as claimed, they argued. “Last time also they said Iraq would lick dust within a fortnight, but the war lasted for 43 days. In 2003, it’s not going to be easy. Saddam’s boys would wait till the forces reached close to Baghdad before striking back”.

For once, the World Cup semi-final between India and Kenya was pushed into the background as discussions continued throughout the day in coffee houses, bars and pubs on the horrors of war.

Later during the day, the local chapter of the Indian Council of Social Welfare, in collaboration with the Aastha Foundation, organised a candlelight procession in protest against the war, in Sector 17 Plaza.



Discos allowed to serve beer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Chandigarh Administration today announced excise policy allowing discotheques to serve beer and run pubs while permitting the sale of ready-to-drink flavoured alcoholic concoctions being produced by companies to meet varying tastes. The good news for drinkers is that liquor may not become more expensive.

Surprisingly, despite repeated public demands against the continuance of liquor vends in makeshift tin sheds in the southern sectors, the administration has allowed these to run for this financial year also. The ‘ahatas’ accompanying vends have also been allowed.

The Administration has kept the taxation structure the same as last year and the number of vends will also remain the same at 78. This means the price of liquor will be more or less the same as last year. The Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, said an effort would be made to withdraw the traders of tin-shed vends from the inter-state borders with Punjab and Haryana.



Owner catches car thief after chase
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
An alert car owner today helped the police in solving at least four cases of auto theft from the Sector 17 area. The auto thief, Rajesh Kumar, was caught near the district courts complex this evening.

According to the information available, Mr Rajesh Kaul, owner of a Maruti car (CH 01 L 0039), had come to the complex at around 12.30 pm.

After an hour, when Mr Kaul was coming out of the complex along with his friend, Vishwajeet, he saw a youth fleeing in his car. On noticing that he was being chased by two persons, the car thief ran away leaving behind the car. The chase ended near the cricket stadium when Rajesh was caught by Mr Kaul and his friend. The thief was handed over to the staff on a PCR vehicle. An official of the Sector 17 police station said the thief would be produced in the district courts tomorrow. A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 17 police station.

Some other cases of theft were expected to be solved with the arrest of Rajesh. Sources in the police said the thief used to steal a car with the help of a master key and drive it for fun before leaving it an isolated place. A car stolen by him from Sector 22 recently had been traced at Zirakpur. Another car stolen by him from Sector 17 had been tracked down to Ambala. A police party would be going to Ambala to bring the car. Rajesh stole cars from Sector 17 market, Sector 22 or outside the district courts complex.



Revelry marks Holi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Tearing excitement broke loose in the city yesterday as young revellers splashed colour all over the city. Enthusiastic shrieks of “Holi hai” mingled with the eternal roar of engines and constant din of trumpets as they bid adieu to the traffic rules.

The imposing presence of so many men-in-white on the streets, especially along the geri route, was no dampener. Wild shrieks and desperate honking of vehicles rattled the windows of the houses as three on a bike, camouflaged under colour, rode past the drenched crowd on their single cylinder flying machines with bandannas protecting their hair.

They stopped the cars, with “Holi hai” written with colours, in front of hotels and restaurants in Sector 35 to shake, rattle and roll as the high wattage car stereos blared out bhangra music.

Some even went uphill to cut along the sharp curves before parking their jalopies right in the middle of the meandering road to lose their blues to the rhythm of thumping music.

They also entered the houses of their friends before forcing them to join in the fun. For the teeny-bopper brigade, there was no confusion over “real holi celebrations”. Armed with plastic pistols and water grenades, they flushed out the willing victims out of their homes, ignored their mock protestation, pushed them against the walls, and shot them mercilessly with high-powered water pistols.

Others rushed out of their residences to target innocent passersby. Clutching water balloons, they aimed at cyclists, and the pedestrians. Even those traveling in cars and buses were not spared. Neat and clean clothes were no consideration as they poured water mixed with colour on the helpless victims.

This year there was nothing to stop them. Not even the fear of examinations. “Thanks to late Holi, there was nothing for us to worry about,” screamed a class X student, “Our examinations concluded in the second week of March. So, we had all the time in the world to rub colours on the faces of our friends”.

The geri route and the southern sectors were the venue of prime celebrations. Open Gypsies with giggling damsels patrolled the area between Sector 9 and Sector 11, overtaking guys on scooters with silver painted faces. In Sector 10, they stopped. To buy eggs. Also beer and whisky. Some tipplers also had liquor more than their bodies could handle. They could be seen lying flat on the road after throwing away their cycles.

The maidens, protected behind the closed windows of their mini-limousines also stopped to pick up beer from the road-side vends. Not to drink, but to go home and wash hair, all dried up with colour.

In Sector 44, exhilarated bodies swayed to the beats of bhangra music booming out of high-wattage speakers as guys gathered around parked cars, wishing each other. Dance parties were organised on the occasion.



Suman released from Nari Niketan
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 20
Mukesh Saini and Suman Saini who were separated after girl’s relatives beat up the boy two days ago, were united after being released by a local court. Mukesh was beaten up in front of the District Courts as the couple got married against wishes of girl’s relatives.

The girl after spending two days in Nari Niketan, today appeared in the court of UT Judicial Magistrate(First Class), Mr K.K Goel, and recorded her statement under in-camera proceedings. There was high security outside the court room while she was recording her statement. The couple was released in the evening.



Mohali resident commits suicide

SAS Nagar, March 20
A resident of Phase V committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan here on the night of March 18.

The deceased, Bhupinder Singh (26), who was living in a rented accommodation, took the extreme step allegedly due to harassment by some members of the ruling group of the Mohali Truck Union who used to send his truck for police use. However, according to the police, Bhupinder Singh ended his life due to some family dispute.

He was a bachelor and used to live alone in Phase V, while his mother was living in Sector 70.

Some members of the truck union have alleged that Bhupinder Singh’s truck was sent to Amritsar about three months ago on some police work and now he was again forced to take horses for the police to Anandpur Sahib. They further alleged that when he refused to oblige, his vehicle was forcibly sent to the police station by some members of the union and he was even humiliated by police personnel. According to the rules of the truck union, owner of a vehicle that had been sent on “wagar”, could not be asked to do the same for a period of six months, union members said. However, the president of the truck union said the allegations being levelled against certain members of the union were baseless. OC



Virus Inventors
Jaspal Bhatti’s Friday humour

WHETHER it is viral fever or computer virus, both are dangerous. One attacked the human health, the other the computer health. Whenever there is an outbreak of any virus, doctors have a strange ‘glow’ on their faces, because it’s their season now. Similarly when a virus attacks the computer, the anti-virus drug manufacturing companies are all smiles.

I sometimes wonder what kind of people are these who spread computer viruses? What do they exactly look like? According to a news report, these computer virus inventors fall mostly in the 14-34 age-group and most of them usually don’t have a girlfriend. So I guess, all those jilted in love either become poets or virus writers.

Virus is a kind of programme which makes its way into your computer while downloading any file or software. Once the virus attacks the computer, the computer begins misbehaving, disobeying commands.

I have a sneaking suspicion that even some of the anti-viral drug manufacturing companies have a hand in spreading the virus. Probably they spread the virus themselves so that more and more of their anti-viral drugs sell. I voiced these suspicions to my sister, Dr Sarabjit. I told her how often I was suspicious of the motives of these companies. My doctor sister quickly sent me for a brain scan. Taking a look at my report she said: “Looks like the viral of suspicion has made its way into your brain!”



Youths assaulted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 20
Two youths, including Punyadeep Sharma, son of a former Haryana minister, Mr K.L. Sharma, were reportedly assaulted by a group of six youths in Haripur village this evening. According to the police, Punyadeep and his friend, Raman Sharma both students of local Government College, were assaulted by the accused after an altercation in the village. Punyadeep escaped with minor bruises, while Raman received some deep cuts and had to be taken to the hospital.



Minor girls raped
Tribune Reporters

SAS Nagar, March 20
A 14-year-old physically handicapped Nepalese girl was raped in Shai Majra village here last evening. The victim, who is polio afflicted and even deaf and dumb, has been staying in the village, along with her family, for the past many years. Last evening when she was alone in her house a youth, Dev Raj of Balongi village, raped her. A case has been registered.

Ambala: Two cases of rape of minor girls have been reported from the Naraingarh area during the past 24 hours. The suspects in both cases, however, managed to escape.



Kinetic to provide free services
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Kinetic Motor Company is holding a Kinetic Reward Scheme to provide free services to its existing customers. Speaking at a function to launch the scheme, Mr Navneet Mehra, Regional Head, Punjab, said, “The company is offering facilities like free tune up, free wash, free gear oil change, body part kit for a brand new look to their existing customers at a very nominal price of Rs 1,988 against a normal price of Rs 4,078. Y2K mileage kit for Rs 999, easy maintenance contract for Rs 333 only and a lot of other surprise gifts on this special occasion.

He said, apart from the rewards, Kinetic is also offering a package on the purchase of new 4-stroke scooter — NOVA. 


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