Monday, June 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Illegal routing of calls: raids held to nab Sharma’s wife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
In case of unearthing of illegal operation of routing international calls to customers in the country through the internet lease lines, the police today conducted raids to arrest the wife of Rakesh Sharma, who was running the operations. However, Rakesh Sharma, who was arrested yesterday, while being produced in a local court, claimed he had a valid permission to run the call centre.

The police claimed that the clandestine business was being operated from the top floor of an SCO in Sector 9 market. Rakesh Sharma, a brother of a Punjab Police IG, Jalandhar zone, Mr S.K. Sharma, was today remanded in police custody for two days. He was taken for a medical examination to the Sector 16 General Hospital as he had complained of pain in the chest. He was discharged from the hospital in the evening. The Punjab IG reportedly called upon senior police officials to complain against the “false” case registered against his brother.

A case under Sections 20, 21, 21-A and 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and Sections 379, 420 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered against Rakesh Sharma and his wife, Manju Sharma, on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Vigilance Wing of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL).

Officials of the VSNL had stated that the loss to the authorised service could run in to crores. By rough estimates, around 23 lakh calls had been routed through the alleged illegal network in the past 10 months. The equipment seized from the SCO was worth around Rs 60 lakh, said the police.

Yesterday, a police party raided the Sector 9 shop and arrested Rakesh Sharma, who was running the business under the name of M/s Ishan Credits Limited Sophisticated electronic equipment to route long-distance calls and transmit these through public switch telecom network (PSTN) had been seized by the police. A 19-telephone line mini-exchange to route the calls was also seized by the police.

Mr Girdher Shankar Sharma, Manager (Vigilance), VSNL, Delhi, told Chandigarh Tribune that the operator was receiving international voice calls and distributing it to the receivers through an automatic switch telecom network.

The police had seized multiplexers, IP packetizer, switches, computers, Will telephone sets worth Rs 50 lakh from the SCO. A police official had claimed that the profit earned from the illegal operations was shared by the Indian partners and was thus causing loss of around Rs 10 lakh per month to the telecom operators and the government.

Dimensions of the illegal operation

The “unearthing” of the illegal operation of routing international calls to customers by the city police could just be a tip of the iceberg. The operations of receiving international calls by bypassing the authorised telecom service providers in the country was not restricted to the city, said VSNL sources.

Due to the illegal business, the long-distance service providers in the country were losing lakhs as the revenue of routing the calls to the country was being pocketed by the persons behind the racket. Inquiries revealed that some professionals in the country specialised in installing the sophisticated equipment through which the international voice calls were transferred to the land line phones.

Modus operandi

After receiving the calls (in form of digital data) through a facility called the voice over Internet protocol (IP) from abroad with the help of sophisticated imported equipment, the data is deciphered and bifurcated into separate calls with the help of a mini-telephone exchange. The end users are in different cities in Punjab, Haryana and the surrounding states. To use the service the same facility had to be installed at the senders’ end.

Sources in the VSNL said there was information that a dish antenna was installed to invade into the bandwidth slot allotted to an authorised user for transmission from a satellite. Mr Girdhar Shankar Sharma, Manager (Vigilance), VSNL, said voice call termination through the Internet lease line in the country was not permitted under the law. He said an Authorised service provider lost around Rs 10 per minute on every long-distance call.


Tejinder tops in Ropar distt
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 15
Tejinder Singh Virk, a student of Paragon Senior Secondary School, Sector 71, here has stood second in the state in Class XII examination (arts), the results of which were released by the Punjab School Education Board here today. Local students have also grabbed top 12 positions in Ropar district.

First in Ropar district and the township, Tejinder has scored 88.4 per cent marks by securing 398 marks out of 450 marks. Having lost his father in 1987 in a road accident, Tejinder lives with his mother in Kharar. Aiming to become the first IAS officer in his family, Tejinder will pursue BA at one of the Chandigarh colleges. “My first preference is DAV College, Sector 10,” he says. “I never took any tuitions for my subjects, which were chosen according to my interests. For Tejinder’s mother, Ms Manjit Kaur, who works in the Animal Husbandry Department in Chandigarh, it was a moment of glory and pride.

The school Principal, Mr B. Shergill, said school students had shown improvement in their performance this year. “Last year, our student had stood third in the state,” he said. Another student of the school, Raghav Bharti, is second in both the township and the district.

Students of Government Senior Secondary School, Phase 3B1, here too have performed well in the district. Harmeet Kaur, Sushma, Reema Vashishth of the school have achieved third, fourth and fifth position, respectively, both in the district and the township. Harpreet Singh Sandhu of Paragon school is sixth in the township and the district. Harmandeep Singh Thiara of Government College, SAS Nagar, is seventh, while Harmeet Kaur of Paragon School is eighth both in the township and the district. The next four positions have been bagged by Bhupinder Singh of Government Senior Secondary School, Harpreet Kaur of Paragon school, Gurpreet Kaur of Sant Isher Singh Senior Secondary School and Kiranpreet Kaur of Paragon school. Next in the township are Gursewak Singh of Government College, SAS Nagar, and Gunjan of Government Senior Secondary School.


Surjeet backs Sonia’s move on secular front
Tribune News Service

Harkishan Singh SurjeetChandigarh, June 15
Sonia Gandhi’s assertion of forming an alliance of progressive and secular forces was today supported by the CPM. The party said the BJP and its allies, including the SAD, were spreading communalism in the country.

“Sonia’s initiative was a ‘positive step’ towards maintaining national integration”, the CPM General-Secretary, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, told mediapersons here today.

Lashing out at the BJP and its allies, including the SAD, the CPM leader said the BJP was the biggest threat to national integration. “The main motive of the CPM and other like-minded secular forces is to remove the BJP from power”, he added.

In reply to a question he admitted that both the Congress and the BJP were working closely as far as the issues of liberalisation or globalisation were concerned.

“Since, the Congress has a positive historical background of maintaining its ‘secular identity, therefoe, the CPM feels that the country is currently in dire need of unity among the secular parties to topple the communal forces and strengthen national integration,” he said.

Mr Surjeet flayed the reunion of the two main factions of the Akalis in Punjab saying that this would flare up communalism in the state. He also condemned the SGPC resolution declaring Bhindrawale as a martyr and added that the state had faced terrorism for almost one-and-a-half decade due to him (Bhindrawale).

While replying to questions, he raised doubts over the unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra as the middle level cadre of the Akali factions were not taken into confidence before finalising the reunion of the SAD.

He said, “More than 200 CPM workers were killed during the black days of terrorism. But, no other political force other than the Left organisations has realised their sacrifice in bringing back peace in the state.”

He appreciated the Punjab government’s drive against corruption but raised doubts over its performance as far as developmental issues were concerned. “Earlier, the state government was moving in the right direction but recently the party has not come up to the expectations of the people”, he added.

Mr Surjeet said there was no concrete policy with the Punjab Government for an overall development of the state. The problems of common people, particularly the farmers, labourers and employees were increasing day by day due to the mismanagement of resources and wrong policies, he said.

When asked about the recent Jat-Dalit clashes at Talhan village in Jalandhar district, Mr Surjeet said the formation of a common committee of Jats and Dalits to manage the affairs of the controversial gurdwara was a positive step towards maintaining communal harmony.


Ferozepore locker yet to be opened
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
Reacting to a news item published in the these columns on June 14 regarding the recovery of Rs 50 lakh and other property documents from a locker of suspended Judicial Magistrate S.S. Bhardwaj, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated in the court of the UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal, that it was yet to open the locker at Ferozepore.

During the proceedings of the Bhardwaj case, before the arguments were addressed by defence counsels, the suspended Judicial Magistrate submitted that the Investigating Officer be asked to confirm whether Rs 50 lakh and other papers belonging to property were recovered from his locker. The Investigating Officer was asked about the veracity of the news.

The Investigating Officer submitted that he was not quoted in the news item and the information was not provided by the CBI. Mr Bhardwaj had stated that the news item had created wrong impression about his personality and that his image had been tarnished.

The news item was not aimed at tarnishing the image of the judicial officer.



THE Municipal Corporation seriously needs to think over its paid parking and pass parking policies, which seem to be falling apart. Despite major ruckus over this issue both inside the MC house as also on the city streets, the issue continues to be ambiguous, with the visitors to the parking lot continuing to be unaware about the latest parking rates, thanks to the chaos caused by ever - altering rates and the contractors taking advantage of the messy affair.

That normal residents are fleeced every day can be well imagined from the fact that one of the parking lot contractors refused to even acknowledge a “valid” paid parking pass issued to a scribe by the MC authorities. Despite repeated assurances that the pass in question was valid and it enabled the owner to park the vehicle anywhere in any parking lot of the MC, the employee of the parking lot contractor relentlessly argued in support of his own vague logic. “The moment you park your vehicles in the parking lot on the road, you become liable to paying Rs 5. This pass is not valid at all. It is only valid for the underground parking lots!”

Now that is intelligent logic! Is the MC posted?


It was a gathering of empowered women at UT Guest House on June 13. In attendance were seven chairpersons of various social welfare organisations and boards in UT, Punjab and Haryana. The occasion: presence of the national chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB), Ms Mridula Sinha, who was in the city to monitor the functioning of some social welfare advisory boards and voluntary organisations utilising funds sanctioned by the CSWB for social welfare activities.

Strangely, many alarming facts came to light during the discussion that followed. With respective in-charges of the social welfare boards putting forward the problems of their areas, one was left wondering over the meagre empowerment level we have achieved even in the so-called financially empowered Punjab and UT. Financial comfort notwithstanding, the fact of the matter is that even today Punjab has a large number of young widows awaiting decent means of earning a livelihood.

But all said and done, the real woman in attendance, Ms Mridula Sinha assured hope in the future of India. A celebrated writer, with the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Award from the Uttar Pradesh government to her credit, Ms Sinha talked with passion about the significance of words in building a value-based system. Interestingly, she has just come out with her new literary work, “Atishaya”, which highlights the celebrated past of India and challenges it to restore its pristine purity and retain its original status of a “vishwaguru” — a world leader that is.

Nose for news

What is the general perception about the media? That they are present only in the worst of situations.

A few days back when four correspondents of leading newspapers in the region were coincidently seen in the Panchkula district courts, their presence raised many a eyebrow. Lawyers as well as court employees went up to the journalists and asked them if all was well. They wanted to know if some notorious person was being produced in the court.

Denials by the newsmen failed to satisfy the lawyers and court employees. One of the lawyers called up a few other mediapersons and asked them to rush to the courts for some exclusive coverage.

The curiosity was laid to rest only after the four journalists went back and the two others who were called by the lawyers returned after making discreet inquiries at various court rooms.

Cholera watch

Not willing to take chances after last year’s bitter experience, when there was outbreak of cholera and dengue in a number of slum colonies, the UT health authorities are working overtime to ensure that the situation remains under control this time.

Apart from the routine preventive measures and awareness campaigns, the authorities have gone a step ahead by announcing the creation of “mohalla” committees to monitor the situation time to time. To ensure better coordination between different agencies, unlike last year, officials of the Municipal Corporation, Public health and health department are jointly monitoring the situation.

The health authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as so far the situation has remained more or less under control, with only a few cases of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis.

Way to chair

The Senior Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh, Kuldeep Singh, came across a rare opportunity — occupying the presiding officer’s chair — but he did could not find way to the seat.

It seems Mayor Subhash Chawla also forgot that there was a stand-by arrangement in the House when he left in a huff amidst a debate to his chamber to consult his boss Pawan Bansal without asking anybody to chair the session in his absence.

Mr Bansal had to remind the Mayor that Mr Kuldeep Singh should occupy the chair.

When the Senior Deputy Mayor moved to the seat he wandered to find the way to the seat. Officers then came to his rescue.

The Mayor came in the middle but returned seeing the Senior Deputy Mayor in the chair. The latter presided over the meeting for 10 minutes but immediately faced a peculiar problem of an angry Congress councillor complaining against an officer.

The difference

One of the brightest councillors in the Municipal Corporation having expertise in engineering details, P. C. Sanghi, committed a faux pas.

While discussing the terms and conditions of privatisation of sanitation, Mr Sanghi pointed out many weaknesses despite the Mayor asking him to wind up the debate early.

But when Mr Sanghi did not stop, Mayor Subhash Chawla pointed out to him that he was mentioning flaws from the old terms and conditions which had been revised.

The Mayor then said. “You do not find anything wrong in the new terms and conditions of the contract” to spark off a peel of laughter.

“Can’t help”

On the evening of June 11, three teenaged girls alighted from a bus near the Piccadily roundabout. Suddenly one of them fell ill and started crying with pain. A police control room Gypsy was standing nearby and one of her friend approached the cops for help. ‘‘We cannot help you”, was the terse reply she got from them. When she insisted, the cops reportedly told her that the PCR vehicles move from the allocated positions only in cases of snatching, accidents or when somebody calls on the 100 number.

Unnoticed almost

An exhibition, organised last week in a Sector 17 restaurant, went almost unnoticed as far as media coverage is concerned. At the exhibition, candles designed by the popular film actress Dimple Kapadia at her Mumbai workshop were exhibited. The exquisite designer candles, prepared with gel and pure wax, were especially brought from Mumbai. Originally, Dimple, herself was to inaugurate the exhibition but somehow could not make it to Chandigarh. But the art lovers and those interested in buying the designer goods, found the Dimple touch in the candles, prices of which ranged from Rs 50 to Rs 2,500 and even Rs 6,000 per piece.

Ms Pooja Singh, the organiser of the exhibition, ventured into this type of activity with the main aim of charity. According to her, major part of the proceeds of the exhibition was meant for charity. She found the response of City Beautiful dwellers good and plans to hold such a show on a large scale in future.

Ms Pooja Singh, a garment designer and at present based in Mumbai, is from a Chandigarh-based family. She wants to mix her activities with social service.

Save Sukhna Forum

Inspired by the interactive session on “Save Sukhna” organised by Chandigarh Tribune at Nepli forest range last month, certain civic minded residents of Chandigarh have come together to form a “Save Sukhna Forum” (SSF).

“Our objective is to remain in touch with the Chandigarh Administration for the proper maintenance of Sukhna Lake by various agencies and NGO’s by (i) desilting of the lake by mechanical methods, or shramdan or kar seva by students, army and Air Force personnel. (ii) undertake beautification and afforestation of the lake area, and (iii) organise any other welfare activity,” says Col (Dr ) B.R. Pruthi (retd) who has been elected secretary of the SSF.

Mr B.B.Mahajan, a former IAS officer of Punjab, has been elected President of the body while Mr S.S.Virdi who retired as Chief Engineer, UT Administration, is the Vice-President. Technical advisers include Mr S. P. Bector, former Superintending Engineer, Dr G. S. Dhillon, former Chief Engineer (retd), Mr Arjun Singh, Additional Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr S. K. Kapoor, former Conservator of Forests, Mr S.P. Mittal, Principal Scientist, ICAR, and Mr K.K. Lakhanpal, former Chief Engineer.

The forum has kept a token membership fee of Rs 50 per annum. Meetings will be held every three months.

For forms’ sake

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) had introduced four packages to its fixed line subscribers — BSNL economy (150 free calls with minimum Rs 350 monthly charges); BSNL Special (600 free calls with minimum Rs 750 monthly charge); BSNL Super (1800 free calls with minimum Rs 1650 monthly rental) and BSNL General Package ( with Rs 250 monthly rental and 30 free calls) with effect from May 1, 2003, besides TRAI’s Standard package for Rs 280 monthly rental. It had asked the subscribers to give their option on the specified forms in writing otherwise they would be charged under the general plan.

These forms are supposed to be provided to all the subscribers free of cost at all the BSNL offices. However, the customers have to make a lot of effort to get them as they have been kept in the custody of certain officials, and not at the reception counters where customers could easily pick them.

— Sentinel



Bitta dares Chohan to go to rights panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
Expressing concern over political parties’ silence over “attempts” to bring back turmoil in Punjab, the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) Chairman, Mr M. S. Bitta, today threatened to get over 1000 cases registered in different courts across the country against Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan.

Reacting to Mr Chohan’s recent statement that he would go to the International Human Rights Commission against super cop K. P. S. Gill and Mr Bitta, the AIATF chairman said let Mr Chohan send a notice to Mr Gill and him.

Addressing a press conference, he said these notices would be replied with at least 1,000 cases in different courts for Mr Chohan allegedly being responsible for 36,000 deaths in Punjab.

The AIATF chairman said Mr Gill and he would go to the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to make him aware about alleged attempts to eliminate them.

Mr Bitta said political parties, including his party the Congress, seemed to have run away from their responsibility of countering the forces seeking to bring back violence in Punjab.

He said declaring Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a “martyr”, Mr Chohan’s reported call for a Khalistan front and honouring those servicemen who deserted barracks were attempts towards the revival of violence in the state at the behest of Pakistan and the Inter-Services Intelligence and should not go unchallenged.

Mr Bitta urged the political parties to join hands in crushing anti-national tendencies.

He demanded an inquiry into how and from where funds for the honouring ceremony of Army deserters were coming.

Ruling out a dialogue between India and Pakistan till the latter agreed to hand over the Pakistan occupied Kashmir, stopped terrorist infiltration into India, released 1971 prisoners of war, Mr Bitta said India must involve United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, US President George W. Bush and British Premier Tony Blair in the talks so that Pakistan did not make false promises.

He said if the promises made during talks were not met, India should consider military action against Pakistan.

Mr Bitta also said the rail and road link between India and Pakistan should not be established till Pakistan stopped promoting terrorism.

The former Youth Congress President alleged that the Congress had left him alone to fight terrorism and indicated that certain Congressmen were out to get him eliminated. He, however, did not reveal any name.

Mr Bitta said he had a large number of documents against politicians and bureaucrats to suggest that they wanted him killed. He said if he was assassinated, these documents would be made public by the people close to him.


Protest against demolitions at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
Members of the PGI Campus Sarav Dharam Sabha today held a rally in protest against the demolition of religious structures by the PGI administration on the campus.

The rally was organised on behalf of the managements of Hari Mandir, Gurdwara Sahib, Jeevan Jyoti Church (CNI), Guru Ravi Dass Mandir and Balmiki Mandir. The members of the sabha decided to continue with the protest till their demands were not fulfilled.

Those who addressed the rally included Mr Singhara, MLA, Mr G.K. Chatrath, Member of Punjab Senate and Syndicate, Ms Anu Chatrath and Mr Sohan Lal Vaid, Councillors, Mr Salamat Masih from the Minority Cell Punjab, Mr V.P. Chaudhary, retired Sessions Judge, Mr Rameshwar Dass, Haryana BSP general secretary, and Mr H.C. Kalyan from the Chandigarh Balmiki Sabha.

The sabha, in a memorandum addressed to the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, has sought her intervention in the matter. Demanding strict administrative action against the Deputy Director (Administration), Ms Meeta Rajivlochan, and Prof J.R. Dash, Superintending Hospital Engineer, the sabha said the religious sentiments of minority communities had been hurt by the unjustified and illegal action.

The sabha demanded that an inquiry be ordered into the incident to fix responsibility for the demolition.

The sabha also demanded that the demolished structures be reconstructed by the PGI administration.

The DDA, Ms Rajivlochan, said the demolition had been carried out as per the orders of the PGI, Director, Prof S.K. Sharma. She refused to make any further comments on the issue.


Jeevan Sangram’ in Hindi
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 15
Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna not only played an active role in the Gadar Movement but also ushered in a new era in the country that paved the way for freedom. His life, full of struggle and sacrifice, has always been a source of inspiration for generations that followed.

His autobiography “Jeevan Sangram”, which was originally written in Urdu and then translated into Punjabi, is a valuable source of information on Gadar Movement — a revolution that changed the lives of those Indians whose search for a better life in America way back in the 1914 ended with a plunge in the Indian freedom movement.

To keep his contribution alive, two present day writers, Sudarshan Kumar and Sita Ram Bansal, decided to translate the Punjabi version of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna’s autobiography into Hindi, which was released at a function organised by the Qaumi Virsa Kendra in Sector 46 here today. Mr G.S. Bhullar, former Editor of Punjabi Tribune, while releasing the book lauded the efforts of the translators.

“This is an endeavor to acquaint our new generation with a great ideologist like Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna,” said Sita Ram Bansal.

Dr Kuldeep Puri, a faculty member of the Regional Resource Centre of Adult and Continuing Education, Panjab University, gave interesting details about the movement — how it started with a handful of Punjabis living in America and later became a movement that transcended all barriers of regionalism and assumed much greater significance in the freedom movement.

Famous playwright Gursharan Singh talked about the ideology of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna. The former Senate member of Panjab University, Mr H.S. Mehta, said Bhakna’s zeal to get his country liberated from the British rule still had relevance in the modern day India.

Prof Malwinder Singh Warraich, convener of the Qaumi Virsa Kendra, also exhibited at least 67 pictures of leading revolutionaries of the freedom movement. Prof Warraich said the kendra would act as a storehouse of information on revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives during different phases of the freedom struggle.


Balraj Sahni national awards announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
The All India Artists Association has selected noted poet Raminder Jakhu, Dr Chander Trikha, Director, Haryana Sahitya Akademi and Dr. Mathura Dutt Pandey of Chandigarh for its prestigious Balraj Sahni national awards 2002-2003. The awards are being presented for unique contribution in promotion of Urdu, Hindi and Sanskrit languages. The announcement to this effect was made here by the President of the association, Mr Sudershan Gour.

This award had also been presented to Dr Saroj Bhardwaj, lecturer, Government College, Mandi, for her work titled Aurbindo’s Evolutionary Vision and Mr H.N. Kashyap, Additional Dy Secretary, Sundernagar, besides some others who have contributed to their respective areas of activity.

Meanwhile, Assam’s Prasantakokoty of Nakari village has been declared as the best playwright. Ms Nirmala Devi of village Pipli in Mandi has also been chosen for the Balraj Sahni national award.

The awards will be presented at a special function to be organised at Kali Bari Hall in Shimla on June 24. The award ceremony will be a part of the 48th All India Drama and Dance Festival.


Conserve nectar of life

Water, which helps to sustain life on this planet, is becoming scarce day by day. Alarmingly, many sources of water are drying up. It is the foremost duty of all human beings that they should adopt measures in their day-to-day life so that this nectar could be conserved. Otherwise, the time is not far when we will have to go without a drop of water.

Lesser water should be used to fulfil our daily needs. Use buckets while brushing, bathing, cleaning utensils or other household items. For mopping the floor, do not throw water directly. Use a wet cloth for the purpose. Use sprinklers for watering the gardens and lawns and for washing cars and containers.

Houses should be so designed that more rain water on roofs could be collected and then allowed to flow through pipes into a deep trench in the ground. Thus the level of groundwater might be maintained. It is a big task but if all of us join hands, this problem can be minimised.

Shalini Swami, Class VIII, Divya Public School



Tribune staffer bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
Mrs Nirmal Sharma, mother of The Tribune Staff Correspondent Vibha Sharma and wife of senior journalist D.P. Sharma, passed away this morning.

The funeral procession will leave from H. No 1288, Sector 42, tomorrow (Monday) for cremation at 8 a.m.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala mourned the death and conveyed condolences to the bereaved family.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, in his condolence message, has expressed sympathies with the bereaved family and prayed for the peace of the departed soul.


Gang of cellphone thieves busted, 3 held
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 15
With the arrest of three persons, the police claims to have busted a gang of cellphone thieves operating in Chandigarh and the township for the past one and half years.

According to information given by the police here today, the persons were arrested from the Apni Sabzi Mandi in Phase VIII. A 10-year-old child is among those arrested. Fifteen cellphone sets were recovered from them.

The police said the gang members used to steal the sets by picking pockets of people who visited the mandi or other crowded markets. These persons had earlier stolen a cellphone belonging to Mr Gurmit Singh of Phase X. He had been able to identify them. Today they were arrested from the mandi with his help.

The gang members — Shekho Mahato, alias Billu mama, Chinti Mahato, alias Uttam Bhai, and Mukesh Kumar — belong to a village near Gurdwara Paonta Sahib.

They told the police that their gang leader, Budhan Choudhry, who operated from Gaya Ghat in the same village, brought young children from poor families there and taught them to steal cellphones and other small expensive items from people in crowded places.

Mr Ramandeep Singh, SHO Phase VIII police station, stated that the gang leader used to send a child to the market with an empty bag, seemingly to buy vegetables etc. The child would sit next to a person who was carrying a cell-phone and steal the phone from the pocket.


Two gamblers held

Panchkula, June 15
The police has arrested Subhash and Amar Nath on charges of speculation at a public place in Kalka and recovered Rs 630 from them.

Similarly, Rajbir and Ranjit were arrested from Surajpur village near Pinjore on charges of gambling at a public place and Rs 320 were recovered from them.

One Arrested: The police has arrested Shamsher Singh from Raipur Rani and recovered 250 pouches of countrymade liquor from him. He has been booked under Sections of Excise Act.

Fire: A minor fire broke out in a few jhuggis in village Shahpur near Raipur Rani this evening. Two huts were gutted and one cow was burnt alive. TNS

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