C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Gross negligence!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Burail jailbreak on January 21 was the result of gross negligence by the authorities, feel a majority of citizens. This is what some of them had to say:

Himmat Singh Gill

Himmat Singh GillAll this happened as there was no sharing of information among various security agencies. It is a failure on the administrative as well as the security front. 

The jail authorities are to blame. However, one is not sure if they were given a tip-off by the agencies. I really do not know what we have been doing with the massive infrastructure in the jail and its administrators and also the police. And I see no reason for Mr R.S. Gupta to come and start an inquiry almost two weeks after the jailbreak took place. Mr Gupta should have been here earlier. 

Pawan Bansal, MP

Pawan BansalGiven the system by which Chandigarh is governed, I will put the blame for the jailbreak on Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani. Let the inquiry decide who all are responsible and then stern action should be taken against them. 

Mr Advani has to take action against people who are responsible for the jail break, otherwise there is no use hiding behind the so- called “feel good” factor. What is the use of high sounding words if such incidents happen and instill fear in the minds of the people.

Satya Pal Jain, former MP

Satya Pal JainThis is a failure of the jail staff. Till the inquiry is complete, I cannot say if senior officers are involved.

So far, I am satisfied with the work of the investigating agencies who have arrested a few of the
co-accused. But the Administration should have taken steps when an attempt to make a tunnel in the jail was reported about three years ago. Even I will want to
know what steps were taken to prevent such occurrences.

Sube Singh, ex-DGP, Punjab

Sube SinghIt is not just the police that committed serious lapses, the Chandigarh Administration, too, is to be blamed for this negligence. But no action has been taken against anyone in the administration.

Why should the Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh, who is already a busy man, be given charge of IG (Prisons)? The jailbreak took place with the connivance of the jail staff. A careful follow- up of the entries in the visitors’ record book could have foiled the jailbreak plan. For hardcore terrorists there should have been a separate high- security prison. You cannot keep them with other criminals. The jail staff loses focus and such lapses take place.

Mrs Hariti Singh, housewife

Hariti SinghIf one is working in an MNC, one can be sacked for making a small mistake. But in the jailbreak episode, responsibility has not been fixed on anyone. It is evident that officials of the Chandigarh Administration and top jail officials were hand in glove with the fugitives. It is shocking the way the three terrorists and their accomplice escaped from the jail. Digging a tunnel in the jail and escaping through it, shows the connivance of the rank and file of the jail staff. It shows that policemen can help anybody other than the common man. They have no scruples, no responsibility or sense of duty. They should be punished for such a major lapse in security.

Dr VP Dubey, Ex-bureaucrat

VP DubeyThe “warning signals” in the light of the past such aborted attempts should have alerted the jail administration. The Jail Manual regarding the custody of the inmates was not followed in letter and in spirit and no checking mechanism over the lower jail staff seemed to be in place, making it a failure at all levels. 

The in-depth inquiry into the case should be used as an opportunity to plug the loopholes in the administration of jails in the country to prevent a repeat of such incidents.

Dr H S Laltoo, PUTA chief

H S LaltooA section in the administration and the police was definitely supporting the terrorists. This is the beginning of a dangerous trend, though support from these quarters, the administration, the police and the jail authorities, in facilitating the escape is indisputable, to determine the extent of their involvement is a complex matter. 

While the common man continues to be harassed for absolutely no fault of his surprisingly, it fails to work when the police actually needs to assert itself.

Mr Ashok Goyal, Senator, PU

Ashok GoyalThe jailbreak by terrorists came as a shock to me. While the jail authorities worked hand in glove with the terrorists, their seniors, too, were as much to blame since they had failed to perform their duty. 

The Chandigarh Administration and the police cannot escape responsibility for this daring act of the terrorists committed right under their noses. 

It has exposed negligence on the part of all those who manage the jail and their casual approach to work. Action must be taken against them in accordance with the law. Back



Escape plans for Jan 13, 20 were abandoned
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The alleged assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Jagtar Singh Hawara and three others had dropped their plan to escape from the Burail Jail here first on January 13
and then on January 20 .

Hawara had sent messages across for reliable transport but it could not be done on those days, the police says. This information was given to the police during the interrogation of one of the facilitators in the escape, Baljit Kaur, arrested on
January 31.

This indicates that the tunnel was ready before January 13 when the first escape was planned .

The revelation by Baljit Kaur and Narain Singh Chaura, who arranged for the failure of electricity during the escape, also indicates negligence in the checking of their room by the jail authorities .

The sources revealed Narain Singh Chaura had been selected by Hawara for the specific task of disrupting electricity. He was chosen from among several persons as "Professor of Militancy" (Chaura).

Baljit Kaur, wife of Lakhwinder Singh, alias Lakha, was given the task of arranging for transport and carrying messages of Hawara from the jail to those engaged for the job outside.

The police has found out that Baljit Kaur had met her jailed husband on December 31, 2003, and also on January 3, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21 this year.

The police said Hawara would send a message to Lakha who passed it on to Baljit Kaur.

The police has taken Lakha on production remand to corroborate the story narrated by his wife and Chaura. The police has identified the person whose car was used to transport Hawara and others to a place in Ropar district.

The police said Hawara, who had planned a need-to-know strategy for the escape, had not informed Chaura about what the woman was required to do. Similarly, Baljit Kaur had not been informed as to what Chaura was asked to do.

The area where they were dropped by car is known as a Babbar belt with several sympathisers of the Babbars believed to be residing there..

Chaura and Baljit Kaur had undertaken a reccee of the area to ascertain the deployment of the police there. Chaura is believed not to have accompanied Hawara and others in the car arranged by Baljit Kaur.

Messages for the entire operation were communicated through code- names. Chaura was code-named "Buzurg", Lakha as "Lakheri or clerk", electricity as "Dawai", transformer as "Dawai di dukan", Dhanna Sahib Gurdwara adjacent to the jail as "Parjhai da ghar" and Amb Sahib Gurdwara as "Mame da ghar."

Baljit Kaur had taken rented accommodation in Amb Sahib Gurdwara to accomplish the task.

The police it trying to piece together different links in the entire operation.

The police said Hawara had rejected a large number of persons to be chosen for a particular task.

Meanwhile, the arrested Deputy Superintendent of Burail Jail, V.M Gill, Pakistani spy Abid Mehmood and three jail inmates Subeg Singh, Sher Singh and Nand Singh were further remanded to police custody till February 4 by a local court today.

Defense counsel of Baljit Kaur Mr A.S. Chahal, moved an application before the court claiming the recovery of the Maruti car (PIQ 927) was not made on information provided by Baljit Kaur but had been brought by the police from Rajpura. He also alleged that the police had illegally detained three persons, Chaja Singh, Harmeet Kaur and Pritam Kaur in connection with the jailbreak case.

The new jail dispensation has proposed changes to enhance the security of the jail, proposing five-feet wide trenches along the jail wall.

A permanent electricity office has also been proposed.

The new proposals also moot providing a glass shield on the security towers. The trees block view for security personnel have either been cut or pruned. The proposals also moot physical training to the jail staff apparently to prevent being brow-beaten by inmates. The trenches will be covered by barbed wires.


Jail escapees had no dearth of money
Sympathisers brought funds from abroad
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, February 2
Inflow of huge funds, hosting of feasts in the garb of “langars” inside the jail and a life of luxury were some of the facilities provided to three terrorists who escaped from Model Jail, Burail, on January 21 by their sympathisers outside.

The three were reportedly getting funds from their sympathisers regularly to bribe jail officials so that they could carry out their activities, intelligence sources have found.

They said in spite of the recovery of Rs 40,000 and a mobile phone from the possession of the accused earlier, the authorities had turned a blind eye to the goings on.

Intelligence sources, however, now claim they had been regularly informing their seniors on how the close associates of these terrorists had been visiting foreign countries every year to generate funds for them. These persons, with the help of sympathisers of the so-called “Khalistan movement”, collected money at religious places.

The use of money thus procured became evident as the three accused would pay homage to the human bomb, Dilawar Singh, who killed Beant Singh, by organising a “langar” every year. An elaborate meal used to be served in the jail. Items on the menu included sweetmeats made of “desi ghee”. A truckload of rations for the “langar” was supplied by various frontal organisations of the sympathisers.

The meal was served to all jail inmates and jail officials, who also took part in their programme. In addition, the meal was also sent to jail officials at their homes. Cooks were called from outside to prepare the meal.

The accused, through their sympathisers, even managed to get advertisements published in newspapers regarding the “death anniversary” of Dilawar. However, none of the intelligence agencies — be it of the UT or of Punjab — made any effort to trace the persons behind these activities.

Moreover, every year, one week before the anniversary of Blue Star Operation, the three accused raised slogans in favour of “Khalistan” and disrupt court proceedings. Neither the jail officials nor the administration took notice of it. Intelligence sources claimed that the associates of the three accused used hawala channels to send money to their contacts in Punjab and Chandigarh. These persons visited the jail themselves or hired a person with criminal background to provide the money to the three, the sources add.

It is believed that the funds collected by sympathisers abroad helped the three accused — Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora — to escape from the jail. The money helped the militants to develop strong links with some of the jail officials. The money was also used by the three accused to lure other inmates to help them in the escape.


Baljit , Chaura quizzed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Punjab Intelligence today jointly the interrogated Narain Singh Chaura and Baljit Kaur, both of whom are in custody of the Chandigarh Police for allegedly facilitating the escape of Jagtar Singh Hawara and others from the Burail Jail on January 21.

The police today replayed the entire escape event and sought to track the route which Hawara had taken in the car provided by Baljit Kaur. The police had yesterday taken Baljit Kaur on the possible route towards Fatehgarh Sahib.

The police today again took Baljit Kaur on the same route to identify the point where Hawara and others had got down before deserting the vehicle along with the woman and the car driver.

Baljit Kaur said she did not reminder the route as it was raining on January 21.Back


Tribune Group to remain committed to public cause
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Tribune Group of newspapers will continue to be committed to the cause of public. It will reinvent its role with the change in times. Instead of competing with other newspapers through marketing and circulation gimmicks, The Tribune Group will champion the cause of people, liberalisation and secularism in a non-partisan and moderate manner, said Justice R.S. Pathak, Chairman, The Tribune Trust, here today.

He was speaking at an impressive function organised on the premises of the The Tribune here to celebrate the 123rd Founder’s Day of the newspaper. Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia had started The Tribune as a weekly newspaper at Lahore on this day in 1881.

Justice Pathak called upon the employees to rededicate themselves to fulfil the objectives of the newspaper espoused by its founder, Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia.

Justice Pathak said, “He was a great visionary who was ahead of his times. He started the newspaper to protect the rights of people against vested interests, including the British imperialists, and to spread the message of liberalism, modernity and brotherhood.”

Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune Group of newspapers, said, “ We will be guided by the public interest and will stand as a vigilant voice against the misdeeds of irresponsible politicians and callous administration. Unlike other newspapers, the Tribune newspapers will champion the ‘voice of people’ and will not play into the hands of any corporate house, government or individual.”

Brushing aside the threat from other newspapers, he asserted, “we do not face any serious threat as long as we remain as the voice of the people and are guided by non-profit motive and spirit of idealism. “Referring to the challenges before the Tribune Group, Mr Dua said, “Instead of focusing on the present popularity of the newspaper, we will have to make efforts for growth through an open mind approach, innovation and experimentation.”

Referring to stiff competition from other newspapers, Mr R.N.Gupta, General Manager, Tribune Trust, said, “Instead of diversifying into other areas, the group will focus on its core activity — dissemination of news in a non-partisan manner. Keeping in view the mandate of the newspaper written in the Tribune Trust charter, our focus will be to build up the internet edition of the newspaper, besides taking initiatives for the welfare of society by collaborating with NGOs.”

Elaborating the achievements of the group, Mr Gupta said, “We have already started online booking of the advertisements and classifieds in addition to several initiatives on the front of marketing and circulation. Redeployment of office staff and reduction in newsprint wastage by 3 per cent have resulted in substantial savings. Despite the increase in the cost of newsprint and other inputs, the Tribune Group is likely to close financial year with a net profit of Rs 11 crore against Rs 8 to Rs 9 crore profit registered last year.”

He appealed to all the employees to work as ‘brand ambassadors’ of the newspaper and to enroll at least 10 new readers personally. He urged them to make efforts to enhance the satisfaction level of readers, advertisers and institutions by improving quality of the newspapers, both in editorial content and presentation of news. He added, “Our aim should be to produce zero defect newspapers that would satisfy our well wishers and readers.”

Earlier, Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, President, Tribune Employees Union, assured the management on behalf of employees that the union would support the management to strengthen the newspaper. Trustees Dr R.P. Bambah, Mr R.S. Talwar and Justice S.S. Sodhi also attended the function.


Postgraduates made to pay hiked fee
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Despite the rollback in tuition fee by the Chandigarh Administration, city colleges continue to charge the hiked tuition fee from students of postgraduate courses. Rather, college authorities are blaming the administration for creating the confusion.

Hundreds of students were enrolled by private and government colleges for various postgraduate courses like M.Com, MSc and MA. Such students were being forced to pay the increased fee.

After announcing the rollback in the college tuition fee, the administration forgot to issue necessary guidelines to the colleges concerned to also rollback the tuition fee charged from postgraduate students. Instructions were only issued to college managements to rollback the tuition fee of graduate classes, said sources in the administration.

The Principal of Government College told Chandigarh Tribune that in the wake of no clear instructions from the administration, the students were being forced to pay around Rs 400 per month more as tuition fee for postgraduate classes. The admission fee of the postgraduate courses had been increased to Rs 750 from just Rs 150. It may be mentioned that the administration had not rolled back the admission fee of graduate classes.

Mr S.C. Maria, Principal of DAV College, Sector 10, said he had taken up the issue with officials of the administration. The increased tuition fee could make postgraduate courses very expensive. He feared that in the new academic session there could be few takers for the courses.

Said Mr P.S. Sangha, member of the committee constituted to look into the issue of fee hike: “The issue of the hike of tuition fee of postgraduate classes could not be discussed.” The committee constituted by the administration went into the details of fee and funds being charged by city colleges. The recommendations of the committee had been approved by the UT Administrator.

Managements of non-government-aided colleges, affiliated with Panjab University, are still in a fix whether to follow the instructions of the university on the fee structure or that of the administration. These colleges get the grant-in-aid from the UT administration.

Acting on the report of a committee constituted to look into the issue, the Chandigarh Administration had last month announced to roll back the tuition fee from Rs 200 to Rs 125 and accepted the relaxation in payment of half fee by students belonging to families with income up to Rs 1 lakh per annum. Earlier, the upper limit of relaxation was Rs 60,000.

On the other hand, the committee of the Panjab University Senate had decided to increase the tuition fee for undergraduate and postgraduate courses from Rs 63 per month to Rs 75 per month for two years with effect from academic year 2004-05. The Senate had also decided to increase the admission fee from Rs 165 per annum to Rs 198 for both courses for two years with effect from academic year 2004-05.

Mr A.C. Vaid, Principal of GGDSD College, Sector 32, said no instructions on the rolled back fee had been received from the administration.


PSIEC applicants cry foul
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
Applicants to the industrial housing scheme of the Punjab State Industrial and Export Corporation (PSIEC) for allotment of residential plots in Mohali alleged today that the Punjab Government was being partisan in handing over land to a private company for development into an industrial park, leaving them in the lurch.

Stating that the Punjab Government was overlooking the fact that the PSIEC had already collected Rs 40 crore as ernest money from over 3500 applicants, many of them alleged that the government was favouring a company promoted by liquor baron Ponty Chadha who had been given special incentives by the government to establish an ‘integrated industrial mix use park’ on 50 acres in Mohali.

‘‘The government first decided to sell us this land under the industrial housing scheme in Industrial Area Phase VIII A and Phase VIII B at the rate of Rs 3,700 per square foot, but is now giving it at Rs 1,000 per square foot to Mr Chadha's promoted company.

"The government not just stands to lose in the bargain, but will also be cheating - advertising in the media and inviting applications, taking us for a ride,’’said Mr Harjit Singh, an applicant during a press conference here today.

The applicants also alleged that the government was delaying the allotment of the 280 plots its had advertised. ‘‘Since a a decision on Mr Chadha's promoted company had to be taken on January 5, the allotment is being delayed.’’ alleged Mr Mahesh Chugh, another applicant.

The scheme was announced by the PSIEC on December 20, 2003, for 280 freehold residential plots of sizes 250, 400 and 500 square yards at the reserve price of Rs 3,700 per square yard.

By the time the scheme closed on January 7, 2004, about 3500 applications were received by the PSIEC and over Rs 40 crore had been collected as earnest money from the scheme.

This is the second such scheme to be launched in Mohali.

The applicants also pointed out that the allotment committee, that was taking the decision on the company promoted by Mr Chadha ,was not competent to do so.


PEC forgets Kalpana?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
There was no information available regarding Punjab Engineering College (PEC) planning any function to mark the first death anniversary of Kalpana Chawla, a 1982 batch alumni of the college, who had died last year in space shuttle Columbia crash.

Her death anniversary was yesterday. It being a holiday, the Principal of the college, Dr Baljeet Kapoor, was not available for comments. Reports of the college authorities holding a function tomorrow could not be confirmed.

Last year, the college had announced that the Himgiri hostel would be named after her and an award of Rs 25,000 would be instituted in her memory.


Jan Shatabdi on popularity track
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

How much does it cost to reach Delhi…….
Jan-Shatabdi Rs 107 4 hours
Normal bus Rs 127 5 hrs : 30 mins
Deluxe bus Rs 248 5 hrs : 30 mins
Jan-Shatabdi (AC) Rs 345 4 hours
Seeing the popularity one AC coach and three normal coaches are being added on the Jan Shatbadi.

Chandigarh, February 2
"Jan-Shatabadi" started about 18 months ago has turned out to the most popular mode of travel between Chandigarh and Delhi.

Thanks to economy class ticket on the train costing just Rs 107, the train has not only given the buses of the state transport corporations a run for their money, but also had an impact on its illustrious cousin, Shatabadi Express, which has been running to capacity for 14 years now.

Railway officials say Jan Shatabadi enjoys a whopping 85 per cent occupancy and has a waiting period of 3 to 4 days for seat availability during the winters. Seeing this demand, the Union Ministry of Railways has decided to add one AC chair car coach and another three general coaches.

At present the train has one AC chair car and eight other coaches.

Railway officials grudgingly admit that Jan Shatabdi has affected its "cash cow", the morning Shatbadi.

The train has seen a drop in number of passengers as the traffic has dropped by 7 to 8 per cent. The Shatabadi has an occupancy of 60 per cent.

On Jan Shatabdi, one gets a seat with Shatabdi style seating plan, complete with reclining seats and arms rests, for Rs 107. The only thing missing is the air-conditioner.

In the winters, when the air-conditioner is not required, several elderly people travelling alone prefer this train.

Jan Shatabdi has a convenient departure timing as it leaves at 9.20 a.m. It reaches Delhi at 1.20. There is no proposal to shift the timing of the train.

The morning Shatabdi leaves at 7. In the winter, a section of travellers find the morning Shatabdi inconvenient to board.

Moreover, the advantage of travelling on train means the commuter reaches central Delhi.

In Chandigarh, the railways has got Jan Shatabdi linked to six local buses opertaing from the Bus stand in Sectors 17 and 43. This has further fuelled the demand.

In September, 2002, Jan Shatabdi had started with a passenger load of only 23 per cent.


Festival of Gardens from Feb 20
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 2
Tourists alighting from Shatabdi Express will be presented rosebuds during the “Festival of Gardens” being organised in the city for three days from February 20. A “ropeway bridge” will also be installed in the Sector 16 Rose Garden. Along with flower competition, Rose Prince and Princess contests, will be the highlights of the festival. The decisions were taken during a meeting chaired by UT Chief Engineer V.K. Bhardwaj.

Sources in the administration confirmed that it was also decided to hold brass and pipe band contest, along with an on-the-spot painting competition and a rose quiz contest. Decisions regarding organising folk dance and photography competitions were also taken. Antakshari, too, will be held during the festival.

Giving details, the sources said the “ropeway bridge”, popularly known as “Lachhman Jhulla”, will be installed near the milk booth in the Rose Garden by the Engineering Department. An air-filled Mickey Mouse for children to play would be provided by CITCO. The activities in the Rose Garden would be executed by sub-committees.

They added that the festival would be inaugurated on February 20 by the UT Administrator at 11 am. The performances would continue till 5 pm on all three days. Troupes from the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) and other cultural and educational organisations would be invited. “The stage would be handled by the Director Public Relations (DPR), while the NZCC would arrange cultural troupes from different states free of cost,” a senior officer said.

Efforts will be made to welcome tourists during the festival by presenting rosebuds to the Shatabdi passengers. As far as cultural evenings on February 20 and 22 are concerned, the artistes would be selected by the Managing Director of CITCO in consultation with the UT Home Secretary. It was also decided during the meeting that CITCO would ensure provision of “good quality tents and a sound system for the competitions. Invitation cards for the cultural evenings along with parking stickers would be sent to the authorities in the Administration and judges of different events by CITCO.

The sources added that the festival was held from February 28 to March 2 last year. It was being held a little early this year in the light of school examinations. “Every year, students as well as parents cannot enjoy the festival because of the examinations,” an officer said. “That is why we have decided to advance the date”.


General J.J. Singh takes over today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh will take over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Command at Chandimandir tomorrow.

He will lay a wreath at the Veer Smriti War Memorial and inspect a guard of honour on his arrival at the Western Command Headquarters. He will also be introduced to the Principal Staff Officers at Chandimandir by the Chief of Staff, Lieut-Gen P.K. Grover.


Ex-servicemen bid adieu to Lieut-Gen Mehta

Welfare of ex-servicemen and their families were given top priority by former Western Army Commander Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta. The Western Command Helpline, started on September 15, 2002, has done immense good to the ex-servicemen community. No wonder that all other commands have taken a cue from the Western Command to launch this service.

Another important welfare measure is Defence Veterans Polyclinic, Mohali. It was started in a four room temporary accommodation about one and-a-half years ago by a well-known veteran, Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria and his dedicated team of doctors at a cost of Rs 16 lakh, collected through public donations. Appreciating its good work, General Mehta, sanctioned an eight-room complex for this polyclinic.

At present, this polyclinic functions six days in a week and renders special services in cardiology, chest diseases, ophthalmology, urology, orthopaedics and dentistry for the ex-servicemen and their families from Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mohali and Chandigarh. Since its inception, more than 20,000 patients have availed of its medicare services free of cost. The Headquarters Western Command has also sanctioned the further expansion of this polyclinic, which is the only one of its kinds in India.

A large number of ex-servicemen gathered at the polyclinic recently, to bid adieu to General Mehta and to express their gratitude to him.

Injustice to direct entry JCOs

One-thirds of the Military Engineering Services(MES) staff is composed of military personnel from Naik to Subedar Major. They join the service as Superintendents, Grade II, with the basic qualification of diploma in engineering. They are entitled to only two promotions — Superintendent Grade I and Junior Engineer (JE). This cadre includes the category of direct entry (DE) JCOs who are sore over their poor career prospects as compared to their civilian counterparts.

These JCOs are recruited in the rank of Naib-Subedar and are given only two promotions. i.e. Subedar and Subedar Major. But their status is not enhanced beyond JE. The major lacuna in the cadre of the DE JCOs is that they retire after putting in 15 years of service between 35 to 40 years of age and therefore, cannot earn 50 per cent of their pay as pension even as Subedar Majors. Once a JCO is promoted to Subedar Major’s rank, he has to retire after four years. To avoid retiring after 15 years of service. Many DE JCOs prefer to refuse their promotion to the rank of Subedar Major.

The civilian staff in the MES is much better off. Though they also join service with a diploma in engineering as Superintendents, Grade II, but after becoming Superintendent, Grade I and JE, they can be promoted to the rank of Assistant Engineer (AE). In case they are engineering graduates, they can be promoted to the rank of Executive Engineer. Besides, they earn much higher pension because of their late retirement. Another advantage that they have is that throughout their service, they serve in the same command in which they were recruited whereas military personnel can be posted anywhere.

Resettlement of ex-servicemen

Ex-servicemen often complain that the posts reserved for them in various government departments in the states are not given to them.

But the figures given by both the Haryana and Punjab Governments regarding jobs given to the ex-servicemen and their dependents who are quite encouraging.

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in the civil-military liaison conference at the Headquarters Western Command, Chandi Mandir, on January 18 said that 1872 ex-servicemen and their dependents had been given jobs in various departments in the last four years. He said 116 posts reserved for ex-servicemen had been filled in the last year.

According to Brig J.S. Jaswal (retd), Director Sainik Welfare Punjab, in the last three years 158 Central Govt jobs (Class C and D) have been given to ex-servicemen in the state. In the same period, jobs given to the next of kin of martyrs are eight PCS officers, 14 Class I & II, 132 Class III and 49 Class IV. In the private sectors 8,520 jobs, including seven officers, have been given in the past one year.

Col Pritam Bhullar (retd)


Devotees throng mosques on Id
Our Correspondent

Confusion prevailed among parents as many schools in the city remained closed on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha, while some institutes were open. The confusion stemmed from the fact that the list of holidays in January, handed over to the parents, had not mentioned anything about Id.

Chandigarh, February 2
Devotees enthusiastically wished each other after offering the namaz in the city mosques on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha. Lectures on the significance of the festival were also organised.

It all started early. Eager to offer the namaz, the devotees thronged mosques in their festive best for the morning prayer. The maximum rush was witnesses in the Sector 20 Jama Masjid where the devotees, in traditional caps, hugged each other warmly.

Among them were little ones requesting their parents to buy them balloons and other goodies being offered by vendors outside the mosque. A lecture was delivered by the Imam, Maulana Mohammed Ajmal Khan. Later, a prayer session was organised before sacrificing the goat.

The Imam said the ceremony was carried out to signify that “one should be ready to sacrifice anything for God”. The sacrifice, he added, was generally considered “a must” for rich members of the community.

Giving details, he said one who sacrificed the goat did not eat anything prior to the ceremony. The meat was then divided in three portions — one for the family, one for the underprivileged, and last for friends.

He said the namaz was offered at the Jama Masjid at 9 am. It was offered at Noorani Masjid in Sector 26 at 8.45 am. At the Manimajra Idgah, the namaz was offered at 9.15 am, in Burail at 9.15 am and at Madina Masjid in Sector 41 at 9.15 am.

In Mohali’s Phase 11 mosque, prayers were offered at 9 am. In Panchkula’s Sector 21 mosque, the namaz was offered at 8.30 am and in Dhanas and Maloya Colony at 8.45 am. 


Soon, you can operate postal account anywhere
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Operating a saving account from any of the post offices across the country will be a reality soon. The service would be in place of the existing arrangement under which a postal account can only be operated at the specific post office where it has been opened.

For the holder of the postal accounts the service, to be provided under an ambitious project of the postal department, will be similar to the facility of “anywhere banking” being provided by selected banks, both nationalised and private.

Once all 840 head post offices in the country are inter-connected, it will be possible to encash the National Saving Certificate (NSS), Indira Vikas Patra and Kisan Vikas Patra, said a senior officer of the Postal Department. Under the Rs 1,300-crore computerisation plan approved by the Union Cabinet recently, networking of the Head Post offices, offices of the Director of Postal Accounts and circle offices is being undertaken.

Sources in the department said the Union Cabinet had approved the recommendations of the working group on postal sector for the 10 five-year-plan (2002-2007). The total expenditure of Rs 2000 crore on computerisation and connectivity of post offices had been brought down to around Rs 1300 crore by the expenditure finance committee of the department.

The working group on postal sector comprising Secretary, Department of Posts, representatives from the faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University, IIT New Delhi and Ahmedabad, Joint Secretary (IT application group), Ministry of Information Technology, officials of the Railways, Telecom, Rural Development and Department of Posts had favoured that in the first instance computerisation of all post offices, other than the single-headed offices, be undertaken.

A senior officer said computerisation of post offices was on for the past few years. But as per the recommendations of the working group, the head post offices would be inter-connected for further uplinking with other post offices.

The entire networking would be a reality after a national date centre comes up. It would faclitate instant acknowledgement of money order payments. 


Children observe World Wetlands Day
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 2
On the eve of the World Wetlands Day, activists of the Children’s Alliance for Protection of the Environment (CAPE) visited the Sukhna and put up a signboard at the CITCO complex, requesting the visitors not to horn in the vicinity of the lake and disturb migratory birds.

As many as 70 members of the Sparrow Eco Club of Moti Ram Senior Secondary School, Sector 27, visited Nature Park and studied the flora and fauna of the wetland there.

Mr S.K. Sharma, president of the Chandigarh chapter of the Environment Society of India, and Mr Basu Deo Prasad from the Central Scientific Instrument Organisation (CSIO) delivered talks on various aspects of wetland conservation.


Dy Director Lalli bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Rajwant Kaur Mann, mother-in-law of Justice Iqbal Singh and grandmother of Dr Upneet Lalli, Deputy Director, Institute of Correctional Administration, died here this morning after a brief illness. She was 90.


Former Chief Secy bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Savitri Verma, wife of Mr R.S. Verma, a former Chief Secretary of Haryana, died here today. She was 59 and had been suffering from cancer.

The cremation will take place at the Mani Majra cremation ground at 11.30 a.m. tomorrow. 


Colonel booked on trespass charges
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 2
A Sector 8 resident, Mr Hukam Singh Bhatti, in a complaint to the police has stated that a group of 25 to 30 persons led by Col Dhanvir Singh trespassed on his house in Sector 16 and assaulted him. The alleged incident took place on January 18. Mr Bhatti added that Col Dhanvir Singh (resident of Patiala) took away eight diamonds, a gold necklace, two gold karas, mobile phones and other household articles. A case under various sections of the IPC has been registered at police station, Sector 17.

Another theft case was reported from a Sector 22 house yesterday. Mr Ashok Kumar reported that gold rings and bangles, a computer, music system, Rs 1,600 and other items were stolen from his house. Nobody was in the house at the time of the incident. A case has been registered in this regard. 


Rs 1 lakh demanded for child’s release
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 2
A sum of Rs 1 lakh was allegedly demanded today as ransom by kidnappers for the release of a seven-year-old child, who went missing from Shahi Majra village here on January 26.

Sources say a phone call was received at an STD booth in the village around 2 pm asking for the demand. The call had been made from another state. It is learnt that the caller directed the father of the boy Amit, that the amount had to be handed over by 7.30 pm tomorrow at a meeting point fixed in a town of a neighbouring state.

When the owner of the STD booth was asked about the call, he said he was not at the shop when the call came and had gone for prayer. In his absence, call was answered by the family members of Amit. It is learnt that Mr Achhe Lal, father of the Amit, was at the booth when the alleged kidnapper rang up.

Sources say Mr Achhe Lal, who runs grocery shop in the village, met the SP, Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, along with some other persons after receiving the call. The SP told Chandigarh Tribune that the police had sent a team to another state in connection with the case. A contact with the police of that area had also been maintained.

It is learnt that the police today has rounded up two persons of the village for questioning.

Amit went missing from the village on the evening of January 26. Bindu, the mother of Amit, said Amit had become friendly with 15-year-old Dalip, living in the same village. On the day he went missing, he got up around 8 am and got dressed. Amit kept playing with Dalip during the day. Dalip had also taken the child to a photo studio to get him photographed.

The whereabouts of Dalip are also not known, though he was in the village till around 11 pm. on the same day Amit went missing.


Youths strangulate woman
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 2
In a case of mistaken identity, Champa Devi, a resident of Rajiv Colony, was allegedly strangulated to death by three inebriated persons in the wee hours of today.

According to information, the deceased had been living with her husband, Kalu Ram, and two sons — Amar Singh and Ram Sarup. A painter by profession, Amar, reportedly had a longstanding dispute with Raju, a resident of Mauli Jagran colony.

Sources said Raju last night came to the colony on a motor cycle in an inebriated state and started abusing the two brothers. When the brothers tried to reason with Raju, he fled the scene.

However, after some time Raju along with Rajesh and Amarjit, who were also drunk, returned and started arguing with Amar. They slapped him and challenged Ram Sarup to come out of the house.

Police sources said when Ram Sarup failed to come out of the house, the three forced their way into the house. It being dark inside, they beat up Champa Devi (55) and later strangulated her. When the woman raised the alarm, the three fled the scene.

Champa Devi was taken to the local General Hospital where she later died. Post-mortem examination was conducted in the evening. Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC and arrested the three — Raju, Rajesh and Amarjit.


4 gamblers arrested
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 2
The police has arrested four persons from different areas while playing ‘satta’ in public places during the past 24 hours.

According to the police, the gamblers were arrested and Rs 355 had been seized from them.

Mr G.P. Singh, SHO, Dera Bassi, said Raghuvir Singh of Bhankharpur was arrested from the local bus stand while he was gambling. A sum of Rs 70 was seized from him.

Two residents of Rajpura, Mahesh Kumar and Vijay Kumar, were arrested near Punjab Palace, on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road for the same offence. The duo had Rs 110 and Rs 75 on them, respectively.

In the fourth case of gambling, Rajkumar of Shahabad near Ambala was arrested near the Tehsil complex. A sum of Rs 100 was seized from him.

A case under the Gambling Act has been registered against the four culprits at the local police station.


Cellphone operators against ADCA.
S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Imposition of Access Deficit Charge (ADC) on cellphone service providers by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has forced them to explore other avenues to keep tariffs down.

“We are exploring the possibility of using Internet telephony to provide mobile phone services to our customers”, said Mr Umang Das, member, Management Board of McorpGlobal, which is operating Spice telecom in Punjab, in an interaction with TNS here today.

Meanwhile, cellphone operators have come out strongly against the concept of Access Deficit Charge (ADC) enunciated by TRAI which they complain has forced them to increase their tariff from the first of this month.

“This is neither fair nor customer-friendly,” said Mr Das. Spice had announced lowering of its tariff for international calls to Rs 3.99 per minute on January 2. But now its customers were being forced to pay an additional Rs 4.25 per minute as ADC to be passed on to the BSNL. Similarly, tariff for domestic calls was also being raised by 25-30 per cent. “But we feel that the basic assumption by the BSNL and accepted by TRAI that the former was suffering a loss of Rs 5, 300 crore every year because of its commitment to provide rural telephony was wrong. Nobody knows how the BSNL arrived at this figure of Rs 5, 300 crore. And also, why does the BSNL need to lay land lines to serve its rural customers? The same facility can be provided at a fraction of this cost through wireless telephony.”

Mr Das pointed out that Punjab had already earned the distinction of highest mobile phone penetration in the country. The move on ADC would slow down its further expansion.

Explaining the concept of ADC, Mr Das said TRAI recognised that basic telecom service providers in India had run a cross-subsidised system in which relatively high long-distance tariffs raked in surpluses which were used to offset the losses that would otherwise have resulted.

With competition eroding the fat margins available in the long distance segments, this system clearly could not continue. Either the prices which were subsidised would have to be increased to meet costs or an “access deficit charge” would have to be provided to operators to cover the gap between tariff and costs. Calculations suggested that hiking prices to cover costs would make telecom unaffordable for many. Thus TRAI settled for increasing tariffs.

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