Sunday, July 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


11-yr-old boy abducted
Family blames it on relatives
Tribune News Service

Display of courage

The boy and the rickshaw-puller almost managed to thwart the abduction. Once inside the car, Gagandeep tried to run from his abductors by opening the door of the car. “He managed to jump out and started to run but he slipped on a heap of gravel on the road and was again picked up by the two men,” said Jasmine, who was also on the rickshaw.

The rickshaw-puller, Badri Prasad, too, put up a brave fight against the two men, who bashed him in the face. Bleeding from the nose, he then took the two girls in his rickshaw to a nearby house and rushed to inform Gagandeep’s family about the abduction.

SAS Nagar, July 19
An 11-year-old boy was abducted while he was going on his school rickshaw here this afternoon. The boy, Gagandeep Singh, was on his way back from school when he was abducted and pushed into a car by two men, who then sped away. The boy’s family suspects the involvement of their various estranged relatives in the abduction.

The police has registered a case against one of the relatives, Surjit Singh, and raids are on in and around the town to catch the culprits and recover the child.

Gagandeep, a Class VI student of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, was returning home along with four others on the rickshaw. Around 1.30 pm, it stopped to drop one of them in Phase IV.

Jasmine, a Class VII student, who was in the rickshaw with Gagandeep when the incident took place, said, “A white Maruti car was parked near the house and two persons got off from it. While one of them stopped the rickshaw-puller, the other came behind the rickshaw where we were sitting and asked who Gagandeep was. Since there were only two girls and one boy, they pulled out Gagandeep and pushed him into the car.”

“There were two other persons in the car. One was a women who was wearing a pink suit and the other was a Sikh man who was at the driving seat. Gagandeep was scared and it seemed as if he knew the abductors,” she said, talking to TNS.

Gagandeep, youngest among four children and the only son, lives with his grandparents and mother. His father died in 1996. His mother, Gurnaam Kaur, said her son had been abducted by the relatives of her former sister-in-law, Simmi. “First she got my brother-in-law murdered and now she has got my son abducted by her father, Surjit Singh,” she alleged.

Simmi and her parents, Hardev Kaur and Surjit Singh, also residents of Phase II, are the main accused in the murder of Harvinder Singh, paternal uncle of Gagandeep. He was murdered on March 22, 2002, and his wife, Simmi, and her mother are currently in jail.

“Surjit Singh was released on bail some time ago and Gagadeep’s family has alleged that he is responsible for the abduction,” said the Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar. “We have raided Surjit Singh’s various residences but have found him missing. We are taking the statements of the two children on the rickshaw and the rickshaw-puller to get sketches made of the abductors.’’

Gagandeep’s mother informed TNS that they had been receiving blank calls for many days and about a month ago two women had come looking for a job to their house and they had been sent by Simmi’s family.

The police has registered a case under Sections 364, 34 and 129B of the IPC.



80-yr-old man found murdered
Our Correspondent

Togan (Kharar), July 19
An 80-year-old migrant watchman, Amar Singh, was found lying dead outside a grocery shop in the outskirt of Togan village situated along the western boundary of Chandigarh this morning.

Though there were no apparent external marks of injury on Amar Singh’s body, the police said an attempt was made by some unidentified miscreants to break open the shop last night. ‘‘It could be a case of death due to shock or drugging. The body has been sent to the Civil Hospital, Kharar, for a post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of death’’, said the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kharar, Mr Roopinder Singh. Meanwhile, a case of murder and trespass has been registered.

The police was baffled over the motive behind the attempt to burgle the shop, which apparently had nothing to offer as it mostly catered to brick-kiln labourers and had no valuables stocked in it.

As per information, Amar Singh used to sleep outside the shop. His two sons and daughter-in-law, Ms Karma, work at brick- kiln. The family hails from Muzaffarpur district in Uttar Pradesh.

‘‘Every morning he used to return home from the shop with milk but today he did not turn up. Later we found him dead’’, said Ms Karma. “We called up the shop owner, Mr Naresh Kumar’’, she said. Members of the victim’s family have not expressed suspician on anyone, but they fear that Amar Singh was strangulated to death.

Mr Naresh Kumar of Dhanas village reportedly told the police that he found the watchman dead when he came to open his shop at around 7 am.

Police sources said some footmark were found on the rooftop of the shop.



NZ phone No. baffles police
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, July 19
A telephone number of a house in New Zealand, which has an answering machine attached to it, has baffled the Chandigarh police, probing the murder of Simran.

It is believed that the number belongs to Atul, a Sector-23 resident, who was known to Simran. Both had known each for the past couple of years. The police obtained the telephone number of Atul from his parents here.

Sources in the police said it was being verified whether the Sector 23 youth had reached New Zealand or not. A crack team of the police also went to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, today and verified the immigration record as per the scheduled departure date of Atul.

Meanwhile, the younger brother of Simran, who flew in from abroad, attended her cremation this afternoon.



Society membership of 5 IAS officers cancelled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Chandigarh Administration today issued orders to cancel the membership of five Punjab-cadre IAS officers and a few influential persons who had been wrongly made members of a cooperative housing society. The managing committee of the society has been scrapped and an Administrator has been appointed to run its affairs.

Orders issued by the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Mr Arun Kumar, said the Pink Rose Cooperative Housing Society had wrongly inducted IAS officers.

An administrator, Mr R.D. Aggarwal, has been appointed to look into each aspect of the society like conducting elections and carrying out the day to day affairs.

An enquiry conducted by the Director, IT, Mr Vivek Atray, has found that the Joint Secretary, Finance, Chandigarh Administration, Mr Dalip Kumar, DC Gurdaspur K.A.P. Sinha, Municipal Commissioner, Bathinda, D.K. Tewari and IAS officers Hussan Lal and Alok Sekhar had become members of the society and replaced people who had paid lakhs.

The order passed today said there was no evidence that the members who had been expelled were even informed. The substitution was against the guidelines.

A two-third majority is required at a general body meeting to expel any member. Payments were wrongly made to the architect, adds the order.

It may be recollected that on June 3 Chandigarh Tribune had highlighted how names of seven city residents who had paid a few lakhs each to own flats in Chandigarh had been deleted from the list of original allottees.

The original allottees — Mr A.S. Kohli, Mr Raj Kumar Kaushal, Mr Kartar Singh, Mr Balraj Kaundal, Mr Madan Gopal Goyal, Mr Dev Raj Wadhawan and Mr Prem Puri — have been members of the society for more than two decades and have been paying instalments of land and also the initial cost of construction demanded by the society. They had paid up between Rs 1.61 lakhs and Rs 2.83 lakh each.



For 45 yrs, Raj Bhavan had no drains!
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Believe it or not, for 45 years the Punjab Raj Bhavan, the residence of Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, did not have a drainage system. The VVIP residence, spread across a 12 acre compound just south of Sukhna Lake, had been facing the brunt of monsoon each season as a section of boundary wall used to collapse frequently under pressure exerted by accumulated water.

Now, a drainage system is being laid by the Chandigarh Administration’s Engineering Wing. In fact it is in the final stages of completion. Nature tested it fully in the heavy downpour two days ago.

Sources pointed out that it was an utter failure on part of planners as the Raj Bhavan compound did not have even a single inlet for carrying rainwater and for years nobody knew of it. The fact was revealed around a month ago when the present occupant of the bhavan, Justice O.P. Verma, who was out on a walk, discovered that water had been stagnating at certain points. He went to the core of the matter and the error was discovered much to the embarrassment of engineers and planners. Since then, work has been going on in full swing.

In what may come as a shock to planners, engineers and architects, no drawings showing a plan of the drainage system existed, which otherwise should have been a matter of routine in Chandigarh. The city has a proper drainage system, which is mandatory under the Punjab New Capital Development Act 1952, another engineer pointed out. This is part of what is described as “development” of the area.

Separate pipes for drainage of rainwater and sewerage have been laid in the entire city. The same model was replicated in neighbouring towns of Panchkula, SAS Nagar and various other upcoming towns.

For years, rainwater used to rush towards the common boundary wall, which the Raj Bhavan shares with the Golf Course. The stagnant water was also home to flies.

The boundary wall is on the natural gradient and it used to collapse frequently under pressure exerted by accumulated water. The phenomenon had repeated thrice in the past few months.

The approach road inside the gates of the Raj Bhavan also did not have a single inlet for water. The rainwater in the lawns used to seep underground, while some of it used to rush towards the wall, which could not withstand the pressure. The frequently breached wall also posed a security threat to the Governor.



Encroachments on 70 acres of PU land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Panjab University seems to be in a no-win situation over encroachments in more than 70 acres of its prime land in Sector 25. With it remain buried several of the university’s dream-projects, including University Institute of Engineering and Technology, guest house and alumni house, besides others.

The university had already in the past handed over possession of more than 40 acres to the Administration. One of the major reasons was that it was a nearly impossible situation of getting the land’s entire possession back. So the university thought it was wise to sacrifice little to regain the remainder.

The possession of land which was supposed to house several extension counters and allied services continues to be in a situation of suspended animation from the past several years. The proposed university list of constructions on this land include University Engineering of Engineering and Technology, Dental College and Pharmacy College, besides others.

A senior faculty member said that the land could be not been cleared largely due to political interests. No political leadership ever volunteered to have the place vacated absolutely as the population here was a major vote bank. This has led to university losing a major chunk of land. There are no immediate signals of the university getting back even its current share in ‘foreign’ possession.

The university did construct a wall dividing its land from the adjoining colony. However, the wall has developed several breaches. Residents of the campus complain of several difficulties due to the land encroachments, particularly those related to general sanitation.

University sources pointed out that deliberations had been held with the UT Administration on several occasions. However, nothing concrete had happened on ground. The university expresses its helplessness in its expansion projects until the encroachments were cleared.

A research scholar pointed out that practically speaking, majority of the encroached land was beyond redemption. The university should redraft its extension programmes instead of sticking to old plans. Besides making adjustments according to the available land, the university could also approach the administration seeking an alternate land space.

It was also pointed that besides expansion projects on educational ventures, the university also needed to have arrangements made for residential quarters of employees. There had been very little expansion on this account.



Congress grass spreads tentacles in Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar, July 19
Congress grass is spreading rapidly in the town due to the lack of a sustained campaign by the Punjab Planning and Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and the Municipal Council to remove it.

One comes across a rich growth of the harmful weed on road berms and in vacant plots, green belts, parks and open spaces. So much so that a heavy growth of congress grass can also be seen on thpremises of the Primary Health Centre in Phase IIIB1. The problem becomes more acute during the monsoon when there is vigorous growth of the weed.

Though PUDA prepares estimates for the removal of congress grass from vacant plots in the residential and commercial areas, no specific estimates are prepared by either PUDA or the civic body to tackle the problem in the other areas. While the council has to clear the weed from road berms in the residential areas and the entire industrial area, it is the responsibility of PUDA to keep green belts, parks and open spaces free from the weed. However, none of the two organisations take the responsibility of removing the congress grass from government dispensaries or government educational institutions in the town saying it was the duty of the department concerned to get the work done.

The harmful weed causes skin allergies to some persons while in the case of people suffering from asthma it spells frequent attacks.

A woman, living in Phase IIIB2, said on condition of anonymity, that the vacant plot next to her house remained full of congress grass most of the time and her family members got it cleaned at their own expense whenever possible. She said her children suffered from skin allergies due to the weed and they were not allowed to go near the area.

Mr Amrik Singh, a councillor staying in Phase XI, said that he received regular complaints from residents of the area about the congress grass as it caused diseases. He said the weed could be seen spreading in vacant plots, on road berms and around parks. Approached PUDA and MC for its removal but to no avail.

A doctor of the Primary Health Centre said, on condition of anonymity, that he was not aware which department was responsible for keeping the campus free from congress grass. The council and PUDA, he alleged, just kept passing the buck. He said the health centre had two class IV employees who were asked to clear the area now and then.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed PUDA and the local civic body on July 15 to take speedy steps for the removal of congress grass in the town.

Mr H.B. Garg, executive officer of the Municipal Council, said that he had issued directions in writing to JEs to get congress grass removed from their areas by August 1. A report on the progress had to be submitted to the high court on August 6. He said council did not prepare any separate estimate to tackle the problem though the weed was got removed several times during the year out of the estimates prepared for maintenance of works.

Sources say that PUDA has prepared an estimate of over Rs 4 lakh, which has been sent for approval, for removing the congress grass from the vacant plots in residential and commercial areas. However, the authority does not prepare any separate estimate for removing the weed from other areas under it. The work is got done several times during the year out of the estimates prepared for other works.



Panchkula traffic police finally wakes up
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 19
The police here has come up with a new plan for better traffic management in the township. Police control room (PCR) gypsies in Panchkula, Kalka, Pinjore, Chandimandir and Raipur Rani will now be actively involved in this.

Patrolling in their respective beats, comprising 2 km each, has now been left mainly to the PCR motor cycles. Other than the existing fleet of nine motor cycles, seven more have been added, ensuring that a PCR motor cycle is stationed in each sector of the township.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma said, “We realised that the PCR motor cyles, manned by a commando and a driver with the former being equipped with a revolvor, baton and a wireless set, were more effective in crime management. Thus it has been decided to involve PCR motor cycles. The PCR gypsies will be positioned at the important intersections/ roundabouts for controlling heavy traffic flow and ensuring that traffic rules and regulations are followed.”

The system is likely to help the under-staffed traffic police. It may be noted that the vehicular population in the district is over 50,000 with around 350 new vehicles being registered each month. As against this the traffic wing consists of only 27 policemen.

It comprises one sub-inspector, six assistant sub-inspectors, one head constable and 18 constables and upgraded constables. The district inspector has been given the charge of a traffic inspector. While the only sub-inspector being posted at Kalka, all six sub-inspectors (who can for issue challans) are deployed in the township.

Challans were presently being issued by the constabulary of the traffic wing at Kalka, Pinjore and Barwala in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act. The Act clearly states that violators can be challaned only by an officer of the rank of assistant sub-inspector and above (non-gazetted officers and above ranks). These challans were later being signed by police officers to ensure that these do not become null and void in court.

Other than five PCR gypsies with an NGO, a driver and two constables each stationed at Panchkula one gypsy each will also be stationed at Kalka, Pinjore, Chandimandir and Raipur Rani. Moreover, each PCR gypsy has now been equipped with a first-aid box and will be used to rush accident victims to the hospital.



Residents complain of poor civic amenities
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 19
The Welfare Action Committee of Phase VI here today complained of poor civic amenities in the area and demanded an improvement in the facilities.

Addressing a press conference here, the secretary of the committee, Mr R.C. Jhingan, said certain roads in Phase VI, including B roads, were in a bad shape. Some days ago he said carpeting of inner roads was undertaken in the area but the work was not up to the mark. Besides. the replacement of slabs on kerb channels had also not been done.

Mr Jhingan said safai karamcharis did not clean the area on a regular basis. The streetlights were almost non-functional, he said.

The secretary further said traffic lights were needed at the crossing near Jain Sathanak and Durga Mandir although repeated requests had been made to the authorities concerned. Moreover, no traffic constable had been put on duty at the crossing, he added.

He said the parking of school buses on roads during schools hours was leading to traffic chaos. The committee had drawn the attention of the administration to the problem but to no avail.

The committee also opposed the government decision to hike water and sewerage charges. He said at the time of the allotment of plots PUDA had included these charges while fixing the rates per square yard of the plots.

Besides, he criticised the Municipal Council and the state Public Health Department for failing to ensure adequate supply of water.



Campaign against death penalty to Prof Bhullar
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 19
The Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), a city-based NGO, has launched a campaign to press for the abolition of death penalty awarded to Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar by a Delhi court, according to the president of the NGO, Mr Amar Singh Chahal. He was speaking at a press conference organised here today.

He said the organisation had contacted Arundhati Roy and Shabana Azmi to form a body to raise the issue of abolition of death penalty under the Indian statues at the national and international levels.

Mr Navkiran Singh, general secretary of the organisation, said a delegation of the LHRI had visited New Zealand in connection with the campaign.



Rains delay long distance trains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Due to widespread rains in different parts of the country, the long distance trains starting from West Bengal, Bihar and other Central Indian states, are running a few hours behind schedule.

Sources in the railways said the rail tracks at different places had been inundated resulting in the delay. Two long distance trains, running on the Howrah-Amritsar route (train Nos. 3005 up and 3049 up), the Dhanbad-Ferozepore train and some other trains originating from the states in the Central India were arriving late by few hours. Another Amritsar-bound train starting from Muzzafarnagar, arrived today at Ambala, a few hours behind the schedule.

The Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabadi today arrived six minutes behind schedule.



One killed, two hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 19
A 35-year-old man was killed while his wife sustained serious injuries when their scooter skidded near the roundabout of Sectors 20 and 21 late tonight.

The man, who was rushed to the Sector 16 General Hospital, was declared brought dead in the hospital.

The couple’s child sustained minor injuries in the accident.



Tribune employee dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Mr Rajesh Jain (43) working with The Tribune as Sectional Head in Business Department died this morning after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. His cremation was held later in the day.

The Rasam Pagri will be held tomorrow at Baba Balak Nath Mandir, Sector 29, Chandigarh, at 11 a.m.



Former Tribune employee dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Mr Agia Ram Sharma (82), former Sectional Head in the Advertisement Department of The Tribune Trust publications, died early morning today at Tribune Model Gram, Baltana, near here, after a brief illness. His cremation was largely attended by relatives, friends and employees of The Tribune.

Mr Sharma is survived by his wife, two married sons and their families. One of his sons, Mr Ravinder Sharma, is working at the Bathinda Printing Centre of The Tribune Trust publications.



Jawan thwarts juvenile’s bid to sexually
assault child
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 19
An Army jawan thwarted a youth’s attempt to sexually assault an eight-year-old girl on the Mansa Devi-Saketri road late last evening.

The jawan was passing by when he heard muffled cries of a child. He saw a 17-year-old youth trying to sexually assault a girl. He rushed to a police control room vehicle near the Mansa Devi temple, following which the youth was arrested.

The youth is a resident of Mani Majra and had come to Mansa Devi Complex for selling glass bangles. After he caught the girl’s attention with the bangles, he took her away on the pretext of giving her free rides installed near the Mansa Devi shrine.

The girl went with him and after she had taken a few rides, he promised to drop her home. However, he took her to a secluded spot and tried to sexually assault her.

The suspect was produced before a local court this morning and remanded in judicial custody.


Man booked
Kiran Sharma, a resident of Sector 45 D, has complained that she was harassed and maltreated by her husband for dowry. A case under Sections 406 and 498A of the IPC has been registered against her husband Manmohan Verma, a resident of Sector 4, Panchkula.

Scooters stolen
Jaswant Singh, a resident of Patiala, has reported that his Bajaj Chetak scooter (PB-11-L-2446) was stolen from Sector 34 market yesterday. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Ramandeep Singh, a resident of Sector 39 B, reported that his LML Vespa scooter (CH-01-R-8772) was stolen on July 15. The scooter was parked at Sector 17 market. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Mobile phone snatched
Karam Singh Aujla, a resident of Sector 37, reported that occupants of car (PB-65-A-5587) snatched his mobile phone last week near Model School, Sector 35. A case under Sections 356 and 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Case of gambling
The local police arrested Nasir, a resident of Colony No. 4, on charges of satta gambling at public place from near government toilet of the colony last evening. The police recovered a sum of Rs 185 from his possession. A case under Sections 13A, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act has been registered

Liquor seized
The police has arrested four persons from various parts of the city and seized 175 pouches of country made liquor from their possession. As per details available, the liqour was seized from Jagdish Kumar, a resident of Panipat and Dhanna, a resident of Yamunanagar. Two other persons — Amrish Sharma and Sher Singh (both of Chandigarh) — were arrested on charges of consuming liquor at public place. Four cases under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act have been registered against them.



3 boys held for robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 19
Three boys tried to break open a collection box at the Mansa Devi shrine last evening. They were caught when a sweeper saw the 2 trying to steal the money.

According to the police, the boys — all juveniles in the age group of 16 - 18 years, attempted to break open the lock with a wire. The priest on duty here had gone out for a while and there was no one nearby.

A class IV employee, Raju, noticed the boys crowding near the box and immediately raised an alarm. As the boys tried to flee they were caught by the devotees. The boys have been remanded in judicial custody.



3 women caught stealing
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 19
Three women were caught red handed while they were trying to escape after stealing jewellery from a woman’s handbag near the Sector 22 dispensary here today.

As per police sources, the accused stole, purse from the handbag of a Panchkula resident, Ms P. Dutta, near the dispensary. They tried to escape but were apprehended. A gold chain and nose ring were recovered from them. A case under Sections 379, 411 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.



Markfed to export brown onion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Markfed, Asia's largest marketing cooperative, has identified brown onion as a new product for the export market. Mr S.S. Channy, Managing Director of the cooperative, has called upon desirous agencies to play an active role to promote contract farming for 20,000 MT brown onion covering about 400 acres in first phase during coming season.

He said it would cover areas of Patiala, Jalandhar and Bathinda district. Addressing a workshop here yesterday, Mr Channy said brown onion was not in demand in India and was sold at a low price of Rs 100 to Rs 200 per quintal by farmers. However, brown onion had three to four times more yield potential in comparison to red onion, he added.

Mr Channy said Markfed had already signed an MoU with Germany to export 40,000 MT yellow flesh potatoes during February-June, 2004. There was a great potential for the crop in the European countries, he said, since potatoes were mainly produced in winter in India and European countries did not have potatoes during February-June, 2004.


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