C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Boy rescued from couple’s clutches
Police does not rule out child sacrifice bid
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, January 4
A 10-year-old Nepalese boy was rescued by three scooterists from the bank of the Ghaggar near the railway bridge in Mubarikpur village, about 2 km from here, last night. The scooterists heard his cries while they were passing by around 8 pm.

Members of the Nepali Jan Adhikar Suraksha Samiti, Patiala, who have secured the custody of the boy, said the boy, Lura, was being allegedly forced to participate in some rituals on the river-bank by his ‘‘benefactors’’.

The police has not ruled out the possibility of child trafficking and attempted child sacrifice.

After receiving the news of an alleged attempt to sacrifice a Nepalese boy, Mr Gopal Thapa, district secretary, Mr Rajinder Kram VC and Mr Shankar Bahadur, both members of the samiti, reached the Dera Bassi Civil Hospital.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Gopal Thapa said Rakesh Kharbanda, a resident of Mubarikpur village, took Lura on a scooter to the river-bank, where his wife, Sonia, was waiting for them with an burning "agarbatti" and other items.

Mr Thapa said Lura had disclosed that he was given a beating with a strap, which made him collapse into a ditch. Hearing his cries, some persons came to his rescue and brought him to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, he added.

Narrating the sequences of events, the teenaged rescuers — Hardeep, Dinesh Sharma and Honney, all residents of Mubarikpur village — said after hearing the cries, they went towards the place and saw a man, a woman and a naked boy there. “When we asked why the boy was being beaten up at this isolated place, the couple started arguing with us,” said Hardeep.

Dinesh Sharma, said they overpowered the couple and rescued Lura. ‘‘Mr Madan Lal, a local trader, who was strandred at a distance, provided us his car in taking the injured boy to a clinic nearby.’’ he said. Wrapped in a blanket, the boy was then taken to the Civil Hospital by Mr Ravinder Pal Sharma, who runs an electronic shop in Mubarikpur. He said the boy was shivering and in a state of shock. He was also unable to speak at that moment, he said.

Mr Rajinder Kram VC said Lura hailed from Rajipur Chaumala village in Kailali district in Nepal and was lured by a motorist, who promised him that he would be sent to Jammu and Kashmir. But the motorist dropped him at a tea stall in Ambala City about six months ago.

The tea stall owner sent Lura to another tea stall owned by Rajan, a brother-in-law of Rakesh Kharbanda. Lura worked as a labourer at Rajan’s tea stall in Ambala and was brought by Rakesh to his house in Mubarikpur village two months ago.

While Rakesh Kharbanda is at large since last night, his wife Sonia, claimed that Lura was her brother Rajan’s son. She claimed to have adopted Lura since the couple had three daughters but no son.

Sonia said Lura was accompanying Rakesh to perform some rituals on the river-bank. “Since my husband is suffering from an ailment we have been offering grains and praying on the river-bank for the past two years,” she added.

‘‘Lura has been accompanying Rakesh to the river-bank to perform ‘pooja’ for the past two months. Last night, while Rakesh and Lura were going to present offerings in the Ghaggar, Lura slipped and fell down. As his clothes were wet and soiled, Rakesh took these and wrapped Lura in a shawl,’’ Sonia admitted.

Mr Manmohan Kumar Sharma, DSP, Dera Bassi, said the police had launched a manhunt for nabbing Rakesh Kharbanda, a grocery merchant. He said Sonia had told the police that the boy was beaten up since he had stolen Rs 500 from the cash box of their shop.

He did not rule out the possibility of child trafficking and said the real picture about child sacrifice would emerge only after a detailed interrogation of Lura, and other.


Missing boy returns home
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
Manik, 12-year-old resident of Sector 37, who was reportedly kidnapped by unidentified persons on January 1, returned home today.

The abduction story told by the boy is “rather filmy”, said the police. There is no clue about the “abductors”, who abandoned him on a road in Lalru last night. The police brought him home this morning, when a shopkeeper contacted Manik’s parents on the telephone.

Even as his relatives, well-wishers and the police heaved a sigh of relief after his return, the family left for Jagraon this afternoon to pay obeisance at the dera of their guru.

Manik told the police that he was bundled into a Maruti car by three persons from the Sector 37 market on January 1. The alleged abductors had also covered him with a jute sack. The car developed a technical snag near the near Fun Republic, Mani Majra. Subsequently, one of the abductors contacted somebody on his mobile phone.

After sometime, Manik was shifted to a Santro car. There were two more persons in the car. One of the abductors asked Manik to call his parents and demand Rs 1 crore as ransom. Manik told the police that when the ransom demand was made, he punched one of the abductor. After the punch, the abductors dropped the demand of ransom. He reportedly told the abductors his father was a scrap dealer (actually his father, Mr Rakesh Jain owns a tent house in Sector 24 here).

Manik could not tell where he was kept on the night of January 1 and the following day. On January 2 afternoon, he was asked to make a telephone call to any of his relatives. Manik made the call (using a mobile phone of one of the abductor) to his maternal uncle at Bathinda. It was as per the directions of the abductors he told his maternal aunt (the phone was picked by the aunt) that he was in Delhi.

According to Manik, he was dropped on road in Lalru last night by two of the abductors. At that time they were riding a motor cycle.

Manik, with his lips sealed with a bandage and rope in the neck, was spotted by Hari Singh, who took him to his residence in Kurli village of Patiala district.

This morning, the man brought Manik to a shopkeeper in Lalru. The shopkeeper called up Manik’s parents in Chandigarh at about 7.30 and latter informed the police.

Mr Hari Singh has corroborated the bandage and rope part of the story told by Manik, said the police sources.


900 cops take part in drill for Kalam’s visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Around 900 police personnel today participated in a drill for the security of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, even as it remains a suspense if he will travel by train or air.

Unclear about whether the President will come by train or air, the Chandigarh police has made arrangements for both. During the rehearsal, security personnel were deployed both along the railway station and technical airport routes.

Sources in the Railways said the option of travelling by train has been kept as a contingency plan as fog might play a spoilsport.

If the fog does not allow the flight of the President, he might come by his special saloon equipped with five-star facilities. The Railways keeps special saloons for the President and the Dalai Lama. These saloons are even better than that of the Railway Minister, sources said.

The Chandigarh railway station has been informed of the possibility of the President travelling by train, sources said.

Considering the land route risky and requiring deployment along the whole route from Delhi to Chandigarh, the President is likely to take the air route, if weather allows.

The Chandigarh police has deployed around 100 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force for the security of the President. All DSPs and Inspectors of the Chandigarh police have been deployed in the security duty.

Sources said the arrangement had been made according to the Blue Book prescribing security arrangements for the VVIPs.

A massive carcade passed through the routes decided for the President to find out chinks in the security arrangements and completed the mission successfully.

The police is confident of the President’s security as it had recently done the same a couple of times in the past, a source said. The President is scheduled to return tomorrow after participating in the 91st Science Congress and that is why the option of travelling by train is likely to have been kept open.

The police and administration are not clear about the mode of transport of the President and have issued passes to mediapersons for both at the railway station and the airport to keep both options open.


Punjab varsities lag in scientific research
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
None of the universities in Punjab is among the top 20 in the country as far as the total output of research publications in all disciplines is concerned. The only redeeming feature, however, is that Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, occupies the ninth place in biological sciences while the PGI, Chandigarh, is second in clinical medicine after the AIIMS, New Delhi.

This is as per the latest survey report, January 2000, on scientific productivity in the country compiled by the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTAD) in collaboration with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Equally disturbing are reports gathered by The Tribune from the universities in Punjab and college science teachers in Chandigarh on the declining trend in admission to basic sciences since the early nineties. The opening up of the economy and the policy of liberalisation and privatisation in consonance with the concept of globalisation may have helped the market economy and management-cum-computer and professional courses to attract bright, meritorious students. Basic sciences — botany, chemistry, geography, mathematics, physics and zoology, attracted only mediocre students.

If the decline in scientific research in the universities and diminishing admissions into basic sciences in Punjab can be reversed, the on-going Indian Science Congress would have truly contributed in making 2004 as the “Year of Scientific Awareness”. This view was expressed by several participants at the 91st session of the congress.

A former head of physics in Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr H.S. Virk, told The Tribune today that till the mid-eighties, Panjab University and the PGI, Chandigarh, PAU and GND University, Amritsar, were included in the top 25 institutions in India. Only Punjabi University, Patiala, had missed the slot in the top 25. Now only the PAU and the PGI figure in the top 25 in biological sciences and clinical medicine, respectively.

Prof. Charanjit Chawla, who teaches botany at Guru Gobind Singh College, said the declining admissions of meritorious students into basic sciences is a matter of serious concern. A nation’s development is hinged to advances in these disciplines. In the changing world scenario biotechnology, genetic engineering and genome research will occupy the centre-stage. Therefore, it was imperative that Punjab too paid greater attention to the promotion of science and technology, both for economic development and social harmony.

Dr Virk reeled official data on declining scientific research in Punjab. It was as much a reflection on teachers as policy-makers. Even going by the composition of delegates to the congress here or those occupying key slots in the Indian Science Congress Association, one hardly finds any Punjabis. And the only institutions that matter are Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Calcutta University and Hyderabad University in the top 20 in all disciplines after the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, BARC, Trombay and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Reseach, Mumbai.

The declining research out in the universities in Punjab started in 1997-98 as compared to 1990-94 and 1979-81. The Indian Institutes of Technology are leading the universities in applied research. In computer sciences, Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, finds a slot among the top 20. There is none from Punjab.

There are apprehensions that Punjab may soon be bracketed with Bihar and Assam in scientific productivity. The state was already lagging behind Orissa, Rajasthan and Haryana. Punjab continues to register a negative growth rate in science and technology despite there being an exclusive university for technical education. Among 26 states and union territories shown in one of the maps of NISTAD on output of scientific papers in 1998, Punjab figures at the 25th slot.

Such trends, said Prof. Chawla and Dr Virk could be corrected as much through the setting up of central research projects and institutions in this region as by adequate funding.

Lack of infrastructure and motivation to young research workers has also played a negative role. Shifting trend from basic sciences to professional courses has to be reversed. Why not have Chairs in the universities to promote science and technology? Non-involvement of scientists and technologists in the planning process is another negative streak in politico-bureaucratic governance that has impeded economic growth.


Next session in Ahmedabad
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The 92nd session of the Indian Science Congress will be held at Ahmedabad from January 3 to 7, 2005. This was disclosed by the president-elect of the Indian Science Congress (ISC), Prof N.K. Ganguly, Director-General of the Indian Science Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, at Panjab University, here today.


Study finds rice, fish fight malaria
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Presence of fish in water bodies and rice crop in the fields has been found to fight malaria. Tried and tested in a number of villages all over the country, these findings were presented by Dr VP Sharma, Additional DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, at the GP Chatterjee Memorial Award Lecture organised on the second day of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University, here today.

“Hope is emerging in malaria control, though globally the situation is worsening,” Dr Sharma said in the beginning of his lecture on “Recent Developments in Malaria Control in India”.

Stating that 90 per cent of the disease burden is in the Sahara belt of South Africa, Dr Sharma said one billion persons were at a risk of malaria while 800 to 1000 deaths were reported by the malaria control programme of the country.

“However, there is no proper recording of instances and the problems are aggravated by the fact that the mosquitoes have stopped responding to sprays. The treatment can take Rs 200 to $1000 depending on the severity of the infection,” he said.

Listing out the factors responsible for the spread of malaria, Dr Verma said it was caused due to global warming, increase in costs of malaria control sprays, increase in area under irrigation, urbanisation and resistance to sprays. “The key to malaria control lies in poverty alleviation,” he held.

Citing examples of malaria control, Dr Verma said in Punjab where as many as 300,000 deaths were reported in 1908 and malaria had set an eight-yearly cycle, malaria had almost disappeared from the state due to the change in cropping pattern.

“Against the 7.6 per cent area under rice cultivation in the 1920s, the cropped area has increased to 29 per cent. As the area under rice cultivation has increased, the number of malaria cases have decreased,” he depicted through slides and graphs.

He suggested that this was a finding worth going in to establish this inverse relationship between the rice and mosquitoes. “Similar experiments have been carried out in Madhya Pradesh with fish. Any water body with fish reduces malaria significantly,” he emphasised.


Young scientists of India, USA to interact
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Dr Bruce AlbertsChandigarh, January 4
Forty young American scientists will visit India later this year to work with young Indian scientists below 45 years under a new Indo-US programme to promote closer ties between the scientific communities of the two countries.

This was disclosed here today by Dr Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Science, USA. The meeting will take place at Bangalore in December. “The idea is to ensure that the younger generation of scientists of the two countries gets to know each other better. After all, the likes of me and Prof R.A. Mashelkar (Director-General of the Scientific Research, Government of India) are not going to be around for all times to come…” Dr Alberts was in town to deliver a lecture at the ongoing 91st session of the Indian Science Congress on the Panjab University campus on “Spreading a scientific temper throughout the world: why and how?”

Dr Alberts is a biochemist recognised throughout the world for his work both in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is noted particularly for his extensive study of the protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated, as required for a living cell to divide.

He has spent his career making significant contributions to the field of life sciences, serving in different capacities on a number of prestigious advisory and editorial boards, including as chairman of the US Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council. He was also president-elect of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Born in 1938 in Chicago, Illinois, Dr Alberts graduated from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a degree in biochemical sciences. He earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1965. He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1966 and after 10 years was appointed professor and vice-chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). In 1980, he was awarded the honour of an American Cancer Society Lifetime Research Professorship. In 1985, he was named chair of the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Dr Alberts has long been committed to the improvement of science education, dedicating much of his time to educational projects such as City Science, a programme seeking to improve science teaching in San Francisco elementary schools. For the period 2000 to 2005, Dr Alberts is the co-chairman of the Inter-Academy Council, a new advisory institution in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of 15 science academies from around the world.

Dr Alberts is no stranger to India or Chandigarh. “I must have visited India 10 times. I have also been here on an earlier occasion,” he said in an interview with TNS.

He said the American view of India regarding the advancement of science was concerned was that both India and China were now emerging as countries as a very strong scientific research base. And whatever they developed could be applied throughout the world. Therefore, the USA needed to collaborate with them.

In this connection, he mentioned that some experiments being conducted in India would have worldwide repercussions. “The USA needs to collaborate with India in conducting experiments on controlling diseases for the simple reason that we don’t have diseases like malaria in the USA. The outcome of such research could be applied for the benefit of humanity in Africa and other continents where this disease was endemic.

Similarly, some other experiments being conducted in India were unique. “For instance, the use of Internet even in the villages in India is fascinating. Nowhere in the world has this been attempted before. In the USA, the conditions are absolutely different.

Therefore, we are watching with great interest the Indian experiment to accelerate growth and development by putting knowledge within the reach of its rural population.”The results of this experiment could be applied throughout the world, especially in developing countries.


Merit-based system can help build scientific temper
Tribune News Service

Guru Jaya Rama Rao and his wife, Vana Shree Rao, perform kuchipudi at the 91st Indian Science Congress at Panjab University in Chandigarh
Guru Jaya Rama Rao and his wife, Vana Shree Rao, perform kuchipudi at the 91st Indian Science Congress at Panjab University in Chandigarh on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 4
Elite classes in the developing world feel threatened by the development of scientific temper and values among the people especially the poor classes, as it would hurt their political and economic interests. But the scientific institutions should press upon them to introduce at least, merit-based system, that would alone encourage the young and talented youth to opt for a career in this field, said Dr Bruce Albert, President, National Academy of Sciences, USA, here today.

In his lecture on “Spreading a scientific temper throughout the world: why and how?” he said, the politicians were mostly interested in short-term goals, and would not bother about long term projects. It was the responsibility of scientists and science institutions that the scientific temper was build up among the masses that would lead towards a better world. The system based on seniority was affecting the development process.

He disclosed that the National Academy of Sciences, USA, was making efforts to popularise science by collaborating with the scientists and institutions in the third world country. Without any direct government funding, he said,” We are making efforts to take independent stand on all scientific issues like green gasses, water pollution and others. Our website www.nationalacademics.org was offering all the reports prepared by the academy for public, he added.

He said a separate Third World Academy of Sciences had been set up recently, that would submit its first report on “Inventing a better future” in February.

Another report on development of South Africa would be submitted later. Further, a forum had been set up for the young scientists, below 45 years of age, to take up new challenges, he added. 


AIDS virus may help fight cancer
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Dr Inder M. VermaChandigarh, January 4
The much-feared AIDS disease may soon help mankind fight other diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and brain disorder. With the help of biotechnology, scientists are making efforts to inject certain genes along with non-fatal AIDS viruses that would fight cancerous cells. Scientists at Salk University, USA, have conducted successful trials on rats, and would soon conduct clinical trials on human beings, said Dr Inder M. Verma, Senior Molecular Biologist at the Laboratory of Genetics, Salk Institute.

He was speaking at a session on “New Frontiers in Biotechnology,” organised at the Indian Science Congress here, today. Dr Verma, who hails from Patiala, had shifted to the USA in the early seventies. He is working on the use of some AIDS viruses to treat cancer, mental illness and Alzheimer’s. He said, “Out of total nine genes of the AIDS virus, some of them do not carry germs. These could be used to fight the cells of other diseases in the human body. We have already conducted successful experiments on rats to treat cancer cells and myopia. We are hopeful that it would open new areas in bio-technology.”

Later, talking to TNS about India’s potential in this field, he said, “The country has a rich infrastructure, skilled manpower and a tradition of research in this area. Some institutes in the country have already made enormous strides in improving the quality of plants and drugs through biotechnology.”

He said the government should remove bottlenecks for the progress of this emerging sector. It should facilitate its development through industrial- academician-government collaboration. He claimed that the golden age of the Indian biotechnology sector had arrived and it would surpass the information technology sector in wealth generation and propelling the national economy, besides improving the life of the masses. It would, however, require the decision makers and institutions concerned to take steps to tap its potential.

In the post-WTO regime, he said the industry would gain substantially by revamping the R&D to develop its own drugs for diabetes, cancer and other diseases. He asserted that though biotechnology could be used in a number of fields, the country should focus on developing new vaccines for predominant diseases like malaria and diabetes and to address the issue of undernourishment among children. The technology could be used to develop new seeds of rice, wheat and other crops.


Sari can help check cholera
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Rita ColwellChandigarh, January 4
The quintessential Indian drapery, the sari, which has till now been associated with making a style statement, is now known to reduce instances of cholera to half.

Amazing but true. Water strained through a sari folded four to eight times, depending on the cloth, can check the transfer of bacteria causing cholera through water. So says the Director of the National Science Foundation, USA, Dr Rita Colwell.

And, this declaration is not based on research alone. It is supported by evidence.”Cholera assumes epidemic proportions every spring and winter. Over the last 25 years, a number of people were taken ill by this bacteria called plankton which is environmental. This microscopic animal lives in estuaries and rivers and cannot be seen with the naked eye,” she said.

This experiment was tried in 60 villages of Bangladesh where the problem was more acute and it yielded amazing results.”


US varsity don against blindly following Western research
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Prof A.M. ChakrabartiChandigarh, January 4
Young Indian scientists should not blindly follow ongoing research projects in the West to get junior-level posts in universities. Instead of running after second-class universities in other countries, they should focus on domestic issues and problems, said Prof A.M.Chakrabarti from Illinois University, Chicago, here today.

In an informal talk with students on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress, he called upon them to focus on fundamental problems and issues of the country, like the development of vaccines for various diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, besides water and air pollution. Biotechnology could be effectively used to address these problems, he said.

Professor Chakrabarti, who hails from Kolkata, said he had already registered a number of patents in his name in the field of micro-organisms, and was now working with the judiciary in the USA to prepare a legal framework to safeguard new developments in technology.

“Young Indian scientists should not blindly follow research trends in the USA and other countries. Rather, they should innovatively use new technologies to address local problems, like water and air pollution, human and plant diseases. It would help them and the country to earn billions of dollars. For this, the judicial system would also have to be re-oriented for evolving safeguards for new technologies through patenting and other mechanisms.” he stated.

Referring to the immense possibilities in biotechnology, he said, Although the vaccination programme has alleviated the suffering of people, still every year lakhs of lives are lost from vaccine-preventable diseases and about three crore children do not receive the basic six vaccines.”

Answering questions of students, he said, “By Indian standards, Indian pharmaceutical companies, like Ranbaxy, may look big, but there is an immense research potential to tap in biotechnology by developing new drugs for new diseases. Indeed, FDI would also have to be tapped to develop new drugs.”

Professor Chakrabarti said the industry would have to come forward to invest $ 5 million to $ 10 million and three to five years’ time to develop a new drug. But once successful, it would fetch billions of rupees. “Our students should dream of such big projects. Instead of craving to get published just one or two articles by American research journals without much relevance, they should focus on fundamental innovative products,” he said.


Midday meal schemes deficient, says expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The problems posed by over-nutrition and under-noursihment formed the main agenda of the session on “Child Development and Nation Building” on the second day of the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University here today.

The chairperson, Prof M.K. Bhan, from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, asserted that the midday meal schemes being run by the government were not sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements.

“Providing calories is not good enough to treat an under-nourished child who requires all nutrients in his food. The scheme is a failure as far as nutrition is concerned,” he claimed during his lecture on “Burden of Micronutrient Deficiency in the Life Cycle and Impact on Development”.

“Most children are found deficient in zinc. While we have realised that iron supplements are a must for expecting mothers, there is very little awareness that zinc, too, needs to be supplemented from the time of conception to delivery,” he said.

Differentiating between communicable and non-communicable diseases, Prof Jacob John, speaking on “Childhood Infectious Diseases: The Unfinished Agenda” said the high mortality rate in infants was due to communicable diseases while the old people died primarily due to non-communicable diseases.

Quoting statistics, Prof John said the 50 per cent of the population was below 34 years, and one-third of the working population was supporting the remaining two thirds, of which 50 per cent were old people.

Stating that 50 per cent of the deaths were in people below 22 years, he went on to inform that immunisation, implemented successfully in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa on account of high literacy levels, was an important tool to check these deaths in most cases.

“India has a systematic weakness in implementing vaccination. The Health Department is nobody’s baby. The state department thinks the Centre will take care and vice-versa,” he said.

Prof John suggested increasing awareness about public health and increasing disease surveillance.

Pointing out that diabetes and hypertension were assuming epidemic proportions among children, Prof H.P.S. Sachdev from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, said over-nutrition was the main culprit.

“Diets have improved considerably and physical activity has fallen drastically”, he stated.

Lamenting that no attention was being paid to over-nutrition, he opined that all public health programmes were crying themselves hoarse about under-nutrition. “Food supplementation is their answer to the problem of under-nutrition. However, they fail to realise that it should be targeted towards those who need it,” he maintained.


Chandigarh Calling

A delegation of lawyers from the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association was in Lahore when the attack on the Pakistani President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, took place on Xmas day. According to Mr Satya Paul, a member of the delegation, the Pakistani authorities briefly toyed with idea of cancelling the planned trip of the lawyers to Nankana Sahib and send them back to India immediately.

It was stated that the area in which the delegation members were supposed to visit was infested with fundamentalists who could object to the visit by the Indian delegation, especially in the surcharged atmosphere throughout Pakistan in the wake of the attack on General Musharraf.

But the Chief Minister of West Punjab, Mr Pervez Ilahi, personally intervened to ensure that the security cover for the Indian lawyers was beefed up and they visited the holy shrine as planned.

The Pakistanis were also quick to notice that the Indian lawyers were as shocked, dismayed and concerned at the attack on General Musharraf as they were. This was mentioned by the Governor of West Punjab, Lieut-Gen Khalid Maqbool (retd), in his speech at one of the receptions held in Lahore for the visiting delegation.

Changing morality

The city’s youth has changed the face of the Union Territory. Once labelled as a sleepy city of babus, the today’s happening Gen X has ushered in a host of changes.

The city has become the new IT Mecca. It is also the new fashion destination for many a designers, models, and wannabe anythings. It has also hosted many of the happening bashes attracting visitors from all over the region.

The city has also got in to the mode of celebrating any number of days — flower day, friendship day, rose day and the mother of all days, the Valentine’s Day.

These days attract a number of youths from other parts of the region for whom the City Beautiful has become the youth capital of the North.

The credit for all this goes to the youth of the city who has surmounted many a barriers to change the profile of the city from the city of babus to a vibrating and young city, full of life.

And as I said all this they did transcending many a barriers but not that of decency. Or so we like to believe or wanted to believe. But this belief in their morals sadly took a tumble recently.

A colleague had gone to watch ‘LOC’ recently at Fun Republic, Mani Majra. There was a young couple sitting next to her. And she said for full four hours the two did everything but watch the movie. Their kissing and smooching did not gel with patriotic fervour of the movie for sure. And it made the movie an unpleasant experience for her definitely.

It is a fervent appeal to the city’s youth — please do every thing you wish to do to look modern and happening but don’t cross the limits of decency. Our moral values are the only thing which has differentiated us from the root-less, floundering youth of West whom we are blindly aping. So please don’t lose the moral values and the faith your elders has placed in you.

Healing power

A free Reiki healing camp organised by Paradise Reiki Healing Organisation and conducted by Reiki Grandmaster, Dr Sonika at Bhagwan Mahavir Shwetamber Jain Temple, Sector 28-D, last week has proven to be a great hit with the people.

It was attended by about 100 people in the age group of 15 years to 80 years. And almost of them had something positive to say about the healing power of Reiki. According to Dr Sonika, Reiki is good for people of all age groups and brings health, happiness and prosperity to its practitioners. Reiki, she says, can cure all types of diseases like high blood pressure, heart failure, insomnia, cancer, joint pain, trauma, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, physiological and psychosomatic disorders. No medicines are required for the treatment. The process relaxes the mind and infuses universal life force energy into the person. Touch healing and mass healing-cum-meditation is also a part of the programme.

Free Reiki healing camps are organised every month by Dr Sonika for the benefit of the people on their request. Several volunteers, including Urmila Bajaj, Poonam, Rekha, Neha Anand, Shivani, Gagan, Preeti, Vinny, Munish and Shveta, also chip in for the smooth conduct of the camp.

Nari shakti

The police stations are feeling the might of ‘nari shakti.’

The design of the police stations, built till around 1990, did not take into consideration the fact that women would be added to the force, hence there were no separate toilets for them in the police stations.

But when women joined the force, they did not find any separate toilets for them in the police stations.

An innovative way out was found in one of the police stations in the southern sectors by allowing the women to use the toilet reserved for the Station House Officer while the common toilet was left for the use of male members of the force.

This particular, police station, however, seemed to have either forgotten to remove ‘For ladies’ written on the door of the toilet that is now used by male members.

A visitor to the toilet in the police station normally returns reading “For ladies” unless told by the staff this is for male members.

The police probably has realised the ‘nari shakti’ and does not want to remove the ‘writing on the wall.’

Who is SC ?

The election of the Municipal Corporation Mayor in the city sparked off a debate that who was qualified to avail of the benefits of a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste.

The Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, had to face opposition from three other SC members of the Congress on the ground that she had won from a general category constituency and thus was not qualified to avail of the benefit. Ms Kamlesh belongs to Bairwa community of Rajasthan.

She had last time contested from the Ram Darbar constituency, reserved for general category. The Mayor had successfully contested her first election from the same constituency which was then reserved for the Scheduled Caste.

Those opposing Ms Kamlesh were from the Valmiki community.

To be sure on the issue, a section of the party got an opinion from the legal experts who gave their approval to the status of Ms Kamlesh as a Scheduled Caste person.

But the legal opinion did not stop the detractors of Ms Kamlesh, the three Congress members from the Valmiki community then started a bargaining process asking for the candidature of any of the three saying the community had been a staunch supporter of the Congress amongst the Scheduled Castes.

They also argued that the Ravidasia community of Ms Kamlesh was a votary of Bahujan Samaj Party, not of the Congress.

The Congress then managed the crisis by getting two of the Valmiki community councillors to propose the name of Ms Kamlesh and offering the third one another term as Deputy Mayor.

As per the Municipal Laws those who propose somebody’s name themselves can not file their nominations for the same post.

The Congress councillors probably did not realise that within their party itself Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde did not lose his Scheduled Caste status after winning from general category constituencies in the Lok Sabha.

IG’s writ

The gun-wielding police personnel sometime back were forced to hold paint brushes when it was brought to their notice that the IGP had ordered removal of advertisements from the beat boxes.

Next day after the fact was brought to the notice of the public by media, SHOs and DSPs were busy getting these advertisements removed.

The policemen had been joking “newspapers ne police ko kuchi pakadwa di (newspapers have forced the police to hold a brush).”

However, it was noticed that advertisements had not been removed from all beat boxes and those at the traffic beat boxes were still there. Sentinel


MP questions working of Central body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The inter-state body constituted by the Centre to look upon the plan for Chandigarh metropolitan is showing indifferent attitude in conducting regular meetings to recommend any solid plan of action.

This was stated by Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, local Member of Parliament, while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Bansal was referring to various questions posed by him in Parliament regarding the issues concerning the city.

He said the last meeting of the inter-state body was held in July, 2000. The follow-up action reports which were to be filed separately by the governments of Punjab and Haryana, had not been done. He said the document of Chandigarh 2020 had remained big in news for sometime. Now the matter seems to be lying in cold storage”.

Mr Bansal said the schemes of developing the housing flats by the administration also lacked in ensuring an overall development of the area. The parks and even internal roads in certain cases remained neglected.

“Common facilities need to be ensured for all citizens in a housing society”, he said. He said the administration needed to take care of the local oustees while allocating homes.

At one time, the local residents were given independent houses, a scheme which was cancelled. The administration should make special arrangements for providing housing in the flats.

Mr Bansal said he had raised a question regarding uneven sharing of the road tax between the administration and the municipal corporation. Chandigarh was a revenue surplus state so property tax should not be applied here. Out of the total roads in the city, the administration was concerned with 511 km of the total stretch and the remaining 1236 km was under the corporation.

The administration needed to increase the corporation share to at least 17 per cent. A proposal in this regard had been lying pending with the Finance Department.

He also questioned the “unjust fee hike” in colleges. He said the government justified the hike by saying that the expenses had increased manifold. “I however, record my dissent on the issue”, he added.

Mr Bansal said the Central Government has claimed to have achieved big growth figures. “Literally, negligent jobs are being generated so the growth figures have no meaning. There has also been a steep rise in the prices of basic services like the LPG and petroleum products.

These reflect poorly on the achievements of the Central Government”, he added.


National Gram Shree Mela from Jan 6
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Ministry of Rural Development’s tradition of holding gram shree melas to bring rural producers and urban consumers on the same platform will continue with the next mela being organised from January 6 onwards in Panchkula.

Started in 1989 by the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), an autonomous body under the aegis of the Ministry of Rural Development, the gram shree melas aim at promoting the products manufactured by the rural poor, grassroots voluntary organisations, through various self help groups (SHGs), mahila mandals and other farmer managed organisations. These distinct identity exhibitions under the banner of gram shree, (literally meaning the wealth of villages) are organised every year in major cities, big towns, and other urban and tourist centres of the country.

This time the chosen location for the fair, which creates an effective marketing mechanism for the rural producers, is Panchkula, which will host the week-long event at HUDA Ground in Sector 5. Apart from taking care of the marketing for the rural producers, the mela will also feature a special cultural show prepared by the Natya manch of Manthan, a voluntary organisation dedicated to the promotion of organic foods in India.

Sources in the ministry informed that the centre for the mela had been chosen keeping in mind the large concentration of high spending capacity consumers here. “The idea is to take the tradition further so as to help the rural poor to upgrade and adjust their product and marketing skills and provide a better service to the consumers by offering them a large marketing opportunity,” said an official, adding that over 70 voluntary organisations, self-help groups, artisans and farmers will to participate in the fair.

It is interesting to note that gram shree mela has now assumed the shape of a movement, ever since it was held for the first time in Bhopal in 1989. Till now over 140 such melas have been organised by CAPART, which recently also commissioned a special review of its initiative, not only at the individual level but also vis-a-vis other craft and art promotions exhibition. On comparing the features of gram shree with other melas and exhibitions, it was found that while most of the exhibitions commissioned annually supported by the Development Commissioner promote craft (dastkar bazars) and trade (handloom expo), gram shree melas seek solutions to the problems of rural poverty through effective marketing mechanisms.

While most of the above mentioned exhibitions market products that are otherwise also easily saleable,, gram shree faces the situation of selling poor quality products made by lakhs of beneficiaries of anti-poverty programmes, many of whom have taken up production activity for the first time in their lives.

The forthcoming mela at Panchkula will be coordinated by a Naraingarh-based voluntary organisation. The primary objective of this fair will be to provide an opportunity to the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) beneficiaries to sell their products in the urban market, besides enabling the producers to negotiate bulk orders through buyer-seller meets, to be organised by professionals attending the fair.


Unruly scenes at apni mandi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 3
Unruly scenes were witnessed at the apni mandi held in Phase VIII here today when shoppers started fighting with vendors over the prices of vegetables. According to eyewitnesses, shoppers also raised slogans against the Kharar Market Committee, which is regulating various apni mandis in the township.

Sources said a major verbal duel began between some shoppers and a vegetable vendor when the latter was told by them that the rates he was quoting were more than those written on the blackboard by market committee officials. While the market committee gave the maximum rates at which the vegetables could be sold, the vendors alleged that they were selling vegetables keeping that as the minimum cost.  

When some of the shoppers pointed this out the vendors started arguing, saying that the rates fixed by the market committee were of rotten vegetables not the fresh ones. This led to a grouping of shoppers and vegetable vendors against each other and for over an hour, verbal duels and unruly scenes were witnessed. The police intervened and the situation was brought under control.  

A member of the market committee said the rates written on the board were to give a rough idea about the actual rates in the market.

He said in case a vendor sold a vegetable for higher than what other vendors were selling it for, then he was the one who suffered losses.


Panel for water charges for professionals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Water Supply and Sewage Disposal Committee has recommended that the Municipal Corporation should levy residential charges for water connections for doctors, lawyers, architects and other professionals, practising in their own houses.

The corporation is presently charging commercial rates at houses of such professionals. Sources said one of the recommendations under consideration was to charge 20 per cent of the house area of professionals at commercial rates and the remaining 80 per cent at domestic rates. This, however, is not easily applicable.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Mr Pradeep Chhabra, Senior Deputy Mayor. Other members included Dr K.S.Raju, Brig Sant Singh, Mrs Geeta Rani, Mr Surinder Singh, Mrs Pushpa Sharma and Mr Vijay Rana.


‘Path’ to imbibe religious feelings among youth held
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 4
Devotees thronged the ‘Sunder Kand path’ organised by the Sri Swami Prem Puri Satsang Mandal, Sector 45, here today sponsored by the Youngsters Welfare Society, Sector 61, Mohali. The ‘path’ was organised by the mandal was aimed at inculcation of religious feelings among the youth.

‘‘The path was performed to ensure that the youth are brought closer to their Indian culture especially when they are constantly under the influence of western culture through TV. The youth along with their parents participate together and thus a sense of bonding is inculcated in them,’’ said Mr Ashok Vij, president of the mandal.

Among those who spoke at the function included Mr R.P. Bhandari, Prof Sham Sunder, Mrs Mala and Mrs Sushma. Mr Nitesh and Mr Raina of the Youngsters Welfare Society, participated in the path. The path concluded with a well attended bhandara.


Governor watches ‘LoC’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Punjab Governor and Union Territory Administrator Justice O.P. Verma (retd) today visited the Fun Republic to watch ‘LoC’.

The Governor and his wife enjoyed the movie for around two hours and left, sources told Chandigarh Tribune.

The movie has been attracting VIPs who want to see how the country won the Kargil conflict.


Jagannath ‘rath yatra’ held

Panchkula, January 4
A colourful "Jagannath rath yatra" was taken out under the aegis of the Sri Gobind Dham, Sector 12, here today.

The yatra, which started from the Dham, passed through Sectors 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15 before ending at the Dham.Thousands of devotees, including students of Bright Public School and BN Public School, marched on foot through various sectors in the yatra. TNS


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Mr Jagmohan Singh Hans is the Editor of the Punjab State Gazetteer, and not Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, as inadvertently mentioned in the columns of our paper on January 3. The error is regretted.


14 CPUs stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Fourteen central processing units (CPUs) of HCL computers were allegedly stolen from SCO number 307 in Sector 35 B here today.

Thieves only picked up computers of popular variants and did not touch other electronic items.

The electronic centre owner, Mr Rajesh Goel said the thieves broke four locks on the ground and first floors, but only targeted computers.

The CPUs were insured and were of November and December batches. The thieves interestingly spared costlier computers which were lying behind the ones stolen today.

The owners of the shop came to know about the incident when they came to open it.

"I was surprised to see locks of the ground floor, basement, stairs and first floor opened and cartons of CPUs lying in the stairs," Mr Goel said today. Had it not been a sale today, they would not have come to know of the incident till tomorrow, he said.

Mr Goel ruled out the possibility of an insider being involved in the incident, saying in that case, other electronic goods would also have been stolen.

The police found out that had been working labourers at Kapil Hotel till 4 am and the incident might have taken place only after they fell asleep.

Surprisingly, the biggest electronic market of the city does not have any private night watchman.


12 bottles of liquor recovered
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, January 4
The police here on Friday night arrested a man and recovered 12 bottles of countrymade liquor from him.

On a tip-off the police putup a naka on a link road to Pir Muchhaila village and nabbed Randhir Singh of Vasa village in Kaithal while he was carrying 12 bottles of liquor in a bag.

The police said that during questioning, Randhir Singh admitted that he used to sell liquor in bordering village of Haryana on a retail basis.

A case under the provisions of the Excise Act has been registered against him at Zirakpur police station.

He was produced before a Rajpura court today and granted bail.

Truck stolen

In another auto theft case, a truck was stolen from outside a restaurant located on the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway near here on Friday night.

According to the police, driver of the truck (HR-55-5540) Mr Jasbir Singh, had parked the vehicle outside a restaurant on the highway and with his helper had gone to have dinner at a nearby dhaba. Jasbir Singh found the truck missing when he returned to the site.

In his complaint to the Dera Bassi police, the truck driver has complained that after downloading goods in Dera Bassi he had come to Zirakpur for reloading of some other goods from Zirakpur when the incident occurred.

The police has registered a case on his complaint but no headway has been made in this regard so far.


Man hangs himself
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
Thirtytwo-year-old Anurag ended his life by hanging himself from the ceiling of his shop-cum-flat residence in Sector 15 here. His body was found hanging by his servant this morning. However, no suicide note was found.

The police said Anurag was suffering from depression. His wife had left him five months ago and the couple had no issue. On the request of family members, the body was handed over to them without a post-mortem examination, said the police.


HCCI delegation to visit Ethiopia
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 4
With a view to exploring export possibilities to Ethiopia, a delegation of the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry(HCCI) will visit the African nation this month, the HCCI president, Mr CB Goel, said here today.

Talking to reporters here last night, Mr Goel said eminent industrialists, NRIs and representatives of the Industries Department would be part of the delegation which would identify the areas of cooperation between the two countries. With hardly any manufacturing base and having a population of over seven crore, Ethiopia offered vast potential for technology transfer from India, added Mr Satish Gupta, chairman of the Panchkula district unit of the HCCI.

Urging the Haryana Government to sponsor the tour, Mr Goel said apart from Ethiopia there was a vast scope for bilateral trade between India and Pakistan as people of the two nations shared common past and needs.

Earlier,during an interaction, Mr Darshan Rai, an NRI based in Dubai, said Ethiopia could serve as a window for the Indian industry to the other parts of the world. Indian industries could form a cluster to complete with the MNCs to explore export potential in the African countries, he added.

Mr Vishal Malik, authorised representative of the Ethiopian Ambassador, said there was a big scope for the Indian auto industry, building industry and value-added products and services in the African nation.

The Joint Director of the Industries Department,Mr HR Sharma, assured the participants that the government would make all efforts to promote export from the state. Prominent among those, who attended the meeting were Mr A.L. Aggarwal, Mr Rajneesh Kumar and Mr Dharinder Tayal.

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