C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Hawara’s ‘border guide’ quizzed for escape clues
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Punjab Police has taken in for questioning a professional border crosser Atttarjit Singh to find out if he had helped Jagtar Singh Hawara and three others in entering Pakistan. The police is inquiring into his suspected role in the escape, the sources in the Punjab Police said.

Attarjit Singh is one of the key persons of the Khalistan Zindabad Force led by Pakistan-based Ranjit Singh Nitta. His name had figured as one of the suspects as he was missing from Jammu immediately after the escape of Hawara and others from the Burail Jail on January 21.

The professional border crosser hailing from Fatehgarh district had come in contact with Hawara when the former was lodged in the jail in connection with carrying out two bomb blasts in Pathankot in August 1998. He was arrested soon after from Batala.

Attarjit Singh had a record of having helped terrorists in crossing border from Jammu and transporting explosives.

The sources said Attarjit Singh had contacts with Paramjit Singh Bheora, one of the three co-escapees of Hawara. Bheora and Attarjit Singh had been together in Jammu for some time before they were arrested by the police. Attarjit was arrested sent to the Burail Jail.

According to sources in one of the blasts Attarjit had removed a 37-metre stretch of a railway line near Damtal. In another blast at the Pathankot bus stand he had killed five persons.

Attarjit is believed to be acquainted with the routes to Pakistan from Rajouri side. He used to transport explosive supplies from Kartarpur in Pakistan, just 5 km from the border.

In the Pathankot bus stand blast even his outfit’s chief Ranjit Singh Nitta had crossed over to India to carry out the ‘assignment’. Attarjit was known to be in contact with bail-jumping militants like Baghel Singh, the sources said.

The police has, however, questioned more than 100 persons to know the where abouts of Hawara but has not got any concrete clues till now.

However, one of the missing links in the escape conspiracy, Gurdeep Singh, who had driven Hawara and others to Sirhind, still has not been traced by the police.

The disappearance of Gurdeep Singh for several days has strengthened the suspicion that he might know more about the case. Gurdeep Singh was the last person who talked to Hawara when the escapee left his car near Sirhind.


Bheora’s father files plea

Chandigarh, February 10
Giving a new twist to the January 21 Burail jailbreak incident, father of Paramjit Singh Bheora, today moved an application in a local court alleging his son was forcibly taken out of the jail by certain ‘‘high-ups’’ in the UT Administration for the purpose of elimination.

Mr Jagjit Singh (78), has urged the court to register a case of murder, kidnapping, faking documents and criminal conspiracy against the UT Home Secretary, Adviser to the Administrator, Deputy Commissioner and others. The case will come up for hearing in the court of a Judicial Magistrate on March 29.

In his plea, Mr Jagjit Singh has alleged that Paramjit Singh and the three others (Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Devi Singh) were taken out of the jail on the night of January 21 or before by the then Jail Superintendent D.S. Rana, his deputy D.S. Sandhu and a Punjab Police official. Paramjit Singh is an accused in the Beant Singh assassination case. OC


Dowry demand forces doctor to end life
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 10
Fed up with the alleged dowry demands of her in-laws, Dr Puja, a resident of Sector 7 here, committed suicide at her residence in the wee hours today.

According to sources, a practising ayurvedic doctor at Ramgarh, near here, Dr Puja (23) reportedly consumed a poisonous substance late last night. Even as her condition worsened, she was taken to the PGI in Chandigarh where she died today.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested Kishore the husband of the deceased.

However, her in-laws, Maya Devi and B.D. Sharma, and her brother-in-law, Lalit, are absconding.

The father of the deceased, Dr Naresh Arya, a resident of Rohtak, alleged that they were informed by her in-laws last night that Dr Puja was not well. When they were on their way to Panchkula, they were informed at Ambala that she had already died.

Dr Arya alleged that her in-laws had been harassing her for bringing more dowry for the past about one year. She was married in January last year.

A case has been registered.


Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 10
Ranjit Singh, a resident of Sector 11, reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of his bedroom last night. He used his turban to hang himself. The body was found by his father.

Ranjit (24) was a graduate and was not able to find a job, said the police. It was being said that he was under depression for quite sometime. No suicide note has been found.


Khanna’s visit leaves passport seekers high and dry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
It was a day of harassment for hundreds of passport seekers at the Regional Passport Office in Sector 34 here as no public-dealing could be undertaken due to the inauguration of the new premises by the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Vinod Khanna.

The entire staff at the Passport Office was busy making arrangements for the visit of the minister. Due to security reasons, as claimed by the policemen, the new passport building was out of bounds for the passport seekers. Applicants from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh had to return empty handed after having a glimpse of the cine-star-turned-politician.

Ranjit Kaur and her husband, Karnail Singh who had come all the way from Faridkot to submit their application form were a disappointed lot. Ranjit Kaur said, "The office should have notified in advance that no public dealing would take place".

Surinder Kaur and her minor son, Simarpal Singh, residents of Fatehgarh Sahib, waited the entire day in front of the office hoping that their application forms would be entertained. The passport seekers were agitated that no official was ready to listen to them. They were not allowed to go near the minister.

An official at the office said public dealing would resume from tomorrow. It was not only the passport seekers who were harassed, a number of people who visited various offices in the vicinity of the Passport Office too were not allowed to park their vehicles in the parking lot. Citing security reasons the vehicle owners were forced to park their vehicles some distance away. There was chaos on the roads leading to the Sector 34 market.

The charismatic looks of the cinestar-turned-politician, Vinod Khanna, saw many heads turn today. The moment Vinod Khanna reached the Regional Passport Office, the crowd went berserk with many trying to shake hands with the former cinestar.

The women employees of the Passport Office who wanted to get an autograph of Khanna were rebuked by a senior who reminded them that the cinestar was their boss now. But a group of girls managed to catch Khanna's attention when he was coming out of the Passport Office building.


Rights lawyers meet Vinod Khanna
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 10
A delegation of Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) today met Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, and demanded enactment of a law so that persons of Indian origin living abroad could not cheat Indian girls after marrying them.

The delegation, led by Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan, president of the local unit of the LHRI, informed the minister that several hundreds of Indian girls, married to persons of Indian origin living in foreign countries, had been left in a lurch. He told Mr Khanna that such persons marry the girls on a promise that they would take them along. However, soon after the marriage they go back on their promise.

The delegation urged the minister to take up the matter in the Parliament so that a suitable law could be enacted in this matter.

The LHRI has also criticised the alleged lathi charge and arrest of activists of the Netrahin Jagriti Sangh Haryana by the UT police. 


Banks may handle passport requests, says minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The government is considering to hand over the work of handling the passport applications to banks and other institutions so that applicants living in remote areas did not have to travel long distance for the purpose.

After inaugurating a new building of the Regional Passport Office in Sector 34 here, the minister said the process of issuing passports was being further decentralised and simplified.

The new building of the Regional Passport Office is equipped with all the modern amenities. Built at a cost of Rs 4.35 crore, the new building is located about 150 yards away from old rented building in sector 34.

The Regional Passport Officer, Mr Arvind Kumar said the office handles applications from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Planned with user-friendly services in mind, the number of computerized public dealing counters have been increased to nine. Later, addressing a press conference, the minister said a lot of improvement was required to speed the process of issuing passports. He said several more security features were being incorporated in the passport to make it a tamper-poof document.

The Secretary, Passport and Visa division, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr B.C.Sharma, who was accompanying the minister said the Centre had decided to increase the participation of the state governments in the process of verifying the credentials of the applicants. After the increase in passport fee last year, Rs 200 per application was going to the respective state exchequer for the police verification. Last year, the ministry had paid Rs 2.70 crore as the fee for police verification to different states, said the Secretary.

The Secretary said under the decentralization process, the number of district passport cells were being increased to 500 in the next six months.

On the recent controversy involving the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Vinod Khanna, said those trying to make an issue out of the alleged non-payment of hotel bills by the former during a Goa trip had nothing better to talk about. However, he evaded a reply on BJP’s seat sharing in Punjab.


‘No more romantic leads’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

About the film

Being directed by Manoj Punj, who earlier directed Shaheed-e-Mohabbat and Zindagi Khoobsurat Hai for Sai Productions of Manjit Mann, Des Hoya Pardes is being made in both English and Hindi. The film also features Sudhir Panday, Madhu Malti and Divya Datta. It has music by Jaidev Kumar and background scores by Gurdas Mann and Alka Yagnik.

Chandigarh, February 10
Juhi Chawla is finally playing the role she always wanted to. The acclaimed actress exuded a familiar warmth when she was caught on location during the shooting of Manjit Mann’s latest production, “Des Hoya Pardes”, which features Gurdas Mann as the male lead opposite her.

Draped in bright colours that best define Punjabi sensibilities, Juhi looked even more vibrant against the sparkling backdrop of mustard fields. In fact, the search for mustard in full bloom led the film unit to Shergarh Bara village near Morinda where Juhi and Gurdas shot a song sequence all day long.

Even as villagers remained hooked to the couple dancing around trees in a typical Bollywood fashion, Juhi managed to spare some time to talk her heart out. The obvious take-off point for the conversation was her role as Jassi, Gurdas Mann’s wife in the film that explores the life of a common man caught in the web of terrorism. Being directed by Manoj Punj, the film has Juhi speaking Punjabi and clearly at that.

Happy to have got the role, Juhi said, “When the script was read out to me, I knew there was tremendous scope for performance. Playing a Punjabi girl was a natural choice, so was speaking Punjabi although I blush every time I utter anything in the language. I liked the story, especially the way it ends on a shocking note. I accepted the role instantly.”

Much appreciated for her experimental streak which made her accept diverse roles in Jhankar Beats and Teen Deewarein, Juhi made it clear that romantic leads were passe for her. “I am over and done with playing a girl head over heels in love with a boy. There are younger girls who fit better into those kind of roles. I would rather choose for films that demand seasoned performances. I really liked the way Karan Johar handled a romantic script in “Kal Ho Na Ho”. Another favourite of mine is The Last Samurai.”

A producer in Dreamz Unlimited along with Shah Rukh Khan and Aziz Mirza, Juhi said there were no films being produced right now. “There are films, but all in the planning stage. In fact, I am taking life easy these days. I am stealing time for all I ever wanted to do.

I am learning Hindustani classical music from Sanjay Mishra and Pt Kolhapure, Padmini Kolhapure’s father. Also my children, Jaahnvi and Arjun keep me amply busy.”


Panchayat samiti remains toothless
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The panchayat samiti, envisaged to give more representation and powers to the villages at the decision-making level, remains toothless. The samiti in the city represents 17 panchayats of 18 villages.

The Rural Development Committee constituted more than a year ago has not met for a single time. The tenure of the sarpanches has ended and new incumbents have taken charge after the elections held recently. No budgetary provisions have been made for the samiti expenditure which takes away the very purpose of the body.

A deputation of the samiti led by Mr Bhupinder Singh, chairman of the samiti, called upon the Adviser to the UT Administrator recently. Other members in the deputation included Mr Mahinder Singh, vice-chairman, Mr Dayal Singh, Ms Surinder Kaur, Ms Bhupinder Kaur and Mr Amrik Singh, all members.

The deputation highlighted the fact that the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, had not been implemented in letter and in spirit since its introduction in the city. The Rural Development Committee had not met even once since its inception more than a year back and samiti had not been given any funds for developmental expenditure as provided under the Act.

“The Panchayat Raj Act has been made applicable to the UT also which governs the functioning of the panchayats and panchayat samities. Panchayats were to have the powers of the concerned departments. This has not been done in the local villages,” the memorandum said.

The representation said powers of six departments had been given to the panchayats in Punjab. Mr Bhupinder Singh said delegation of the samiti had met the offices concerned to this regard on several earlier occasions but to no avail. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP, has also spoken on the subject on several occasions.

The chairman said the elections to the local panchayats were held recently. In the changed scenario, the Adviser to the UT Administrator, who is the chairman of the Rural Development Committee, should call a meeting immediately and clarify a work manual for the samiti.

It has also been pointed out that in a democracy any set-up without financial powers had a little meaning. In the same context, the local panchayat samiti had not been given any financial powers which rendered it a body which existed only on papers.

The chairman said the Adviser had assured the delegation to look into the matter.

Interestingly, at the oath taking ceremony of the village sarpanches recently, the Administration had not even invited the chairman of the panchayat samiti or the zila parishad.


Land-owners oppose price panel meeting
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 10
Land-owners of five villages, whose land is being acquired by the Punjab Planning and Urban Development Authority, have strongly condemned the calling of a meeting of the District Land Price Fixation Committee here today without considering objections from affected persons which are yet to be filed.

The meeting, which was to be chaired by the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, was cancelled as a meeting of the Grievances Redressal Committee was held at Ropar today.

The affected persons, who had gathered at a gurdwara in Sohana village, near here, said the calling of the meeting of the District Land Price Fixation Committee was illegal as 30 days time from the publication of the notification was to be given for filing objections. The advertisement for the acquisition of the land had been published on January 24. The land owners had planned to stage a protest in this regard.

The office of the SDM here had sent letters to sarpanches of Sohana, Manak Majra, Landran, Berampur and Lakhnaur villages on February 3 asking them to attend the meeting called in connection with the fixing of the land price.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh, a resident of Sohana, said PUDA was selling land at the rate of Rs 3800 per square yard for residential purposes but the land owners were being offered only Rs 200 per square yard. He said “I am not allowed to construct a house on my own land which had been with the family for generations. PUDA was uprooting people from their own land and offering it to colonisers to develop it. PUDA had one law for the farmer and another for the coloniser.”

Mr Tejinder Singh Jakhar, whose father-in-law’s land falls in Sohana village, said PUDA was not giving them the market price while acquiring land. He said,“PUDA should not take us for a ride”. He said PUDA was making them feel as if they had no rights.

The land owners formed a 15-member central committee today which would work under the aegis of the Sohana Sangharsh Committee. The latter had been formed to protest against the acquisition of land for Sectors 76 to 80.

A meeting will be held at the gurdwara in Sohana on February 16 where all doubts of the affected persons in connection with the filing of the objections would be cleared. Objections would be filed on February 17 and 18. A memorandum highlighting the demands of the land owners will be presented to the MLA of the area.

According to the PUDA notification, 171.63 acre of land will be acquired in Sohana village, another 209.30 acre in Lakhnaur village, 162.3 acre in Manak Majra, 124.49 acre in Berampur village and 21.5 acre in Landran village.


Save vulture plan to be unveiled on February 16
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 10
Concerned at the reported high morality rate among vultures on account of widespread use of “dicolfenac”, a widely-used pain killer, an international recovery plan to preserve vultures will be unveiled on February 16 here.

In the January issue of “Nature”, a US-based scientist Mr Lindsay Oak working in Pakistan, blamed the large-scale use of the pain killer as the major cause of fast-depleting vulture population. He reported that the injection “dicolfenac” into the animals had a direct affect on the population of the vulture.

Since the pain killer was used for treating the animals on a large scale, its effect remained after their death also. As vultures fed on the dead animals, the infection from the dead animals was the primary cause for fast-depleting population of the vultures, Mr Oak reported.

According to sources, representatives from all over the world, including the International Union of Conservation of Nature, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Zoological Society of India, Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) and the Haryana Forest Department, will take part in the release of the plan.

The plan, based on the sharing of the experiences on the preservation of vultures in the world, will go a long way in working out future strategies in India and Pakistan, where vulture population had been rapidly going down since 2000, the Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, Dr R.D. Jakati, said here today.

Though the UK-based Birdlife International had listed it as the ‘critically endangered” in 2000. Recent surveys had shown that 99 per cent of the vultures have perished. It was in 2003 that the Central Government included it in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, Dr Jakati informed.

Subsequently, a project on vulture preservation was initiated by the BNHS with a grant from the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species, UK, a Vulture Care Centre was started at Pinjore, near here. The centre currently has 23 vultures.

Dr Vibhu Prakash of the centre, hoped that the project, whose term was to expire on March this year, would be extended.


Mi-8s being made more safe
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Indian Air Force has initiated a project to enhance the safety features incorporated in Mi-8 helicopters tasked for undertaking off-shore operational sorties. The project is to be executed by No.3 Base Repair Depot (BRD) here, which is responsible for all technical matters related to these aircraft.

Sources said that additional modifications have been recommended on Mi-8 helicopters which were earlier equipped with emergency floatation systems. “Investigations into the Mi-172 crash off Mumbai High a few months ago revealed that the pilot was unable to activate the floatation system,” a senior officer at 3 BRD said. The Mi-172, belonging to a private operator, was being used by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission to ferry workers from Mumbai to off-shore oil rigs. It had crashed soon after take-off from a rig and a number of persons aboard had lost their lives.

“We believe that the pilot was too involved with bringing the aircraft under control or activating other emergency procedures to timely activate the floatation system,” the officer said. “We have thought it pertinent to have duplicate flotation system controls with the co-pilot,” he added. The activation switches would be installed on the helicopter’s “collective”, a term used for the control column where vital controls are available at the pilot’s fingertips. The IAF project would also require some components of the control mechanism to be procured from abroad.

“Our operational requirements call that only a certain number of choppers be equipped with floatation systems,” an officer said. This requires a number of modifications to be carried out. “However, we have also suggested that all helicopters of this type be suitably modified so that flotation systems can be incorporated on any chopper as required. His, sources said, can fill up the gap created by any floatation system equipped helicopter grounded for repair or maintenance.

The IAF had earlier initiated the project to equip helicopters with emergency floatation system after it had lost a Mi-8 over the marshy Rann of Kutch about three years ago. The chopper, carrying a high-level BSF team had descended to check out some fishing boats when it was reportedly fired upon. A team of engineers from Russia and Ukraine had helped the IAF modify the choppers.

The system comprises three inflatable balloons mounted upon the lower side of the fuselage. It would allow the chopper to float on water for some time, giving the crew additional time to don life jackets, inflate dinghies or destroy classified material on board.


Assault on 78-yr-old bares chinks in security
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, February 10
An assault on a 78-year-old man on a busy road, dividing Sectors 9 and 10, at 7 pm has exposed chinks in the security arrangements in the city.

The incident sent alarm bells ringing as criminals openly robbed the man of Rs 3,000, a bag containing documents and a watch.

The complaint has not yet been converted into an FIR as he has not been able to identify the place where the incident took place.

Such incidents in high security sectors also indicate that such crimes are getting out of slum areas to posh localities. The man does not want his name to be published in newspapers.

He was allegedly assaulted by five persons, including a rickshaw-puller, on February 4 and does not want to follow up the matter with the police.

‘‘I had asked for help from a family but they seemed least interested and advised me to go to the police,’’ he said. An unidentified couple finally came to his rescue and called the police. ‘‘There have been cases of snatching and assault for the purpose of robbery on city roads, but this incident seems to be a new phenomenon’’, said a police official.

It seems criminals are now prowling for vulnerable people, including women and the old, on roads after the police started visiting lonely old people at their homes, said an official. However, certain questions have arisen from the incident as to how could somebody be attacked at a time when a large number of passers-by were there on the road.

The story narrated by the man suggests that as soon as he got on the rickshaw, a person tried to sit in it, apparently as a part of the plan to loot him. The same man was one of the five persons who later attacked him.

The incident also indicates that a gang was working in collusion with the rickshaw puller. A similar incident had taken place in Sector 23 when a person was taken to a lonely spot by a rickshaw puller and robbed of his belongings.

The police said such incidents are likely to recur as the Chandigarh Administration had stopped issuing registration numbers and licences to rickshaw pullers.


ESI benefit for family extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Till now, the family members of the insured persons were eligible for medical treatment if they were residing with the insured person or within the state where the insured person was working. Now, the ESIC has decided that family members of workers residing in other states are also eligible for the medical benefit, according to a press note.

The corporation will issue identity cards to insured persons and their family members separately, if they are residing in an other state. For this purpose, the eligible workers should contact the branch managers concerned of the ESIC.


MLA promises road repair
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 10
Scores of residents of Morinda and surrounding village will heave a sigh of relief as the government has decided to recarpet the Marauli Kalan-Kajauli stretch of the Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway soon.

Disclosing this, Mr Jagmohan Kang, MLA Morinda, claimed that the stretch would be recarpeted in next month keeping in view the acute public inconvenience. 


Rabi crop sown
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 10
Rabi wheat crop has been sown over an area of 15,700 hectares and gram crop on 1,300 hectares in the district.

According to a press note, the oilseed crop was sown in an area of 1,800 hectares. As many as 101 mini kits of lentil seed have been provided to farmers free of cost.

Ramakrishna Mission’s lecture today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Swami Jitatmanandji of the Ramakrishna Mission, Rajkot, will deliver a lecture on ‘‘The emergence of India as a global power and its spiritual culture’’ at Art Gallery, Sector 10, Chandigarh, tomorrow at 4.30 pm.

The Swamiji has earlier worked as the Deputy Director of the School of Foreign Languages in the Hyderabad centre and as editor of Prabuddha Bharati, the monthly English journal started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. He was in charge of the six rehabilitation township programmes for the cyclone-affected people of Andhra Pradesh (1990), Gujarat (1998) in Saurashtra and Bhuj-Kutch region and took up a rehabilitation project for the quake-affected people of the region in 2001.

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