C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Employees on warpath over demands
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

  • Employees want that those working in the MC should be treated as deputationists.
  • They want bonus like the Central Government employees.
  • Want Central service rules, saying Chandigarh is a UT.
  • All these need clearance from the Central Government.

Chandigarh, October 22
The relations between the Chandigarh Administration and its employees do not seem to be at their best. Even as the Administration had accepted the employees’ major demands, the latter are on the warpath, saying nothing other than verbal assurances had been handed out since May this year following a meeting between the employees and the Administration.

The demands of the employees can be met after nod from the Union Government. Politically, the BJP-led Union Government would not want to do it as local MP Pawan Bansal is a Congressman, which could mean giving employee votes to the Congress.

One of the major demands of the employees is to consider all employees transferred to the MC as on deputation. The Administration has already said that no employee, who is currently posted with the Municipal Corporation, will be retrenched after his option in service is sought. About 6,500 employees of the MC are to be affected by this requirement of options. A clause which said that employees can be retrenched if no posts exist in the Administration had been deleted.

But will the matter be taken up in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament? If it is not, the employees will have to wait for the next session that is the budget session. Employees want the matter sorted out at the earliest.

Employees’ unions allege that nothing has been done to get the government notification dated 13.1.1992 withdrawn. It was under this notification that the service conditions of all UT employees were changed from that of Central Service Rules to the Public Civil Services Rules. The Administration had referred the matter to the Central Government for this purpose also and only yesterday a reminder was sent.

It may be recollected that on the issue of the change in service conditions for employees, the Administration, in May this year, had gone on record saying employees wanted pay scales of the Punjab Government but wanted service conditions of the Central Government, which was unfair.

On filling of vacant posts, the Administration has directed departments to take prompt action to fill vacancies. Employees in the rally yesterday had said that posts should be filled immediately.

Employees say jobs on compassionate grounds in death cases had been held back. They also want privatisation and contract system to stop. They want bonus to be paid as is paid to the Central employees. The Administration says it will be paid if Punjab pays it. Employees argue that the UT is not in budget deficit, thus the purse strings should be loosened. Employees had, meanwhile, said yesterday that they would not do emergency duty on Divali. The official stance of the Administration will be known only when it gets the protest in writing from the employees.


Mohali residents seek subdivisional courts
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 22
Even after fours years of SAS Nagar being converted into a subdivision, the township, now home to over 3.5 lakh people, still does not have a sub-divisional court. Other than various civil and criminal cases that are registered at the police stations here, residents have to go to Kharar courts for relief of even small issues like traffic challans.

Sources said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had years ago given a go ahead for the establishment of the subdivisional courts here but the matter has been pending due to lack of court premises and judges’ accommodation in the township. Sources also informed that no place has been kept aside by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority for a court premises.

‘‘Obviously, for the planners working with PUDA, courts are not required either now or in the future,’’ said a city resident. ‘‘Mohali will soon be the silicon valley of Punjab. And if planning is being done to attract outsiders here to establish offices here, then one has to ensure that all facilities are given to them. Now residents have to make frequent trips to Kharar for disposal of cases which is highly inconvenient,’’ said Mr H.S. Sangha, President, Mohali Development and Residents Welfare Association.

According to Mr Amrik Singh Baidwan, a senior lawyer practicing in the Kharar courts, out of the approximately 11,000 cases pending in the courts here, over 5,000 pertain to Mohali. Its unfortunate that the Punjab Government has not been able to provide Mohali residents with a court specially when the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given permission for a court here. In fact we have permission for the posting of an Additional District and Sessions Judge even if it is not a district yet following the Barnala example. But just because there is no space for them to hold court or reside, over 3 lakh persons are suffering,’’ he said.

Comparing the situation with Panchkula, the other satellite town of Chandigarh, Mr R.S. Sachdeva, a retired Additional District and Sessions Judge, now residing in Mohali, states that Panchkula which has a population of just 2 lakh has been upgraded to a district and the High Court has posted one additional District and Sessions Judge, one Chief Judicial Magistrate and three civil judges there. ‘‘During the international legal conference organised by the High Court Bar Association recently, Mr Justice S.B. Sinha suggested the appointment of 50 judges for 10 lakh persons for speedy disposal of cases. But here people of one subdivision have to go to another subdivision for justice. What to talk of district status for Mohali, this place does not even have a single court of a Civil Judge or a Magistrate,’’ he said.



Hans sings Sufiana ‘kalaam’ in style
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Eternal verses of Sufi saints came alive at Leisure Valley in Sector 10, which became the venue for the first set of presentations during Sada-e-Sufi concert, being organised by the Sufi Foundation of India.

The stage, set in Sufi patterns, featured a white base to symbolise purity, a black backdrop to reflect detachment from worldly pleasures and beautiful divas to suggest enlightenment.

In command of divine rhythms were two celebrated folk artistes from different regions of India. The show, designed, conceptualised and directed by eminent film maker Muzaffar Ali, who is one of the chief supporters of the Sufi mission, began with Samandar Khan Manganiar and his group unleashing Sufi qalaam in melodies typical of the desert. From one virile presentation to another, the Manganiars wove a magical spell, enriching the recital further by playing the khamaicha, matching its rhythms with those of the tabla and the matka.

The hallmark of the presentation was the simplicity of recital and its striking earthiness which served the purpose of the evening well. Using their soft, subtle tones and their inimitable style, the Manganiars concluded the evening with the legendary composition “Damadam mast kalandar”.

From Manganiars to Hans Raj Hans, the affair of sufiana melody continued. Commencing in raag darbari, Hans Raj Hans, accompanied on the harmonium by the famous Bhure Khan, first made a musical offering of Baba Shah Hussain’s qalaam. Before he took to presenting the verses of saints, he presented few beautiful couplets to bring the listeners into his mould:

“Zindagi di hai to jeene ka hunar bhi dena, paon bakhshe hain to taufiq-e-safar bhin deba, guftgu tune sikhai hai mai to gungaa tha, ab main bolunga to baaton mein asar bhi dena....”

These soulful lyrics were followed by a soulful recital, which pegged on the qalaam of Shah Hussain, followed by Sultan Bahu. Caught in a magical spell himself, Hans took the audience closer to Sufiana traditions. He was, however, alternating between classical and Sufiana presentations.


Playing fraud with ‘cloned’ credit cards
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
On a trip to Delhi, a city resident made purchases worth Rs 20,000 at a jewellery shop and opted to pay through his credit card. The jeweller swiped the customer’s card through an electronic card reader meant for processing the transaction and then, saying that the machine was not working tried to “test” the card on the card reading machine in the neighbouring shop. The customer, thereafter, decided not to pay through his credit card. Last week, however, when the customer received his card statement, he shocked to see a transaction of Rs 20,000 that never took place.

A few other cases where transactions, claimed by residents never to have taken place, have cropped up in their credit cards and bank accounts.

Termed in the financial world as skimming, this is the result of “cloned” credit cards carrying stolen information, which had added a new, virtually uncontrollable dimension to credit card frauds. This implies that while the original card is securely in the hands of its original owner, transactions are done by another person on the basis of a fake card on which genuine information has been transferred.

While this is a menace widespread in countries where the tourist inflow is high, bank officers spoken to said that it had just started in India.

An officer in a private sector bank told The Tribune that though the occurrence of such crime has not yet been reported in Chandigarh, several persons hailing from the city have reported to be victims of this fraud while visiting metros.

A recorder which can read and copy data on the card’s magnetic strip is fitted in a case similar to that of an electronic data capturer (EDC), which is used at commercial establishments to process transactions. “A salesman or a hotel clerk will swipe the card through the EDC look-alike and the data on the strip is recorded by it. He will then pretend that the machine is not working and then swipe it through a genuine EDC to process the transaction,” a bank official explained. The data on the strip includes information such as the customers’ identity number, bank account number, password, etc.

The information copied by the recorder can be transferred onto another card. “Plain cards with a blank magnetic strip are easily available in metros as such cards are increasingly being used by commercial and industrial organisations for a variety of purposes such as clients’ privilege cards, identity cards and so on,” the officer said. The stolen information from a genuine credit card is then transferred to the blank card by the same recorder which is attached to a computer, he added. At times, the information is also transferred onto a strip of video cassette film which is then pasted onto a plastic card.

Information available with banks reveals that a recorder costs around Rs 50,000. Bank officials said that EDCs with in-built recorders were also available, which cost Rs 70,000 to Rs 75,000. Bangkok is cited to be the main source of such devices.

“The cost of preparing a cloned credit card with a magnetic strip comes to less than Rs 10 per card. The design of a particular card can be scanned into a computer and then screen printed onto a plastic card. The entire set-up for the process can be placed in a single mid-sized room, the officer revealed.

Hotels, restaurants, jewellers and establishments selling high-value items are listed as places which are most prone to the commissioning of such frauds. It could be a clerk swiping the card through a recorder and then using the information for fraudulent purposes later or a person using a cloned credit card, bank officer remarked.

What is alarming is that there is virtually no way that the cloning of cards can be stopped, though several banks have initiated measures that sounded a warning in case of an unusual financial transaction. Many banks have also initiated training sessions for their employees on identification of cloned cards and methods to generate awareness and alertness among EDC users.


Capt, Badal appear in court
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh appeared in the UT District Court at 9.50 a.m. today in a case filed against him by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Education Minister Khushal Behal was the first one who reached the court at 9.40 a.m. As Captain Amarinder Singh stepped out of his car, he was welcomed by his Cabinet ministers — Mr Raghunathpuri Rai, — Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Lal Singh, Chowdhary, Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar. Later, he was accompanied by his five Cabinet ministers and also Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, to the court of the UT CJM court.

Twenty minutes after the Capt’s arrival, Mr Badal along with a large number of supporters entered the CJM’s court at 10.10 a.m. One-time political friends, Capt and Badal ignored the presence of each other in the court. As soon as Mr Badal entered the court, he immediately moved near the witness box, meant for the complainant as there was no chair left for Mr Badal and his supporters. The supporters of Mr Badal, who were present outside court gate, raised slogans against Capt Amarinder Singh, continued during the hearing of the case.

At 10.20 a.m., when the case came up for hearing, Capt immediately joined his counsels sitting in the first row. The defence counsel raised objection and Captain was asked to appear in the witness box. The Capt remained in the witness box for 10 minutes and Mr Badal on the other side during the proceedings. At 10.30 a.m., the case was adjourned till December 3 by the CJM.


Sufi Foundation of India launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Sufi Foundation of India today finally saw its formal launch at the hands of Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh.

Formed with the objective of preserving and spreading Sufi traditions of India by way of music and dance, the Foundation was launched with special musical presentations being made under the “Sada-e-Sufi” concert.

A brainchild of Punjab DGP A.A. Siddiqui, the Foundation has the support of film-maker Muzaffar Ali, who directed the musical concert for the launch of the Foundation. The concert at Leisure Valley featured famous Rajasthani folk artistes — the Manganiars, besides Hans Raj Hans.

Earlier during the day, function was organised in Sector 10 to introduce the Foundation to the gathering. Among speakers on the occasion was Dr Siddiqui, who spoke about the rich Sufi traditions of India, as also Punjab. Using the Sufi philosophy as base, he underlined the need for love and tolerance in the world.

He was followed by an inspiring lecture by Mr Akhtarul Wasey, who exemplified the Sufi tradition by quoting interesting anecdotes. He gave way to Dev Dildar, who presented a beautiful and brief recital, offering verses of Sufi saints Kabir, Sultan Bahu, Shah Hussain and Bulle Shah. The final word on the Foundation came from Mr Lal Singh, a patron of the Foundation, who also donated Rs 5 lakh towards the cause. Mr Lal Singh also released a brochure, titled Sada-e-Sufi on the occasion. Ms Geetika Kalha compered the show.

Earlier Dr Siddiqui informed that the Foundation would ask a university in Punjab to start a Sufi chair. He added that the Foundation would propagate the Sufi message through literary seminars and music festivals.


Bir Devinder for beautification of SAS Nagar
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, October 22
The Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has called for the beautification of SAS Nagar in view of foreign investors showing interest in the town.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who held a meeting here today with representatives of four companies in connection with the beautification of five roundabouts in the town, said multinational companies were showing interest to make investments in the town. But a conducive environment had to be created for that. He said the roads, roundabouts, parks, centre verges had to be kept in good condition.

As far as the beautification of roundabouts was concerned, he asked the companies to go ahead with the work only if they were really interested in it. He said one SDO should be given the charge of one roundabout, who would review the work every fortnight.

He said a flower show would be organised in January and the company which would be able to give the most beautiful roundabout would be honoured and the agreement with the company which failed to give the desired results would be cancelled. He said the roundabouts should be full of flowers and the provision of night lights should also be made. He would personally review the work in this regard once a month.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh appealed to the residents of the town to keep their surroundings clean. He said the owner of the bestkept lawn in every sector would also be honoured at the flower show.

He said no advertisements would be allowed on the roundabouts, at bus shelters, on guide maps etc. he asked the municipal council officials to get cases registered against persons who defaced the property of the council.

He said the managements of Dara Studio, Verka milk plant and other units, that fell in that area, be asked to beautify the vacant land that fell next to their area. He said the entry points to the town had to be beautified.

He said the entry points from Chandigarh to the town were in bad shape. The border area had to be spruced up and as such he would be holding a joint meeting with the Governor in the next 15 days to discuss the plan.

He said the green areas in the markets should be handed over to market associations for upkeep. The owners of plots who had not developed them should be asked to keep the area clean.


Children’s village SOS for help
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Divali is here again. On the occasion when people will be spending thousands of rupees to purchase gifts and sweets for their children, about 200 children at SOS Children’s Village of India, Rajpura, about 40 km from here, will be hoping to get gifts, crackers and some financial help from society.

These children are a legacy of Punjab, which had to go through a turmoil of terrorism for over a decade.

It may look strange but it is true. Chandigarh and Punjab, which boast of highest per capita income among states, have failed to take care of its children orphaned during terrorism. Consequently, the children’s village at Rajpura has to depend upon donations from other states. The institute is now approaching the corporate sector of the state to get financial help.

Says Mr Jagir Dass, Director, SOS Village, Rajpura, “Established in 1996, the centre is looking after about 170 children. Our annual expenditure here is around Rs 60 lakh, but we are able to raise only Rs 12 lakh annually from the state, the remaining amount comes from other states and foreign-based donors.” We hope, he says, that individuals and corporate sector will take care of the centre’s needs.

Mr Saurabh Prateek, associated with the fund-raising activities for the centre, says, “We have raised about Rs 3 lakh from schoolchildren and other individuals during the past two months. About 40,000 pamphlets have been distributed in Chandigarh alone in this regard. We are still awaiting positive response from the corporate sector and the trading community.” One can adopt a child by giving Rs 500 per month or Rs 6000 per year.

The SOS Children’s Villages of India, a non-government organisation, was established 38 years ago with the commitment to provide love and care to the needy and deprived children. Through 34 such villages spread across the country it provides them a home to live in. Children at Rajpura are staying in 14 such homes under the care of “trained mothers”. They are studying in local schools.

Mr Dass, who has been associated with the movement for the past 20 years, claims, “We offer unlimited opportunities to the underprivileged children who have been rendered homeless during communal rights or terrorism. They get the opportunity of getting formal education. “Mothers” bring them up in a familial environment and they stay here till they get settled in life. Some have already become doctors, engineers and even settled abroad.”

The SOS plans to set up another centre in Chandigarh by next year. Mr Dass says about 4 acres have already been allotted by the Administration and the work will soon start. He adds all donations to SOS Children’s Village of India are 100 per cent exempted from tax under Section 35 AC of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

For details one can open their website www.soscvindia.org. 


75 students awarded at annual function
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 22
As many as 75 students of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, here were awarded trophies, certificates and cash prizes at the annual prize distribution function of the school held here today.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, appreciated the role of the school in providing quality education. He said the students were the future of the nation and the school was acting as a platform for grooming the overall personality of the child.

A colourful cultural programme was also staged on the occasion. Starting with ‘saraswati vandana’, school students performed Rajasthani dance. Another highlight of the cultural show was the enactment of Shakespearian play, “the Merchant of Venice”.

Earlier, Mr Baltej Matharu read out the annual report of the school. A science and social science exhibition at the school was also inaugurated by the chief guest.


Utsav-2003, a fun and frolic event was organised at the Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology, Phase II, here on Wednesday. Students from various institutes and colleges in Chandigarh and Panchkula also participated in the festival. Addressing the students, Mr J.S. Bedi, Chairman of the institute, promised that such events would be made annual affairs to benefit the corporate sector and the students.

Rally by kids

The Eco Club of Golden Bells Public School, Sector 77, here organised a rally against the use of crackers in collaboration with the students of the same school in Sector 35, Chandigarh, here today. The students raised slogans against the use of crackers and carried banner which said that Divali should be celebrated with lights and sweets and not crackers.

The school Principal Ms Gurjeet Bawa, wished the students and the staff happy Divali. Various competitions were also organised as part of the rally. Among those who won the various contests include, Gurleen, Parul, Bhuva, Shilpi, Sukhpreet, Konica, Kamal, Gurhem, Ramneek and Jaskirat.

Office-bearers elected

Mr Jarnail Singh has been elected president of the Punjab School Education Board Retired Officers Welfare Association, SAS Nagar. While Mr R.L. Arora will be the vice-president, Mr Jagmohan Sharda will be the general secretary, Mr B.K. Jain the finance secretary, Mr Ashok Nirdosh as the PRO and Mr B.S. Mann as auditor. Mr J.S. Sidhu will be the chief patron of the association.


Four habitual traffic offenders penalised
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
The UT Licensing Authority has found four city residents to be ‘‘habitual traffic offenders’’ and disqualified them from driving motor vehicles for periods varying from two to three months.

The Authority issued the disqualification orders under Article 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. Those who have been disqualified are Mr Rajneesh Sharma of Sector 20-B, Mr Amit Kumar of Burail, Mr Hemant Sharma of Sector 42 and Mr Gagandeep Singh of Sector 39-A.

According to a release issued by the Chandigarh Traffic police here today, the Authority found that Mr Amit Kumar was issued as many as 19 challans of traffic rules violation from March 27, 1997, to May 31, 2003.

He has been disqualified from holding the driving licence for three months from October 18, 2003, onwards. Mr Rajneesh Sharma, who was challaned eight times during the period of June 3, 1999, to November 19, 2002, stands disqualified for two months from October 18, 2003.

Mr Gagandeep Singh was issued 16 challans, including for triple riding a two- wheeler, from October 14, 1998, to December 18, 2002, and he has been disqualified for three months from September 23, 2003.

Mr Hemant Sharma has been disqualified for three months and his disqualification period started from September 23, 2003. He has been challaned 10 times, including for jumping red light and over-speeding, from February 12, 2000, to May 2, 2003.

Meanwhile, the traffic police has requested the residents to inform about the particulars, like name, address and vehicle number of persons ‘‘known’’ to be habitual traffic offenders in their locality on the toll-free traffic helpline phone number 1073.

The police shall verify such information against available computerised records of traffic offenders and recommend the cases to the Licensing Authority for disqualification or revocation of the offender’s driving licence.


Halwarvi’s contribution highlighted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Speaking of contribution of late Harbhajan Singh Halwarvi, former Editor, Punjabi Tribune, in the fields of journalism and literature, speakers at a seminar organised by the Sikh Education Society in his memory at Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, here today, recalled their association with the writer.

Inaugurating the seminar, the SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said Mr Halwarvi contributed immensely to his mother tongue. He added that the government, public and society should take steps to popularise the language by making it the official language in the secretariat.

Recalling his 20-year association with Mr Halwarvi, Mr Jagtar Sidhu of Punjabi Tribune presented a paper on his journalistic career.

Stating that his writings covered every aspect of life, he remained committed to his profession and people, highlighting their plight. “As editor of the newspaper he never gave in to pressure from the government, working without fear or favour and upholding independence in thought and expression even during the trying period when militancy was at its peak in Punjab,” Mr Sidhu informed the gathering.

Another speaker, Mr Shinder Pal Singh of the host college, presented a paper on Mr Halwarvi’s contribution to literature, highlighting the fine points of his writing. He mentioned that coming from an ordinary family, Mr Halwarvi saw tough times during childhood and even joined naxalites before going to jail. His inclination to writing revolutionary poetry continued to beckon him and he finally switched to writing.

Earlier, Ms Pritpal Kaur, wife of Mr Halwarvi, was presented a cheque for Rs 25,000 as a token of appreciation for her husband’s contribution to Punjabi and literature.


Station Masters resent rly authorities move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Station Masters cadre in the Northern Railways is up in arms against a move by the divisional railway authorities at Ambala to post a lower grade officer against the post of Station Superintendent at the Chandigarh railway station.

The Uttar Railway Mazdoor Union has taken up the issue with the Railway Board and officers at the headquarters of the Northern Railway at Delhi. Mr SN Bharti, Divisional Secretary of the Uttar Railway Mazdoor Union, said the Station Superintendent at the Chandigarh railway station, Mr Bipin Meena, had been transferred against a lower grade post at the Lalru railway station and Mr Rajiv Kundra, working as Deputy Superintendent at the Chandigarh station, had been posted as the Station Superintendent.

By the order, the post of the Station Master at Chandigarh was downgraded and the post at the Lalru station was upgraded against the rules, added Mr Bharti. But the transfer orders had been stayed after the union protested with the divisional railway authorities. He said as per rules, a post could be downgraded only if no person was available in the same scale and an officer could not be posted on a public dealing post for more than four years.

The Station Superintendent, Mr Meena, holds the post of vice-president in the divisional unit of the union. Mr Bharti said the downgrading of the post of Station Superintendent despite the availability of officers in the same scale could set a wrong precedent and lower the morale of the Station Masters cadre.


BJP delegation calls on Administrator
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
A delegation of the local BJP unit yesterday met the UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, and requested him to withdraw criminal cases registered against various employees and union leaders of the PGI in the year 1995.

The delegation comprising Mr Yash Pal Mahajan and Mr Satya Pal Jain informed the Administrator that during the strike in the PGI in 1995, certain FIRs were registered against the employees at the behest of the then PGI authorities.

They said they had brought the case to the notice of Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Health Minister. Mr Jain said he had requested the Home Secretary, Chandigarh, to withdraw the cases with a view to creating congenial atmosphere in the PGI.

The BJP leaders also demanded a high-level inquiry into the facts and circumstances leading to the death of Mr Som Nath, a resident of Bapu Dham Colony, on October 12 last.


Many city roundabouts witness traffic jams
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
There was bumper to bumper traffic jam today on the two major roads —Madhya Marg and Dakshin Marg where hundreds of residents remained stranded for over an hour before the police could finally control the utter chaos caused by pre-Divali shoppers. There were minor traffic jams near the Piccadilly roundabout and Kisan Bhavan roundabouts too.

While the police has warned that this could be an everyday scene till Divali, which is witnessing a record turnout of shoppers in the city, for the daily commuters it took almost two hours to reach home from their offices.

Traffic eased out only after 7 pm.

Sources in the police said till Divali, the problem was going to increase on the Madhya Marg, especially the bridge leading towards Panchkula and the Dakshin Marg and near Piccadilly and Kisan Bhavan roundabouts. The people going to offices on their own vehicles should divert their routes accordingly so as to avoid these road as much as possible.


Halloween dresses for youngsters
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
The preparations are on. No, not just for Divali, but also for halloween. If you do not believe it, just drive down to any of the chunk jewellery and accessories shops in the city. You will see demon dresses.

This is not all. By pulling out a little money from your pocket, you can also don a pirate dress. The story does not end here. Dracula cape dress is also available in the market. You can also pick up masks, “scary gloves” and other stuff, including witches brew, for the bash. In case you do not have money to pick up the stuff, you can take home the dresses and accessories on rent.

Explaining the trend, socio-psychologist Raman Sharma says, “Youngsters look out for opportunities to celebrate. It hardly matters if the occasion is Divali or Valentines’ day. Evening and late night parties are organised. No wonder, more cards are purchased on St Valentines Day in Chandigarh than on Divali”.

Agreeing with him, theatre artiste Gik Grewal, who also offers dresses for different competitions, says, “The idea about creating dresses and accessories for halloween came to me after youngsters asked for the same about two years back”.

Giving details, she says, “Initially, I had to get the stuff from England. Now, I am getting the things prepared here at much cheaper rates. Also, the availability has increased”. She adds, “There are scores of halloween dresses being offered abroad, but there was hardly any variety here”.


Police gets MHA nod to prosecute Pak spy
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
The UT police has obtained the mandatory sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to prosecute a Pakistani national, Aabid Mehmood, alias Nihal Chouhan, who was arrested by the UT police on charges of spying. He was booked under the Official Secrets Act and various sections of the IPC.

Earlier in the day, he was produced in a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody till November 4. Currently he is lodged at the Burail jail.

The sanction from the MHA is mandatory to prosecute any person under the Official Secrets Act.

Aabid Mehmood, along with Abdul Wahid and Mohammad Arif, both Indian nationals were arrested under the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, Foreign Act and the IPC on February 23, 2003. Aabid Mehmood is a native of Liakatpur, Raheemyar Khan district, Pakistan, and Mohammed Aarif, is a resident of Gulampur, Muzzfar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.


Woman missing
Our Correspondent

Raipur Rani, October 22
Sunita Rani, a 33-year-old woman, has been reportedly missing since October 13. She had left her home after serving her children with lunch and was stated to be mentally disturbed.

Her husband Deepak Kumar, a patwari in Raipur Rani, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune, said Sunita was last seen serving at Gurdwara Shaheedan Wala located on the Chandigarh-Manali highway, near Kurali, on Tuesday.

She also made a phone call to her father Ramchandra in Yamunanagar. She was accompanied by some women while she made the call, claimed her husband.

Deepak said they had met with an accident last year and since then she had been keeping mentally unwell. Sunita had disappeared from her home six months ago but returned later.

Deepak Kumar has appealed general public to contact him at 01734-256807 in case of any information.

A case has been registered with Raipur Rani police station on the complaint of woman’s father-in-law Barkha Ram.


Five poor girls married off

SAS Nagar, October 22
Five girls belonging to economically weaker sections were married off by the Dalit Chetna Manch, Punjab, at a ceremony held at the Ramgarhia Bhavan Phase III B1 here today. Mr Shamsher Purkhalwi, president of the manch, said clothes and household items worth about Rs 30,000 were given to each girl.

Mr Purkhawli said the local administration and the district Red Cross Society gave help to the tune of Rs 50,000 for the marriages. Members of the manch made contributions amounting to Rs 1 lakh. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, announced a grant of Rs 25,000 from his discretionary quota for the manch. OC


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The news item “Rhythm on the canvas” published in Chandigarh Tribune on October 21 wrongly mentioned that the exhibition of artist Satwant Singh Sumail was inaugurated by the Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr R.L. Kalsia. It was actually inaugurated by German artist Katarzyna Pollok. The error is regretted.



Driver of ex-DIG found dead
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, October 22
Bahadur, a driver of a former DIG of Haryana, Mr Shatish Mahendru, was found dead in his room this morning.

Hailing from Nepal, Bahadur was serving as a domestic help with the family and was living in house number 18, Sector 2, here for the past over four years.

According to the police, Bahadur was working for Ms Renu, wife of the late DIG, and was asthmatic. His body was sent to the General Hospital in Sector 6 for post-mortem examination.

The police has started inquest proceedings in this regard.


Play on hazards of fire crackers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
A street play — “Kaki Kaka Chhad Pathaka” — was staged by the Centre for Education and Voluntary Action here today. It was aimed at gaining the attention of the masses towards an increase in environmental pollution and health hazards due to fireworks. The play was staged at Government School in Sector 22 and Sector 17 Plaza.

The play was sponsored by UT’s Department of Environment. Twelve shows of the play will be staged at different places before Divali. Courtiers of god Indra — Narad and Chitrasen — descend on earth to participate in the Divali celebration. They see different kind of fireworks, including “churli” and “aaloo” bomb, besides “anar”. Instead of enjoying, they feel that the bursting of crackers is less of enjoyment and more of damage.

The actors were Ravi, Honey, Abhishek, Sunny and Vijay. The play will be staged at Sri Guru Harkrishan School in Sector 38 and Sector 17 Plaza on October 23. It will again be staged in Sector 22 market on October 24.



Notes of caution for Divali
Monica Sharma


  • Don’t wear synthetic or silk clothes while lighting with crackers.
  • Wear cotton clothes.
  • Play only with good-quality crackers.
  • Handle crackers with utmost care. Light these from a distance.
  • Bombs and rockets should not be ignited in hands.
  • Used crackers should be kept in a bucket, and should not be left smouldering.
  • Clothes for drying should not be kept in the open.
  • Children should not be allowed to play alone with crackers.
  • Put the burnt part of the body in water in case of an injury.
  • Apply a local antiseptic on the burnt part of the body.
  • Cover the injured part of the body with a cloth.
  • Wash the rashes and apply coconut oil.
  • After giving the first aid, take patient to nearby clinic or hospital.
  • In case of eye injury, wash the affected eye with water. Don’t rub it. 

Chandigarh, October 22
It happens every year. As busting crackers and rockets illuminate the night sky on Divali, so many residents suffering from eye and burn injuries are rushed to the hospitals and clinics. In some case, the damage is unfortunately permanent.

This is not all. The sound of blaring sirens is drowned in the din of crackers as fire tenders rush to the “spot” for controlling the “blazing inferno”. In most of the cases the tragedies could have been averted — at least this is what the UT Fire and Health Department officials believe.

That is perhaps, the reason why they are in favour of adopting necessary preventive measures. “Some of the steps can save a lot of damage,” a Fire Department official observes.

“The residents, particularly the shopkeepers, should remove the inflammables from the roof tops,” the official asserts. “So many times in the recent past, shops have caught fire just because the packing material was carelessly left on the roof”.

The material, including cardboard boxes stuffed with hay and newspapers, catches fire as soon as some stray rocket lands on the stuff.

The officials are also of the opinion that mishaps can be averted if the children are not allowed to light crackers alone. The parents should also “take necessary steps” to see that their little ones do not aim the rocket at the neighbour’s house or throw crackers into their compound after igniting them. “It can prove dangerous,” the officials assert.

Officials are asking the parents to ensure that the kids handle the crackers with utmost care and light these from a distance so as to avoid any injury.

They are also asking the residents not to ignite bombs and rockets after holding them, lest they suffer serious burn injuries. The revellers are also being requested against wearing synthetic or silk clothes while playing with the crackers on the big night. Simple cotton clothes are best suited for the occasion.

This is not all. The “used” crackers should be kept in a bucket, they recommend. “They should not be left smouldering so as to rule out the possibility of some freak accident”, the officials say.

Clothes should not be left hanging on wires or balcony for drying in the open. They can easily catch fire resulting in major mishaps during Divali. Also, one should use good-quality crackers, officials suggest.

In case of an injury, the burnt body part should be immediately immersed in water. Moreover, local antiseptic should be liberally applied on the burnt body part. Otherwise, rashes should be washed and coconut oil could be applied to treat skin infection.

Contrary to the common belief, the injured part should be lightly covered with a cloth. After giving first aid, the patient should be immediately taken to a nearby clinic or hospital.

In case of eye injury, it should be washed with water, the officials recommend. Care should be taken to ensure that the victim does not rub the eye. A doctor should be immediately consulted.



Anti-cracker rallies by schools
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
Anti-cracker rallies were organised by different schools of the city to generate awareness among masses about environment pollution caused by bursting of crackers.

The Eco Club and Environmental Society of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, held a rally against the use of crackers. The school Principal, Mr Dilbagh Singh, flagged off the rally. Around 500 students marched with banners displaying save environment messages.

In another rally, the students and staff of Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 15, passed through the streets shouting slogans like “Divali manao, patake mat chalao” and “Kaka no pataka”. The rally was flagged off by the school Principal, Mr K.S. Modi.

The members of Eco Club and NSS volunteers of Government Senior Secondary School, Mani Majra, also held a rally. The participants asked the people to pledge against the use crackers.

At least 600 students of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, also held a similar rally. Besides, over 250 students of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 19, held a rally emphasising the importance of celebrating pollution-free Divali.

Students of Aanchal International School, Sector 35, went from door to door asking people not to burst crackers.


Nine sites fixed for sale of crackers
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, October 22
The District Magistrate, Ropar, has fixed nine sites for the sale of crackers in the town and issued an order barring anyone from storing, exhibiting or selling fire crackers anywhere except at the earmarked sites.

The order, issued under Section 144, CrPC, has further directed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to ensure that there is no retail sale of crackers outside the fixed areas and no vehicle is parked near the sale points.

The SDM has also been asked to ensure that all sellers are given proper place, according to their requirement, on rental basis. Fire-fighting equipment will also be made available near the sale points. The SDM will also ensure that provisions of the Explosives Act-1984 and Rule 1983 are adhered to strictly.

The use of fire crackers will not be permitted between 10 pm and 6 pm and their use near silence zones has been banned.

The sites fixed for the sale of crackers are: Dasehra ground in Phase I; near bassi cinema in Phase II; opposite the Phase V Bougainvillaea Garden; opposite Hot Millions in Phase 3B2; opposite the Municipal Council office in Phase VII; near YPS in Phase VIII; opposite food junction in Phase X; opposite new market in Sector 70; and near St Xavier’s School in Sector 71.


Confusion prevails at Divali fair
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 22
Confusion prevailed among vendors and shopkeepers who were permitted by the local administration to set up stalls in Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Lalru areas of the subdivision for Divali fair.

Since the authorities have not specified places for the stalls selling crackers and the stalls selling eatables separately, so risk of the occurrence of any mishap during the festival has increased.

The administration has not given any specifications to be complied with for the stalls be set up. Even no entry and exit points were earmarked at the site of fairs — Ramlila ground in Dera Bassi and Dasehra ground in Zirakpur.

A visit to the markets of Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Dappar and Lalru areas revealed that the shopkeepers were selling crackers from their shops located in densely populated markets thus giving an open invitation to mishap.

When contacted Mr Manvesh Singh Sidhu, SDM, Dera Bassi, he said shopkeepers have been asked not to sell crackers in streets and other parts of the markers in Zirakpur and Dera Bassi.

He said the shopkeepers and the vendors have been asked to sell crackers and other goods in the stalls in the areas allocated for fair. Interestingly, Mr Sidhu said, ‘‘There is no problem if someone sells crackers in a stall adjoining to another stall selling eatables and inflammables goods.’’

It is also learnt that the shopkeepers were not provided any licence for setting up their stalls.


PCA gears up for Divali celebrations
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 22
Except thousands of torn tickets of the five-day Test match between India and New Zealand, which litter the roads around PCA Stadium here, there is no other sign which can tell us that an international sporting event ended here just two days ago. And the club is all set for Divali celebrations. Come October 24 evening and the stadium will have a display of fireworks and a bumper tambola for its members.

“Despite the fact that there were 30,000 cricket fans here on Sunday, this place is ready for the next event,’’ said Brig G.S. Sandhu (retd). The association is also planning further extension of the club premises which includes temporary accommodation for cricket teams during matches.

‘‘We are already for another match. Every event is a learning experience and during the organisation and conduct of this match also we have learnt a lot. The association has a vision and we are slowly moving towards that,’’ said Brigadier Sandhu.

Stating that the PCA will be focusing on both hosting national and international cricket matches and training youngsters in the game, Brigadier Sandhu said the PCA was the only association in the country which was actively involved in producing cricket stars.


Admn move hits fire cracker business
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Chandigarh Administration's move to crack down heavily on the sellers of firecrackers in the city has badly hit the business of over 3000 retailers in the city. Till today, the administration had issued and renewed the licences of only 650 applicants. Hundreds of applicants are still awaiting for the sanction.

Mr Arun Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh, said," We have issued and renewed about 650 licences so far to the retailers for the sale of firecrackers under the Explosives Safety Act. Our sole purpose is to ensure that there is no sale of firecrackers without taking adequate safety measures. We have already initiated action against some sellers violating the law."

As per the Act, the sellers are expected to stock firecrackers in safe places, besides keeping buckets of sand, fire extinguishers and water as safety measures. Interestingly, retailers said that they could not sell any other thing from their shops except firecrackers if they got the licence. A retailer admitted that the administration's move had hit the sale of firecrackers in the city. But, it was only in the interest of the public and children, he said. The decrease in the sales would only check the pollution and health hazards, he added.

The campaign of the Education Department and the Environment Society of India among schoolchildren against the use of firecrackers has further added to their woes. The drawn India-New Zealand cricket match yesterday not only left thousands of cricket fans in the city grumbling, but also hundreds of firecracker sellers in the city. Had India won the match, fire crackers worth thousands of rupees would have been sold, said retailers.

The retailers lament that the Administration was indulging in delaying tactics to check the sale of firecrackers. They said though they had applied for licences and for the renewal of licences about 10-15 days ago, licences had not been issued so far. The tough approach of the Administration was leading to corruption at ground level.

A retailer in the sector 15 market said, "We are uncertain about the sale of firecrackers this Divali. In case we do not get licence in a day or so, we will not be able to purchase the material from the wholesalers." A number of retailers are however, illegally storing and selling firecrackers in connivance with field officials.

Insiders disclosed that the some wholesalers in the city, like Haryana Stores in sector 8, who used to sell firecrackers to the retailers, had already closed down their business. Others have shifted to retail selling or have transferred their business to Zirakpur, Kharar or other surrounding towns. Kurali has already emerged as a big market of firecrackers.

They said that though other trades had registered a growth of 20 to 30 per cent in sales, firecrackers sale was expected to come down drastically. Till recently, they said, the sale of fire crackers used to be around Rs 5 to Rs 7 crore during Divali and Gurpurb, but this year the sales are expected to be worth a few crores only.


Divali celebrations
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
About 100 senior citizens today participated in Divali celebrations held at the Arya Samaj in Sector 7. The venue was decorated with ceremonial lamps and diyas. The participants were treated to different varieties of sweets.

The president of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, Brig Keshav Chandra, said no crackers were busted.


Cinema building shops burgled
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
Thieves broke into two shops in the Jagat Cinema building in Sector 17 here and decamped with cash and goods worth several lakhs. Locks on the two shops were found broken in the morning by the watchman.

As per police sources, the thieves entered Singla Medicos, dealing in medicines, and took away medicines estimated to cost between Rs 6 to Rs 7 lakh. They also took away Rs 50,000 lying in the shop. Thieves also struck at Ambiente, dealing in imported crockery and other items, and took away goods costing about Rs 50,000 lakh, besides Rs 6,500 in cash. Sources added that the watchman had spotted three people loading goods in a vehicle in the wee hours but they fled before he could approach them.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Kamaljit Singh Panchhi, president of the Traders Association, Sector 17-A and B, said that there are no street lights in the area and the matter was taken up with the police about a month ago.

A case has been registered.



Spice opens retail outlet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Spice Telecom, inaugurated an retail outlet “Vimpy shop-n-shop” in Sector 35 were the widest range of handsets and accessories would be available. The outlet would also provide the best after sales support in terms of servicing and repair.

Inaugurating the new franchisee, Mr J.S Randhawa, vice-president, HR, Spice Telecom, said, “Spice Telecom has a multi-tier distribution network and customer services management, consisting of company-owned showrooms, franchisees, distributors and retailers. Now the Spice subscribers can get best deals in handsets and accessories and can also be assured of the best after sales service.”

Coke campaign

With the arrival of festive season, Coca Cola is abuzz with activity. The company has introduced exciting promotions and contests for its consumers at various stalls during the ongoing Divali festival in Chandigarh. As a part of the promotion, any consumer can walk into Coke’s stall and drink as much coke as he wants for just Rs. 20. One such stall in Sector 17 attracted large number of people, who enjoyed participating in the exciting contests for the consumers.

The ‘Get-caught’ promotion by Coke is also currently on at various parts of Punjab wherein any consumer caught drinking Coca Cola is given a scratch card, which can be instantly redeemed, for a prizes from an accompanying van.

Divali bonanza

Cossets is offering handsome bargains on Divali purchases. Orders for bulk purchases and institutional sales, etc. are being given irresistible deals. Cossets is the only store offering wide variety of all major Divali buys under one roof.

Celebrations in full swing

Celebrations are on at full swing at VLCC centres at Chandigarh, Panchkula and Ambala. VLCC centres are wearing an attractive festive look.

To give customers the best deals for the season, various attractive schemes are on offer. They include 50 per cent discount on all slimming and beauty packages and with every bridal package, shagun package is being offered free. Festive grooming packages are being offered for Rs. 399, 499 and Rs. 999 only to cater to all segments. These packages include beauty services like make-up, hair styling, facials, etc. to bring out the beauty. VLCC also promises to take care of people to give them the ‘pataka look’ for the festive season in Rs 4,999.

‘Healthy’ pizzas

Smokin Joe’s pizza outlet in Sector 35 has now been delighting the taste buds of customers in Chandigarh for nearly a year by serving sumptuous pizzas.

The latest addition is weight watchers pizzas that have no cheese and the pizza base is made of whole wheat. The two variants of this are simply paneer with tomato sauce and shredded paneer and soya surprise with juicy soya chunks in a mildly spiced gravy, onion & coriander.


Lucky draw results
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Business Promotion Council of Sector 17 today announced four lucky draws under the ongoing festival offer. Priya Gupta (coupon No. 010779), Aman Rawat (124222), Chanchal Singh (049296) and Meenakshi Rana (034709) won Samsung refrigerator, colour TV, microwave and washing machine, respectively. The final draw will be announced on November 9.

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