C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Bade Mian, Chhote Mian in city
I am an ordinary man, says Big B
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
“I am an ordinary man and no legend,” asserts the Superstar of the Millennium, who did not take long to oblige us with a fulfilling face-to-face. Humble to the core and thoroughly in control of himself, Amitabh Bachchan did not give away a single quote everyone was eager to hear.

Brushing aside questions about actors joining politics, the star declared on his arrival to Chandigarh today, “I cannot really comment on anyone’s decision to join politics. Everyone is free to choose and express. But I know about myself. I am not a politician.” The assertion may well be true, given the fact that Amitabh is too much of an artiste to be a politician, never mind his popularity which will give the politicians a run for their money.

Effable and charming, the star began drawing crowds as soon as he landed at the Chandigarh Airport, where more than 100 employees of Sahara Parivar were waiting since 9 am to welcome him. And though heavy security kept him away from everybody for long, he later broke barriers to oblige his fans with a lifetime possession — a photograph with him. The conversation also rolled as soon as Amitabh settled at Hotel North Park, where he spoke to The Tribune about his role in Anil Sharma’s “Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon”.

As expected, he began with a request, “I feel normal as everyone else. Don’t make me legendary.” The promoter of several causes like awareness regarding polio, female foeticide, cancer and HIV/AIDS, Amitabh just completed his campaign on breast feeding for the Maharashtra Government. Admitting to his social responsibility, he said, “I try to be there if my endorsement benefits the people.”

The half-Sikh, who is playing a Sikh Armyman in Anil Sharma’s film being shot at Chandimandir, also recalls his stint in Chandigarh in the late 1950s, when he studied at Government College for Men, Sector 11, for 20 days. “I had not got admission in Delhi University. So I enrolled here. I was living in a hostel for the first time and was being ragged by seniors. I remember how much Coca Cola I drank. Actually we had no Pepsi then,” laughs Amitabh, as he recalls he is a Pepsi promoter.

In the film, Amitabh wants his grandson (Bobby Deol) to join the Armed Forces. Happy with his rich canvas, Amitabh says, “Playing a Sikh is not difficult. I am 50 per cent Sikh. In fact, I have been lucky to imbibe influences both from my father and mother. Babuji came from a humble family and was all for eastern ideals, while my mother brought Western influences with her. I have a rich mix of both.”

Fond of cinema as ever, Amitabh talked of how he drew himself away from an executive’s job in Kolkata to try out films. He admits, “Films always fascinated me. Also, I could never write like my father. So it was natural for me to answer the call of my passion. Even after years, it is the challenge in roles that attracts me the most. Much of an actor’s job is actually done by writers and directors. He just needs to be himself.”

Amitabh’s honesty has paid on several fronts. Surfacing from the financial crisis that ABCL caused was not easy, but for the actor’s will to fight back and clear off debts. He admits, “I was heavily indebted and I had to work hard to unburden myself. Otherwise my conscience would not have been clear.” Amitabh just restarted his company with “Ranbir”, a Rajkumar Santoshi film in which he is working with son Abhishek. He is also working in Sanjay Bhansali’s “Black” and Govind Nihalani’s “Dev”.

Least conscious about the kind of roles he wants to play, Amitabh says he will portray any character a good writer creates for me. As of now he is committed to Sahara and also to KBC. Some also say the superstar is booked till 2006. But for his many fans he made some time, lest the image of a legend suffered.


City spaces impress Shah Rukh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
“Hold on, don’t fall. I am available for pictures,” gushed Shah Rukh Khan when he saw lensmen slogging it out with security personnel to get a good shot at the Chandigarh Airport this afternoon. Quite unexpectedly, the star chose to pose for pictures and speak for a while before giving in to the police officials.

The frenzy apart, the day also saw a lot of hectic shooting activity at the Forest Hill Resort in Naya Gaon where Shah Rukh Khan joined the Yash Chopra crew, now shooting for an untitled film. Today’s sequence featured a Punjab Roadways bus on which Preity Zinta is supposed to travel.

Dressed casually, Shah Rukh was seen taking a shot with Preity who has supposedly missed her bus. So she goes hunting for a seat in another bus, which is loaded beyond capacity. As directed by the conductor, she climbs up the bus roof and settles down for the journey. Soon after, she is joined by Shah Rukh Khan. He is heard declaring, “I am Sqn Ldr Veer Pratap Singh”.

Visibly smitten with the open spaces of the city, Shah Rukh made a mention of the pleasure which driving on its smooth roads would beget. “I don’t exactly remember when I was here last, but it is a nice, comfortable space. Its expanse and freedom are interesting,” said Shah Rukh, who shot for well over about three hours for a single sequence. Yash Chopra was also seated on the top of the bus, busy taking close shots of Shah Rukh and Preity.

Interestingly, the Discovery Channel crew is also on the Yash Chopra sets. They have secured special permission to shoot the film, as part of their series on Bollywood. No wonder the channel crew was watching Shah Rukh very closely, capturing every detail in his charming acts.

Though Shah Rukh Khan did not talk elaborately about anything, he could not resist the temptation of lauding Yash Chopra, in general and Aditya Chopra, in particular.

“Needless to say that Yash Chopra is a great director and it has been a pleasure to work with him. I also highly regard Aditya Chopra with whom I made Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,” said Shah Rukh, who will also be shooting here tomorrow.

More than anything else, it is the location of the shooting which is interesting. Spread wide, the scene also features a Punjabi dhaba. Today it featured a roadways bus, with about 200 locals hovering around the shooting sets.


Fans climb trees to catch glimpse of Amitabh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Chandi Mandir cantonment transformed into a sea of people as the news of Amitabh Bachchan shooting in the area spread today. About three hours before Amitabh actually landed on the sets of “Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon”, Army personnel and their families had comfortably parked themselves in the spaces available around the shooting location.

Just as Amitabh Bachchan came out of his van, ready for the shot, thousands of people at the location barged towards him. The actor naturally withdrew into the Tata Sumo, which then brought him to the closest possible spot from the location, where he was to shoot a sequence from the Indo-Pak war of 1971. The scene, that was to end with Amitabh hitting at Ashutosh Rana (who plays) a Pakistani general in the film, took about three hours.

But before the shoot started, Anil Sharma had to work hard to handle the star-struck crowd that pulled the preventing ropes to the ground to catch a glimpse of their favourite star. Women as old as 75 and children as small as five months and, of course, hundreds of Army personnel were present at the location today. All who’s who of the Army area were also there in full strength, along with families.

The most interesting site was that of soldiers climbing up trees to secure a clear view of the ongoing shot which featured Amitabh, along with some servicemen. Armed with weapons (provided locally), the superstar blasts the enemy area, capturing Ashutosh Rana in the end.

Even as women climbed up chairs on the sets to watch the shooting, children kept themselves busy keeping the autograph diaries ready. They were heard saying, “Jaise hi woh (read Amitabh) idhar aayega, main bhag ke autoograph le loonga/loongi. Ashutosh kaa to le liya hai”.

Meanwhile, children drank away to glory the water stored for crew
members. At the location, director Anil Sharma did not have the slightest idea to what the children were up to, as he was busy directing two sets of people — his actors on the one hand and curious onlookers on the other.

He was often heard shouting, “Chandi Mandir cantonment pichhe mud. Chandi Mandir cantonment saavdhaan!”


Vajpayee makes two stopovers in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made two stopovers in the city. He stopped over at the city airport en route to Patiala. He arrived in the morning on a special aircraft to board a helicopter. In the afternoon, he boarded the plane back to Delhi from the airport.

Among those who received him at the airport in the morning were Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister. However, Mrs Bhattal did not see him off in the afternoon.

Others in the welcome party were the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), Haryana Governor Babu Paramanad, the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, the DGP Punjab, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, the Home Secretary, Haryana, Mrs Promilla Issar, the Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Lalit Sharma, the IG, Chandigarh, Mr Rajesh Kumar, the Deputy Commissioner , Mr Arun Kumar and the SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav.

Just two days before the visit, a note from the Prime Minister’s Office had been sent to the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, saying, “The PM is on personal visit and there is no need for Chief Ministers or Governors to be present.” However, the PM was in Punjab to address a political rally.


PU to send roll Nos. by courier in cities
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Unlike previous years, Panjab University will not witness the usual hue and cry over non-delivery of examination admit cards by students this year. In a series of student-friendly measures, the Examination Branch will despatch roll numbers only through registered post or courier.

Departing from the tradition of sending roll numbers by regular post which usually failed to reach private candidates as well as those appearing through the Correspondence Studies on time, the university authorities have decided to send these by courier in cities and through registered post in the rest of the areas.

Also, for the first time, the university has delivered admit cards through its personnel to all affiliated colleges in the city and Punjab. This demand was raised in the Senate and Syndicate a number of times and the Examination Branch was directed to implement the same over a year ago.

“In the past, there have been numerous complaints of non-delivery of admit cards. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, was in favour of addressing this problem on priority. This time we have worked out the system in a way that candidates would not be put to any inconvenience. Though expensive, it has been implemented without any extra charges levied from the students,” the Controller of Examination, Dr Sodhi Ram, said.

In a move to check impersonation, the students have been asked to fill two admit cards, one of which would be handed over to the Centre Superintendent of the examination centre while the other would go to the candidate. Moreover, the photograph would bear a laminated hologram of the university which would be tamper-resistant and give away impersonation.

While Panjab University introduced a four-digit code system on answer-books a few years ago to maintain secrecy of the candidate, it proved to be unsatisfactory. With 15 lakh sheets to be coded, one code had a number of answer-books to its credit. This meant sifting through all the answer-books with the same code when a student applied for revaluation.

Replacing this, a new code system would come into effect from the forthcoming examinations wherein one code would be assigned to only one answer-book, speeding up the revaluation of answer books. In addition, the cover page of each stream and class would be distinguished by the colour assigned to it. This, too, is aimed at locating answer-books from tied up bundles in the university store and making identification easier.

Interestingly, this year the university has combined date sheets of all three years in humanities, science and commerce to check confusion caused by despatch of wrong datesheets to candidates.


EU project improves rural environment
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 18
Terming the Haryana Community Forestry Project(HCFP) as one of the best in Asia, Mr Thomas Bain, Project Manager of the European Union (EU) in India, said here today that the project had led to better rural environment and provided village communities with monetary and social benefits.

Mr Bain, who was here to for the mid-term review of the project, said the main aim — assisting the poor to supplement their incomes — had been achieved to a large extent. Of the over 100 projects the EU was funding in Asia, the HCFP had probably made the best contribution to the amelioration of the lot of people.

Talking about the project, Mr J.P.L. Srivatsava, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said the introduction of over 3,900 low-fuel smokeless “chulhas” had led to over 40 per cent decrease in the lung and eye infections among women. And each “chulha” saved up to one ton of fuelwood every year, he claimed.

Mr S.K. Dhar, Chief Conservator of Forests and the Project Director, said the setting up of 155 self-help groups had helped the people to take up income-generating activities such as pickle-making, soap manufacturing, rug-weaving and vermi-composting.

Besides this, 12 earthen water-harvesting dams had been constructed in the Shivaliks with a view to increasing the agriculture potential of the area. The project has set a plantation target of 7,450 hectares for 2004-05, he added.

Officials highlighted that the 126-crore project funded by the EU, which got underway in 1999 with the Haryana Forest Department as the executing agency, envisaged the use of mostly-uncultivated common lands for forestry to help villagers manage their own resources.

The HCFP has facilitated the setting of Village Resource Management Committees (VRMCs) consisting of at least one-third woman members. Of the targeted 300 villages, 288 have already been covered under the nine-year project.

Meanwhile, according EU review, the project has led to several important benefits to the villages apart from an increased green cover. The survival rate of plantations under the project ranged from 80 per cent to 99 per cent one of the highest among such projects.


City-based NRI held in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
A city-based NRI was arrested from Indira Gandhi International Airport for facilitating immigration of a local boy by passing him off as his son.

Inderjeet Singh Uppal, a resident of Sector 8-C, had allegedly sent another boy in a similar manner. Inderjeet Singh was arrested in Delhi while again trying to flee from the country. The police posted at the airport seized his passport as the Chandigarh police had informed the airports and seaports authorities about the possibility of he fleeing the country.

The complainant Ms Amarjeet Kaur of Sector 44 alleged that Uppal promised to send her son Rohit Arjun Singh abroad on a student visa if she gave her Rs 10.16 lakh. Mrs Kaur claimed she made the payment.

Inderjeet Singh came into the police dragnet when Ms Amarjeet Kaur refused to send her son on a fake passport showing Rohit Arjun Singh as Yandvinder Singh, son of Inderjeet Singh. However, photo of Rohit Arjun Singh was pasted on the passport. It was done to show Rohit Arjun Singh as Yadvinder Singh.

Surprisingly, Inderjeet Singh managed to get a fake passport under tatkal scheme for Rohit Arjun Singh through a fake ration card and a birth certificate.

Inderjeet Singh had spilled ink on the ration card used to show residence proof of the boy. The ink was spilled on the name of the original ration card holder and the name of the boy was over-written on it.

There were no counter signatures on the over-writing.

The police has recovered the tinkered ration card and impounded the passport of Inderjeet Singh. The alleged cheat was arrested even before a case was registered as the police had informed the airport and seaports authorities about an on-going inquiry against the NRI who used to go to the USA for his business trips.

The police are also looking for two more passports allegedly used to send two more persons by projecting them as Inderjeet Singh’s children.

Ms Amarjeet Kaur complained that Amarbir Singh, son of Joginder Singh of Jagatpura village, had been sent abroad in a similar manner on August 8, 1998.

She said Uppal had offered to send her son to the USA as his son for Rs 5 lakh but she had rejected the offer. When she insisted on sending her son on a student visa, Inderjeet Singh demanded Rs 10 lakh. She said the deal was struck in January 2003.

Ms Amarjeet Kaur told the police that Inderjeet Singh Uppal suggested to her that he would send her son as his son Gagandeep Singh. She alleged that his wife had written names and addresses of different relatives in her own name to befool the immigration authorities.

Again, Uppal made an offer that her son would be sent to the USA within two weeks as a passport in the name of Yadvinder Singh, son of Inderjeet Singh, had been prepared. Ms Amarjeet Kaur said she refused to get a visa on a fake passport and asked them to return the money.

Ms Kaur said in September 2003, Inderjeet Singh and his family went to the USA without informing her and returned recently.


It has been nothing but scams, claims UT Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee today launched a scathing attack on a “trail of scams and scandals under the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the Centre”.

Releasing the report, Mr B.B. Bahl, President of the CTCC, said the report had been prepared by the local unit of the Congress with approval of the high command.

The coffin scam, the UTI scam, tehelka, and petrol station and gas agencies allotment scam are among those mentioned.

Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, outgoing member of Parliament, said it would be wrong to make a personal attack on Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “But having been the Head of State which stinks of political and moral turpitude, Mr Vajpayee should, at least, own responsibility for having remained mum on the downfall of political standards,” he said.

Mr Bansal said Mr Satya Pal Jain, the BJP candidate for the seat here, should take up the challenge of countering the allegations within a day.

Mr Bansal said it would be his endeavour to make Chandigarh a world-class city.


Pollution Board seals service station
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 18
As part of its ongoing drive against defaulting service stations, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) today sealed a service station in Phase I of the Industrial Area here.

According to sources, the action against the service station, which is also an authorised dealer of various oil products, has been taken under the Water Act, as it had failed to respond to various show-cause notices issued by the board.

The service station had not installed an effluent treatment plant and was discharging effluents into the Ghaggar.

Warning defaulting service stations to comply with various provisions of the law, the sources said strict action would be taken against the erring service stations.


Workshop for parents of special kids
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
A three-day training workshop for parents of mentally challenged children started today at the Government Institute of Mentally Retarded Children in Sector 32 today.

This training programme will be followed by another three-day training programme for children from March 22. This workshop is being held as part of the institute’s ongoing endeavour to educate the families of such children.

According to institute’s Joint Director B.S. Chavan, the workshop was being held under the aegis of the National trust for Welfare of Disabled. He the Trust had taken up various activities under its SNAC programme.

He stated that experts from the Institute addressed the participants about causes of the problem and its early detection, besides employment opportunities.


Teachers seek exemption from poll duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Lecturers of colleges in the city have urged the Deputy Commissioner to exempt them from election duty in the forthcoming general election.

Citing a court judgment in which the state had been directed to put university and college lecturers on election duty, the lecturers said it affected the teaching schedule, the conduct of annual examinations, evaluation of answer sheets and declaration of results.

Leading a deputation of college lecturers, Dr R.P.S.Josh, a member of the Panjab University Senate, in a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, said the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections had to be conducted in Punjab and Chandigarh on May 10. The university had to reschedule the examinations because of the elections.

He said several lecturers were being assigned the duty of evaluation of answer books other than those who had been assigned invigilation and supervisory jobs. In case it was impossible for the Deputy Commissioner to exempt the lecturers from election duty, a list of the lecturers for indicating their grades and respective seniority could be called before assigning the duties, added Dr Josh.


Chemists’ panel serves notices on Health,
Revenue Depts

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 18
The local Chemists Association has served legal notices on the Health and Revenue Departments in connection with the allotment of a site for opening a chemist shop on the premises of the local General Hospital.

According to the notice, there is no provision for the opening of a chemist shop under the approved zoning plan of the hospital. The existing 10 chemist shops in Sector 6 had been catering to the needs of the patients for the past many years.

The notice, copies of which were sent to the Civil Surgeon, the District Drug Inspector, and the Licensing Authority(Retail)-cum-Senior Revenue Inspector, Ambala zone, alleged that the permission to run the chemist shop from a temporary structure was not as per rules. The notice urged the authorities not to issue a retail sale drugs licence to the allottees as it would be against the provisions of the law.


Cong leaders condemn ‘attack’ on Bansal’s driver
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Senior Congress leaders today condemned the alleged assault on the driver of Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal by supporters of Mr Satya Pal Jain, the BJP candidate for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The incident occurred last evening in Mani Majra.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Dharamvir Manchanda, vice-president of the CTCC, Mr Surinder Singh, a former Senior Deputy Mayor, and Mr Mahipal Sharma, the president of the Main Market Association, Mani Majra, said certain BJP supporters, in a bid to disturb a gathering of Congress workers, had thrashed the driver.

Meanwhile, Mr Bansal said, “In order to cover up their nefarious deed of assaulting a poor person out of frustration, the BJP leaders later shamelessly concocted the false version of the incident. They say that my gunman pointed his gun at traders whereas the truth is that he was not carrying any gun”.


HUDA settles claims of oustees
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 18
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) today settled claims of oustees whose lands have been acquired for the development of various sectors of the township.

Following the settlement of the claims, the names of eligible oustees will be included in the draw of lots for the allotment of over 2,500 plots, which will be conducted on March 22, sources said.

HUDA will conduct the draw of lots for several sectors, including 12, 12-A, 17, 21, 23, 27, 28 and Sector 4 of the Mansa Devi Complex. Objections, if any, could be settled on Friday.


India Travel Mart from March 20

Chandigarh, March 18
A travel and tourism exhibition, India Travel Mart (ITM) will be organised at Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17 here from March 20. The three-day event will showcase the best from the travel, tourism, aviation, hospitality and other related industries. The main focus of the ITM will be outbound, inbound and domestic tourism.

Tourism boards and organisation from Thailand, Malaysia, Dubai and Switzerland and State tourism departments from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal and other parts of the country will display and provide information of their destinations, holiday packages. OC


Low water pressure
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 18
Mohali residents will face low pressure of water during the water supply hours tomorrow. The worst-affected part will be Phase I to phase VII and Industrial area Phase I to Phase V. According to sources, one of the three lines of Kajauli water works to Chandigarh shared by Mohali at the rate of 2.5mgd per line will be under going repair, thus affecting the supply.


2 students hurt in clash
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Two students of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology received minor injuries in a clash with a hostel resident of GC Chaterjee Hall, hostel N. 2, Panjab University, here today.

The students claimed that they were having their food in the hostel mess when a hostel resident, belonging to the Himachal Pradesh Students Union, tried to take away one of the chairs they were seated on. Their denial to let go the chair led to a fight as they were boxed in their faces.

Around lunch-time, the duo, associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), returned to the hostel to speak to the hostel resident, who came out with a group of boys and beat them up, even tearing the shirt of one of the boys.

Meanwhile, a couple of policemen also arrived at the hostel to settle the dispute and student leaders of both parties stepped in. By evening, Saurabh Joshi of the ABVP and Deepak Rawat of the HPSU had worked out a compromise between the two parties.


Recovery inspector held with bribe money
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The CBI today caught an inspector of the Chandigarh-based Debt Recovery Tribunal at the New Delhi Railway Station while allegedly accepting Rs 30,000 as bribe.

Recovery Inspector A. K. Shukla informed the police he had taken the bribe on behalf of Recovery Officer-II. The CBI later searched the houses of the Inspector and the Recovery Officer in Chandigarh.

A Rewari-based doctor, the complainant, told the CBI that in response to an auction notice published in a newspaper on January 13, 2004, he had participated in a land auction on January 29 and emerged successful with an amount of Rs 36 lakh.

The auction of the land measuring 1122 sq yards with an industrial shed and office was ordered by Recovery Office II, Debt Recovery Tribunal.

The CBI alleged that Recovery Inspector Shukla started demanding a bribe on the behalf of Recovery Officer-II, Chandigarh, and threatened to delay the possession of the property. Sources in Delhi said Mr Shukla had allegedly demanded of Rs 30,000 as bribe, threatening the Recovery Officer would not issue the certificate of sale until the demand was met.

In early March, 2004, Recovery Officer II issued a notice of appearance to the doctor where he was treated “rudely” by Recovery Officer-II.

The officer, in a telephonic talk, told the doctor that he would be reaching Delhi by Jan Shatabdi Express on March 17 and that he should be given the money at the railway station on his arrival.

As the officer put the money in his pocket, the CBI sleuths arrested him.

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