C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Conspiracy behind jailbreak unravelled
Former militant held in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The Chandigarh Police today claimed to have unravelled the conspiracy behind the January 22 escape of dreaded terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara and three others from Burail jail here after arresting a former militant Narain Singh Chaura from Mohali.

“The mastermind of the conspiracy Narain Singh Chaura who provided logistic support from outside has been arrested and details of the conspiracy have been extracted from him,” Inspector-General of Police Rajesh Kumar told a press conference here today.

He was aware of the planning of the jail break for quite some time and the execution of the plan was intensified in mid-January, Mr Rajesh Kumar, flanked with SSP Gaurav Yadav and SP (Operations) HGS Dhaliwal, said.

On January 16, Narain Singh Chaura of Chaura village in Gurdaspur, Major-Gen Narinder Singh (retd) and one unidentified couple went to meet Hawara and others in the jail. He was accompanied by an advocate to facilitate their meeting. The advocate has not been named by the police.

A long bundle of cloth, under the guise of turbans for the detained terrorists and three kilogram of dry fruits were delivered to them. Chaura along with Major-Gen Narinder Singh again went to meet Hawara on the very next day, when a court hearing was fixed for that day.

During this meeting, Hawara asked Chaura to meet a woman at a gurdwara at Mohali on the same day at an appointed time. That woman was supposed to carry a red handkerchief for identification. Chaura met the woman in the gurdwara where she received a telephone call for Chaura on her mobile phone. When Chaura was put on the line he was instructed to remain there for half an hour as a call from “Prince” (Hawara) was to come within this time. After about half an hour’s time a call on the same mobile was received. Hawara, while talking on that mobile, instructed Chaura to attend the marriage of Manochhal’s niece at Guru Asra Trust in Mohali on January 18, where further instructions were to be conveyed to him. Chaura was instructed to give a specific sum to the woman.

In the marriage, Chaura was asked to purchase a brand new mobile set and a sim card and make a call to the mobile number of Jagtar Singh Hawara, which the dreaded terrorist perhaps had in the jail. Chaura was also asked to remain in touch with the woman.

On January 19, Chaura established the contact with Hawara and was asked to ensure blackout inside the jail on the night of January 21. Chaura put a thick iron chain on the main feeder line near the transformers after conducting a reconnaissance of the area. Chaura bought six iron chains and tied them together alongwith a heavy stone on the ends. Chaura was also asked to arrange transport.

On January 21, Narain Singh Chaura go a call from Hawara to position himself near the jail around 8.30 pm since the timings selected for the escape was between 9 or 10 pm. The day was chosen as it was “amavasya.”

Chaura threw the chain on the feeder line at 9 pm resulting in a blackout for a few minutes. The power supply was restored shortly, However, during the intervening period Hawara, Paramjit Singh Bheora, Jagtar Singh Tara and Dev Singh managed to escape out of the tunnel. Chaura was positioned at an appointed place in Mohali, in which all these four persons went away.

Rajesh Kumar said the police was on the trail to recapture Hawara and others on the basis of information provided by Chaura.

Chaura, a former chief of Akal Federation and a militant ideologue trained in Pakistan, has written books on Sikh militancy. Chaura had been to Pakistan thrice before he returned to India in 1995.

The police said Chaura had been trying to revive militancy through overt and covert efforts and is termed as a professor of militancy. He has authored books on guerrilla warfare and produced speeches of Bhindranwale under the title “Sikh Garj.” He was also responsible for launching a subversive radio programme “Punjabi Darbar.”


CFSL seeks more time to file report

Chandigarh, January 30
A team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) led by a Deputy Director today met officials of the Chandigarh Administration and sought more time to submit a formal report on how the tunnel in Burail Jail was dug. Sources said even the teams of the engineering wing of the Chandigarh Administration and Punjab Engineering College have not submitted their reports.

The three teams from these departments had collected samples of soil to ascertain what kind of implements were used for digging and also what material was used to strengthen the walls of the tunnel. In the initial reports it was suggested that an electrical machine was used to dig out the earth. The police, however, has not been able to find the machine.

It was expected that a formal report would be out today. TNS


3 shot at in robbery bid
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 30
An employee of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), a home guard jawan and an autorickshaw driver sustained bullet injuries when two scooter-borne masked youths attempted to loot them of Rs 3,15,060 and cheques worth Rs 61,987 at gunpoint in broad daylight here today.

The assailants shot at Mr Ranjit Singh, peon with the LIC, Mr Tarlochan Singh, home guard jawan, and Mr Paramjit Singh, autorickshaw driver, with a pistol following a scuffle over a bag containing the sum in the courtyard of Sadashiv Complex, housing the LIC office on the third floor, located on the Kalka-Ambala highway near here.

Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta, an assistant administrative officer with the LIC, who was accompanying them at the time of the incident, escaped unhurt.

The trio were on their way to deposit Rs 3,15,060 and cheques worth Rs 61,987 from the LIC office to the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala located around 500 metres away, when the assailants fired
at them.

After receiving first-aid at the Civil Hospital at Dera Bassi, the injured were rushed to the PGI in Chandigarh. The assailants, fled on their scooter.

According to eyewitnesses, the assailants were waiting for LIC employees to come down from the staircase of their office building and tried to snatch the bag from Mr Ranjit Singh at gunpoint.

Despite resistance from Mr Ranjit Singh and Mr Gupta, one of the youths snatched the bag from them and ran towards his accomplice, waiting for him on the scooter, which was on. Home guard jawans Tarlochan Singh and Hari Singh, carrying sticks, pounced upon him, made him lie down on the ground and beat him up, said Mr Mohan Lal, a tea vendor,
an eyewitness.

The assailant raised his head and pointed his pistol towards the LIC employees and fired three shots. “One bullet pierced Mr Ranjit Singh’s chest near the collar bone, the second hit Mr Paramjit Singh in the thigh, and Mr Tarlochan Singh sustained injuries on his hand in the third shot,” he added.

Mr Mohan Lal the pistol of the assailant said fell during the scuffle. In the meantime, his accomplice reached the spot and pointed his pistol at them. As they ran in self-defence with the money, the assailants sped away on their scooter towards Anaj Mandi.

Another eyewitness said Mr Mohan Lal and Mr Paramjit Singh also rushed in to foil the robbery bid, in which Mr Paramjit Singh sustained bullet injuries and Mr Mohan Lal had a narrow escape.

Mr Ranjit Singh went upstairs and handed over the bag to Mr Pyara Singh, senior branch manager with the LIC.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Pyara Singh claimed that Mr Ranjit Singh and Mr Gupta were escorted by the home guard jawans while going to deposit the money in the bank when the incident occurred. He complained that the police had not provided them with adequate security despite repeated representations.

Soon after the incident, Mr Deepak Raj Garg, Subdivisional Magistrate, and Mr G.P. Singh, Station House Officer, Dera Bassi, reached the spot and recovered three used cartridges from the scene. The police also took samples of the blood splattered on the ground.

Mr Manmohan Sharma, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dera Bassi, was not available for comments. Mr G.P. Singh claimed that the assailants used a grey Bajaj Chetak scooter with a Patiala registration number. The assailants had covered the number plate of the scooter with mud. The home guard jawans read PB-11-E as part of the scooter number.

The police sounded an alert in neighbouring states, and Chandigarh and all entry points to and exit points from Dera Bassi were sealed. The police also contacted the District Transport Office and sought a list of scooters allotted registration numbers under the PB-11E series.

A case under Section 364 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act was registered on the complaint of Mr Hari Singh.

Sources in the police said Mr Inder Mohan, Superintendent of Police (Detective), and Mr Sharma held a meeting with their subordinates and decided to prepare dossiers of the criminals involved in such activities in the area in the past. Panic gripped the residents after the news of the incident spread. This was the second such incident in the last five years.

Earlier, a librarian of Government Senior Secondary School, Dyalpura, near Zirakpur, was also shot near the State Bank of Patiala branch in broad daylight. The robbers had decamped with a bag containing over Rs 6 lakh.


Bird flu rumours baseless, says farmers’ panel
Tribune News Service

Barwala (Panchkula), January 30
Even as the largest poultry belt in the North India here is yet to report any case of the bird flu, the Haryana Government has drawn up a strategy to deal with the possible outbreak of the dreaded disease.

According to sources, a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Dr KS Dangi, Director of the Animal Husbandry, was held at Chandigarh yesterday in which the Assistant Poultry Officers of the districts were asked to keep a close watch on the poultry farms in their areas. Similarly, the poultry farm owners had been asked not to allow strangers in their poultry farms.

Meanwhile, reacting to the media reports that over 5,000 egg-laying hens have died of the bird flu in Hisar, the Northern India Poultry Farmers Association clarified that there was no connection between the chicken consumption and infection.

Mr Rajinder Mittal, general secretary, said the rumours of panic on account of bird flu were “baseless” and had been spread by the vested interests. In fact, even the Central Government had put the record straight by reiterating that India continued to be free from bird flu.

The association claimed that it was pointless to compare the Indian poultry industry with the industries in Asian countries, including Pakistan, which had been severely hit by the bird flu. The very fact that no case of bird flu had been reported in the country during the last 40 years showed that hygiene was a priority in the Indian poultry industry.


Rain intensifies cold wave
Tribune News Service


* The maximum and minimum temperatures recorded at 15 °C and 10.2 °C, respectively.
* Intermittent rains to continue for another day, say weathermen.
* Rain plays spoilsport as public functions cancelled; It being a marriage season people forced to make alternative arrangements
* Construction activity affected
* Markets were deserted.

Chandigarh, January 30
The city was again in the grip of cold-wave condition as intermittent spells of rain threw the normal life out of gear. The intensity of the rain increased towards the evening, affecting the traffic on the city roads.

Attributing the change in weather due to certain metrological factors, weathermen said the maximum temperature had fallen to 15°C, 5 degrees below normal for this time of the year. The minimum temperature was recorded at 10.2°C. Over the past three days the minimum temperature has been rising due to warm conditions.

The weathermen said the spells of rainfall were likely to continue for another day which could further intensify the cold-wave condition in the region.

Till 8 a.m., the weather observatory at the Air Force Station has recorded 3mm of rainfall. Wide-spread rain was reported from the adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana, said the met officials.

Explaining the phenomenon, officials at the met office said, a lower pressure system had resulted in the rainfall. The snowfall at Shimla could further intensify cold-wave condition in the region.

In the city, the intermittent rainfall forced the cancellation of a number of public functions in the city. It being a marriage season, people were forced to make alternative arrangements.

Besides inundating low-lying areas, the traffic on the roads was moving at snails pace due to poor visibility. A number of vehicles were stranded on the roads. The wet conditions resulted in shortage of daily-wage earners as the rainfall played spoilsport. The markets wore a deserted look as a few person turned up for shopping in the commercial centres. The business at the cinema houses was also affected.


Geeta Hooda challenges arrest stay order

Chandigarh, January 30
In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Dr Geeta Grewal — daughter-in-law of Haryana Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda — today sought directions for setting aside an order passed by Panchkula's Additional District and Sessions Judge whereby the arrest of her in-laws was stayed in an alleged dowry demand case.

Blaming them for levelling false allegations against her, the petitioner had submitted that the two, after obtaining stay orders, were constantly threatening her and her father to withdraw the complaint.

Describing the allegations as serious, the petitioner had submitted that as per the first information report, the Hooda's had demanded Rs 60 lakh from her parents. She further alleged that the Hoodas, by using their political influence, had not been properly joining the investigation. As such, the orders deserved to be quashed. — TNS


Gen Mehta looks back with affection
Tribune News Service

The order of the day, which will be presented by Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta before the troops in his address tomorrow, will highlight the following four points:

* to substantially upgrade operational readiness and jointmanship and to further professional excellence,

* to enhance the quality of life of all ranks and their families,

* to innovatively and qualitatively enhance institutions within the command for the benefit of all service personnel and their families,

* to revolutionise the concept and manner of dealing with the vast exservicemen community. 

Chandigarh, January 30
Once an Army man, always an Army man. And the ‘always’ here in the case of Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, stretches into the next three births, if he had a choice. In fact, his wishlist begins and ends with the Army word. “If I were given three choices in each of my next three births, it will be Army! Army! Army!” the General said on his eve of his retirement while talking to mediapersons at Chandimandir here today.

Lieut-General Mehta, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command Headquarters, who retires tomorrow after putting in 41 years of service, said “I am feeling great and enriched about the outstanding experience I had while serving the force.” Born in Rawalpindi on January 20, 1944, he got commissioned into the Army in 1962 in 63rd Cavalry, a regiment he commanded later on.

Talking on the Kashmir problem, the General said, “The Army can never be an answer to any problem with political connotations. It can only create conducive environment, where political dialogue can take place to resolve the problem.” The job of the Army was the preservation of peace, he added.

The dimensions of threat were constantly changing and the terrorists were becoming more well equipped and armed, both morally and materialistically. Hence, there was need to use an equally well-equipped force against them, the outgoing General said while adding that the biggest challenge before the Army was to be always prepared to meet all kinds of challenges.

Lieut-General Mehta said he saw a bright future of the Indian armed forces, which had been modernised with conceptual thinking and was still on the path of development. As part of its move to imbibe information technology, a small communication device would be made available to all soldiers to get details about the time data on the battlefield.

The setting up of the Army Technology Board and the Army Management Studies Board would go a long way in the upgradation of the armed forces with the relevant collaborations with the IITs and the IIMs of the country to get the latest technology required by the force. These were set up two years back when he was the Commander of ARTRAC (Army Training Command) in Shimla. Answering a question on the budgetary allocation of funds being inadequate, General Mehta quipped, “the Army is getting, what they need”.

He said a tribunal would be set up to take stock of the increase in the number of litigation cases against the Army authorities and there was thinking on these lines within the force.

The General, who could not recall even a single moment of regret, during his entire service, said the career in the Army was a great challenge in terms of the value and quality of life it promised and also the money it offered. But still the younger generation opted for a career in private and public sectors as it promised greater monetary benefits early in life.

General Mehta had no immediate plans after his retirement tomorrow, but intended to settle down in Pune. His son is presently serving in his parent regiment, 63rd Cavalry, and his three other brothers, younger to him, are also in the Army.


CBSE offers help to Punjab school board
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) has offered to assist the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) in improving its process of evaluation of answer sheets.

Acting on a request of the Punjab School Education Board, the regional office of the CBSE here has been asked to do the needful. In the past the state education board had been struggling to plug the loopholes in the system of the conduct of examination and the evaluation of the answer sheets.

A number of reforms have been introduced. But the chinks in the system of the evaluation of the answer sheets and the preparation of the award lists gave an opportunity to unscrupulous elements to take unsuspecting students for a ride.

Sources in the state education board said in a communication to the CBSE that the board desired to study the evaluation of answer sheets, process of collection of answer sheets from examination centres, dispatching of answer sheets, process of collecting award lists from examiners and paying of remuneration to examiners.

When contacted, the Regional Officer of the CBSE, Mr P.I.Sabu, confirmed that a request letter of the PSEB had been forwarded to him by the CBSE headquarters. He said the CBSE had a foolproof system for the conduct of examination and many state boards were adopting it.

Ms Narinder Kaur, Controller of Examination, PSEB, said , “ The board was interested in studying the process of evaluation of answer sheets being followed by the CBSE. If we find it good, we might follow it”. The reforms were for the betterment of the students, she added.


Special cell to curb female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The Union Family Welfare Ministry will soon constitute a surveillance cell, comprising senior police officers, to help the Health Department in curbing the menace of female foeticide through the strict implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test (PNDT) Act.

Stating this here today, Mr P.K. Hota, Secretary, Family Welfare, emphasised the need for strict implementation of the PNDT Act to check female foeticide, which was one of the top priorities in the family welfare programme. Ten districts in Punjab and Haryana are amongst the 10 districts with the lowest sex ratio in the country.

Keeping in view the acute shortage of gynaecologists and obstetricians, the ministry will launch a massive campaign “Vande Matram” on February, 9. “Through this venture 18,000 gynaecologists affiliated with the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India will volunteer their specialised services free of charge in all government health institutions on February,9,” said Mr Hota.

The Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Mr D.S. Guru, said maternal mortality rate in the state was 196 as compared to 407 at the national level. 


Mahatma Gandhi remembered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 30
Lectures were organised by Panjab University’s Department of Gandhian Studies at Gandhi Bhavan on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary. A shahid smriti diwas was also organised at Sector 16 Gandhi Samarak Bhavan in collaboration with Sector 36 Dev Samaj College of Education.

A seminar was also organised by Sector 40 Government High School in collaboration with the university’s Directorate of Adult Education. The students and the teachers also pledged to “take care of the girl child” and to remove illiteracy, besides planting more trees for clean environment.

Meanwhile, addressing the gathering, chairman of Servants of the People Society Onkar Chand asserted that Gandhi ji’s message of satya and ahinsa was all the more relevant in today’s world where violence and terrorism were on increase.

At Gandhi Samarak Bhavan, a two-minute silence was observed. Prof V C Nanda, who retired from Panjab University, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. He talked about the Mahatma and his principles.

The programme progressed with shalokas from the Bhagwadgeeta by Archana. A group song was also presented by college students. Members’ of college’s Charkha Club, along with the members of Gandhi Samarak Bhavan, also spinned charkha. Poems and speeches were delivered by the college students.

The principal of Dev Samaj College, Dr Satinder Dhillon, said, “By following the teachings of love, peace and respect towards all, we can make our society and nation a wonderful place to live as desired by father of the nation”.

Ropar: The martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi was observed at the Mini Secretariat here on Friday by observing two-minute silence. All officers of the district, including the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi. A contingent of the Punjab Police reversed arms.


Admn staff observe silence

Chandigarh, January 30
Officers and employees of the Chandigarh Administration led by Home Secretary R.S. Gujral observed a two-minute silence in the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for India’s freedom at UT Secretariat, Sector 9, here today. Joint Secretary Home Ashok Sangwan, Chief Engineer V.K. Bhardwaj and S.P. (Operations) H.G.S. Dhaliwal were present. TNS


MC house to discuss PUDA offer on cattle pound
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 30
The offer of 2 acres for a cattle pound by the Punjab Planning and Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to the Municipal Council will be discussed by its general house at its meeting to be held shortly.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the Municipal Council, told Chandigarh Tribune here today he personally felt that the land for the cattle pound should have been given free of cost.

But since residents were facing the problem of stray animals, the council would have to accept the offer. The final decision in this regard would be taken by the House.

He said PUDA had offered to give 2 acres at the rate of Rs 15 lakh per acre. The council had been asked to deposit Rs 6 lakh within a month. A letter to this effect was received from the PUDA authorities by the civic body here yesterday.

After taking possession of the land the council would have to construct a boundary wall and a shed in the area, he added.

The disposal of the increasing number of stray animals has become a problem for the civic body. At present the council has a small cattle pound where only 15 to 20 animals can be kept at a time. In fact, on January 14 the council had asked officials of the Local Government, in a letter, to issue necessary guidelines as to where the stray animals, caught by the council staff, were to be released.

Two writ petitions, in connection with the problem of stray animals, had been preferred in the Punjab and Haryana High Court following which directions were given by the court in December last year to PUDA to allot land for the cattle pound at a lower price.

Earlier, at a meeting held on May 15, 2002, the council had rejected PUDA’s offer of providing land for a cattle pound at an exhorbitant price of over Rs 1.70 crore. Rejecting the offer the House had said it was the responsibility of PUDA to provide essential facilities such as community centres, schools, cremation ground, a cattle pound, etc.

In November 2001 PUDA had agreed to give 2 acres for the cattle pound on a cost basis, if the council deposited Rs 1 lakh as token money. On December 21, 2001, the token money was deposited. But in a letter in May 2002, PUDA had stated that the land would be allotted at the rate of Rs 1758 per sq yd with the total cost coming to Rs 1,70,17,440. The council was asked to deposit 25 per cent of the amount (Rs 42,54,360) within 60 days.


Ex-prof, wife killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
A 70-year-old former professor of DAV College, Chandigarh, Mr R.K.Kanwar and his 65 year-old wife, Ved Kanwar, were today killed in a road accident near Shimla. The couple was returning after attending the condolence ceremony of a relative when the accident took place. 


2 women beat up another
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 30
Ms Neena Sharma, wife of a noted visually challenged musician, Prof Murli Dhar Soni, was today allegedly assaulted by two women at her Sector 14 residence.

According to information, Ms Sharma was alone at her house when the assailants, including Ms Sumitra, wife of a Haryana Police Head Constable, Mr Jagvir Singh, posted in the security of a top bureaucrat, at Chandigarh, barged into the house. They bolted the door from inside and hit Ms Sharma several times.

A dispute over the continuation of the services of the maid servant of Ms Sharma — Ms Ram Dai — is reported to be the reason behind the attack.

As Ms Sharma was being attacked, a family friend, Mr Darshan Lal, dropped by to hand over a sim card of a mobile phone. It was Mr Darshan Lal, who forced opened the door and came to the rescue of Ms Sharma. Professor Soni, who teaches music at a local government college, was away to Karnal.

Mr Darshan Lal rushed Ms Sharma to the local General Hospital where she was medically-examined.

A DDR has been lodged at the Sector 15 police post. Meanwhile, Ms Sharma alleged that the police was “shielding” the accused and no action was being taken against them. She alleged that the attackers had threatened her of dire consequences, in case the complaint was not taken back.

The president of the Citizens’ Welfare Association, Mr S.K. Nayar, has expressed concern at the deteriorating law and order situation in the town. The cases of murder, robbery, flesh trade and eve-teasing were on an upswing, he added.


10-yr-old girl found dead
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 30
Body of a 10-year old girl Meera of Faidan village here was found today in a nullah passing near the village. Her father Papu told the police that Meera had left the house at around 3 pm yesterday to collect fire wood but did not return by the evening. A missing person’s report was lodged with the police.

The body was noticed by a passerby this morning. There were no apparent injury marks on the body of the girl, said police sources. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination, which would be performed tomorrow. 

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