Tuesday, March 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cong men ‘assault’ SAD supporters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The election of office-bearers to the Nagar Panchayat of Zirakpur today took a violent turn when some Congressmen allegedly assaulted a former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and certain Municipal Councillors of his group and a number of his supporters with lathis and chairs.

Certain police officials reportedly supported Congressmen in the assault on councillors belonging to the camp of Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said he had the support of 11 municipal councillors whereas, the Congress had the support of only three municipal councillors, he added.

While councillor Surinder Shinda got an injury on his head, another councillor, Mr Narinder Sharma, suffered injuries on the chest. Mr Ajaib Singh was also hurt. Two women councillors Manisha Malik and Harmesh Kaur were also beaten up.

Efforts were reportedly made to kidnap a number of municipal councillors belonging to Capt Kanwaljit Singh’s camp. Capt Kanwaljit Singh was also assaulted. Councillor Ajit Singh suffered multiple injuries when he was allegedly hit by a police inspector. Mr Bharat Bhushan and Ms Manisha Malik claimed several attempts were made to kidnap them last night by some persons in vehicles with red lights. Policemen also conducted raids on their residences to take them away, they alleged.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that Congressmen supported by the police entered the room where election proceedings were being held under the supervision of the Sub Divisional Magistrate, who left the room with the official register immediately after pandemonium broke out in the room.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, along with injured and other municipal councillors, met the Punjab Governor this afternoon to seek the judicial probe into the incident. Later, they met former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal at his residence, who immediately came here from Patiala after getting this news. Upset over the turn of events in Zirakpur, Mr Badal said that Capt Amarinder Singh’s government was using police force to capture all democratic institutions.

Mr Badal said that as the ruling party had resorted to violence to capture power in municipal committees in all parts of the state, a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) would be called soon to decide the party’s response to such actions of the government.

Meanwhile, narrating the event Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that election process started peacefully but soon the SDM received a telephone call, with someone instructing him ‘ to postpone the election’. After that the journalists, who were in the election room, were asked to leave.

However, election process continued and Mr Narinder Sharma, a staunch supporter of Capt Kanwaljit Singh was elected President and Ms Parmajit Kaur, was elected Vice-President. Proceedings in this connection were recorded in the official register. Immediately after the election of Ms Paramjit Kaur trouble started and some Congressmen allegedly entered the election room to disrupt the election.

Efforts were made contact the SDM, but he was not available. It was not clear whether office-bearers had been elected or the election had been postponed.



City loses one life to TB each day
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 24
Incredible but true. Everyday a person dies of tuberculosis in the city. This is not all. About 15,000 residents are suffering from the disease in city. The figures have been released by the Directorate of Health Services.

In 2002-03 about 10 per cent of the TB patients coming for treatment in the city were from the urban areas. As many as 1,200 to 1,500 patients come for treatment at Sector 22 and Sector 45 TB treatment units every year.

The National Sample Survey confirms the fact that the urban areas are also afflicted. “Urban and rural population is equally affected by the disease” — was the finding of the survey conducted recently.

About 400 patients have already been cured of the disease and as many as 1,550 patients have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment.

The treatment under the Revised National TB Control Programme is being sponsored by the World Health Organisation.

Giving details of the facilities, the doctors said a 15-bedded hospital was inaugurated here under the programme in January, last year. Besides this, the Health Department has established 10 fully equipped microscopic centres with trained staff. Another such centre was inaugurated in the city today, taking the number to 11. “We have established 67 DOT centres for providing medicines to the patients,” says Director, Health Services, UT, C.P. Bansal. “The diagnostic tests and medicines to the patients are given free of cost.”

Regarding the spread of the disease in the city the doctors asserted “coughing and spitting by those suffering from TB also contribute towards the its spread. The bacteria is dormant in each one of us. Once the immunity level goes down due to one reason or the other the bacteria becomes active.” They add “going on crash diets, besides improper dietary habits and lack of exercise, can also lead to reduced immunity, as a result of which you can get infected with TB, HIV and diabetes.”

Migratory labour is also another source, the doctors claims. “As many as 60 per cent of the patients are from the slums and 30 per cent from the rural areas,” they said. “The problem gets worse as the ignorant patients sometimes leave the treatment in between.” 



No move to privatise power sector
Tribune News Service

Power bills

In view of the strike call by powermen, the Chandigarh Administration said today that the due date for depositing power bills scheduled for March 26 has been extended to March 27.

Chandigarh, March 24
The Chandigarh Administration said today that there was no proposal to privatise power sector in Chandigarh and added that the principle of “no work no pay” would be strictly enforced if the employees went on strike on the call of the UT Powermen Union on March 26. Disciplinary action could also follow against the defaulting employees, a spokesperson of the Chandigarh Administration said tonight.

The union has said they will be protest against the privatisation of the Electricity Department of the Chandigarh Administration.

The Administration said there was no proposal to privatise the power sector in Chandigarh. A study was being made to assess the impact of corporatisation of the Electricity Department.

Necessary arrangements for maintaining the power supply have been made.

Members of the public can also contact various complaint centres in their areas. Besides, they can also contact the control room at the following telephone numbers :control room, Sector 17—703242 and 773533; control room, Sector 9—742370 and 743940.



Om Cricketai Namah...
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The defeat of India in the Cricket World Cup in South Africa on Sunday night has left many red faces in the city’s considerable community of astrologers. In the process, as one Panjab University don puts it, they seem to have made out a strong case for evolving a scientific temper among the people rather than blindly believing them in future.

Most of the astrologers had confidently predicted India’s victory in the clash of titans in Johannesburg, which was prominently published by many newspapers. “Astronomical combination is all set to bring cheers to India”, stated one.

Declared another: “For the first time Saturn, the ruling planet of India’s kundli and also the ruling planet of Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zahir Khan and Yuvraj Singh, is in perfect sync”, adding that “to top it, 2003 is also ruled by Saturn. This is an unbeatable combination”.

When contacted by TNS on Monday morning, many of them were not available for comments. A few tried to play on the world of their predictions. “All that I had said was that India will put up a great show. I had never said it would win outright”, said one of them.

And for good measure, he read out the prediction: “With the fifth house inter alia standing for sports, which is supported by Mars, Mercury and Rahu, the Indian cricket team will put up a great show. The astronomical combination is all set to bring cheers to India. What’s best, the players are in fine form and high spirits”. There was nothing to suggest that he predicted India’s victory, he argued.

However, many others were much more definite in their predictions. Predicted one: “All numerological calculations call for an Indian win in the World Cup final. India has five alphabets, The date of the finals is 23 (sum of which is five) and the sum of the year 2003 is also five. India’s luckiest number is also five which also denotes Mercury, which favours India”.

Yet another one declared: “More than anything, it’s the performance of the Indian Cricket team that will lead to victory. If our youngsters maintain the form they have shown recently, no one can take the cup away from us. Astrologically speaking, all the stars favour India”.

A third one said: “It is an unmatched winning combination for the Indian cricket team. All the stars and numerological calculations are in India’s favour. The ruling planet of cricketers like Ganguli, Sachin, Sehwag and Yuvraj are in tune with that of India’s ruling planet, Saturn, which will assure our win”.

However, today, at least one of them sought to lay blame for apparent contradiction at the doors of the Press. “We predict the future of human beings who are governed by definite planetary positions and influences. It is not fair to ask the astrologers to predict the outcome of matches. We did it only because the Press was after us”, he quipped.



MC panels: Cong men may be elected unopposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Election of Congress councillors and their supporters as chairpersons of six Municipal Corporation House committees remained a mere formality with no nomination being filed on the last day today against Mr Pradeep Chhabra, Mr Sohan Lal, Mr Balraj Singh, Ms Harpreet Kaur, Ms Shyama Negi and Mr Dildar Khan.

The formal announcement will be made after the expiry of the last date of nominations for seven other committees tomorrow. The election, if required, will be held on March 27 and 28. During the last term of the MC all chairpersons had been elected unopposed as the BJP having numbers did not allow anyone to give them a fight.

Mr Chhabra will be the chairman of the Water Supply and Sewerage Disposal Committee, Mr Sohan Lal of Road Committee, Mr Sohan Lal of Sanitation Committee, Ms Babla of City Beautification Committee, Ms Shyama Negi of Electricity Committee and Mr Dildar Khan of the Slum Development Committee.

The Congress and its supported candidates Ms Pushpa Sharma has already filed nomination for Fire Committee, Dr. K.S. Raju for Legal Affairs Committee, Ms K. Atma Ram for Resource Generation Committee, Ms Shyama Negi for Apni Mandi Committee, Ms Amar Kulwant Singh for Art and Culture Committee and Chandigarh Vikas Manch leader Jitender Bhatia for the newly created Enforcement Committee.

The Congress supported nominated councillor could not file his nomination today as he was not available in the city. He is likely to file the nomination tomorrow.



‘Try’ Bush, Blair for war crimes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Samajwadi Party workers here today burnt effigies of the US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in protest against the US attack on Iraq.
Party president Shivi Jaiswal said the coalition forces should be forced to immediately withdraw from Iraq under the same UN resolution that made Iraq leave Kuwait in 1991. Mr Jaiswal said it was the responsibility of the UN-led world community to adopt a resolution for an immediate American pullout from Iraq and the initiation of criminal proceedings of war crimes in the Hague international court. He said Mr Bush and Mr Blair should be brought to trial.

They also accused the USA of dividing the UN between the “law-abiding nations and the law- avoiding ones led by the USA and the UK.”

In another demonstration at the Sector 17 piazza, activists of the Janata Dal (United), led by local unit president Surinder Bharadwaj, burnt effigies of Mr Bush and Mr Blair. Party leaders N. K. Mattoo, Minni Sandhu, Shamim Ahmed, Vijay Kapoor, Raes Ahmed, Mohmmed Aslam, Mahesh Sood, R. K. Thakur, S. S. Bhatti and Deepak Saini addressed the protesters. 



Ex-servicemen sore at health schemes

HAVING got used to medical treatment at military hospitals during their service and after retirement, the ex-servicemen are averse to going to any other hospital for medicare. For this reason they are sore about the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), which will be implemented shortly.

According to this scheme, augmented armed forces clinics will be established at 104 military stations. It also says that “subject to the load of authorised personnel” i.e. serving personnel, ex-servicemen can avail of the facilities at military hospitals. While establishing military hospitals, the work load of only personnel in service has been taken into account. The ex-servicemen and their families are treated at military hospitals on an ad hoc basis as an extra load. Incidentally, even today no military hospital in the country has spare capacity to treat the ex-servicemen.

The ex-servicemen strongly feel that instead of establishing augmented clinics at military stations, military hospitals should be augmented to cater to their medicate. As for the load, if the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir, having a load of over 50,000 troops, can cater to nearly three lakh ex-servicemen efficiently even without any extra staff and equipment, why can’t the other military hospitals take the ex-servicemen’s load with the augmented resources.

Hold seminar on scheme: The ex-servicemen are becoming more and more disillusioned with the new ECHS. They have begun to feel that the scheme is meant to palm them off from the military hospitals. They have a strong feeling that the military authorities should hold a seminar on the scheme with the participation of their representatives so that the disadvantages of the ECHS are brought to their notice for further projection to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

One of the many grouses aired by them is that there is no justification in asking them to pay a huge contribution for the scheme, ranging from Rs 1,800 to 18,000, depending on the quantum of their pension, when they have recently paid the contribution for the Medical Benefit Scheme (MBS)-1995. A number of them and their spouses have not availed of any medical benefit from the MBS so far.

The negative points of the ECHS must be debated. And this can only be done by holding a seminar at each military station.

Haryana ignores defence studies: Defence Studies is one of the optional subjects for the State Civil Services Entrance Examination in Punjab, UP and MP, but not in Haryana. Earlier, when there was a separate examination for the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Haryana, Defence Studies was one of the optional subject for the examination. But ever since Haryana has done away with a separate examination for the DSP’s post and merged it with the Haryana Civil Services (HCS) examination, Defence Studies has not been included in the HCS examination.

About 15 colleges in Haryana, including two girls’ colleges, teach Defence Studies up to the graduation level and Rohtak University has post-graduation also in this subject. A sizeable number of students do graduation in Defence Studies every year. But this subject is of no use to them when they appear for the HCS examination. Ironically, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, in which not more than 100 students graduate every year and for which there is only one college at Hisar, is included as an optional subject for the HCS examination. Even the released Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers are at a disadvantage in Haryana, as compared to their counterparts in Punjab, because of Defence Studies not been there in the HCS examination.

Pritam Bhullar



Land of entertainment for the British

Chitleen K. Sethi

Curiosity, the old saying in English goes, killed the cat. In the case of the Europeans though, curiosity about far-off people and places helped them rule the world. Those numerous adventurers and merchants who sought to explore the farthest corners of the known world and returned with riches further encouraged those who would desire to undertake similar adventures into the unknown. In the case of the British, as their own control over far-off lands increased so did the demand from the general public to know more about these people. That in turn created a new market niche for intelligence. Travellers reported on their travels because information per se was deemed to be of both educational and entertainment value, much like the TV news channels of today.

Painters drew sketches based on such texts and had them published in what then was known as “elephant folio” size for that is what the English public demanded. India provided the most important subject for such refined entertainment. One such person, who took upon himself the task of informing, was the Scottish merchant James Baillie Fraser. Born in 1783 in an old and once famous Scottish family, James came to Calcutta at the age of 30, to join the family agency firm of Becher and Fraser. His brother William, younger by one year, was at that time attached as a political agent with the army of the East India company and involved in the on-going British campaign to consolidate the Company’s authority in what is currently known as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Unlike the popular sketch of a Spartan hard-working Scotsman, William Fraser was a fun-loving young man who lived the life of luxury and is said to have fathered from his harem “as many children as the King of Persia”; however, none were legitimate. Although he was a civilian in the employ of the company, his interest in war-like matters earned him the rank of a “Local Major” in the irregular cavalry of his great friend James Skinner. He is also reputed to be the first Commissioner, (he was then posted at Delhi), to be assassinated. This happened in 1835 at the behest of the Nawab of Ferozepur who gave a supari to Kareem Khan for eliminating Fraser in a crime of passion.

In the spring of 1815 James began his journey towards the Himalayas. From Delhi, where he had gone to join his brother he took the dak coach to Karnal which at that time was the remotest military position of the English East India Company. Between Karnal and Nahan lay the lands of Sikh chieftains with their “turbulent spirit” who he noted were “rude and inhospitable ... proud and insolent, they are ever prompt to insult strangers who pass through their country”. Joined by his brother first in Delhi and then crossing the Yamuna, James, moved towards the camp of General Martindale at Nahan who had laid siege to the fort of Jytock near Nahan. The rest of his time in north India was spent traversing the mountains between the Yamuna and the Alaknanda. He kept an extensive journal of his travels through the lands “inhabited by nations and tribes” as he reported, “of a singular character and very warlike disposition, who have for ages defied the arms of the most powerful Asiatic monarchs”.



Insensitive police force

Along with other attractions of Chandigarh such as Rock Garden and Rose Garden, must be added the rather dubious distinction of the city having one of the most insensitive police forces. If things continue in this fashion, people from all over the world will visit the city to see the latest ‘amusing’ schemes that our police officers manage to think of and to take a look at policemen in action in our city. People who have the choice, will prefer leaving the city rather than risking harassment every time they venture out of their homes.

As if it was not enough to have policemen hiding in bushes and behind trees and pouncing upon a motorist who did not wear a seat belt, now we have them peering at us when people visit gardens, pool joints or cyber cafes. Soon hotels, gyms and cinemas will be under their purview and a policeman will have the right to know who you are with, and telephone your home if he thinks you are with someone whom he does not approve of.

All this would have been forgivable if these antics resulted in better law and order situation; contrarily, the fact is that people of Chandigarh feel as insecure as ever, what with the robberies and petty crimes rising in practically ever sector.

Unwittingly, the media and other agencies have been a party to this diabolical erosion of an individual’s right to privacy. Helmets may help safety, but the city needs to look at the fact that people do not give lifts any more. For a hapless student or a person caught in an emergency, the rule of helmets is a silly one indeed. Similarly, imposing wearing of seat belts in the city where the speed limits are enforced strictly, hardly makes sense. Still, newspapers and courts do not tire of telling us that such things are “for our own good”!

Still, there is an iota of legitimacy in traffic rules, even if they are illogical. But how do you defend the decision to raid pool joints and to round up couples from gardens and telephoning their homes? Is the police happy to see suicides in Sukhna Lake of couples tied up to each other in a tragic alliance rather than a couple walking hand-in-hand in a public garden? How do these couples, or those in a restaurant or playing a game, threaten the law and order?

DINESH KUMAR, Chandigarh

Beware of promotion schemes: This refers to a report “Fake company dupes residents”, Chandigarh Tribune, March 6, 2003. The report is a eyeopener since innocent persons became the victims of such companies. This report will save the money of many readers of the newspaper. The pamphlets or ads given by such companies to lure youngsters to send money to win prizes are often self-promoting and misleading.

This week my newspapers were flooded with pamphlets, sent by a company about ‘Star Knowledge Competition’. A passport size photograph of Amitabh Bachchan is published to attract participants. The prizes are 10 Hero Honda bikes and 200 LG coloured televisions.

There is one crossword in the advertisement, ‘What is to do?’ One will have to find the names of seven films of the ‘Big B’. The films are Don, Suhag, Diwar, Sholey, Lawaris, Hum and Trishul from a crossword, This is quite easy to find, and a student of fifth class can solve the puzzle. “If any one will send the reply, he would surely be the winner”, said the pamphlet.

After 15 days you will receive a letter from the company that you are ‘lucky winner’. Send some money immediately, and the remaining amount through VPP.

I want to caution city readers to be wary of such schemes, lest you may loose money.

M.L. GARG, Chandigarh

Lift ban on constructions in Zirakpur: Zirakpur is one of the fast-developing towns near Chandigarh, and a number of housing projects have been developed by colonisers. The government must realise the sentiments of the people who have spent crores of rupees in the development of Zirakpur area. Over 11,000 acres of land have been developed and thousands of houses, shops and establishments have come up here.

The Government of Punjab should immediately lift the ban on construction activity and direct the nagar panchayat, Zirakpur, to start passing maps so that people waiting to build their houses may start their activity soon as they are under the burden of interest on loans which they have taken for the construction of houses.

The committee/panel appointed by the government has already submitted its report recommending that the ban should be immediately removed. For the last over five months the construction activity has come to a halt and unemployment is increasing.

S.C. DHALL Chandigarh



Rs 1.5 lakh stolen from Sec 2 house
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 24
Cash and jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh were reportedly stolen from the Sector 2 residence of a grocery wholesaler of Chandigarh today.
According to information available, Mr H.C. Chawla, a resident of House No. 372, was away for work along with his wife in the morning, when the burglary took place. The miscreant(s) reportedly broke in from the bathroom on the rear side of the house and took away Rs 1.5 lakh in cash and gold jewellery worth Rs 50,000.

It is learned that Mr Chawla has a shop in Sector 26, Chandigarh, and another shop in Panchkula. The cash from both the shops was lying at home and was supposed to be deposited in the bank in the afternoon.

However, when he and his wife reached home in the afternoon, they found the house ransacked. An almirah in one of the rooms was found broken and cash and jewellery missing.

The police was informed and a dog squad pressed into service. Till the time of filing of this report, the police had not registered an FIR. 



5 teenagers held

Chandigarh, March 24
In the case of assault of the son of a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, the police today arrested five teenagers. They were today sent to the Juvenile Home till April 3. TNS


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