C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Pedalling by day, freezing at night
Rickshaw-pullers at the mercy of elements
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
At 10.30 pm, when you are tucked in your quilts snugly, watching your favourite soap on television, homeless Surya Shukla and his friends are shivering in the open, with torn blankets as their only guard against the winter chill.

Scantily clad and wearing slippers, these rickshaw-pullers take shelter in corridors of markets to survive the cold night after a hard day’s work. There are many like them who try to fight the cold with liquor.

The city may boast of the highest per capita income in the country and hi-tech facilities, and the Administration may return unutilised Central grants year after year meant for persons living below the poverty line, but the fact remains — that hundreds of homeless rickshaw-pullers and rag-pickers in the city are numbed by the cold and succumb to the vagaries of weather every year.

This despite the fact that the city has a large number of dharamshalas, temples and gurdwaras where they can find a roof and some warm clothes.

It will not be surprising that when thousands of young couples dance in hotels and pubs to celebrate Christmas and usher in the New Year, hundreds of homeless rickshaw-pullers will be shivering in the freezing cold.

Last year over 1,400 persons died of cold across the country, including a number of them in the city.

Says Manu Yadav, a rickshaw-puller hailing from Azamgrah in UP, “We are not afraid of hunger or poverty, but we can’t fight the winter. With a single blanket, I find it difficult to sleep.

To fight the cold, some of my friends take liquor and sleep in the open unmindful of the weather. We have to shift them to the corridors otherwise they would be found dead the next morning.”

Interestingly, hundreds of them have been staying in corridors of markets for the past many years. They cook their food, take bath near public taps and wash their clothes. By the time shops and offices open at around 10 am, they disappear from these corridors. They keep their belongings in the attic.

Surya Shukla, who has been staying in the corridor of the Sector 22 market for the past over 10 years, says “Though the Administration claims to have constructed a night- shelter for us at the bus stand, yet the contractor does not allow us to stay there, saying that the place is not meant for “dirty people”. Moreover due to high charges, it is out of our reach.”

Ashok Sharma, another rickshaw-puller, who hails from Ferozepore district, says, “No doubt, a large number of us are staying in slums or have taken small rooms collectively on rent, but to earn livelihood we have to stay around bus stands and the railway station.”

A large number of rickshaw-pullers is staying in the corridors of the Sector 17, 22, 20 and 35 markets. Some of them, who do not find a place there, are forced to stay in shelters at bus stops.

While no organisation has so far come to their rescue, Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar, expressing concern, said, “It is very difficult for the Administration to make arrangements for all of them.

However, we would soon distribute blankets to them from the funds of the Red Cross. Religious organisations, NGOs and individuals should come forward to help them.”


Race for top PGI post hots up
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
The race for the post of PGI Director is hotting up as 11 doctors have filed their nominations with the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, with the tenure of the present incumbent Prof S.K. Sharma, ending on March 31.

Sources in the Health Ministry said barring two doctors all others who had sent in their nominations for the top post were from PGI the itself. The doctors from outside who are in the race for the post are Prof Kartar Singh, Director, Sanjay Gandhi PGI, Lucknow, and Prof K.K. Talwar, head of the Cardiology Department at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. Prof Kartar Singh was the head of the Gastroenterology Department at PGI before he was made Director at the SGPGI, Lucknow.

As is the tradition, 10 seniormost doctors from the PGI are asked for their bio-data and consent, which is forwarded to the ministry. It is learnt that Prof Sarla Gopalan, a senior doctor, has not sent in her nomination. Another senior doctor, Prof Amod Gupta, head of Ophthalmology has also not sent in his papers, it is learnt.

“Those who seem to be emerging as the hot contenders for the post of Director includes Prof Kartar Singh, Prof Sudha Suri and Prof Talwar, who was in the race for post of Director, AIIMS, as well,” said sources in the Health Ministry. They said hectic lobbying was on by those in the race to get the top post at the PGI.

Since all appointments and selections made in the past, including that of the Dean, have been challenged in court time and again, the Health Ministry will have to be very cautious. “The chances of the Director’s appointment being dragged to the court is very high as some of the doctors, who are contenders for the post have already filed cases over the seniority issue,” said a senior faculty member.

The process for selection of a new incumbent is started almost six months before the tenure of the person holding the post gets over. It is finally the Cabinet Committee on Appointments which makes the final choice, which has to be later ratified by the Institute Body.

Those who have applied for the post from the PGI includes the Dean and head of Radiodiagnosis, Prof Sudha Suri, Prof O.N. Nagi, head of Orthopaedics, Prof S.B.S. Mann. head of the ENT, Prof Promila Chari, head of Anaesthisea, Prof G.K. Khullar, head of Biochemistry, Prof V. Sakhuja, head of Nephrology, Prof Kusum Joshi, head of Pathology, and Prof G.K. Khullar, head of Biochemistry.


Kamlesh set to be new Mayor
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
Decks were cleared today for an unopposed election of a 32-year-old two-time Congress councillor, Ms Kamlesh, on January 1 as the first Scheduled Caste woman Mayor of the city.

The Congress fielded Mr Pardeep Chhabra for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor and renominated Deputy Mayor Geeta Chaudhary, a Valmiki, for a second term. Today was the last date of filing nominations for the three posts falling vacant on January 1.

With the numerically-weak BJP and Akali Dal alliance claiming support of three Chandigarh Vikas Manch councillors, fielding Mr Rajesh Gupta for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, there will be a direct contest between Mr Chhabra and Gupta.

The Congress has 13 members, the BJP three, the Chandigarh Vikas Manch three, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) one, while there are nine nominated members. Besides, the local MP is also a voting member in the 30-member House.

The election of Ms Kamlesh and Ms Geeta Chaudhary only remains a formality with the BJP-SAD (SAD) combine failing to field any candidate against them. The BJP and SAD do not have any Scheduled Caste member in the present house.

Ms Kamlesh’s candidature, however, met with stiff resistance from the remaining three SC members of the Congress, who belong to the Valmiki community. Valmikis are believed to be 70 per cent of the total SC population in the city.

Sources said other SC councillors of the party — Ms Geeta Chaudhary, former Deputy Mayor Balraj Singh and Mr Sohan Lal —opposed the name of Ms Kamlesh on the grounds that she had won the election from a general category seat (Ram Darbar) and demanded the nomination of a candidate from the Valmiki community as a reward of the community’s unflinching support to the party.

Amidst opposition from the councillors of the Valmiki community, the Congress could not take an official decision on the candidate, with supporters of both Mr Sohan Lal and Ms Kamlesh raising slogans outside Congress Bhavan in Sector 35 in a show of strength till midnight last night.

Valmiki councillors’ lobbying delayed the selection of Ms Kamlesh, the choice of local Congress unit President B. B. Bahl and MP Pawan Bansal, by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) observer, Major Ved Prakash (retd).

Major Ved Prakash left the decision pending, saying that he will consult the AICC General Secretary, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, and also to buy time to mollify the Valmiki councillors.

Last night’s meeting followed a dinner in which Mr Sohan Lal was conspicuous by his absence.


Beant Singh’s granddaughter beaten up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
The late Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh’s granddaughter Navneet Kaur (26), was allegedly beaten up and robbed of her purse in Sector 15 by two unidentified youths and their security guard, who were in a white Sonata car with a red light atop it.

A student of Panjab University, Navneet Kaur was moving towards Sector 15 from Matka Chowk when the Sonata car followed her for more than a kilometre, the police said.

Navneet Kaur, daughter of Beant Singh’s daughter Gurkanwal Kaur, who resides in Sector 9, saw the Sonata car following her Maruti car. Getting suspicious, she turned towards the slip road in Sector 15 to let the Sonata car pass by.

The Sonata car driver, however, continued to follow her and pulled up in front of her. The occupants allegedly thrashed her and hurled abuses at her. The girl, doing PhD, fought back and when she told the boys, and the security guard that she was a granddaughter of Beant Singh, they said they also belonged to a “big family”. Around 50 persons had reportedly gathered at the spot at 1.30 pm yesterday when the incident took place, but none of them could take down the number of the car.

Navneet Kaur complained to the police that when she took out her mobile phone to call up her family members, the miscreants snatched her purse containing Rs 10,000, a gold chain, a wrist watch and documents of her vehicle. The Sector 11 police station has registered a case.


Preparations on to host Science Congress
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

In another sign of a growing thaw in relations between India and Pakistan, a five-member delegation from the Pakistan Academy of Sciences is expected to participate in the conference to be hosted by Chandigarh.

Chandigarh, December 24
Hectic preparations are on at the Panjab University campus for hosting the 91st annual session of the Indian Science Congress which will be inaugurated here by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee on January 3, 2004.

The five-day mega event which is being hosted jointly by Panjab University and the Institute of Mircobial Technology (IMTECH) will also be attended by the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on January 5.

More than 3, 500 delegates from all over India and abroad are expected to participate, whose focus theme has been set by the president of the Indian Science Congress, Prof Asis Datta, as: “Science and Society in the 21st Century: Quest for Excellence”. Prof Bruce Albert, a Nobel laureate, is among the 100 foreign delegates scheduled to take part.

A massive waterproof pandal is being erected on the grounds of the sports stadium of the PU campus for hosting the central plenary session. A massive “food village” is also being created in an adjoining plot for hosting lunches and dinners for the delegates. Catering has been entrusted to the ITDC which also looked after the food arrangements at the Bangalore session of the Indian Science Congress earlier this year.

All available accommodation in hostels on the PU campus as also in the colleges affiliated to the university has been earmarked for the delegates. All CITCO-run hotels including Mountview, Shivalikview and Parkview, have also been booked for the duration of the conference. PU authorities are confident that up to 1, 500 delegates can be accommodated on the campus itself because 100 rooms have been got vacated in each of the 11 hostels. Besides, two new hostels with a total of accommodation of 525 rooms will also be available.

One hundred and fifty taxies have also been booked besides 20 coaches through CITCO for the use of delegates.

The conference has been divided into 14 sections dealing with different branches of science.

Some of the big names in the Indian science who will chair these sessions include Prof M. S. Swaminathan, UNESCO Professor in Ecotechnology, Prof N.K. Ganguly, Director General, ICMR, Dr R. A. Mashelkar, Secretary, DSIR and Director, CSIR, Prof Arun Nigavekar, Chairman, UGC, Prof M.G.K. Menon Dr Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor, ISRO and Dr R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India.

A special science session will be held for school children. It will bring together about 500 children from schools in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and other places in the country to expose them to the excitement of science. Talks, exhibits, demonstrations and visits will be the means to enthral the children about the solutions that science provides to questions about natural phenomena and life processes. This programme will be convened by Professor H.Y. Mohan Ram of Delhi University.

One of the major highlights of the Science Congress will be “Pride of India” science Expo 2004. This exhibition will be addressed to common person to observe the imapct of science on his life. The major national achievements in the various areas of science and technology will be focused upon. Exhibition will be put together by government, private and academic institutions. A “Hall of Pride” will be a special feature of the exhibition.


Lawyer who wants to be a saint
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Harish BhartiMohali, December 24
“I want to become a saint!” Coming from a lawyer this might be slightly difficult to digest. But then Mr Harish Bharti, who took on the fast food giant McDonalds for serving beef-coated French fries to vegetarian Indians, is definitely not a typical lawyer. Not even by US standards.

“In the US the more truthful you are, the better lawyer you are,” believes the 50-year-old NRI practising in Washington for the past 21 years. Popularly known as ‘Mclawyer’, Mr Bharti hit the headlines in the McDonalds case and finally settled with the company for a whopping 10 million dollars.

A renowned class-action lawyer otherwise, Mr Bharti is now on his way to create history with yet another case he had taken up against Boeing. ‘‘I have been approached by Asian-American engineers working there alleging that the company is paying them less for the same work than the whites. And if we win, we will be able to change the hiring practices in the country,’’he said.

In the township to visit a friend, Mr Bharti is, however, totally aghast at the functioning of the judicial system in India. ‘‘It is considered heinous to lie or misrepresent in a court but here I have noticed that even lawyers themselves encourage their clients to lie,’’ he said.

“It is not that the system is absolutely clean there but the difference lies in the attitude. Imparting justice is God’s work and is not just any other business for profit. Every lawyer and judge should realise this. Trying to obtain justice without truth is not possible. As soon as a half truth or falsehood is injected into the system, justice is killed,’’he stated, adding that lawyers should stand up against any injustice anywhere.

Mr Bharti has also won cases in favour of women subjected to sexual harassment. “I am against discrimination, of any kind, whether it is gender or race based, or even age based, I cannot tolerate it,” he says.

Mr Bharti who lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons intends to come back to India when he is 61 and become a swami. I want to live in a small hut and counsel people. I spent seven years with Swami Vaidyanathan who was also a nuclear scientist from Cambridge. Then I did my law graduation from Panjab University, started practising at the Punjab and Haryana High Court before leaving for the USA in 1983 for a PhD programme in law.’’

Since then there has been no looking back. In 21 years Mr Bharti has established himself as one of the most sought after lawyers in Washington.

A week ago I completed a hearing from India on the phone before a judge there and settled a case. This is how the system should work. An effective, clean and strong judiciary is a pre-requisite for a strong democratic nation and India being a democracy should have a better judicial system.’’ he pointed.


Prof Nagi elected association chief
Tribune News Service

Prof O.N. NagiChandigarh, December 24
Prof O.N. Nagi, Head of the Orthopaedic Surgery at the PGI, took over as the President of Indian Orthopaedic Association (IOA) at the 48th Annual conference of the Indian Orthopaedic Association at Chennai on December, 21.

The IOA has more than 6000 orthopaedic surgeons as its members from India as well as abroad.

Prof Nagi has also received an invitation to present his work on the management of neglected fracture neck femur at the annual conference of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to be held in San Francisco, USA, next year.


Panchayat not to give land for biotechnology park
Bipin Bhardwaj

Lalru, December 24
The setting up of a prestigious Rs 100 crore biotechnology park in Malikpur village, 5 km from here, seems to have been doomed with the village panchayat today withdrawing its decision to lease out 94 acres of its land (shamlat) for the project.

Members of the gram sabha today held a meeting at a gurdwara and unanimously passed a resolution withdrawing panchayat’s earlier decision amidst protests from the villagers.

To press their demand and fight against the proposal of the state government, agitating villagers have also formed the Zameen Bachao Sangharsh Committee, Malikpur, comprising 16-members. Committee members alleged that certain local politicians in connivance with the sarpanch and the investors have been trying to lease out the land for 99 years for their own interest.

According to villagers, the land is being leased out to a Mohali industry for setting up of a bio-tech park with the assistance of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology.

Raising objections against the earlier resolution passed by the village panchayat, the members of the committee revealed that the village common land (shamlat) could not be leased out for more than five years to any lessee.

Moreover, as per the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders, the panchayat has no power to lease out the village common land earmarked for the poor families and the common causes of the villagers, claimed Mr Nirmail Singh.

Mr Mohinder Singh, a member of the committee, said the land was being leased out to poor families of the village for agriculture purpose on yearly basis. More than 30 poor families of the village are earning their daily meal from the land for the last many years. With the leasing out of the land, the families might face difficulties in earning their livelihood, which is unjustified, he feels.

When contacted, Mr Sajjan Singh, village sarpanch said the panchayat had passed a resolution to lease out the land to the company following a letter from the Deputy Commissioner’s Office. The copy of the resolution was given to the Block Development and Project Officer, Dera Bassi, he added.

The committee has also sought a high-level enquiry in to the case and threatened to move to the court if the government ignored the interest of poor and needy villagers and tries to ruin the innocent villagers.


Panchayat poll: lobbying on
Tribune News Service

The elected sarpances of UT villages
The elected sarpances of UT villages. (From left top); Mohinder Kaur, Behlana, Swaran Kaur, Khuda Jassu, Kamlesh Sharma, Lahora, Gurdial Singh, Khuda Alisher, Mam Chand Rana, Maloya, Tarsem Lal, Dadumajra, Surinder Kaur, Dhanas, Sadhu Singh, Sarangpur, Sita Ram, Kishangarh, Om Parkash, Mauli Jagran, Jarnail Singh, Raipur Khurd, Jasbir Kaur, Daria and Mohinder Kaur, Palsora. — Tribune photos

Chandigarh, December 24
Lobbying between the winning sarpanches and the loser candidates continued in the 18 villages of the Union Territory today, a day after the panchayat poll results were declared here yesterday. The bone of contention between the two parties were the panches of the concerned villages. The following were elected panches:

Kishangarh village- Mrs Manjit Kaur, Mrs krishna devi, Mr Parveen Kumar, Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Kanwal Kishore Kalra, Mr Gurbax Singh and Mr Shiv Parkash.

Mauli Jagran- Mr Rulda Singh, Mrs Reet rani, Mrs Santosh devi, Mr Devi Dayal, Mr Kesar Singh, Mr Darbara Singh, Mr Naresh Kumar and Mr Jagdeep Singh.

Daria- Mr Manjit Singh, Mrs Usha Dhiman, Mrs Gurmail Kaur, Mrs Kulwant kaur, Mr Gurpreet Singh, Mr nand Kumar Yadav, Mr sandeep Sharma, Mr Balwant Singh and Mr satinder rai.

Raipur Kalan- Mrs satinder Kaur, Mrs Geeta Devi, Mr Harminder Singh, Mr Charan Singh, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Surinder Pal Singh and Mr Suresh Kumar.

Behlana- Mr Sher Singh, Mrs Jasbinder Kaur, Mrs Suneeta Rani, Champa, Mr Amed Singh, Mr Dev Raj, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Jai Singh and Mr Anand Singh.

Hallomajra- Mrs Surjeet kaur, Mr Surmukh Singh, Mrs Kamla Devi, Mrs Dalip Kaur, Mrs Chanda Devi, Mr Lal Jha, Mr Gurdhyam Dass, Mr Gurcharanjit, Mr Sonu Sharma, Mr Raghubir Singh and Mr Kalika Prasad.

Kajheri- Mrs rani, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Gurdip Singh, Mrs Kavita, Mrs Gurcharan kaur, Mrs Rewa Devi, Mr Narata Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh, Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Nirmal dass and Mr Kulwant rai.

Palsora- Mrs Sardar kaur, Mr Kulwant Singh, Mr Naib Singh, Mrs Bimla Devi, Mrs Leela devi, Mrs Jaspal Kaur, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr jai Chand, Mr Supinder Singh, Mr Narinder Singh, Mr kaka Singh, Mr Ram Phal and Mr Raghbir Singh.

Raipur Khurd- Mr Munna Lal, Mrs Neetu, Mrs Jagir Kaur, Mr Mandeep Singh, Mr Dharam Singh, Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Girwar Singh.

Dadumajra- Mrs Kuldeep Kaur, Mr Dharam Pal, Mrs Urmila, Mrs Shimla Devi, Mr Mehar Singh, Mr Kuldeep Singh, Mr Roop Singh, Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Harjeet Singh.

Dhanas- Mrs Sampuran Kaur, Mr Sucha Singh, Mrs Jito, Mr Hardev Singh, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Mr Rattan Singh and Mr Surmukh Singh.

Sarangpur- Mr Baljit Singh, Mrs Sita Devi, Mrs Naseeb Kaur, Mr Balwant Singh, Mr Gurinder Singh, Mr Hardit Singh and Mr Devinder Singh.

Maloya- Mrs Baljit Kaur, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr major Singh, Mrs Sunita, Mrs Bhupinder Kaur, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Ram Kumar and Mr Ram Lal.


Dowry victim fights for life
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 24
Twentysix-year-old Shamina, mother of a four-year-old girl, is fighting for life with 95 per cent burn injuries after her husband and his parents allegedly set her ablaze yesterday.

The police said Shamina was to give a statement against her husband and the in-laws before the Crime Against Women Cell today regarding their dowry demands. The police suspects it was an attempt to prevent her from making the statement.

Shamina’s husband, Matloof, allegedly started demanding dowry from her father, who is a masseur in Sector 26 Colony. The Punjab Istri Sabha Chairperson, Ms Oshimo Rekhi told The Tribune that dowry demand of her husband did not stop even after the birth of a daughter.

Ms Rekhi said her husband allegedly demanded Rs 20,000 from her father to go to Dubai where he stayed for few months. She said her husband did not send any money from there and probably his effort to settle in Dubai failed.

After coming back from Dubai, her husband again made demands saying he wants to start a new business. When her father could not meet Matloof’s repeated demands of dowry, an attempt on her life was made yesterday.

The husband and in-laws of Sector 47 resident allegedly tried to kill her by setting her ablaze here last evening. She is fighting for life with 95 per cent burn injuries at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. The in-laws have been arrested and the husband is on the run.

As per police sources, Mrs Shamina, 26, in her statement before the Duty Magistrate, alleged that her husband, Matloof and in-laws were harassing her for dowry. She reported that she was doused in kerosene oil last evening by the three and then set on fire. The incident took place at around 7 pm yesterday.

Her in-laws, Surajudin and Ms Sakila, have been arrested while the husband is on the run. A case under Sections 307 and 498-A has been registered.


Devotees attend midnight service
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 24
Even before the hands of the clock touched each other, the devotees rushed to the churches decorated with colourful blinking lights and balloons all over the city for attending the midnight service and Holy Communion.

It all started at about 11 pm. The residents, dressed up in their festive best, sang carols in unison. The service started after the carols. The chants of “Mary Christmas” filled the air as the devotees also hugged and wished each other.

Outside the churches, it was nothing less than a fair earlier during the day. The residents stopped their vehicles to pick up twinkling stars and glittering bells, along with aromatic candles, from the stalls set up along the road leading to the churches.

Hectic shopping continued in card and gift shops as the residents made a beeline for Christmas decorations, including trees. By the end of the day, just 10 per cent of the stuff was left — as per the shopkeepers. “Santa caps and attire, along with special pens and key chains to commemorate the occasion, were hot favourites,” said Ms Raman who owns a jewellery and gift shop. Sumptuous fruits, even rum cakes, were also in great demand.

At Sukhna Lake, Santa, came not on a sleigh, but on a boat to treat the young innocents. Slum school students, along with special children, were also invited by CITCO. As per the organisers, over 150 children were handed popcorns, chocolates, sweets, soft drinks and ice cream.

Musical chairs and quiz was organised for children at Kapsons in Sector 17 today. Sweets and gifts were distributed to children by Santa. The youngsters stood with arms bared as artists traced tatoos on the arms. They even painted faces. The venue was decorated for the occasion with Christmas tree, bells and candles.


When chocolates sell like hot cakes
Monica Sharma

Chocolates are a girl's best friend. And if dextrous hands mould them like bells, stars, flowers, wine bottles, even Santa Claus, they become all the more alluring.

That is the reason why more and more youngsters are rushing towards markets for buying boxes and satchels of chocolates in alluring designs. Explaining the trend, chocolate artist Rameet Bakshi says, “gone are the days when you had to be contend with plain brown or white chocolates.”

In Chandigarh after doing a crash course in chocolate designing from Mumbai, Ramneet Bakshi asserts, “those were the days when people had very little choice. Only the size and the price varied. Of course, there were imported varieties with roasted almonds and nuts. But that was all. Now things have changed. Nowadays, you can take home chocolates in different designs, depending upon your preference and budget.”

Neelam, who is holding an exhibition of handmade assorted chocolates in Sector 17, says,“you can gift chocolates designed specially for the occasion, just like candles. For Christmas, there are chocolates moulded in the shape of Santa Claus, smiling with a bag full of gifts across the shoulders.”

This is not all. She is also offering chocolates in the shape of Christmas decorations. “You can actually hang them up on trees before savouring them,” she says.

The chocolates are not only alluring, but also delicious and available in different flavours. There are chocolates with dates. Some are even laced with liquor.You can also taste rum chocolate, along with ones full of walnuts and peanuts. Orange flavoured varieties are also available. “These cost between Rs 5 and Rs 150, depending upon the stuff and the packing”.

And then the chocolates are nicely packed in transparent bags with a cute little Santa glued at the top. There are also specially designed trays for the occasion.

Rameet makes chocolates at home and supplies them to supermarkets all over the city. “Chocolate season never ends in Chandigarh. But Divali, Christmas and St Valentine's Day are the occasions when chocolates sell like hot cakes”.


Santa Claus distributes sweets
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 24
Santa Claus distributed sweets and toffees among kids in various schools to celebrate Christmas today.

Enthusiastic students of Manav Mangal School, Sector 11 here sang and danced to celebrate Xmas with fervor. Various competitions including partner race, fancy dress, decoration and courier race were also organised. Students were dressed as Spiderman, Jassi, Superman, balloon seller and fairies.

The winners of the contests were also given prizes, informed Ms Sandeep Sardana, school principal.

Fun, gaiety and festivity marked the Christmas celebrations at Shemrock Smiles School, Mansa Devi Complex, here today. A student dressed as Santa Claus gave away gifts to children and shared a ‘Tree-shaped cake with them. Prizes for the best dressed students were also given.

It was a day of merry making for students of Delhi Public School, Pinjore, who had a lot of fun and frolic on Christmas celebration today.

A scene of a nativity depicting the birth of Jesus Christ presented by the students impressed the audience. The students also presented cultural items and danced to the tune of Hindi song, “Chiky Chiky, bum bum”.

A former cricketer and commentator, Mr Chetan Sharma, who was the chief guest on the occasion appreciated the students for their performance.

Christmas was also celebrated by tiny tots of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, here with great enthusiasm and religious fervour. Kids of pre-nursery and nursery danced to the tune of “Jingle Bell”.

Students of KG and Class I presented dances and Qawwalis to mark the day.

Children came to school in colourful dresses and decorated Christmas tree with colourful balloon, stars and buntings to celebrate the religious function at Vijay Public School, Main Park Sector 17 here today. Sweets and gifts were also distributed among the kids by Santa Claus.


All-women petrol station in city
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
One of the male bastions city will fall tomorrow with the formal commissioning of city’s first all-women petrol station in Sector 4.

Four girls, trained by the BPCL, have been dispensing petrol, handling cash and giving driving tips to the customers visiting the station for the past couple of weeks. All of them have been provided with a uniform by the company consisting of a grey salwar-kameez, a sweater, a windcheater, a pair of shoes and a smart cap. “It has been a novel experience for us”, enthuses Salma who is a trained beautician and was earlier working in a beauty parlour at Mauli Jagran. “Business was not good at the parlour. So I thought why not try here and things are working out well here,” she said.

Another girl, Mamta Kashyap, a matriculate, said she had taken up this job as a challenge. “If men can do this, why not women?” she asked. “After all, women are second to none in any field”.

Meenu, who has studied up to class XII, said initial apprehensions about the work place have turned out to be incorrect. “ We were trained by the BPCL for two weeks before we were drafted here. We were told to be polite while dealing with the customers, enquire about their health and generally engage them in a pleasant conversation”.

Rama Kainth, who is the youngest of the lot, is a bit shy, but goes about her job with a confident smile. “They are all so nice here. Our male co-workers have been helpful and protective. No, there has not been any incident of any vehicle owner ogling at us. Though some of them offer us words of encouragement”.

The presence of women at the petrol station has already brought about a change in the working atmosphere there.

The BPCL’s initiative at Sector 4 petrol station is modelled on a similar experiment carried in Shanti Van, New Delhi, where it proved to be a big hit. The petrol sales at the pump zoomed immediately after women dispensers were introduced.

As one BPCL official explained, the reason for higher sales was not the glamour or novelty provided by the women but the trushtworthiness women evoked among the vehicle owners. The women were found to be generally pleasant, courteous, more dedicated and prompt.

The Auto Service Station in Sector 4 is one of the oldest stations in Chandigarh and owned by a retired IAS officer, Kanwar Mahindar Singh Bedi.


PGI moves, attends to Deepak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
It was after three days that PGI doctors came to the rescue of 12-year-old Deepak, whose plight was highlighted by the media. He had been lying unattended in the PGI emergency, writhing in pain due to a neurological problem.

A fresh CT scan was done on Deepak this morning and his treatment started. It was after remaining on a stretcher for three days in the emergency that he was finally admitted and an indoor patient card made.

A resident of Mauli Jagran, Deepak, suffering from a chronic neck problem, has had to drop out of school and the pain is now affecting his spine. He finds it difficult to even sit on his own. His father, a daily-wage earner, Kanhaya Lal, brought his son to the Advanced Paediatric Centre on December 17, where he remained admitted for three days, before he had to be rushed back to the emergency.

The PGI Public Relations Committee today said that Deepak had come to the emergency on his own. He had been asked to come only to the OPD, and not the emergency.


British Library to open membership on Jan 3
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
After much delay, the British Library finally shifted to the more swanky space in Sector 9 yesterday. The new library, which commands an area almost double than that in Sector 8, has many new sections, including a full-fledged section for children.

Among the other sections that have been added are an online catalogue for the convenience of visitors, a cafeteria to break the routine of reading and also a jazzy children's corner, which has been fitted with two flat screen computer terminals to engage kids in creative activities. Meanwhile, the British Library has also announced that it would open its membership from January 3. The target to be achieved is 1000 family members and 1800 individual members. The current membership of the library is 4500.

Apart from the library membership, the focus is also on improvement of services and collection of best selling titles. The library authorities have also set up an entire section devoted to information related to all universities in Britain, besides a section which offers complete information on the various examinations.

The computer terminals have also been added. Where earlier the library had just about five terminals, it now has about 14. More books have been added, not only in the reference section, but also in fiction. The section of Indian writers in English has been strengthened further. The library will shortly add 5000 books to its existing stock, taking the numbers to 17,000. A strong DVD collection is another highlight of the new library.

While the entire formality of shifting to the new premises has been completed, the formal inauguration will take place on January 21. The British Ambassa-dor is expected to grace the occasion.


Governor calls for peace

Chandigarh, December 24
The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Chandigarh, Justice O. P. Verma (retd), today extended greetings to all citizens on the eve of Christmas.

In his message, the Governor wanted all to promote compassion, love and brotherhood, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity in the country. He called upon all Punjabis and city residents to celebrate this festival collectively to strengthen the secular character of the country. TNS


Stray cattle sent to Delhi gaushala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
On hundred and one stray cattle were sent to Delhi by the Mayor, a press note of the municipal corporation said here today.

Mr Subhash Chawla, Mayor, flagged off a fleet of 11 trucks carrying the cattle from the cattle pond in the local Industrial Area. The cattle have been dispatched to Dabur Hare Krishna Gaushala at Surhera village, Nazfgarh, New Delhi.

Mrs Geeta Rani Chaudhary, Deputy Mayor, and Mr Vijay Singh Rana and Mr K.S. Raju, counsellors, went along with the fleet of trucks.

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