C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Short circuit leads to blast, 8 children severely burnt
Tribune News Service

As a gesture of sympathy towards the victims’ families, the PGI Medical Superintendent, Dr Anil K. Gupta, who visited the patients declared that the PGI would treat all children free of cost. “Everything that these children require by way of treatment will be given by the PGI at our cost,’’ he said.

Mohali, April 16
Eight children of a slum colony here were today severely burnt while they were playing under high-tension electricity wires that got entangled with their kite string, leading to a short circuit followed by a blast and a shower of sparks and fire balls. The children, all boys, between the age of 2 and 12 years got trapped in the shower and received severe burns on their faces, arms and feet and were rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh, where the condition of three of them is critical.

The incident took place at 4.30 pm when a group of children belonging to Ambedkar Colony behind Mohali’s Phase VII Industrial Area were playing in the open land circling their hutments. The eldest among the group, 12-year-old Rajnish, was flying a kite with the rest in tow. According to an eye witness, Subodh, a resident of the colony, the kite string got stuck in the high-tension wires above. “The children tried pulling the kite out with another metal wire resulting in the overhead cable wires touching each other. A big ball of fire and a shower of sparks flew and the children got caught in that. The grass underneath also caught fire trapping the burning children,” he said.

A team of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees, who were getting new electricity poles fitted nearby, rushed to help the children. “Sudama and I were the first to reach. We removed the children with burning clothes and brought them out of the engulfing flames. But by then all of them were badly charred and crying with pain,” said Subodh.

The children were put in a cart and rushed to the PSEB grid station nearby from where they were taken to the Mohali Civil Hospital. The hospital authorities immediately referred them to the PGI, Chandigarh.

A harrowing scene was witnessed in the PGI emergency unit where these children are being treated. Most of the children have been bandaged from head to foot. Fully conscious, the children were, however, in a state of shock. Despite being in great pain, most of them were quiet.

The condition of Rajnish is the most critical with 75 per cent burns. Almost unconscious, he could barely move. Two others, 10-year-old Rajesh and 7-year-old Sonu are 65 per cent burnt. Ten-year-old Neeraj is 50 per cent burnt while 10-year-old Vinod is 46 per cent burnt. The youngest of them all, 2-year-old Monu, is 42 per cent burnt, while his elder brother 7-year-old Anoop has sustained 35 per cent burns. Roshan, another 7-year-old, has sustained 37 per cent burns. “Both my sons are here. I don’t know what to do, where to go,” said Virender Kumar, father of Monu and Anoop, bursting into tears.

Outside the hospital emergency, a large number of colony residents collected after the arrival of the children there at 5.30 pm. “Most of the men were out of the colony when the mishap occurred. But everyone living in the colony and many other residents of another neighbouring colony heard the blast when it happened. The blast was very loud. Had it not been for the Board labour working nearby, the children would not have been alive. Parents of all children informed later were working as labourers. “The father of one of the children has come to know just now only,” said Mr Ramnath Paswan, head of the colony.

A PSEB employee said the area in which the children were playing had been declared prohibited to entry due to the presence of high-tension overhead wires. The Mohali-Rajpura 220-KV hot line is travelling overhead and when the incident occurred, the Board employees were engaged in getting new poles put. “Even the Board employees, who have to work, should have a special permit to do the job. It’s very dangerous otherwise,” said the Board employee.

Following the short circuit, the electricity supply till Rajpura was discontinued. The Board inspection teams that came to repair the wires reported that the wires were stuck at 12 different points adding that it had led to intensive damage. However, the electricity supply was restored within an hour of the incident.


Truck runs over sleeping labourers, 1 dead
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 16
A 21-year-old labourer was killed and five others injured when a tipper truck ran over them while they were asleep on a kuchcha road in Sector 70 here yesterday morning. While two of the injured were discharged from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, this morning, three of the injured are undergoing treatment there.

The incident occurred at 5 am when the six labourers were sleeping outside the construction site where they worked. A kuchcha road connected the site with the main road and the six were sleeping on this road near heaps of construction material lying on this road. According to the police, a backing tipper truck ran over them and Vinod, who was sleeping in one corner was crushed to death on the spot. Loknath (21), Sunil (21) and Ajay (17) were also run over and sustained grave injuries. Krishna (22) and Lok Nath (21) were discharged today.

An eyewitness, Tulsi, who also worked as a labourer at the site, said he heard the cries of those injured and rushed to help them. ‘‘Vinod was lying in a pool of blood and the others were writhing in pain. The truck driver, however, did not stop and managed to flee in the truck,’’ he added. Tulsi also said the truck belonged to one of the neighbours who rented it out for construction work and was most of the time parked near the site. ‘‘It seemed that the truck driver did not see the labourers asleep. There were heaps of construction material lying on the spot and it was still dark when the accident occurred,’’ he added.

Persons working at the site said the six labourers had come just 10 days ago from Orissa for employment and had started working at the Cooperative Society building under construction in Sector 70. The police has registered a case against the unidentified truck driver and informed Vinod’s brother, who lives in Amritsar, about his death.



2 Hamara Fortune directors held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 16
The police arrested two directors of a Sector 34-based multi-level-marketing (MLM) company, Hamara Fortune Sales Network Pvt. Ltd., for allegedly cheating members of public of crores of rupees, here this evening.

Angered at the police action, over 50 “members” of the company gathered at the Sector 17 office of the Economic Offence Wing of the police and raised slogans against the police later in the evening.

Those who have been arrested are Ashish Mahajan and Ajay Patel. A case under various sections of the IPC and the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Ban Act, 1978. The police raided the company’s office and seized computers and records of the company. The office of the company has also been sealed, the police said.

Acting on an anonymous complaint, the police had started investigation into the affairs of the company, which has over 1.65 lakh “members”. To join the company as a “member”, one had to pay Rs 1,500 and introduce three more “members” to the company. The police said the company used to pay Rs 400 if an associate brought three more members but use to forfeit Rs 1,500 if the “member” broke the chain (failed to bring three more members).

On the other hand, refuting the allegations, an official of the company said no one had been cheated. The company sold home appliances, tooth brush and paste, kitchen ware and other home-related items under different brand names. The counsel for the company, Mr Arunjeev Singh Walia, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune alleged police high-handedness in the case.

According to Mr Walia, all associates were provided with the products of the company at the manufacturing cost in return of the money they used to pay at the time of joining the company. “All associates were also given free accident insurance of Rs 1.50 lakh”, said Mr Walia.



CBSE taking no chances today
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
In view of frequent leaks of question papers of competitive exams, the Central Board of Secondary Education has changed the system involved in transportation and delivery of the question papers of the All-India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (Preliminary), scheduled for tomorrow.

This time the question papers have not been sent 48 hours in advance to banks in state capitals. Instead, the question papers will be sent directly to the examination centers, and few hours before the commencement of the test, from the board headquarters in New Delhi.

A senior official said the process was being kept confidential, especially after the leak of chemistry and physics papers. The board was also exploring the concept of electronically sending the question papers to its regional offices.

Meanwhile, all arrangements have been made for conducting examination in the city. Around 11,000 candidates from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are expected to appear at 22 examination centres. The Controller of Examination, CBSE, Mr Pavnesh Kumar, in a public notice, has said that the examination would be held at the same examination centres as mentioned in the admit cards issued to the candidates earlier.



Islam not averse to art, says Pak painter
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The apparent antagonism between Islam and art has always baffled the mind of an average art lover. But it was a pleasure to learn from one of the most celebrated painters of Pakistan, Ghulam Rasul, that this antipathy is an illusion.

In a face to face with art lovers at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) today, he exploded the myth about of the Prophet (Hadees) discouraging artistic representations.

“This misrepresentation of facts can be attributed to fundamentalists. In fact, Islam itself is replete with paintings. The Qoran is quiet on the issue of art. Even the Hadees tell us that the Prophet loved figures. He once chose a curtain stuffed with lovely figurative patterns. It is only the orthodox mullah of South-East Asian lands who has fed the myth of Islam being averse to painting. This misrepresentation has roots in the 99 names of Allah, out of which Al-Tasavvir, meaning God is also a painter, is one.

“The fanatics presume that if God was a painter, how could man be allowed to emulate him. That is the whole confusion.”

A noted landscape artist with works stocked in private homes and museums all over the world, Ghulam Rasul embodies the new consciousness of Pakistan’s art movement. He talked of how Pakistani artists had steered clear of fundamentalism.

“The contemporary painters have learnt to ignore forces that stifle art. No wonder many Pakistani artists have made a name for themselves in the world of miniature, sculpture and even installation. We are also proud that the wooden block printing which the West claims to have discovered in the 12th century actually dates back to the Indus valley civilisation, which belongs to us.”

For his part, Ghulam Rasul concentrates on painting his surroundings. After migrating from Jalandhar, he realised that he was born to paint. “But my father could not digest the idea. He never supported my pursuit. Also, he allowed me to paint on the condition that I would not do figures. Art in Pakistan took a long time to evolve. There have been times when my intention behind painting landscapes has been questioned. People have often asked me to go away, alleging that I use art as a shield to ogle at women.”

The painter also said that as compared to India, the Pakistani art movement progressed rather slowly. “Hostility towards art marred its prospects earlier. The situation is improving now with patronage coming from various quarters. Pakistan is now home to myriad styles, but I am essentially a landscape artist. I paint immediate surroundings.

“The romance of autumn inspires me. So does the colour scheme of Ajanta caves in India. I am here to visit the Ajanta so that I can treasure the original art of the area.”

Proud of the commonality which India and Pakistan share in cultural heritage, the painter, credited with the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, said: “Art is one field where you need no modern technologies. Both India and Pakistan are rich with their cultural diversity which also inspires their arts.”

On the occasion, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director, CRRID, offered to host a joint show of Indian and Pakistani artists. Also present was art historian Dr B.N. Goswami.



Jains file papers on first day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Mr Satya Pal Jain, BJP candidate from the city, filed his nomination papers on the first day of the exercise which began today. The papers say that he “is not accused of any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more in a pending case in which a charge has been framed by the competent court of competent jurisdiction”.

Two other prominent candidates, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and Mr Harmohan Dhawan of the Indian National Lok Dal will file their papers later. Mr Bansal is likely to file papers on April 21 while Mr Dhawan plans to file on April 23.

Mr Arvind Jain was the only other candidate who filed an affidavit with reference to any offence which could lead to an imprisonment of two years or more. Mr Jain, however, has given reference of a case registered against him under Section 188 of the IPC.

This offence is not covered under relevant Sections of the Representations of the People Act which bar candidature of the candidate.

Mr Pushp Kumar Singh, a vernacular journalist, was expected to fill his nomination papers today on behalf of the Indian Justice Party. He was also seen at the office of the Returning Officer. He, however, postponed his move till tomorrow.



Satya Pal Jain ridicules Cong tactics
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
A procession of party workers dancing to the beats of the dhols accompanied Mr Satya Pal Jain of the BJP when he went to file his nomination papers at the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today.

Office-bearers and party workers from all walks of life in the city reached the BJP office (Kamlam), Sector 33-A, in the morning. Sizeable gathering then moved to the DC office. Mehar Mittal, a well known comedian of the Punjabi films, was present at the party office with Mr Jain.

The nomination procession consisted of horses followed by rickshaws, cycles, rehris, scooters, motor cycles, cars, tractors, trucks and buses. The open jeep of Mr Jain was going in midst of the big procession. The jeep was decorated with flowers, party flags and stickers.

The procession passed through various sectors and reached the office of the Deputy Commissioner at around 1 p.m. Mr Jain filed four sets of nomination papers. Those who proposed the name of Mr Jain included Ms Kamla Sharma, Mr Jai Ram Joshi, Mr Mohammad Kassim and Mr Darshan Singh.

After filing the papers, Mr Jain addressed the gathering and said that Congress should clearly know the impact of the procession. Congress is falsely claiming its victory through media. He said this procession and the campaign of the BJP, which has entered into the third phase, has undoubtedly received the momentum. He said he would take up the problems of the constituency on priority basis after his victory.

Later in the evening Mr Jain addressed a Vishal Jan Sabha in Ram Darbar, a corner meeting in a park of Sector 28, another corner meeting at the Auto Mechanics in Sector-28 and a Jan Sabha of the party workers in Mauli Complex.



66 booths in city declared sensitive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
As many as 66 booths out of the total 405 in the city have been declared sensitive for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Mr Arun Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said here today.

These booths have been declared sensitive in context of apprehension of breach of peace during the campaign trail and voting due to group differences between workers of different political parties.

The sensitive areas include Dadu Majra, Colony Nos IV and V and Hallo Majra, besides others.

The Returning Officer said adequate security arrangements would be made at the sensitive stations before and during the poll period.

Meanwhile, 11,000 voters have been added to the original list of 5,39,000 voters compiled by the local election office earlier till January, 2004, official sources said here today.

It has been pointed out that the last date for getting enrolled on the voters list is April 23.



Haryana SAD chief’s expulsion recommended
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 16
The state executive of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today recommended to the party high command the expulsion of the Haryana unit President, Mr Sukhdev Singh Gobindgarh, for anti-party activities.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the executive held under the leadership of Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, SAD general secretary, and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, a former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), at Gurdwara Nada Sahib.

A majority of the office-bearers and seven of the 11 SGPC members from the state participated in the meeting. A resolution recommending the expulsion of Mr Gobindgarh for six years was passed in the meeting. Through another resolution, the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was authorised to take a decision on the issue of support to other parties in Haryana and Chandigarh in the Lok Sabha poll. The Haryana SGPC members will support the candidate selected by the SAD for the presidentship of the SGPC in July.

Later, briefing reporters, Mr Bhundar announced that the senior vice-president, Mr Joginder Singh Aarwah, would officiate as the Haryana unit chief. The party had been forced to recommend Mr Gobindgarh’s expulsion as he had been indulging in anti-party activities for over two years.

He said the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party would meet in a couple of days to decide on the issue of support to other parties in Haryana and Chandigarh. Though the Akali Dal had an alliance with the BJP at the national level, yet a decision on support to candidates of other parties, including in Haryana and Chandigarh, would be taken by April 20, he added.

Mr Bhundar said development during the five-year rule of the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab would be the main poll plank of the party. He alleged that development in Punjab had come to a standstill and people were reeling under heavy taxes since the Congress came to power over two years ago.

The Congress and the state bureaucracy were behaving like dictators and victimising their political opponents. The derogatory advertisements being published by the Congress and the SAD were in bad taste, Mr Bhundar said, alleging that it was the Congress which started such a campaign.



Bansal woos ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
A function of ex-servicemen officers and their wives was organised by the local unit of the Congress in support of the candidature of Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Around 500 officers and their wives were present on the occasion, a press note said here today.

Lieut-Gen M.M. Lakhera, chairman of the Ex-Servicemen Cell of the Congress, urged his colleagues and their family members to take active part in politics especially when various “divisive and destructive forces were trying to divide the country along religious and regional lines”.

Mr Bansal spoke about his convictions regarding problems faced by ex-servicemen. He said he had raised the issue of “one rank, one pension” at relevant forums, including Parliament. He stressed for an urgent comprehensive resettlement programme for war widows and their wards. Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the local unit, also spoke.

In a separate meeting, the United Christian Welfare Association “unanimously decided to support Mr Bansal”.



Indian Navy to have more survey ships
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
There has been a significant increase in the number of countries approaching the Indian Navy to train their hydrographers as well as undertake various projects to survey their coastal areas and territorial waters.

“The number of requests is more than double than what we can handle,” Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India, Rear Admiral K.R. Srinivasan, said while talking to The Tribune here today. He was the chief guest at a seminar on opto-electronics and MEMS technology here.

The Dehra Dun-based National Hydrographic Office (NHO), which is responsible for coastal and off-shore survey in the country, is training hydrographers from a dozen countries. The duration of courses range from six months to a year.

The NHO has already executed survey projects for four countries. It is awaiting approval for carrying out a project in the Maldives, while another eight requests are pending with the government. These surveys are for mapping coastal areas and waterways for building ports, studying feasibility of tourism and water sports and exploring beaches and seas for other economic activities.

“We can accommodate requests from foreign governments on training and surveys only if our own commitments are not affected,” Admiral Srinivasan explained.

Countries on the Indian Ocean rim, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea are among those looking at India for training and maritime surveys. These include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia. More recently, Australia has also shown interest in sending its hydrographers to India rather than the United Kingdom for training after it closed down its own hydrography school because of the cost-economic factor.

Stating that hydrography and associated training in India is on a par with international standards, Admiral Srinivasan said that the Navy was also expanding its fleet of survey ships. The Navy now had eight survey ships. It had planned to take this number to 16, but later cut it down to 12.

“We will be placing orders with Indian shipyards for four ships this year,” he said.



2 youths commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 16
A “drug addict”, Girish (26), stabbed himself after a minor spat with his younger sister in his house late last night. Another youth hanged himself to death at Dadu Majra Colony here today.

As per police sources, a resident of Sector 40-C, Girish, was under the influence of a drug when he killed himself around 11 pm. He was rushed to the PGI, where he succumbed to his injuries this morning.

It is learnt that his sister requested him to switch off the television. When Girish refused to oblige his sister, she switched it off. ‘‘Angered over her action, Girish brought a kitchen knife and stabbed himself”, said the police. He was unemployed.

In the second incident, Ramesh, 18, allegedly hanged himself to death in his house at Dadu Majra. His body was found hanging by his neighbour in the afternoon.

The police has recovered a suicide note, in which Ramesh had reportedly written that nobody was responsible for his death and he was taking the step on his own. In the note he had also written that the money in his savings bank account should be transferred from his account to his niece’s account. In both cases the police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr PC.



Conformity to world quality standards must, says Jauhri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Conformity to international quality standards is a must for Indian industry to succeed in the highly competitive global markets, said Mr Anil Jauhri, Director of the Bureau of Indian Standards, from Lucknow.

Mr Jauhri, who has served as Advisor on the Export Inspection Council of India and is an expert on WTO matters, was addressing the Chandigarh Management Association here today.

Speaking on “WTO Agreement, Standards and Conformity for Industry”, Mr Jauhri said Indian exporters would not only have to maintain quality standards in productions, but also the standards relating to quality health and environment in the countries to which the goods were being exported.

Mr K.K. Sharma, Deputy-Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), who was the chief guest said BIS had been spearheading the quality movements in the country to help Indian industry meet the challenge of the WTO, and industry had to go in for certification showing compliance to prescribed standards.

BIS had granted nearly 17,000 licences to Indian manufacturers for the use of the widely known ISI mark covering 11,000 different products, he said.

Earlier, Mr Charanjit Singh of the CMA, said the greatest challenge for the management professionals was to understand the implications of the WTO regime and prepare their organisations to set high standards of excellence.


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