C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PMT leak has students fuming
Tribune News Service

How CBSE stores question papers

Question papers are despatched two days in advance to banks selected by the CBSE for being kept in lockers. On the day of the exam, CBSE officials, bank officials and these in charge of the examination centres personally supervise the exercise of taking sealed packets of question papers from the lockers to the examination centres.

Chandigarh, April 11
Unaware about the cancellation of the All-India Pre-Medical Test by the CBSE, following leak of question papers, hundreds of students faced a lot of harassment when they reported at the examination centres in the city this morning.

Anguished over the development, a number of outstation students and their parents, who had been camping in the city since yesterday, blamed the CBSE for not learning from the leak of the CAT paper last year. Some candidates, however, felt they would get more time for preparation.

A candidate, Ashok, was skeptical about the fresh date for the test as on the coming Sundays in April and May , medical entrance tests of various states are scheduled. The CBSE would take some time to check the source of the leak and plug the loopholes, said a senior officer of the board.

A number of candidates, only came to know about the cancellation after reading a notice at the examination centres. The regional office of the CBSE had set up 22 centres to conduct the test. Around 11,000 students were scheduled to appear.

Since there was no centre in Punjab and Haryana, a large number of students had come from distant places to appear in the test.

Vishakha and her father from Chamba were staying in a motel for the past three days. Like her, many students from distant places had reached the city in advance and taken rooms on rent. Ms Rajwant, a biology teacher with Ekadhiken, a coaching centre, confirmed that many students enrolled with them had arrived in the city in advance.

Alok and Anurag, both from Shimla, questioned the sanctity of the process involved in the conduct of prestigious tests.

An academic, Mr Sandeep Mann, who has been coaching students for competitive tests, said the leak reflected poorly on the manner in which such tests were conducted. It takes months of preparation to clear the test. “On the one hand, we talk of corporate governance and on the other question papers of tests like CAT and the PMT are being sold for anything between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh”.



After cricket, Mandira tries ‘ladoo’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Mandira Bedi loves to epitomise the urban Indian woman, no matter how stressful life gets in the process. Loaded with confidence, courtesy cricket, Mandira declares she is working religiously to silence her critics.

Appearing on a different pitch today, Mandira who will now star in husband Raj Kaushal’s direction, “Shaadi ka ladoo”, could not help mentioning her first love — cricket — and also that she was itching to win over lovers of the game. “I will tell my critics that I make all the sense when it comes to cricket. They have lambasted me enough for Extraaa Innings, but I am now filling the gaps in my knowledge of the game. I am all set to host the Champions Trophy again for Sony Max. And this time no one will get an opportunity to raise finger at me.”

But for now, it is not just cricket but also celluloid that is occupying Mandira’s mind. And with her own husband in the director’s role, she could not have asked for more. Naturally excited about the film, which deals with marriage, Mandira said: “It is great to come back after nine years. It is even greater because I am working with my husband, who is an exceptionally supportive man.”

Raj returned Mandira’s warmth saying: “She is full of zest for life, though unpredictable at times. But we complement each other well. It was fun directing her. In the film she plays Tara, an artiste, who lives in England.” Talking about the concept, Raj said it evolved during discussions with the actors of the film. “The script was tailor made. We went to England and shot the film in 25 days. The travel was demanded by the script. We did not go with the market in mind.”

Like Raj, Mandira is also eagerly awaiting the release, as she says: “The film is true to life. I play a character which is practical and mature. I am all for career but still waiting for love to happen. It was not easy to be directed by Raj. He would keep asking me to have that chemistry with costar Ashish Choudhary. It was indeed a challenge to romance around with your husband on the sets.”

Finally, the film is working out well for both Mandira and Raj, who share a great relationship in real life and don’t mind if some of their warmth spills over in public. Mandira needed a break after she had done serials like “Shanti” and “Kyunki saas...”. As one was reminded of Mandira’s sudden disappearance from Ekta Kapoor’s “Kyunki saas...”, she clarified: “The decision to quit was conscious. The character was not growing through the years. Even after 20 years, she was the same Mandira, resorting to juvenile tactics to win over a man. I quit for good.”

Soon Mandira will also play the lead in a South Indian filmmaker M.J. Ramanan’s “Divorce”. The actress jokes: “Don’t think ‘Divorce’ is a sequel to ‘Shaadi ka ladoo’. It’s all about a child who seeks divorce from his parents because they are too devoted to work to care for him.” Mandira is promoting the Indian women’s cricket team, for which she just managed funds from Citi Bank.



Punwire staff offer apology to Bir Devinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 11
The Punwire Employees Union today offered an apology for having ‘hurt’ the feeling of the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and the MLA Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh. The president of the union, Mr Shahid Ahmed, denied that he or any of the other protesters had used abusive language during the protest march outside the house of Mr Bir Devinder Singh. “But if we have even inadvertently offended him in any way I, on the behalf of the union, apologise for it and appeal to him to attend the vital core group meeting scheduled for tomorrow.” he said.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh had yesterday resigned from the core group constituted for the revival of Punwire. The core group is scheduled to meet tomorrow under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, to consider the revival of the unit. The MLA resigned from the core group following a violent protest march organised by Punwire employees outside Mr Bir Devinder’s residence in Sector 39 Chandigarh on April 8.

However, no one is sure if the tomorrow’s meeting will serve any useful purpose in the absence of Mr Bir Devinder who was instrumental in the formation of the core group. Tomorrow’s meeting was to consider a report proposing the revival of the company by Mr B.S. Baidwan, former president of the Mohali Industries Association. Mr Baidwan, however, made it clear yesterday that he, too, will not attend the meeting in the absence of the MLA.

When contacted the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, who is the Chairman of the group stated that he had already talked to Mr Bir Devinder Singh on the matter and the meeting will be held as scheduled, ‘‘He told me that he will think about it. But if he and Mr Baidwan are not going to attend the meeting, it will be useless to hold it,” he said.

When contacted, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that he had been contacted by the Finance Minister and Mr S.S. Dullo on the matter. But the employees have not expressed their regret over the incident, he said. “I will decide about the meeting tomorrow,’’ he added.

Punwire had closed down in 2000 following the unearthing of a Rs 500 crore scam in 1999 and a series of FIRs against the company employees and management. While the police has filed its challans in the case, the CBI is still investigating the various FIRs registered by the Punjab police. Over a 1000 employees had lost their jobs following the closure and currently the company is under liquidation by the court. Mr Bir Devinder Singh had been the staunch supporter of the employees demanding the revival of the company.



War veteran toils for disability pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Twentyeight years after his fellow soldiers dumped him at his doorstep on the grounds that he had become mad and hence no longer fit for military service, a 50 year old war veteran continues to struggle for his disability pension.

Sepoy Amarjit Singh had joined the Sikh Light Infantry (SLI) in 1971, but was released after about five years’ of service. The release medical board had recommended 50 per cent disability due to Schizophrenia. Besides being mobilised during the 1971 war, he had also taken part in Operation Savage in the Eastern Sector during the early seventies.

His unit moved from Sikkim to Jamnagar In 1974, where he was hospitalised for a long time. Then in March four jawans escorted him to his home in Kheri Saraf Ali village near Karnal and handed him over to his wife.

The 50 year old ex-sepoy has no source of income nor can he take up any job on account of his medical condition. He has been undergoing treatment at the PGIMER, Chandigarh, for the past 15 years, and has to be taken there once in a fortnight. He gets some financial support from his father.

Despite the recommendations of the medical board, the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) rejected grant of disability on the grounds that his medical condition was not attributable to military service.

A letter from the SLI Records Officer received by him in October, 1976, advised him to submit his appeal on the CDA’s decision by March, 1977. However, owing to his condition and other family matters, he could not file an appeal within the stipulated period. A sum of Rs 1,079, though was released by the CDA on account of invalid gratuity.

“Regulation for Medical Services state that the cause of disability resulting from a disease will be regarded as attributable to military service if it arose during service period or the conditions and circumstances of duty contributed to the onset of the disease,” President of the Ex-Servicemen’s Grievance Cell, Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi (retd) said. The cell has now taken up his case with the pension authorities, Army Headquarters as well as the Army Wives Welfare Association.

“If a person cleared all medical tests at the time of recruitment and took part in various operations, it is clear that he developed the problem during service,” he said. Further, government directives citing the Fifth Pay Commission’s recommended state that the findings of the medical board on the extent of disability be treated as final and binding unless the affected person himself seeks a review.



Young couples seeking legal protection
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 11
More and more love birds, trying to escape the wrath of angry parents and kin are approaching the Punjab and Haryana High Court for security. In what is becoming a norm now, every day many young couples appear in the court of the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and seek protection from their family members. In most cases, it is the family of the girl rather than the boy that is after the blood of the young couples.

Inquiries made by The Tribune revealed that on an average 40-50 couples seek the intervention of the court every month to ensure a peaceful, happy married life.

“This is a relatively new trend. One sees a line of young newly married couples either waiting outside or sitting inside the court of the Chief Justice. They generally claim that their life is in danger and that the court should protect them from their alleged blood-thirsty family members,” states a leading lawyer.

According to Punjab and Haryana High Court sources, most of the couples who approach the court for help, hail from the districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr in Punjab. “While in most cases one of the partners in the marriage belongs to a different caste or religion, in some cases it is the financial factor that makes the families oppose the marriage. But, in almost all the cases, once the court intervenes, the matter is amicably settled,” observed a Punjab and Haryana High Court official.

Such couples appear in the court of the Chief Justice, either in person or through a lawyer, and charge their family members with trying to force them to separate. After listening to the story, the court, apart from asking the police to protect the coupe, calls the “accused” parents and asks them if they are willing to relent. “In majority of the cases that I have come across, the parents give an undertaking that they will not interfere in the lives of the couple. But, not all parents are so forgiving,” says a leading lawyer.

Consider this affidavit filed by the father of a Kapurthala girl, who had married against the wishes of the family and then approached the court after she and her husband started feeling the heat. “.. That the deponent, his family and other members, have decided not to wear the shoes which pinch from the date of knowledge of the marriage of the petitioners. That the deponent have disowned the petitioners for all intent and purposes”.

Interestingly, in this case, while the couple had alleged that the girl’s family was harassing and intimidating them, the father, in his affidavit, pins the blame for the accusations on “kalyug”.



‘Tipsy’ driver assaults cops, hospital staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
A drunk truck driver allegedly assaulted two women and police personnel at the Grain Market here today.
He was taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital and the PGI, but was refused medical treatment there as he allegedly assaulted employees.

The altercation began when the driver Joginder Singh of Rohtak, went to answer the call of nature near some jhuggis. A few slum-dwellers protested over this.

Irked over the protest, the driver allegedy attacked them with a stick. The police was called, but Joginder Singh allegedly beat up a couple of policemen. Following this, a contingent of nearly 25 policemen led by SHO Jarnail Singh reached the spot and took him to the General Hospital for medical examination. The hospital authorities referred him to the PGI because he allegedly attacked one of the attendants there.

The PGI also refused to examine him as he allegedly assaulted an attendant there also. The Sector 26 police station booked him for allegedly causing injuries to several persons and threatening them. 



He wants to work for the common man
Tribune News Service

Dharam Paul SharmaChandigarh, April 11
Claiming that middle class people were exploited by candidates of big parties to benefit a select few, Mr Dharam Paul Sharma, an Independent candidate from the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, said he was in the fray to ensure that the nearly 80 per cent employees’ population of the city was heard and its problems dealt with.

Addressing a press conference at Panjab University here today, he said the main reason behind problems being faced by residents was that there had never been any representative from the lower or middle class.

The president of the Panjab University Non-Teaching Employees Federation and convener of the Joint Action Committee of teaching and non-teaching employees, Mr Sharma said the law and order situation had deteriorated, education had been commercialised and was beyond the reach of the common man.

He said while the title of City Beautiful was limited to sectors where bureaucrats resided, southern sectors presented the ugly side of the city. “If elected, I will equally distribute funds given to me for the overall development of the city,” he maintained.



Funds misappropriated, say ESPL staff
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 11
Members of the Electronics Systems Punjab Limited (ESPL) Employees Union today alleged gross misappropriation of funds by the company management over the years because of which the company was facing closure.

Mr Ram Ji Dass, president of the local Trade Union Council, during a press conference alleged that the company’s Managing Director, Mr Ashok Sharma, was bent upon winding it up though the Board of Financial and Industrial Reconstruction (BIFR) had sanctioned its rehabilitation last year. ‘‘The BIFR has evaluated and found that the ESPL was a viable unit and could be revived. Then why is the Punjab Government taking a decision of winding it up?’’ the employees asked.

When contacted the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce Punjab, Mr S.C. Aggarwal, stated that the government had considered seriously the BIFR package but decided that the revival of the company was not a viable option. ‘‘The BIFR is an advisory body and a final decision on the matter was taken by the government,’’ he said.

Talking to mediapersons, many former employees of the company today said the management on April 8 had retrenched 30 of its employees without notice in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act on the pretext of winding up the company. ‘‘Employee cannot be retrenched when they have opted for VRS and other daily wage, casual and contract workers and are on the rolls of the company,’’ said Mr T.P. Singh, General Secretary of the union.

The employees demanded that the Punjab Government withdraw retrenchment notices to 30 employees and reinstate them. ‘‘We also want an independent inquiry into the winding up process being followed by the company’s MD. He has employed over 80 persons on his own accord and instead of paying back the banks and other financial institutions to whom the ESPL owes money, the earnings of the company are being kept aside,’’ said Mr Rajinder Shukla, legal advisor of the union. Mr Shukla added that a PIL against the winding up of the company was pending at the court.

The employees claimed that the company was making profits for the past seven years and would be able to sustain itself without any financial assistance. ‘‘In the last two years, the company had executed orders worth Rs 12 crore for the Election Department and will continue to do so,’’said Mr Ramji Dass. ‘‘We also demand that the present MD, who is simply a pharmacist and has no technical or administrative knowledge to run an IT related company like ESPL, should be removed immediately.

An enquiry should be conducted into the misutilisation of funds of the company and other embezzlements,’’ said the General Secretary of the Union.



A day of prayers, feasting for Christians
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 11
It was a day of prayers and feasting for followers of the Christian faith. After attending morning service in churches, they exchanged Easter eggs, hot buns and cakes. Fellowship lunches were also held. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ on the third day of crucifixion.

The celebrations started early. The venue of prime celebrations was the Cathedral of Christ the King in Sector 19. The service in English was held at 8 am and in Hindi at 10 am.

The Sector 18 church was also decked up with colourful blinking lights. Bottlenecks were created as followers parked their vehicles along the roadside to attend the service.

The celebrations began at 5.30 am with “sunrise service”. It was followed by Easter service in Tamil at 7.30 am. The English service began at 9.30 am followed by Hindi service at 11 am. Community kitchen, organised on the occasion, was attended by followers of all religions.

Youngsters, meanwhile, staged a skit on the resurrection of Christ. They depicted Christ’s rising from the dead. The skit started with soldiers guarding the grave of Jesus. In the next scene, the grave opened symbolising the resurrection of Jesus. As the soldiers ran away in different directions, an angel appeared to tell the followers that Christ had risen three days after his crucifixion.

Sunrise service was also held at Baptist church in Sector 44-C at about 6 am. It was followed by Easter service at about 10 am. Fellowship lunch was also served. At the Sector 41 Church of God, service was held from 9 am to 12 noon. It was also followed by fellowship lunch. Early morning service was also held at Syrian Orthodox Church in Sector 46.

Easter, the followers revealed, was a reminder of the loving spirit of Christ, who stood for sacrifice, love, prayer, selfless service and devotion. Easter, they added, symbolised the celebration of rebirth and new life.



CA beaten up by  examiner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
An entrance examination held for a post in the National Thermal Power Corporation today faced a virtual boycott when an examiner allegedly beat up an examinee at
Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, here. A Chartered Accountant, Vijay Bansal, was getting agitated over the non-receipt of his roll number, when the examination in-charge Rakesh Behl allegedly beat him up.

Bansal complained to the police that he was beaten up by Behl. A large number of the examinees refused to appear for the examination in protest. However, they were persuaded to take the examination when parents of a few of them were called to handle the situation. Their parents persuaded them to sit for the paper.

The incident happened when a large number of examinees gathered at the gate of the school to get their roll numbers. In the melee, a few of them got agitated as they were running out of time to appear for the examination.

Later, both parties reached a compromise and withdrew their complaints. Behl, however, denied that he had beaten up Bansal saying he took Bansal inside to sort out the problem.



CRPF celebrates Day of Valour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Central Reserve Police Force’s 30th Battalion based here celebrated the Day of Valour to keep alive the deeds of CRPF personnel during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. The Inspector-General, North West Zone, Mr Sukhjinder Singh, was the chief guest on the occasion. A large number of serving and retired officers attended the celebrations.

In April, 1965, the Fourth Company of the Second Battalion was deployed at the Sadar and Tak posts along the international border in the Rann of Kutch, when Pakistan launched Operation Desert Hawk against India.

On April 9, a Pakistani infantry brigade attacked the two posts. CRPF men manning the posts repulsed the attack and in the ensuing battle, 34 Pakistani soldiers were killed and four were captured.

The determination and valour of the CRPF men kept the might of an infantry brigade at bay for 12 hours. This is a unique and unparalleled feat in military history where a heavily outnumbered and outgunned paramilitary contingent pushed back by a full-fledged infantry brigade. The day is commemorated by all CRPF units and formations.



AOC-in-C D.C. Nigam in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal D.C. Nigam, arrived at No.3 Base Repair Depot here today on a three-day visit. He is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Kanak Nigam, president, Air Force Wives Welfare Association (Regional).

On their arrival here, they were received by the Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, Air Cdre S.P.S. Virk, and his wife, Mrs Manjit Virk. Air Marshal Nigam is scheduled to inspect various sections and projects at the depot and will also address Air Force personnel.



Nagar kirtan taken out
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 11
As part of the Baisakhi and birth anniversary celebrations of the second Guru, Angad Dev, a nagar kirtan was organised in the township by the management committee of the Sector 12 gurdwara here today.

Hundreds of devotees from the township and surrounding areas participated in the procession, which started from the Sector 12 gurdwara. It culminated at the Sector 7 gurdwara after passing through Sectors 12, 11, 4, 2, 6 and 7.

On its way, the procession was welcomed by scores of residents, who offered devotees sweet water. Before the start of the procession under the leadership of Brig Surjit Singh (retd), a langar was organised and several persons were presented siropas.

The general secretary of the committee, Col P.S. Bains (retd), said akhand path for the Baisakhi celebrations would begin on April 12.



Firms caring for environment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
More and more companies are now going in for certifications other than ISO 9001: 2000 such as ISO 14001, TS 16949, ISO 18000, reflecting their concerns for issues relating to environment protection, organisational safety, higher quality standards and systems. This is one of the findings of a survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry ( CII), Northern region.

Small and medium enterprises ( SMEs) in the northern region are now keen to seek external assistance in the new global environment. About 80 per cent of the companies interviewed in the survey expressed their desire to have external help in improving their competitiveness, a response that marks a sea change in perceptions of such enterprises. The survey also found SMEs more positive about innovation towards enhancing their productivity.

While around 36 per cent of respondents have in the recent past taken more than four initiatives to be competitive, 48 per cent have taken three to four such initiatives. Only 16 per cent said they had taken less that two initiatives in the areas of cost, energy, quality management, technology upgradation and human resource development. This is indicative of a trend where the SMEs look within their own organisations to survive and be winners.

Of the 75 per cent companies which find themselves competitive, 65 per cent have reported that their business was increasing steadily. Only 8 per cent reported a decline in business. Around 48 per cent of the companies feel that they have a threat from international competition too, besides their domestic competitors.



GCL to expand base
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 11
Gaganz Com Ltd (GCL), a local company providing consultancy services for setting up professional educational institutes or industrial units announced it’s expansion plan in nearby states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir during a press conference organised at a local hotel in Sector 22 here today.

“An analysis of the present situation reveals that the demand for skilled workers is increasing and will further rise. The GCL is one-stop solution for setting up professional colleges and institutes to meet the growing demand,” said Mr Gagan Deep Sharma, CEO of the company.

Gaganz Com Ltd specialises in setting up IT institutes, medical colleges, engineering colleges, dental colleges, polytechnics and academic schools and colleges. Recognition of schools and colleges from state educational boards, the CBSE and other relevant bodies is a part of the service package offered to its clients. The second part of the service package comprises setting up of industrial units, including arranging licences, obtaining NOCs, developing customised computer programmes and hardware services.


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