C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Dance girl alleges assault, molestation attempt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Simran — on whose mother Anoop Kaur’s complaint the police unearthed the racket involving the trafficking of city girls to Bangalore — is learnt to have told the police that one of the accused, Rakesh Batalvi, had attempted to molest her.

She said the incident, apart from breach of verbal contract, prompted herself and her niece Rajni to escape from Bangalore and remain in hiding for around two months in Mumbai and Delhi.

Simran today reached the city from Delhi, courtesy a Bangalore-based social activist, Deepak, who helped her go to Pune, Mumbai and again to Bangalore to save her from the human trafficking racket.

Simran had told the police that she and Rajni had not signed any contract to go to Bangalore to dance in a pub, according to investigating officer K.I.P. Singh.

She corroborated the statements of the police and Rajni when she recorded her statement before a magistrate.

This was stated by DSP (Crime), Mr Vijay Pal, at a press conference to announce the restoration of Simran to her family. He said the police had initiated the action to restore these girls to their parents, which it had achieved apart from unearthing a racket.

Simran narrated how the agreement was breached the day girls reached Bangalore as they were forced to dance in a pub for at least a month.

Simran is learnt to have said that she had even offered to return the contract money for her release from the pub but she was allegedly beaten up.

She said once she did not go to the pub to lodge her protest. She was alone at her room, she said, adding that Rakesh Batalvi, allegedly under the influence of liquor, tried to molest her.

DSP Vijay Pal said the police would how procure warrants against Komal and Asha.

Simran said she and Rajni approached a singer of the pub to rescue them but in the meantime, Murali’s henchmen reached there to catch them.

Simran said when she saw a vehicle of Murali coming to the house of the singer, she fled from there.

She said she had been visiting the house of the singer and had known a few of her acquaintances.

When she escaped from the place, she reached one of the singer’s acquaintances where she met Deepak, a social worker.

Deepak then sent her to his sister’s house and later to Pune, where his father was working. From Pune, she was sent to Mumbai and again to Bangalore.

Mr K.I.P. Singh said he had left photographs of Simran with the police of Pune and Bangalore and contacted family members of Deepak to let him know the police was looking for him in connection with the search of Simran.

He said Simran contacted her family members from Delhi. Her parents reached there.


Order on bail plea reserved
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 11
A local court today reserved order on the bail application moved by one of the accused, Rakesh Batalvi, in the trafficking of the girls to Bangalore. Meanwhile, acting on the bail application moved by the two other accused in the case, the court has issued a notice to the police to file a reply in the case for tomorrow.

Earlier, the statement of the fifth girl, Simran, was also recorded in the court of UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Mr Sandeep K. Singla. Two accused — K.M. Muralidhar and Kuldeep — were later produced in the same court and sent in judicial custody by the magistrate.

The accused counsel's argued that the girls had gone to Bangalore after signing a contract with some musical groups. He said the accused were falsely implicated in the case by the police.

The counsel added that the girls had been happily living there and were forcibly brought back to Chandigarh by the police. Moreover, the police had recorded the statements of only a few girls in the case in order to prove their version of the story.

On the other hand, the Public Prosecutor opposed the bail application, claiming that as per the statements of the five girls recorded in the case, the accused had detained the girls in Bangalore, despite their repeated requests to return to Chandigarh.


Astro Turf to be ready by mid-December
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, November 11
Hockey fans need to cheer up. The much-awaited Astro Turf in Sector 42 will be available for playing hockey by the middle of December. The turf has already been installed and its maintenance, like water sprinkling and security, has already been taken care of, said Dr JPS Sidhu, Joint Director Sports, UT Administration.

He said, according to the technical specifications, the turf had 12 hours of water retention, so, accordingly, water was provided. Dr Sidhu said, a final approval of the technical team of the accredited laboratory of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) was required. He said, they had already faxed a massage to the firm which installed this turf. The firm, in turn, has informed officials of the FIH. He said there were certain parameters like friction of the turf, ball moving, ball blockade, ball run and water retention which would all be certified by these technical officials who would come from any Asian country.

Dr Sidhu said once the FIH accords approval, the Government of India would also send team for its formal approval. He said the whole process would require not more than three weeks, so, in all probability, they would allow the local players to practise any time next month.

Dr Sidhu said they had devised timings for local players separately who would have to get themselves registered. For professionals, like clubs, an annual fee of Rs 10,000 would be charged.

On the plan to host a six-nation hockey tournament, Dr Sidhu said they had suggested to the FIH the probable dates as February 13 to 17, 2004, keeping in mind the other vital international hockey tournaments. Dr Sidhu said the Olympic qualifying meet would be held in March at Madrid (Spain), so world class players can always prefer to come to Chandigarh, if the dates were finally approved by the FIH.

Dr Sidhu further said that already two coaches were being deputed at the Sector 42 hockey stadium, but keeping in mind the future demand, they were thinking of appointing a third hockey coach who could supervise the players in the evening hours.

When asked on the utility aspect of the six-a-side turf, also installed outside the main hockey stadium, Dr Sidhu said this would serve as a practice ground and they would ask its trainees to play for at least three days in a week on six-a-side turf.

He said the electronic score boards had also been ordered and were expected in a few days. Dr Sidhu said about Rs 1 crore had been approved for floodlighting the Sector 42 hockey stadium and firms had promised to install these in three months. In Chandigarh, at present, hockey is played at the Sector 18 hockey stadium, on Panjab University grounds and in various school grounds, but all on grass fields, so the laying of turf would give a boost to hockey’, said Dr Sidhu.


College principals to seek fee-hike rollback 
Students’ fast enters second day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The principals of city colleges have decided to jointly appeal to the UT Administration for a rollback of fee hike. They have proposed to form a high-level committee to look into the matter of overcharging of fee and funds by private colleges.

This was finalised at a meeting chaired by the Dean University Instructions, Punjab University, here today. However, the protest of college students, who are on indefinite fast outside the office of the Vice-Chancellor, continued.

Claiming to continue the boycott of classes in colleges tomorrow as well, the students on fast said they would be convinced of the good intentions of the authorities only after a formal announcement of rollback was made and a probe into fund collection ordered.

While college campuses wore a deserted look, students of SGGS College and GGS College, Sector 26, took out a protest march at the university to express solidarity with the fasting students. Even as the students' fast entered the second day, the president of the Sector 46 Government College council, Hemant Attri, also joined the four fasting students.

Meanwhile, the president of the Panjab University Campus Students' Union (PUCSU), Malwinder Kang, said the colleges would not be allowed to reopen till the demands of the students were met. "We have decided to gherao the Vice-Chancellor on November 13 when he returns to the city, he said.

Earlier, at the meeting, the principals asked the university authorities to allow the high-powered committee to assess the liabilities and statutory obligations of the private colleges held guilty of overcharging."The university has our prospectus and a list of approved funds. If we are charging funds other than those approved by the university, it is because we have no other source of fund-generation. The grant has not been increased since 1981 while a number of new courses, as well as teaching and non-teaching faculty members has gone up considerably. They must suggest an alternative if they want to cut out the extra funds being charged by us," a principal said.


How helpful are helplines?
Tribune News Service

What is required

* Centralised enquiry at the ISBT for departure of buses.
* One number for calling ambulances and funeral vans.
* More people manning telephone enquiry at 197 for quick response.
* Same for railway inquiry at 131 and 2653131.
* The system run by the Police Control Room can be replicated elsewhere as it is good and functional.

Chandigarh, November 11
Important telephone helplines which should help the caller with information are inaccessible during the day or, at best, provide incomplete information. The helplines in certain cases are poorly staffed which leads to frustration for the callers and fetches them unreliable information.

Even as Chandigarh is repeatedly rated as one of the most livable cities in the country, it does not have a centralised number to call for an ambulance and there is no centralised inquiry system at the Inter-State Bus Terminus. Helplines like 197 (telephone inquiry) besides 131 and 2653131( railway inquiry) are busy more often than not.

Today The Tribune started off with an effort to get first-hand experience of how things work in the city for its residents.

197: From 5:57 pm onwards the number 197 of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) was tried repeatedly. The call materialised only at 6: 49 pm. In this period, more than 15 calls were made but the number was engaged. When the call materialised, the person manning the helpline thankfully picked up the phone before even two rings could be completed and provided the information.

131 & 2653131 (Railway inquiry): Right from 5:57 pm till the next two hours, both numbers were engaged. Railway officials, when contacted, said someone was on duty but the numbers may be engaged as a huge rush of enquiries started in the evening. Sources in the railways said there was only one person to man the phone inquiry. This despite the fact that the number of trains departing from Chandigarh has gone up during the past three years with the addition of new trains. With more people calling up for enquires, the number is perpetually engaged.

198: This is the computerised fault booking service of the BSNL. This works very well and the computerised system which guides the callers is prompt and effective.

Roadways Enquiry: This is the most cumbersome. If you ask for buses to a place like Jammu, the caller will have to call up all the enquiries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to find out the best available options. Thankfully, the persons manning the enquiry are prompt. To reach a place like say Churu in Rajasthan or Dehra Dun, it is worse. Commercial interests of state roadways operating from here has so far not helped as no centralised enquiry exists.

Make calls to Haryana, Punjab, Himachal and Chandigarh roadways to be able to plan your time to leave and reach a particular destination. It is the only way out. In case you want to go to cities in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Uttaranchal, the information is at best half-baked and misleading.

Roadways people admit that there should be one number and the attendant should have computerised data to tell about buses of all roadways enquiry.

Ambulance Service: Though prompt in response, ambulances of the city have not been evoking a good response from the people who do not know whom to contact. In this case also, the ambulances are operated by various hospitals and social organisations. All have their own phone numbers. Simply one phone number can be provided for public and the attendant can coordinate with all hospitals.

100: The Police Control Room in the city is actually prompt and swift while the staff manning the phones are courteous and answer calls with a trademark “Jai Hind control room.” The response which was checked three times in a span of two hours was within 10 seconds. The Police Control Room seems to have become more like a true helpline.

101: The Fire Department is prompt. Three attempts in two hours were responded within good time. However, each time the attendant just said “hello” and did not reveal if the caller had contacted the Fire Department. The caller had to ask if this was the Fire Department.


Neelam cinema’s licence suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The Chandigarh Administration today suspended the licence of the Neelam cinema house, Sector 17, for a period of 15 days starting from tomorrow. An order in this regard was today despatched from the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, confirmed that the licence had been suspended.

A toilet in the cinema house needed renovation and cleaning. The cinema management had been given a show-cause notice four days ago, asking why the licence should not be suspended. Today, the management replied that they needed two months' time. This was not accepted and the licence was suspended.

It may be recalled that a basic set of directions was agreed upon about four weeks ago when the rates of cinema tickets were increased. The administration is also empowered to cancel the licence. Earlier, the administration issued show-cause notices to the Piccadilly cinema house in Sector 34 and Batra cinema house in Sector 37. Both cinema houses are conducting repair jobs.


Order to file status report on Ambala-Chandigarh highway
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Acting on a public interest litigation filed by the father of a fatal accident victim seeking enforcement of traffic rules and maintenance of signal system, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the filing of a status report regarding the four-laning of Ambala-Chandigarh highway.

Issuing the directions in an open court, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice S.S. Saron, also fixed January 19, 2004, as the next date of hearing in the case.

The directions are significant as the stretch between Chandigarh and Ambala had been christened “killer highway” due to a large number of accidents taking place. According to an estimate, Chandigarh-Ambala highway and Chandigarh-Patiala highway had claimed 56 lives in 94 accidents till August since the beginning of the year.

All accidents have occurred within a distance of 20 km from Chandigarh. The problem was worse on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway due to the rush of tourists heading for Shimla.

The High Court had earlier suggested that a portion of money collected by way of challans could also be diverted for the implementation of road safety programmes.

Appearing before the court, a Senior Superintendent of Police attached with the Haryana Highway Petrol and Road Safety Organisation had claimed that the accident rate since the inception of Haryana Highway Patrol had gone down by 15 per cent, while the number of accidents and injuries had been reduced by 12 per cent.

In his petition, Mr Harish Kumar Puri of Pipli had earlier asked for the construction of rumble strips, along with traffic signals, at the crossings. He had stated that his 27-year-old son Ashok Puri had died on May 14, 1996, due to complete failure of the signal system.


Woman arrested for abandoning newborn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
A 40-year-old mother of five children of Daddu Majra, whose husband had died two years ago, was today arrested for abandoning a one-day-old male child on a garbage heap in the locality.

The woman, earning her livelihood through rag-picking, reportedly did not have money to get her pregnancy terminated for the want of money and abandoned the child to avoid social stigma the police said.

The police arrested the woman after inquiring from midwives in the area about pregnant women of the locality.

When the police contacted the woman, she admitted that it was her child.

The police is now planning to consult gynaecologists in this connection. Medical opinion is also being sought to know when the child might have been born. The child was admitted to the Sector 16 hospital yesterday.

The police will also match blood groups of the mother and the child but ruled out a DNA test.

According to the police, the woman delivered the child without any help from either midwives or doctors.

The eldest child of the rag-picker is stated to be at least 16-years old.

The woman, wife of the late Ashok Kumar, was later released on bail after being booked under Section 317 of the IPC.


British Library announces family memberships
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Even as the much-awaited Children’s Book Festival rolled at Art Folio in Sector 9 today, the British Library authorities made another important announcement regarding its new family membership concept. Soon after the authorities shift into their new, spunky space in Sector 9, they will introduce the family membership card, virtually revolutionising library services in the city.

Advantages of the family membership card will include access to special children’s literature, DVDs, along with 7,500 interesting journals, which can be directly downloaded from Internet sites under the given software which the library has procured for its members. The system will not even require physical presence of members in the library, as they will be provided remote access facilities.

Giving information about the family membership cards, Manager of the library, Mr Sushant Banerjee, said existing members, if interested, would be allowed to convert their cards to family cards.

While the announcement by the Manager was one part of the show, the other was the presence of Education Minister, Punjab, Mr Khushal Behl, who talked at length about the reading habits of people in the region. He was more than happy with the library’s concerted effort to bring readership back to the city. The exhibition, which has books by some of the most famous children’s literature publishers from the UK, has been put up by the library in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Welfare.

The response was as fair as was expected, with most of the kids being drawn towards fun games, besides the craft section. Most of the young visitors were busy choosing from the treat of crafts kit comprising the Chinese brush painting studio, salt dough kit, art tattoo kits, painting kits and stencil studio kit. Course books attracted children but not as much as other sections did.


Gadgil sisters honour the spirit of Punjab
Awards conferred on Rama Rattan, Sukhwinder Amrit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Gadgil’s daughters today realised their dream of honouring the spirit of service which people of Punjab embody in plenty. Coming to the land where their father Mr N.V. Gadgil had once served as Governor, the four sisters Usha Alekar, Sharada Vinchurker, Surekha Panandiker and Kranti Natu, put their hands and hearts together for two Punjabi women, who have contributed to the fields of social service and literature.

Matru and Pitru awards, which the Gadgil sisters have initiated in the honour of their mother Nandi Bai and their father Kakasahib Gadgil, were today presented to Dr Rama Rattan and Sukhwinder Amrit for social service and literary contributions, respectively. In a long-drawn function that marked heartfelt speeches by the Gadgil sisters, the award winners , the chief guest of the function, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma, and others, the spirit of selfless service was honoured.

Dr Rattan received the award for her contribution to children’s issues. She is famous in Punjab not only as a children’s writer and an advocate of their issues, but also for the famous “kafila” concept which she evolved to sensitise parents of kids to issues like good education and sanitation. Dr Rattan’s “kafilas” offered outstanding service during the days of terrorism in Punjab, when she, along with her “kafilas”, used to go about villages, offering the much-needed healing touch to those who were suffering.

Meanwhile, Sukhwinder Amrit, a leading ghazal writer of Punjab, received the Pitru award for literature. After receiving the award which comprised Rs 2001, a shawl and a small silver lamp, Sukhwinder also recited two of her poems.

When the awards were given away, it was Justice Verma’s turn to remember Mr N.V. Gadgil as the People’s Governor. He said, “It is a matter of pride that daughters of Mr Gadgil, the third Governor of Punjab, have chosen Punjabis for their awards today. I did not have the honour of meeting Mr Gadgil, but I have heard of him as a great Parliamentarian and writer. He translated Japji Saheb into Marathi, besides having 33 books to his credit.”

At the function, held at Punjab Kala Bhavan in Sector 16, Col Jasbir Bhullar, secretary, Punjab Sahit Akademi, was also present. 


Panchkula Diary
Visually challenged begin march to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 11
The 11-member team of Netraheen Jagriti Sangh, Haryana, yesterday began their foot journey towards the Prime Minister’s house in Delhi for redressal of their complaints. They reached Raipur Rani this evening and would resume their journey tomorrow.

Led by Mr Surinder Lamba, the agitators began their rally from Sector 17, Chandigarh. The rally was flagged off by Mr Ajit Salani, columnist and film producer, who said it was a shame that even after 56 years of Independence, the visually challenged were forced to adopt the way of agitation for their demands.

They have been demanding one per cent reservation in government jobs and clearing the backlog in vacancies for the visually challenged. The delegation will submit a memorandum to the President as well as the Prime Minister in Delhi.

Paddy arrivals

As many as 44,002 metric tonnes of paddy has arrived in the mandis of Barwala, Raipur Rani and Panchkula till date, whereas 32,035 metric tonnes of paddy had arrived during the corresponding period last year.

This was stated by Deputy Commissioner Satwanti Ahlawat today. She said 32,631 metric tonnes had been procured by government agencies.

While HAFED procured 7,603 metric tonnes, Agro Industries 13,616 metric tonnes, Haryana Warehousing Corporation 3,837 metric tonnes and CONFED procured 7,575 metric tonnes. Private millers purchased 10,517 metric tonnes, whereas millers and dealers purchased 854 metric tonnes non-leviable paddy.

The Deputy Commissioner said there was no problem of storage and lifting in the mandis and the paddy was being lifted on a daily basis. Dharna staged

Almost 50 employees of the Kalka Municipal Committee today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. The delegation of employees was led by Mr Dhanpat Singh, president of Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, and the dharna was staged between 10 am and 4 pm.

They were demanding the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations, payment of salaries on time and regular contributions by the state government towards their provident fund.

Rangoli contest

A dance, music and rangoli competition was organised by Bal Kalyan Parishad at Bal Bhavan for Children’s Day celebrations. Over 150 children from various schools participated in the competitions.

The results: dance and music (junior category) — Hansraj Public School-I, Blue Bird Public School-II and New India Public School- III; dance and music (senior category) — Blue Bird Public School-I, Chaman Lal DAV School-II and Jainendra Public School-III; rangoli competition:- Satluj Public School-I, Manav Mangal School-II, Haryana Model School and Blue Bird Public School-III.


IAS officer’s death condoled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The Haryana IAS Official Association today condoled the death of S.K. Maheshwari, an IAS officer of the 1974 batch, who breathed his last at the PGI yesterday.

Earlier, the two daughters of Mr Maheshwari lit his pyre at the cremation ground in Sector 25 here.

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, the Chief Secretary, Mr A.N. Mathur, as well as other senior officers of the police and civil administration were present on the occasion.


Poor local bus service

The local bus service in Panchkula is not only inadequate but also costly almost on all routes. For instance, bus fare from Sector 15\16 bus stop to Sector 6 Shakti Bhavan roundabout (distance 3 km) and Chandigarh Bus Stand ( 10 km distance) is Rs 4 and Rs 11, respectively, i.e. more than a rupee per km which is almost two-three times higher than the fare of long route buses and it is not justified. In fact the local bus service should be operated on “no profit no loss” basis.

There is also inadequate bus service within the city. One cannot reach from one sector to another by boarding a single bus. Even the most important points i.e. General Hospital, court, colleges, etc have very less bus service.

The route number should be displayed on the entry door, front and back of the bus with provision of light to make it visible during night also. Timetable, duly updated, should be displayed at all bus stops and the facility of holiday pass system, extending up to Chandigarh should be introduced. The frequency of bus service should be increased. The design of bus stops should be so as to protect the waiting passengers completely from rain and the sun.

Mr Mukesh Gupta

Ms Manju Gupta


Application fees

Charging high fees by government and private institutions and companies from unemployed candidates for applying against vacant posts has become a common practice. Many deserving candidates cannot even apply because of high fees as they have to apply so many times with a hope to get a job.

Likewise, the Haryana Urban Development Authority make people applying for residential plots deposit huge earnest money, which is generally in lakhs, and keep it for a long period without paying any interest on the amount to them.

It seems that these agencies have adopted such easy devices for increasing their income at the cost of the helplessness of the unemployed candidates and homeless applicants.

Courts should immediately intervene and prevent such people from being exploited.

Mr Dhiraj Garg,

Ms Yashu Gupta


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |