Saturday, September 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Woman alleges inhuman torture by police
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
An another incident of brutal torture came to light when a 20-year-old girl, Karamjit Kaur, who was rescued by the Warrant Officer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, today alleged that she was subjected to inhuman treatment and was asked to remove her clothes by the Punjab Police personnel at a press conference organised by the NGO Lawyers for Human Rights International here today.

“Five persons including two women, who had been allegedly subjected to third degree torture for several days by the Punjab Police were rescued by the Warrant Officer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday. These five persons were suspected to be involved in a murder case by the police. The five persons who were released included — Karamjit Kaur, Tirath Kaur, Sahib Singh, Gurdev Singh and Gurmit Singh,” informed Mr Arunjeev Singh Walia, Press Secretary.

Showing torture marks on her body, the victim while addressing scribes, said she was detained at Nabha police station for several days and been tortured. She was even ordered to remove her clothes by police constables, the victim alleged.

Narrating her tale of woe, she said police constables, after taking liquor usually interrogated her in the midnight. Even if a woman constable was called most of the time she stayed outside the room during her interrogation. The victim further added that: “I can not reveal the details whatever happened to me was worse than a hell.”

She further added that “she was subjected to inhuman third degree torture twice by pulling her legs apart in 180 degree and also beaten up with an iron rod in between her legs and two police men putting pressure on that rod.

“I was also threatened of liquidation if I did not disclose the truth and was also molested by the policemen, the victim further said. Similarly, her mother said: “It was difficult to see my husband, son and daughter to be subjected to third degree torture by the police.”

When contacted the SHO of the police station concerned denied that they were subjected to third degrees torture. He said that all five of them were called at police station only for a day. Thereafter they were not traceable.

The General Secretary of the NGO, Mr Navkiran Singh, who had moved a petition in the high court for the release of victims said a Warrant Officer had secured the release five victims from the illegal custody of police station Kotwali, Nabha, Patiala district on September 25. He also informed that the high court had also ordered the medical examination of the victims. The Chairman of the NGO, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. 


Controversy row over IPS officers’ posting ends
Police Lines back with SSP Yadav
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The controversy kicked up by the transfer of IPS officers made by the Inspector General Police (IGP), Mr Rajesh Kumar, ended today with the UT Home Department having its rightful say in the matter. Fresh transfer orders were issued today by the Chandigarh Administration with a change in the original orders of the IGP issued on August 6. A portion of the IGP’s original order has however been retained.

In the orders issued today, the charge of Police Lines was handed back to SSP Gaurav Yadav. The IGP in his original order had handed over the work of Police Lines to SSP Headquarters Varinder Chahal. It may be pointed out that the Punjab Police Rules applicable to Chandigarh say that the work of Police Lines, which handles about 1,000 reserve police force, has to be headed by the SSP City. The administration has also retained a part of the IGP’s order of August 6. In the earlier order, the work of the Economic Offences Wing was taken away from Mr H.G.S. Dhaliwal and handed over to Mr Virender Chahal. This has been retained.

Sources, however, confirmed that whatever orders were issued today were actually proposed by the IGP himself just a few days ago. The Home Department had just put its seal on it.

Under the Punjab Police Rules, it is the Home Department that is empowered to transfer IPS officials.

When the IGP had issued orders on August 6, the Home Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, had pointed in writing to the then Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Virendra Singh, that the IGP was not empowered to transfer IPS officials and the orders should have been issued by the Chandigarh Administration. On getting Mr Gujral’s letter, the Adviser had referred the matter to the Legal Remembrancer, Ms Neerja Kulwant Kalson, but he was transferred on September 10 before a decision could have been taken. The file had been lying with the UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), for his opinion since then. So more or less the order has now been issued after proper clearance from Justice Verma.

Though nothing was put down in writing on the files, it was widely believed in administrative circles that the IGP, who is also a UT cadre officer like the previous Adviser, was under pressure to issue the orders on August 6. It was during the same period that matters between Mr Virendra Singh and Mr Gujral had hot up. So much so that Justice O.P. Verma had to intervene and ask the two officials to cool down and sort out their differences.

In the meantime, the IGP went on record saying that he had only redistributed the work and it did not merit the approval of the Home Secretary. He was also quoted in a section Media saying that there were no differences between him and the Home Secretary.


Touts 'help' poor to secure bail
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, September 26
Many suspended UT and municipal council employees have reportedly formed a band of touts, who are "helping" the accused to secure bail in the UT district courts by furnishing false local sureties on fake identity cards. Each tout earns anything between Rs 1000 to Rs 1500, as he hoodwinks the law by presenting fake documents during the completion of bail formalities.

The accused belonging to other states usually seek touts' help, as the court requires a local surety for the purpose of releasing them on bail. The principal purpose of bail is to ensure that an accused will return for trial if he is released after his arrest. But with the prevailing system of helping accused who belong to the higher economic strata, the poor cannot pay the price and remain confined in jail for weeks, even months.

This trend surfaced when three women, granted bail by a local court in the NDPS case in March 2001, had to remain in the Burail jail for more than 22 days due to lack of local surety. This is not an isolated incident. A resident of Nabha who had been involved in a case of theft had to remain in jail for more than a month due to lack of a local surety even after getting a bail.

The Chandigarh Tribune investigation today revealed that a group of touts ready to furnish local sureties were "available" in the old block building of the district court on the ground floor. Whenever any accused requires surety in any criminal case, they come forward with help and of course demanded money.

After the deal is struck among touts, the person who will furnish the surety is called. These people have kept fake identity cards for furnishing surety. Some of the persons furnishing sureties belong to Chandigarh, but work in Panchkula or SAS Nagar and have identity cards of those places.

At present there are reportedly three touts who have been controlling the racket. Incidentally one of the touts is a dismissed UT police constable. The fee touts charge for furnishing surety varies from case to case and they usually charge between Rs 1000 and 1500.

To find out the modus operandi of touts, The Tribune correspondent contacted one of the agents sitting in the old building of the court. He immediately agreed to "provide" a government employee for furnishing surety without confirming the whereabouts of the person who was seeking help.

The agent agreed to provide surety by charging Rs 800. Then he called a middle aged man, a city resident, having in his possession an identity card of the Department of Agriculture, Haryana. The Chandigarh Tribune managed to get a photostat copy of his identity card which was issued to him by the Assistant Marketing Officer of the department on July 25, 2003 and will expire on July 1, 2006.

When contacted, the UT District and Sessions Judge, Mr H.S. Bhalla, said it was the duty of the UT Administration to prevent such malpractices. 


Income tax returns without PAN allowed
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
With four days left for the expiry of a deadline to file income-tax returns, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has allowed the income tax assessees to file their returns without the Permanent Account Number (PAN). The assessees who have applied for a PAN with the Income Tax Department even before April, 2003, can now also avail of the facility. In the instructions received today by the office of the Chief Commissioner, North-West Region, the CBDT has clarified that the assessees would have to attach a copy of their PAN application form along with the return.

Earlier, the special provision had been allowed to those who had applied after April 1, 2003. Sources in the department said the decision had been taken for the benefit of the new assessees who were still waiting for their PANs. Earlier, the department had stated that no returns would be accepted without the PAN. The new guidelines will be applicable to those assessees who have already applied for the PAN, either with the Income Tax Department or with the Unit Trust of India (UTI). Earlier it had been claimed by A senior officer in the IT Department said the deadline for accepting the returns was September 30. 


Designing theatre for purpose
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
With 17 years of theatre behind him, Vikram Kapadia is still going strong. Famous for his impressive folio of celebrated productions like Ken Jenkin’s “Rupert’s Birthday”, William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and “Romeo and Juliet” and Makrand Deshpande’s “Musk Maiden”, Vikram is now ready to surface in the avataar of a film-maker.

In the city today with a 20-member cast of his latest black comedy, “Black With Equal”, which will see its 50th presentation at Tagore Theatre tomorrow, Vikram began the conversation by mentioning his first film, which will deal with the myth of the Saraswati river. Clear that he will not make films for the purpose of entertainment alone, Vikram reasoned, “I have never made plays for entertainment. My plays voice my feelings and my perceptions which, I feel, need to be communicated to a larger audience.”

Used to writing his own plays, Vikram, a graduate from Actor’s Studio, Bombay, headed by Roshan Taneja, former Principal of the FTII, Pune, also explained why he felt the need to write his own scripts. “There are not many contemporary writers dealing with subjects relevant today. We cannot go on doing ‘andha yug’ for the rest of our lives. We have to move on from there and hunt for good scripts. I searched for good text all my life, but did not get much of it. So I was goaded into writing my own thing. Although I have mostly done English plays, I am also contemplating working on Girish Karnad’s ‘Tughlaq’ which is very relevant. He is the only contemporary writer around.”

Known for his fascination for the English medium, Vikram said, “I don’t see English as a foreign language. I feel most comfortable writing and communicating in English. So I see no reason not to do English plays. I am, however, looking for good scripts in Hindi also.”

Dedicated to his medium, Vikram also went on to pick up nuances of western classical dance. After working with international theatre experts like Peter Brook (“Mahabharat — the Play” fame), Maria Irena Fornes, Steven Berkoff as well as Indian stalwarts like Habib Tanvir, Naseeruddin Shah, Pearl Padamsee and Pt. Satyadev Dubey, Vikram went on to learn western classical ballet and ballroom dance from Tushna Dallas in London.

With a string of famous televisions serials like “A Mouthful of Sky”, “Banegi Apni Baat”, “Rishtey” and “Just Mohabbat”, behind him, Vikram feels happy to have rejected the “dead” medium. Very curtly he said, “The standard of TV in India is a threat to art. There is no quality control, no sense at all."

After 13 years of creation, he is now out with yet another masterpiece in “Black With Equal”. As you dig into the intriguing title, Vikram helps you reason, “Black for coffee and equal for that sugar-free sweetening tablet. The play takes an unsentimental look at the contemporary society, ultimately becoming a scathing comment on the human condition.”


ETO booked for abetting suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
Neeraj Kansal (27), whose charred body was found in wilderness along the Panchkula-Naraingarh National Highway in the wee hours today, committed suicide after being allegedly harassed by an Excise and Taxation Officer of Chandigarh.

The victim, along with his five brothers, was running a mattress manufacturing unit in Ram Darbar, Chandigarh. Neeraj last met his friend Vinod in Ram Darbar at around 9 p.m.

It was around 11 p.m. last night that a police constable spotted a scooter (CH-01S-3066) parked along the highway. The constable, who was on the way to the Mansa Devi complex, informed the Nadda Sahib police post.

A police team led by ASI Mahinder Singh reached the spot and found the body at about 300 yards away from the highway. Petrol was used in the immolation.

The police informed his family members in the morning.

Neeraj’s father, Ram Kumar, said they had last seen Neeraj around 1.30 p.m. yesterday. He said Neeraj was upset after appearing before the ETO, Chandigarh, along with his elder brother, Mukesh. The ETO, Ms Brar, was allegedly demanding bribe.

Meanwhile, forensic expert G.R. Jain visited the spot. The post- mortem examination revealed that the victim sustained 95 per cent burns and his burns were antemortem (caused before death). Viscera has been sent for chemical examination to the PGI, Rohtak, and Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban.

The police has registered a case against Ms Brar on charges of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.


Bhatti honours Capt, Badal as “greatest comedians”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Jaspal Bhatti’s Nonsense Club got back into action this evening by honouring Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with the “best comedian award” in the recent times.

Making a strong satire on the ongoing political war between the two leaders, Jaspal Bhatti today said that the two qualified as best political entertainers as they stooped to the lowest possible levels to malign each other during the session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Besides presenting the awards, Bhatti, president of the club, also dispatched some more tips to the two leaders who could use the same to stoop lower still in the game of mudslinging.

Some tips are:

For Capt Amarinder Singh — Before levelling charges against me, learn how to tie your own turban.

For Mr Badal — I know you cannot tie your own turban. You have friends to help you do that.

For Capt Amarinder — Don’t scratch your beard if you don’t know the answer. The lice will not help you defend yourself.

For Mr Badal — I know you get your dandruff cleared on government expense.

Bhatti releases devotional album
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
Trust Comedian Jaspal Bhatti to give a humorous angle to even a normal speech. As he released Ravinder Grover’s devotional album “Shree Ram Vandana” at the Chandigarh Press Club today, he explained how Ram Leela continued to play an important role in Bollywood.

“Ram Leela still inspires many Bollywood producer, director who is still stuck with the hero, heroine and a villain triangular storyline that falls along the theme of Ramayana,” he said. Ravinder Grover, who is the producer of the cassette, is a close associate of Mr Bhatti who worked in TV serials like “Ulta Pulta”, “Flop Show” and a Punjabi film “Mahaul Theek Hai.”

The album consists of 11 songs, consisting of old traditional songs that have their origin in Ramayana, particularly that part which starts from Navaratra and concludes with the death of Ravana.

The songs are sung by Ravinder Grover along with Pankaj Sharma, Rajesh Chauhan, Paramjit Kaur and Poonam. Except for the traditional numbers in praise of Lord Rama, the new compositions are based on Suresh Bakshi’s lyrics. Music is given by noted music director Surinder Bacchan.Back


MC in catch-22 situation over auction of 2 sites
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Once bitten twice shy. The proverb fits in the case of the officers of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh. After the 16-crore scam over delay in allotment of a hotel site in Sector 35, officials in the corporation are jittery to hand over possession of the two SCO sites in Sector 9 which were auctioned last year.

Making the matter worse for the officers, today’s successful auction of commercial sites, including four SCO sites in Sector 9, fetched a high price ranging between Rs 5 crore and Rs 2.75 crore. The SCO sites auctioned today and the two controversial SCOs (No 176-77 and 178-79) are located in one pocket.

The two sites have been mired in controversy ever since their auction in September last year. While the SCO 178-79, the reserve price which was reduced from Rs 1.65 crore to Rs 1.34 crore was sold at the same price, SCO 176-77 was sold for Rs 1.35 crore against a reserve price of Rs 1.29 crore. Raking up the issue, the BJP councillor, Mr Rajesh Gupta, had stated that an NRI, Mr Mangat Ram, had offered Rs 1.85 crore for the SCO 178-79 in January, 2002 but the site was not auctioned then. Then the general house of the corporation had passed a resolution to cancel of the controversial auction that led to a loss of Rs 51 lakh to the corporation.

Now when the bidder of SCO 178-79, Mr Amit Jain, took the legal recourse, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the corporation to decide on the issue within two weeks from the receipt of the court order. Sources said the Commissioner of the corporation has passed on the case to the Mayor to take the final decision.

On the other hand the bidder of the SCO 176-77, Mr Ajay Pal Singh, has been petitioning to the corporation to hand over the possession of the site. After the issue was taken up at the general house meeting on February 24, 2003, by Dr B.R. Verma, Brig Sant Singh, Maj-Gen A.S. Kahlon (retd), Ms K. Atmaram, Mr Jatinder Bhatia and Mrs Harpreet Kaur Babla, all councillors, the Mayor had referred the matter to the Legal Remembrance Cell of the Chandigarh Administration. The Law Department of the Chandigarh Administration wrote back that since there was no default on part of the bidder, it was not legally permissible for the corporation to cancel the bid on ground of certain deficiency or irregularity in the auction procedure.

In case the administrative department intended to cancel the auction itself, the bidder would be entitled to claim interest on the amount deposited and also the damages, said the note of the Law Department.

The issue is again being tabled at the general house meeting to be held on September 29. The auction of other commercial sites in Sector 9, which was held today, would form the basis for the corporation to decided on the fate of the two controversial SCO sites.

Either way, decision on the two controversial sites in Sector 9 means financial loss to the corporation

l If the corporation decides to cancel the auction, the bidders would claim interest on the amount deposited and the damages — as had been done in case of a hotel site in Sector 35 where the corporation had to pay over Rs 6 crore.

l If the corporation hands over the possession of the two sites, then it tends to lose money in light of today’s auction of commercial sites in the same sector.

Commercial sites’ auction fetches Rs 23.94 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
In an auction of commercial sites in different parts of the city, the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh today earned Rs 23.94 crore by successfully selling 35 of the total 61 sites put up for auction. The rest of the sites were withdrawn as there were no bidders.

According to the information, a 3 Bays SCO site in Sector 9 (No. 124-25-26) fetched Rs 5 crore against a reserve price of Rs 2.27 crore. The lowest bid was attracted by a booth in Motor Market, Mani Majra, which was sold for Rs 11.11 lakh against a reserve price of Rs 10.37 lakh. Another booth in Mauli Jagran was sold for Rs 6.90 lakh against a reserve price of Rs 6.67 lakh. A 3 Bays SCO site in Sector 9 was sold for Rs 4.25 lakh against a reserve price of Rs 2.29 lakh.

A booth in Sector 38 and those in Sector 39 were not sold as there were no bidders. The corporation withdrew sites in Mani Majra and Mauli Jagran.Back


Penalty against Chief Engineer recommended
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The CBI tonight recommended major penalty against UT Chief Engineer Puranjit Singh. The action comes three days ahead of his scheduled retirement on September 30. The CBI has sent the report to the Central Vigilance Commission and has sent a copy to the Administration. The CBI's Delhi-based spokesperson, Deputy Principal Information Officer G. Mohanty said over the telephone that he could not confirm about the occurrence of events.

Meanwhile, sources in Chandigarh said Mr Puranjit Singh's name had been recommended for action for a case during his tenure as Chief Engineer in the municipal corporation. The CBI accused him of “total lack of supervision ’’ over an employee Mrs Usha Rani who was ultimately terminated from service for allegedly having amassed lakhs of rupees.

Mr Puranjit Singh, when contacted, said: ‘‘ It was I who had suspended her and subsequentely chargesheeted her which led to her dismissal. Apart from this she was under the OSD and then the Chief Accounts Officer. My role as Chief Engineer was not to directly control her and I am not to blame. ’’ Back


Shift Ranbaxy from residential area: panel
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar, September 26
A subcommittee, comprising municipal councillors and civic body officials, formed by the council to visit Ranbaxy Laboratories to check fire-fighting arrangements has sought the shifting of the factory from the residential area in the interest of the public.

Members of the subcommittee in a report presented to the civic body, have said that though the factory had fire-fighting arrangements, they were not adequate enough to fight a major fire. There was a sense of fear among residents living in areas adjoining the factory as they felt that chemicals, gases and solvents used by Ranbaxy could catch fire and result in blasts which could result in damage to life and property.

Mrs Daljit Kaur, municipal councillor of the area, in her report, said it was not possible to remove fear from the minds of the residents of Mohali village even if the factory acquires the latest techniques in fire-fighting. As such the factory should be shifted from its present location in the interest of the public. If the shifting was not possible then the owners of the factory should purchase the area around it and affected residents be adjusted in some other part of the town.

A proposal, seeking the shifting of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd from the residential area of the town, after a major fire and blasts had rocked the town on June 11, had been kept pending by the House at the council meeting held on June 30. During the meeting, the president of the council, Mr Kulwant Singh, had received a letter from Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd in which it had requested that before the House took any decision on the shifting of the factory a team of municipal councillors should visit the unit and check the fire-fighting arrangements.

The president had then formed a subcommittee comprising six municipal councillors. They were Mr Rajinder Prasad, Ms Daljit Kaur, Mr Ghanshyam Bansal, Ms Indu Sehgal, Mr Bharat Bhushan Maini and Ms Manmohan Kaur. The Executive Officer, Mr H.B.Garg, and the Fire Station Officer, Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, were also made members of the subcommittee. Members visited the factory on August 19. Officials of the factory took the members around the unit and impressed upon them that the factory had excellent arrangements to fight fires.

Members made a number of suggestions to improve the fire-fighting system in the factory till arrangements to shift the unit from the residential area were made.

They said the pump house of plot No 8 should be shifted to a safe place and the uncovered chemical units be covered with water sprinkler system. There should be separate censor systems for all types of chemicals, solvents and gases and a separate control room for every plot. Remote control foam monitors should be installed separately at the three plots at a higher level so that the foam could be sprayed in all directions.

Members further suggested that the three plots of the factory should have separate public address systems and it should have a foam tender having a throw of about 60 metres. Employees of the unit should be trained for using fire-fighting equipments and a mock drill be conducted once a month in coordination with the local fire brigade. The factory should obtain a no-objection certificate from the fire brigade once a year after getting its system inspected.


Back home from a dangerous Safari
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, September 26
Mr Darshan Singh Khosa and Charan Singh, who were kidnapped by a gang of Biharis by luring them with an attractive prize, have finally reached home safely.

Kidnapped for ransom, the lucky survivors — property dealer Darshan Singh and his friend Charan Singh — said they had lost the hope of returning to their native place and reuniting with their loved ones.

It all began almost a year ago when a Bihari youth, Bharat Bhushan, claiming to be an agent of USA Impression, a Chhapra-based company, walked into an STD booth owned by Charan Singh and asked him to order a specially designed pens manufactured by the company. Enamoured by the Bharat Bhushan’s salesmanship, Charan Singh called Darshan Singh who placed an order for a pen.

They were also told that buying a pen would also make them eligible for a lucky draw. Darshan Singh received the ‘special pen’ and a letter on September 15 from the marketing and advertising department of the company. The letter said that he had won a Tata Safari.

Their joy knew no bounds. They began their journey to Patna in the Hawra Mail on the intervening night of September 20 and 21. After reaching the Patna railway station, they informed Bharat Bhushan about their arrival.

The next morning they were picked up by Bharat Bhushan and were told that they would be given the prize at a formal function, which would be held at Muzaffarpur.

Accompanied by five other persons, Bharat Bhushan took them in a Bolero car from the Patna railway station to Muzaffarpur. On their way, the company agent told them that a hotel had been booked for their stay near their bosses’ residence in Motihari district.

After reaching Motihari district, they were asked to stay in a motel for the night. The gang also stayed in the same motel.

‘‘We got suspicious following a commotion among the ‘gangsters’. As Bharat Bhushan asked us to sleep along them that night, we refused to do so saying that we have to get up early in the morning for prayer,” said Mr Darshan Singh.

They were detained by the kidnappers in the motel. Darshan Singh, on the pretext of making a phone call to his family, managed to escape from kidnappers’ custody. He reached the Motihari police station and complained about the kidnappers. Mr Suresh Sahay, SHO of the Motihari police station sent three cops in mufti to conduct a raid. Darshan Singh also accompanied them.

Seeing cops, members of the gang managed to flee from the motel. However, Charan Singh managed to keep Bharat Bhushan busy in talks and gripped his arm as the police reached the spot. The police overpowered Bharat Bhushan, alias Akhilesh Prasad Shrivastva, alias Annand Shrivastva. He was taken to the police station for interrogation.

During interrogation, Bharat Bhushan disclosed that the gang had decided to hand over the duo to some other gang for Rs 1.5 lakh. The police also seized a list of over 500 persons of Chandigarh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, who were to be kidnapped by the accused for ransom, said Mr Darshan Singh.

Thanking God, the ‘Lucky Winners’ rejoined their families on Wednesday night. The incident has created a panic in the area.


Raising Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Directorate-General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) Raising Day was celebrated in the city by Senior Quality Assurance Establishment (Electronics and Systems) — a defence organisation under the DGQA.

A special cultural and entertainment programme by artists was also organised on the occasion. Former DGQA Lieut-Gen Amarjit Singh, PVSM, was the chief guest.

Colonel Susheel Kumar, Senior Quality Assurance Officer, lauded the active role played by different wings in ensuring supply of high quality equipment to the Army.

A message from Lieut-Gen M.K. Chari, Director-General of Quality Assurance, was also read out on the occasion. About 20 employees were honoured for their contribution in the field of quality assurance.


Minister’s assurance on City-Ambala highway
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Union Minister for Surface Transport and National Highways has assured the member of the National Executive of the BJP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, of taking a decision on widening the Chandigarh-Ambala national highway to four lanes soon.

Mr Jain, who called upon the minister recently, said he urged the latter to clear the project at the earliest, as the traffic on the highway had increased manifold. As a result, road accidents on the 50 km stretch were on the rise.

He said the minister informed him that all officers concerned would be asked to submit their report on the project at the earliest.


Youth dared to gulp chilli shake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
AXN challenges got a little tough as the Xtreme Dhamaka show entered its second day in Chandigarh today. The entire focus of Mike Whitney, Tania Zaetta, Salil Acharya and Deepica, official hosts for the Xtreme Dhamaka to be aired on AXN from December, was on the city centre — Sector 17 today.

As was expected, the team drew an encouraging response to each one of its dares today. Very few people could, however, complete the dares successfully. The first challenge of the day was done by Tania and Salil who asked the participants to beat awfully-smelling “century eggs”, especially procured for the show from Singapore. After beating the eggs the participants were supposed to gulp them down along with a chilli shake. Only two people out of five who tried the dare completed it successfully, one being a girl.

The next dare, which had almost everyone in Sector 17 yearning to perform, was “doing a hoolahoop” by twisting three rings simultaneously at three different areas of the body — the arm, the waist and the abdominal portion. No one could perform this dare successfully.

The third dare — flicking a rumaali roti in the air — seemed to be the greatest hit of all, with two Sikh gentlemen completing the dare in few seconds. The last AXN challenge was taken by about 10 persons, but no one completed it. This one required the participant to step on three sets of eggs without smashing any. When no one could do this, the host of the show Deepica took the dare and performed it in public, much to the surprise of many.

Actually her slight frame helped her meet the challenge. 


Preparations on for Durga puja
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, September 26
The preparations are on. Even though Durga, Lakshmi and Kali puja is almost a week away, you can feel the excitement among members of the Bengali community putting up in Chandigarh.

They are busy not only in moulding idols representing different moods of goddess Durga, but also in decorating their homes with rangolis and buying apparels for the occasion. Even sweet shops in the city are gearing up. The reason behind all the fervour is not hard to see. For them, Durga puja is the “biggest festival”.

If you are having any doubts about the excitement, drive down the narrow road of cobbled stones to Kalibari in Sector 47. Just as you take the turn towards the temple, you can see dexterous hands breathing life into clay in plots across the road.

All the way from Bengal, the artists can be seen working under the tents, giving final touches to the idols of goddess Durga. Armed with brushes dipped in paints of different hues, they can be seen gently brushing the glistering visage of the goddess, standing tall with demon crushed under her feet.

“We have very little time left,” an artist asserted. “Even though we have been working almost round the clock for the past so many days, there is so much more to be done.”

He adds: “Every year, it is the same story. We spend sleepless nights creating idols with our sweat and toil, just to see them being immersed. But we do not mind. Rather, we get immense satisfaction from the fact that we are doing something in the service of the goddess”.

If you go a little ahead, you can see water-proof pandals being erected in the temple — for the first time. In fact artists from Bengal are doing it. Others are engrossed in laying down the marble floor.

Busy with the calculations, one of the organisers asserted: “This time Shree Shree Durga Puja celebrations are going to be real big. In fact, stalls are already being erected. They will be offering everything under the sun, right from clothes, electronic goods, electric gadgets to eatables. Multi-national organisations will be sponsoring the stalls”.

This is not all. Cultural programmes will be organised along with “arti” competition. Giving details, the organiser said the members would dance along with the “arti”. He added that other competitions to be held included on-the-spot painting for children, musical chair and ‘shank dwani’ contest.

The celebrations will start with Maha Shasthi on October 1 and conclude on October 25. Cultural programme will be held every evening at 7 pm.

According to members of the Kalibari’s managing committee, on the first day, Kalparambha will be organised at 8 am followed by Bodh amantran and adhiwas. On October 2, Maha Saptami puja, chandipath and pushpanjali will be performed. Mahashtami puja will start early morning on October 3 followed by chandipath and pushpanjali. Sandhi puja will also be organised on Mahashtami.

Yagna will be performed on Mahanavmi puja on October 4 followed by chandipath and pushpanajali. The immersion of the idols will be done on Mahadashmi on October 5 at about 3 pm. The procession will start from Kalibari and reach the Ghaggar where idols will be immersed. Earlier during the day, Mahadashmi puja will be held along with darpan visarjan. After the immersion Vijaya Samilini will be held at night. Shree Shree Laxmi puja will be organised on October 9 and Shree Shree Kali Puja on October 25.


Navratra Fair
Thousands throng Mansa Devi Temple
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
Thousands of devotees from all over the region thronged the Mata Mansa Devi Temple to pay their obeisance on the first day of Navratras today.

The nine-day fair began at the shrine complex with religious fervour. Haryana Governor Babu Parmanand and his wife Mrs Sudesh Kumari were among the first few to pay their obeisance and perform “yajana” at the “Shakti Peeth”.

The Governor appreciated the arrangements made by the board for the pilgrims and was all praise for the musical fountain set up at a cost of Rs 23 lakh near the “Pooja Sthal”.

The Chief Administrator of Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board and Deputy Commissioner, Ms Satwanti Ahlawat, said adequate arrangements had been made to facilitate the pilgrims visiting the shrine during the fair. Special bus service had been initiated for the pilgrims from Chandigarh, Pinjore and Kalka.

For the first time, the Sri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board has also begun selling gold “mangal sutras” and coins made from gold drawn from the gold reserve of the temple. The gold coins, weighing four grams, and “mangal sutras”, weighing eight grams, will be available at Rs 3,100 and Rs 5,100, respectively.

Ms Ahlawat said the gold ornaments had been made from 5 kg of gold by a local jeweller appointed by a committee of the board. The gold reserve constitutes gold offerings by devotees at the shrine. At present, the total gold reserve of the shrine is around 10 kg.

It may be noted that the proposal to utilise the gold reserve by making “mangal sutras” and coins was passed by the board last year. But this is the first Navratra fair when these ornaments are being sold.

Meanwhile, tight security arrangements have been made by the police for the fair. The Additional Superintendent of Police, Ms Bharti Arora, has been made overall in charge of security. Over 700 police personnel from Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Panchkula have been deployed. They have been posted at 13 barricades en route to the shrine from Mansa Devi T- point to the shrine, besides being posted at the shrine, Patiala temple and “bhandaras”.


Police accused of shirking responsibility
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 26
Mr Harjit Singh Bhullar, vice-president of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, has accused the police of distorting facts in a case of attempt to kidnap his son.

While talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Bhullar said instead of trying to look into the matter the police was shirking responsibility by making baseless statements. He said the police had alleged that he had asked for security some months ago, which was wrong. He contended that when he had denied police security during terrorism days in the state how could he ask for it now.

He said the police should not take him as a political leader but as a resident of the town and try to trace out the persons who had made an attempt to kidnap his son from the market area in Phase IX.


CSIO honours staff members
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
The Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) today celebrated its foundation day by holding an open day for general public.

As many as 1500 visitors, including students from schools and colleges, went around various laboratories of the organisations and interacted with scientists.

In the afternoon, a lecture by Prof B.D.Gupta, Emeritus Scientist, PGIMER, Chandigarh on the subject "Technology development in health care and emergence of nano technology in medical practice" was also organised. Prof Gupta outlined the revolutionary changes taking place in the field of medical diagnostics and treatment.

All staff members of the CSIO who have completed 25 years of regular service in the CSIR and who retired from September 26 to August 2003 were honoured by presenting them momentos and shawls. The programme concluded with the giving away of prizes to winners of various competitions held earlier as a part of CSIR Foundation Day and Hindi Fortright Celebrations.

Earlier, Dr R. P. Bajpai, Director , CSIO ,welcomed the chief guest and highlighted some of the new technologies. He also presented an overview of the future plans of the organisation. Mr J. K. Chhabra, co-ordinator of the programme, proposed the vote of thanks.


Industries Director to head panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Chandigarh Administration yesterday decided to form a committee which will amicably sort out the matter of the people who had applied for industrial plots about two decades ago. 

The Director, Industries, Mr H.S. Khandola, will head the committee and it will submit its report in this regard within three weeks. The applicants will also be invited for talks.


New hotel at Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Best Western, stated to be world’s largest chain of independently owned and operated hotels with over 4,000 hotels all around the globe, has officially launched Hotel K.C. Cross Road at Panchkula, near Chandigarh as a Best Western Hotel. Mrs Satwanti Ahlawat, Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula was the chief guest.

Mr Anand Gupta, President and CEO, Best Western India, presented the Best Western flag and plaque to Mr Prem Pal Gandhi, CMD, Best Western K.C. Cross Road. Mr Gupta said ‘‘we are extremely pleased with this affiliation as Chandigarh is fast emerging as a major corporate and transit hub in the region.

We currently have 30 fine hotels in the region and plan to grow to 45 in the next two years’’. Mr Ajay Khaneja, General Manager of the hotel , said that ‘‘we have started getting good business from the Best Western Corporate. 

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