Tuesday, April 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Policemen cane-charge sweepers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Members of the Sweepers Union of Chandigarh held a protest here today against the opening of tenders by the local municipal corporation (MC) to hand over a portion of the sanitation work to private contactors. Protesters dumped garbage outside the main gate of the MC office and raised slogans against the Mayor. The police had to resort to a mild cane-charge. No one was reported injured.

On the sixth day of a relay fast in front of the office of the Medical Officer Health in Sector-17, hundreds of sweepers marched towards the MC office, raising slogans against Mayor Subhash Chawla.

A minor scuffle ensued between the police and the sweepers, leading to a mild cane-charge.

The president of the union, Mr Shyam Lal Ghavri, alleged that a policeman had slapped one of their colleagues which resulted in a scuffle. The incident took place near the MC office. Police officials on the other hand said the sweepers’ agitation turned violent which forced them to resort to a mild cane charge to disperse the mob.

Meanwhile, at least 30 sweepers entered the MC office by scaling the boundary wall and rushed towards the Mayor’s office. However, the Mayor was not present at that time.

The sweepers then held a dharna and threw garbage outside the office.

Mr Ghavri demanded the immediate suspension of the police personnel who slapped one of the sweepers. He said they would meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi next week to apprise her of the decision of the Congress which has a majority in the MC in this regard.

The union members would again gather outside the MC tomorrow and would try to stall the proceedings of the General House of the MC.



SARS: UT sets up panel
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
Four days after an Indian bride from Singapore blamed the health authorities for not checking her up for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Chandigarh's Director Health Services has constituted a core committee for dealing with the killer disease.

The committee comprising the Medical Superintendent, Assistant Director Malaria and Heads of Medicine, Paediatrics, Casualty and Pathology Departments, will meet everyday to review the situation. It will check if any patient with SARS-like symptoms has been examined or admitted to hospital.

The setting up of the committee is part of a contingency plan drafted by the Director Health Services, Dr C.P. Bansal, to meet any eventuality of a SARS outbreak in the city.

The decision, sources in the Health Department say, was taken in view of the recent spreading of SARS to India. They say that laboratory technicians working in hospitals here will be given five masks by the Central Government. Each mask costs about Rs 2,500. Masks will also be given to persons coming in close contact with the patients. Popularly known as M-95, these masks, costing about Rs 125 each, would protect them and prevent further transmission of the disease.

An isolation ward has also been set up for admitting patients with SARS-like symptoms. Instruction and guidelines issued by the Government of India to combat the disease have also been circulated among doctors.

Sources say that the guidelines contain different sets of instructions for doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and attendants coming in close contact with the patients.

The instructions also say that patients with high fever, respiratory distress, sneezing and cough should be kept under close observation in isolation for at least 10 days. Attendants of the patients should wash their hands over and again.

A senior doctor, when contacted, said no case of SARS had been reported in the city, but all hospitals were ready for it. “All necessary precautions have been taken for its prevention and spread by doctors at the Sector 16 Government Hospital, the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital and the PGI,” he said.

The Chandigarh Administration has already received an official word from the Union Ministry of Health for the authorities to beef up monitoring and diagnosing of patients suffering from pneumonia for SARS.



Book store destroyed in fire
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
JD Book store was today destroyed when the Sector 48 mini-market was engulfed by fire caused by an LPG cylinder lying in the verandah.

Goods worth Rs 1.5 lakh, including an air-conditioner, a photostat machine, books, toys and Rs 10,000 to 15,000 in cash were destroyed in the fire, Fire Officer S. K. Gosain told Chandigarh Tribune.

Mr Gosain said the fire was fuelled by a leaking LPG cylinder and leapt to the roof level affecting Shop Nos. 9, 10, 11, 16 and 7. The cylinder belonged to Navneet Fast Food Centre.

The heat was so intense that electrical fittings and fans in front of shops melted. The Fire Department seized the cylinder and handed it over to the police.

Chief Fire Officer G. S. Bajwa said the shopkeeper, whose cylinder had caused the fire had earlier been warned. He said now the department would write to the SSP, seeking his help in seizing cylinders operating from verandahs.

In another incident, panic gripped a part of Sector 17 when smoke was seen billowing from the office of the Director of Industries, Punjab. Though no major loss was caused by this fire, yet it exposed violations of fire-safety regulations.

Mr Gosain said verandahs had been covered and escape routes had not been cleared.



HC nod to land acquisition proceedings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Upholding the proceedings initiated by the Chandigarh Administration for acquiring 37.55 acres in the revenue estate of Mani Majra "for developing residential complex" a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed writ petitions challenging a notification issued by it.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, observed, "We do not find any infirmity in the proceedings pertaining to the acquisition of land measuring 37.55 acres sought to be acquired vide notification dated June 15, 1989".

Seeking the quashing of the notification, Mr Gagandeep Kang and seven others, in one such petition against the UT Administration and the Land Acquisition Collector for the Mani Majra Notified Area Committee, had earlier alleged that the mandatory provisions of the Land Acquisition Act had not been complied with in the process.

Mr Kang and others had claimed that the "substance of the notification" had to be displayed at a convenient place in the locality as per the provisions of Section 4 of the Act. It was, however, not done. The petitioners, as a result, never came to know about the issuance of the notification, counsel for the petitioners submitted.

The petitioners were unable to locate the two daily newspapers in which the notification was required to be published. The petitioners came to know about the intention to acquire land only in January 1990. 



LPG distributors to go on strike from May 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The LPG Distributors Association (Chandigarh) today decided to go on strike from May 1, if the issue of allotting godown sites to the LPG distributors was not solved.

A delegation of the association will meet officials of the Chandigarh Administration tomorrow.

The Association criticised the Administration for not allotting any new sites for godowns, while demolition notices have been served on two LPG distributors.

The body discussed the matter of resettlement of the LPG godowns in Chandigarh and said, at present, two LPG godowns faced threat of demolition, whis was contrary to the assurances given by the Administration in October 2002. The Administration had, then, said no LPG godown would be demolished till new LPG godown sites were allotted and a reasonable time was given for construction on the site.

"It is unfortunate that no godown sites have been allotted since October 28, 2002, when a delegation of the All-India LPG Distributors Federation (north western region) and the LPG distributors of Chandigarh had met the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd)," the association said. General Jacob had, then, assured them that the resettlement of the LPG godowns would be expedited after considering of all issues raised by the oil industry and the LPG distributors.



Yet another suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
A 22-year-old girl, Deepika committed suicide by hanging herself in her Sector 44 house here today. The body was found hanging in her room by her family members in the morning when she did not respond to their calls. She was pursuing her MBA degree from Himachal Pradesh University.

Her father, Mr A.P. Kalra, who retired from a nationalised bank, was the first to notice the body hanging from a ceiling fan. The door of the room was locked from inside and the light was on. The computer in her room had not been shut down.

A police party from the Sector 34 police station had to break open the door to gain entry into the room. In a suicide note, she wrote that she was ending her life on her own and no one should be held responsible for the act.

The body was taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital for autopsy.

Meanwhile, a cross-section of residents have objected to the manner in which the details of those who commit suicide are reported in the media. It is unethical to cash in the misery of the family of the victim, they feel. Psychologists say that repeated reports of suicides in the media could lead to a chain reaction.



CM’s son ‘forces’ choice on councillors
Seema Chaudhary elected Panchkula MC chief unopposed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
Ms Seema Chaudhary and Ms Kuljit Waraich were today elected the president and vice-president respectively, of the Panchkula Municipal Council in a unanimous decision that seemed to have been forced councillors by the Chief Minister’s son, Mr Abhay Chautala.

At least three councillors — Mr V.K. Kapoor from Ward No. 6, Ms Manvir Gill from Ward No. 23 and Mr V.K. Sood from Ward No. 4 — boycotted the elections on the ground that the choice of candidates had been forced. Mr Kapoor and Ms Gill are the only two Congress councillors to have stayed away even from the meeting called by Mr Chautala before the elections. Mr Sood, who had won his seat on a BJP ticket, had come to meet Mr Abhay Chautala early today but, later, refrained from participating in the elections.

Even Mr Chander Mohan, local MLA and son of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief, Mr Bhajan Lal, and the local BJP MP, Mr Rattan Lal Kataria, did not turn up for today’s election.

Mr Abhay Chautala, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA from Rori constituency in Sirsa and the force behind the party’s success here, arrived at Red Bishop at about 9.30 a.m. for a closed-door meeting with 29 of the 31 councillors. The meeting attended by 14 of the 16 Congressmen who have, now, switched loyalties to the ruling INLD went on for almost two hours.

Mr Abhay Chautala, who has been taking a keen interest in the MC politics here, held separate meetings with each councillor before a collective session with them.

It was about 11.15 a.m., before the councillors reached the MC office in Sector 4 for the elections. Later, these councillors gave their consent to the election of Ms Chaudhary as the MC president and Ms Waraich as the MC vice-president.

While Ms Seema Chaudhary is the wife of the state INLD secretary, Ms Kuljit Waraich is a former secretary of the District Mahila Congress and daughter-in-law of Mr Inderjit Singh Waraich, a former general secretary of the Congress. Ms Waraich has seemingly been rewarded for being the first one to switch over to the INLD and triggering the exodus of Congress councillors to the INLD.

The INLD had projected Ms Chaudhary as the party candidate for the post of the MC president even before the MC elections. Four INLD members loyal to the Chaudharys had disobeyed party diktats and stood against the official candidates of the party. The Chaudharys had, later, ensured the withdrawal of all rival candidates from the contest. They included Mr Dilbagh Singh Nain, who had stood against the then INLD (Panchkula Urban) president, Mr Randhir Malik. This had won them the goodwill of the party president, while Mr Nain won the post of the INLD (Urban) president.



MC chief promises clean, green town
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
A clean and green town and better civic amenities are being promised by the newly elected President, Ms Seema Chaudhary, and Vice-President, Ms Kuljit Waraich of the local municipal council.

The two women, who come from prominent political families of the township, have promised that they will work for the overall development of Panchkula. “The city will be a place of pride for its residents, “they assured mediapersons after their election today.

For both these women, it is their first foray into politics. Ms Chaudhary had contested election from a general ward and won with a record margin. She says she always had ambition to enter public life and serve people. Ms Waraich says she has been assisting her father-in-law in his political life.

Ms Chaudhary said the work of the recarpetting of roads, improving fire and other emergency services and beautification of parks would also be taken up once the elected municipal council got working. “Congress grass menace on the road berms and vacant plots will also be strictly dealt with,” she said.

Ms Waraich assured better water supply and drainage and sewerage facilities in the township. She said she would go by the rule book, especially in the cases of removing encroachments.

On the lowering of the house tax and abolition of the fire tax, the two said they would see if the tax burden could be reduced on the common man, but certainly not at the cost of providing better services to people from the income thus generated.



Govt to bear Kultar’s medical expenses
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
A day after Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s 84-year-old brother Kultar Singh was admitted to the PGI here, the Punjab Government decided to bear his medical expenses.

Mr Kultar Singh was brought to the hospital yesterday morning from Saharanpur after he started vomiting and complained of high blood pressure, besides drowsiness. He was accompanied by his elder son Zorawar Singh.

According to doctors attending on him, Mr Kultar Singh’s condition was stable and he is recovering fast. Giving details of the illness, the doctors said he was suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. They added that Mr Kultar Singh had been kept under observation.



Sewerage cess deferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Water Supply and Sewerage Disposal Committee here today yet again deferred the decision on increasing the sewerage cess despite officials citing lack of funds as the reason for not being able to improve pressure of the water supply.

In its first meeting under its new chairman, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, the committee cleared projects worth around Rs 18 lakh to improve the water supply and build new stormwater drainage lines.

The committee inquired about the reported supply of dirty water in the Sector 52 Rehabilitation Colony recently. Officers denied that there had been any supply of contaminated water in the area. The committee was told that the samples of water collected from the area where cholera had broken last year, showed that there was no contamination in the water supply in the area.

The committee this time called all SDOs for the meeting to gather field information and ask them about the problems they faced in ensuring regular water supply.

The committee asked the officials to speedily dispose of the complaints of consumers. Officers told the committee that they did not have alternative motors and pumps to keep the water supply going when they required maintenance.

Members made inquiries about the leakage of water and the position of meters.

With the city being under constant pressure of agitationists, the committee decided to acquire two pre-tab mobile vans to deploy them at places where functions, dharnas and rallies are held.

The committee approved repair and renovation of toilet blocks in the Sector 21 market, providing road gullies in the parking area of shopping Centre in Sector 23, PVC pipelines for supplying tertiary water to DAV School, Sector 8, additional road gullies in Sector 18 and 20 on the Madhya Marg, a stormwater line between Moriwala Town, Manimajra Modern Housing Complex and Shastri Nagar, letter-type road gullies in Mauli and a pipe for the park in Sector 32.



Illegal constructions: Bansal resents notices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, today protested in the Lok Sabha against the sudden issuance of notices for the demolition of unauthorised constructions within houses in the city and their resumption.

Raising the matter under Rule 377, Mr Bansal said the threatened demolition on a massive scale was both impractical and undesirable and urged the government to amend the floor area ratio commensurate with the present day standards of urban land utilisation.

Mr Bansal urged the Lok Sabha to get the built-up area of houses with unauthorised internal construction increased. He also said the need-based additions to buildings in Chandigarh should also be allowed, subject to approval of plans from architectural and structural points of view.

The MP said 90 per cent of owners of different categories of houses in Chandigarh had, over the years, added extra constructions on their own plots without encroachment on government land.

Justifying the changes, Mr Bansal said these changes had been made to meet a growing need of space necessitated by an increase in the sizes of families and lack of money to buy new flats or plots to meet the requirement.



Jacob lays stone of war memorial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Punjab Governor and Union Territory Administrator, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, PVSM (Retd.), laid the foundation stone of a war memorial — one of its own kind to be built in the picturesque Bougainvillaea Garden — here today.

Designed by students of the College of Architecture, the war memorial will have names of over 5,000 soldiers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh who laid down their lives protecting the frontiers of the country in wars the of 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil and in the insurgencies till this day.

In September, 2002 General Jacob had assigned the task of preparing the conceptual plan of the war memorial to students of the College of Architecture as he wanted them to come out with some original and imaginative design, which should be austere but stand out conveying the sacrifices of thousands of soldiers of their lives for the country.

Out of 12 models prepared by 12 teams of students after 60-day toil, one model was selected after getting feedback from citizens of Chandigarh, members of armed forces and ex-servicemen.

The proposed war memorial is in the form of a circular wall prompting the usual walkers to pass through it, and pay respects to names inscribed on the walls. The circular walls have holes in it making the memorial an integral part of Boungainvillaea Garden.

The curved walls lead one to the central culverts which have the eternal flame shielded by three arms signifying the three armed forces.



UT, MC staff dharna today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Employees of the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation will stage a demonstration tomorrow morning in favour of their demands. These include restoration of service conditions prevailing in 1966, increase in retirement age, grant of bonus to employees and sorting the issue of deputation of employees sent to the Municipal Corporation.

The Federation of UT Employees and Workers today said the dharna would be staged Matka Chowk between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The federation said service conditions for more than 20,000 UT employees should be based on Central pattern and not on the present Punjab pattern. Under the Punjab pattern — which was implemented on January 13, 1992— the age of superannuation was brought down from 60 years to 58 years. The employees want to be treated according to the service conditions prevailing in 1966.

The employees want bonus for the past five years and payment of dearness allowance (DA) on Central pattern. The federation also wants the Chandigarh Administration to stop the move to privatise government and semi-government offices.

The charter of demands says that all employees sent to the Municipal Corporation should be treated on deputation. Among other issues to be raised by the federation is the demand for equal wages for drivers of the Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation on the pattern of the Transport wing.



Cows’ death: VHP threatens stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The VHP here tonight claimed that three cows had died of some disease in the Sector 45 gaushala and threatened to launch an agitation from tomorrow.

The organisation’s Punjab unit spokesman Vijay Singh Bharadwaj said he went to the gaushala to find three cows dead.

Mayor Subhash Chawla said the gaushala was not being managed by the municipal corporation but by the Chandigarh Animal Welfare and Environment Development Society, an NGO.

The gaushala is managed by three agencies.



Aao Bune” contest for Army men’s wives
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
Over 450 wives of JCO’s / ORs, participated in the “Aao Bune”, knitting contest organised by the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) and Vardhaman Spinning and General Mills at Manekshaw Auditorium in Chandi Mandir today.

This is the country’s biggest hand- ‘knitting contest, and has been introduced with an objective to generate awareness about the benefits of hand-knitting. This nationwide contest has been organised in over 500 schools of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh.

Famous cine and TV actor, Renuka Shahane, and Managing Director of Vardhaman Mills, Ms Sucheta Jain, were present on the occasion. The participants knitted beautiful patterned caps, bootees, miniature baby suits, bags, baskets and other household items. The colour combinations in various hues of pink, red, green , blue and yellow were displayed for all outside the auditorium. The participants were given a two-hour time to knit a pattern each.

This is the first time that Vardhaman has organised a contest in the Chandi Mandir area. The programme was coordinated by the vice-president of AWWA, Ms Kiran Nandarajog. She also exhibited a project report on the activities of AWWA and how this was helping the war widows and their dependants .

Members of AWWA presented a cultural programme on the occasion. Later, Ms Renuka Shahane gave away prizes to the winners. The first prize was given to Ms Ranjana Kumari, second to Ms Sudesh Saini and third to Ms Tanuja Pal. As many as 25 consolation prizes were given to the participants.



Rashtriya Rifles — the expanding force

“THE Rashtriya Rifles (RR) has emerged as a fine force and is being modernised to meet the present and future needs”, the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lieut-Gen J.B.S. Yadava, said at a press conference held in Jammu on April 16. He said 13 more battalions of RR were being raised to enhance the strength of this force from the present 53 to 66 battalions by 2006-07.

The necessity of raising a force like the RR was felt in the early 90s when militancy in Punjab was at its peak. It was decided that in order to release the pressure of counter-insurgency duties from the Army, 18 RR battalions with the Army manpower would be raised. But after raising six battalions in 1991, the government called a halt to further raisings because of the pressure from “certain quarters” that suggested that instead of these battalions, more CRPF battalions should be raised.

In the meantime, the RR units deployed in Punjab proved their mettle in counter-insurgency operations. This gave enough reason to the late General B.C. Joshi (on taking over as Army Chief in 1993), to convince the government to enlarge this force to 36 battalions. What has been irking our bureaucrats for the past several years is that the Army is increasing its strength substantially in the name of RR battalions. They have been trying to de-link this force from the Army and place it under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). If they have not succeeded, it is because with the Army manpower, this force cannot be placed under the MHA.

Having failed in this game, the bureaucrats tried another trick, resulting in the Fifth Pay Commission making a laughable recommendation “that the Rashtriya Rifles should be disbanded and the internal security duties being the responsibility of the MHA should be given to the CRPF”.

War memorial

This war memorial stands in Ferozepore Cantonment, to commemorate the sacrifice of the Indian officers, JCOs and other ranks of VI KEO Cavalry, who, laid down their lives in World War I. Constructed in red stone, the memorial has names of the Indian soldiers killed during the war from 1914 to 1918 engraved on it.

General Bhagat remembered

The Bombay Engineering Group (BEG), popularly known as Bombay Sappers, celebrated the Victoria Cross Day at its centre in Kirkee, near Pune, recently. The celebrations were held to commemorate the award of Victoria Cross to the then Second Lieutenant P.S. Bhagat of Bombay Sappers for conspicuous bravery in the Abyssinian Campaign in the World War-II.

The late Lieut-Gen Bhagat, was the first Army Commander of the Northern Command when it was raised in 1972. He was one of the most popular senior officers and was held in high esteem by fellow officers as well as jawans.

The Victoria Cross, instituted in January 1856, was the highest British gallantry award for valour. In 1911, the right to receive the Victoria Cross was extended to Indian soldiers.

Incidentally, Bombay Sappers has also won a Param Vir Chakra (the highest Indian gallantry award) and an Ashok Chakra. The BEG is the only group in the Corps of Engineers to have won this honour.

Blood donation camp

To mark the beginning of the 225th Raising Day celebrations, one of the oldest battalions of the Indian Army, 2 Guards (1 Grenadiers), held a blood donation camp in the Northern sector recently. The battalion, 1 Grenadiers, was raised in 1779 and was converted into 2 Guards (1 Grenadiers) on August 1, 1952.

A large number of officers, JCOs, men of the unit and their families donated 250 units of blood, for the Armed Forces Blood Bank, New Delhi.

Unlike in the civil hospitals, there is never a shortage of blood in the military hospitals because of the volunteers who are always ready to save human lives.



Cop’s plea for justice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Ever heard of a guardian of law praying for justice? This is true of Mr Shamsher Singh, a head constable of the Chandigarh police, who was hit by a car near the fire brigade office in Sector 17 on April 2.

Posted as a personal security officer of a judge in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), he is trying hard to see that action is taken against the driver of the Maruti car.

He said the investigating officer, ASI Yad Ram, was allegedly trying to shield the owner of the car by showing that at the time of the accident, the vehicle was being driven by some-one else. The car is in the name of Mr Bhupinder Singh Bawa. Who doesn’t stay at the address mentioned in the registration documents.

Talking to TNS, the victim said, he was walking on the road when the car hit him from behind. “I fell unconscious and some eyewitnesses noted down the number of the vehicle and description of the driver”, he said, adding that his teeth were also damaged.

The ASI who visited the spot did not record the statements. “Instead of my medical examination, he asked me what type of settlement I wanted in the case. I said I wanted justice”, Mr Shamsher Singh said.

“The ASI did not mention that my teeth had been damaged”, alleged the head constable who also met the SHO of the Sector 17 police station, Mr B.S. Negi.

“The SHO directed the ASI to record the statements of the eyewitnesses. The ASI went along with me to record the statements,” he said, alleging that during the period the owner of the car offered him a compensation for not pursuing the case. On April 23, a head constable (Traffic) approached him to solve the matter amicably.

On April 25, the ASI called him to the bus stand police post to identify the driver of the car and sign documents of “jamatalashi”. “After signing the documents in good faith I realised that the ASI had shown someone else as the driver of the car. I refused to identify the driver whom the police claimed was driving the vehicle”, he said.

The victim alleged that during the course of the investigation he was repeatedly pressured to reach a compromise with the car owner. Sources said the SSP had sought details about the case from the official concerned.



Fresh case against HP INTUC chief

Panchkula, April 28
The police has registered a case against Amarjit Bawa, Himachal Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) chief, for assault and criminal intimidation. His son, Ramandeep ‘Shammi’, Sukha and others have also been charged.

Their gang is said to have been involved in about 60 cases of assault, criminal intimidation and rioting in Pinjore, Kalka and Parwanoo.

The police had, earlier, made an attempt to arrest Amarjit Bawa in Shimla on April 4. While Amarjit was being brought here from Shimla, a Himachal Pradesh police party had stopped them at Dharampur and set the accused free.

The fresh case has been registered under Sections 341, 323, 506 and 120-B of IPC. TNS



Leaf from history
Document that tells city’s social history

Chitleen K Sethi

A young Revenue Officer getting ready for work (Original by William Tayler in Sketches illustrating the manner and customs of Indian and Anglo-Indians, London, 1842; British Library
A young Revenue Officer getting ready for work (Original by William Tayler in Sketches illustrating the manner and customs of Indian and Anglo-Indians, London, 1842; British Library

THE Wajib-ul-Arz, a document, of the villages from the Chandigarh region was finally completed in 1888. This document became the basis for inquiring into village society that had preceded Chandigarh. Even today, having gone through these documents one can see many of the continuities that mark the villages of contemporary times with those of the late 19th century.

One can also get an insight into some of the schemes of the government for the betterment of, should we say, the aboriginals of Chandigarh.

So what was this document? How and why was it recorded? Administrators of years gone by used this document to have a better understanding of the people. At least one historian of Chandigarh has used them as the basis for writing the social history of Chandigarh. For the rest they remain hidden in dust-laden bundles.

Leafing through them, though one gets a sense of visiting an alien territory, even though it is the history of one’s own land and people.

Those people lived in times gone past; the context in which they existed was much different from ours; the hopes and aspirations that they harboured were quite different in detail from our own. Yet, people have this great desire to know about their past.

If authentic information is not available, they are not averse to setting up some fiction as their history either.

The problem, however, is of finding authentic information. The difficulty is especially more were one to look for information on the common people. For, few have been interested in the unheroic commoners from the past. Commoners have left behind fewer spoors for the historical researcher to track. Yet it is the common people who constitute the bricks and mortar of any society.

As such, information about them is of crucial importance. More so, for the modern state, since it has a large stake in taxing the people, keeping them under control and using them in various ways for its own purposes.

In the absence of an adequate number of professional historians, the colonial state of the 19th century left the task of information collection to its revenue staff. The patwaris, naib tehsildars and tehsildars, under the supervision of the settlement officer collected information about village society. Their primary task was to settle, i.e. fix, the revenue demanded by the state on a particular piece of land.

At the same time they were also enjoined to collect data about the customs and social practices of the people.

The resultant document, the Wajib-ul-Arz, became a rich source of information on local society, even though it was too simplistic and sometimes even incorrect.

The process of compiling the Wajib-ul-Arz for Punjab had begun soon after the annexation of Punjab in 1849. In that year the Governor General had constituted a Board of Administration for Punjab and assured the people that the “native institutions and practices shall be upheld as far as they are consistent with the distribution of justice to all classes”.

Subsequently directions were issued that local customs that had been observed by the people shall be enforced. The process of finding out the local customs was left to the settlement officers who were making summary settlements in the districts and recorded the customs of the people in a document called Village Administration Papers. After Punjab was constituted into a province in 1859, and a Lieutenant Governor appointed to administer its affairs, these records, known as the Wajib-ul-Arz, were systematised. The judicial system that came into existence in 1866 used them to adjudicate social and property disputes. Meanwhile, the government, recognising the inadequacies of the original Wajib-ul-Arz directed its settlement officers to seek answers to a specific, standardised questionnaire. Typically, the revenue officer would call a village assembly in which the entire village was invited.

This assembly that was dominated by the lambardar, his kinsmen and servants would then publicly answer questions about the various castes that existed in the village, their characteristics, the property and customary rights of various people in the village etc.

The resultant report was subsequently compiled into the Rivaj-i-Am of the region. In 1880 a lawyer, William H Rattigan, put together and systematised the information available in the Wajib-ul-Arz and the Rivaj-i-Am along with the various judicial decisions taken during the past 30 years. This became the first Digest of Civil Law for the Punjab chiefly based on the customary law as at present ascertained.



Coop Bank staff threaten to step up stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Cooperative Bank Employees Federation (CBEF) of Punjab has warned to further intensify its stir, if the Punjab Government does not accept their demands, particularly to withdraw a circular of pay parity issued on April 17, within 10-days.

The employees held a protest rally in front of the office of the Registrar of Cooperative Department in Sector 17 here, today to press for their demands. The employees were wearing black badges.



Fire panel convenes cinema owners’ meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Fire Committee of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh here today decided to call a meeting of cinema hall owners to assess their preparedness to fight fire.

The decision has apparently been taken in view of the award of compensation to victims of Uphar Cinema House tragedy by a court in Delhi fixing responsibility of various government agencies apart from the owner of the cinema halls.

The committee, which elected Mr Pardeep Chhabra as its vice-chairman today, also decided to call hotel and restaurant owners for the purpose. The committee decided to launch a public awareness campaign in colonies and rehri markets to prepare them to guard against possibilities of fire in the summer months.



Check-dams need maintenance

RAISING the level of the Sukhna Lake by 2 feet was considered once but keeping in mind the cantours of the area, it was not found feasible because it would have submerged the area around the Rock Garden.

In 1988 the lake had dried up and people used to play cricket on the bed of the lake. However, within a short span of two years the Asian Rowing Championship, an international event was held here. This needed a six-lane course of uniform 2-metre depth for a straight distance of 2km, besides the extra lengths on the starting and finishing ends. Since this effort was carried out, the lake has not dried up. However, the measures have not been implemented completely. The barren hills in the catchment area were sprayed aerially with seeds and fertilisers during the monsoon. This was to be repeated periodically. Check-dams, though constructed, need regular inspection and maintenance.

The earthen siltation tanks created on the regular side should have been properly augmented.

S.S. Virdi, Former Chief Engineer and Secretary, UT Engineering Department, Chandigarh



Bees attack Sukhna strollers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Strollers at the regulator end of the Sukhna Lake ran for shelter when a swarm of bees suddenly attacked them. The victims, including some senior police officials of Punjab, were exercising near the regulatory end when the bees attacked them.

One of the stroller, identified as Mr S.K. Rishi, was taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital by a Police Control Room (PCR) vehicle. However, no one was seriously injured. 



3 held for stealing mobile phones

Chandigarh, April 28
Three youths were arrested on Monday for stealing mobile phone sets from glove boxes of scooters parked on the campus of Panjab University. According to information, the youths had stolen four mobile phones.

Injured: Mr Jagdish Kumar Kapoor, a resident of Sector 34, has alleged that he was beaten up by a Wing Commander at his residence. The victim had been admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital. A case has been registered.

Trespass: Mr Gurdial Tandon, a resident of Housing Board Colony, Dhanas, has reported that his tenant Madan Lal had forcibly entered his room and stolen his refrigerator and some domestic items. A case has been registered. TNS



Hotelier held for illegal detention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The owner of Regency Hotel in Sector 35, Tejinder Singh Rekhi, has been arrested for allegedly detaining the Director and the General Manager of Baba Frozen Food Private Ltd, Mr Sukpal Singh, in a room of the hotel on April 26. The hotelier was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a local court today.

According to information, Mr Sukhpal Singh had gone to the hotel for the recovery of old payment. In a complaint to the Sector 36 police station, he stated that he had been supplying milk products and ice-creams to the hotel on credit. An amount of around Rs 2.5 lakh was pending against the owners of the hotel.

A case under Sections 323, 345 and 506, IPC, has been registered against the owners of the hotel. The police is on the lookout for the other hotel owner.



Canam Academy launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Canam today launched the Canam Academy of Advanced Learning (CAAL) in India, the only institute offering a variety of courses for the preparation of both national and international level tests that are a cut above the rest in terms of quality of education and infrastructure.

A premier institute of education, Canam boasts of having the best of competitive streams of education all under one roof.

Mr Sukhmeet Grewal, senior vice-president of the academy, told mediapersons here that Canam followed a corporate philosophy, supported by Canam Immigration and Consultants Limited, the largest ISO-9002 certified company. Its strength lay in its comprehensive packaging of all courses which was accentuated by its dedicated team of faculty members, academic advisers and the staff who prove to be the custodians for the students coming to them for guidance.

Mr Dipinder S. Sekhon, senior vice-president of the academy said that it was geared to cater to the varied needs of individuals ranging from highly qualified professionals to the general masses — be it for Immigration or studying abroad.

It has been assessed as the no 1 franchise opportunity in India for a multitude of reasons. The basic reason is the most comprehensive and result-oriented revenue model that will take away the stress from the back of the investor. This is because it targets the already existing IT institutes and coaching centres to streamline their work culture. Another major advantage of the franchise model is the rich and wide variety of courses, from computer education and IT to traditional CET/PMT which means the franchise has a lot more to offer to its customers that its competitors, that gives the prospective franchisees the cutting edge for survival, so necessary in today’s trying times.



Fortis organises seminar on VAT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
“It took almost six years for the government and experts to reach a conclusion on VAT. It is not an easy job to implement VAT in the present system. The existing tax system is not reliable because of certain reasons, especially due to corruption. There are rallies and protests because the system is not transparent,” said Mr Suresh Kumar, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, at a seminar on VAT organised by the Chandigarh Management Association (CMA) at Fortis Heart Institute, SAS Nagar, today.

“The industry was paying only Rs 1,000 crore whereas it should have paid more than Rs 5,000 crore to the government. The consumer is paying these taxes, but the industry is not. It is because the tax collection is faulty. Should we not do away with such a system and introduce VAT, which is more transparent?” he said.

Welcoming the chief guest and the panelists, Dr P.K. Vasudeva, president of the CMA, highlighted the importance of VAT. He said that the nation was losing a huge amount of revenue as the industry was indulging in unhealthy trade practices by not paying sales tax.

Mr Jagjit Singh, senior advocate, Sales Tax said input tax credit was vital to the concept of VAT system. Another panelist, Prof A.K. Vashisht, explained that VAT was a multi-point sales tax. It was collected in instalments at each transaction in the production-distribution system.

Mr P.R. Singhania, workshop director, introduced the chief guest and the panelists and gave a detailed theme of the seminar.


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