C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


 

Land worth 900 cr under illegal occupation
Admn to approach HC for speedy trial
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Jolted into action by the fact that land estimated to be valued at Rs 900 crore is locked up in long standing court cases, the Chandigarh Administration will approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court for speedy hearing in these matters.

The properties are spread across the Union Territory and collectively measure up to 300 acres. A few of them are located in prime area. These are acquired lands or government lands, however, people have built their own structures while various local courts have granted stay on dispossession. All this has held up the process of development, say sources.

Not connected to the land area under stay is an area of 80 acres of land under illegal possession since 1952. These are slum colonies in Industrial Area phase I, near Transport area, Kumhar colony in Sector 25. Nobody has the guts to get these vacated. Another 360 acres (these includes the slums), valued at nearly Rs 1100 crore, have been grabbed by people while the Administration is helpless.

Going by a modest rate of about 6300 per square yards the value of the land works out to be Rs 3 crore per acre. This is modest in terms of Chandigarh where auctions fetch five times of this price as a matter of routine.

About 10 acres of these lands have been grabbed by religious places. These have been given stay. Some of them are even proving to problems in the way of the alignment of the new national highway.

The rest of the land pieces are with people who have built homes on acquired lands. Some are running full-fledged markets. These are restricting growth and development.

Once the courts grant a stay and admit the plea of the petitioner, getting the stay vacated and taking action is long drawn process. Even if the High Court vacates the stay, petitioners usually knock at the doors of the Supreme Court.

Now these land pieces cannot be used by the Administration till the legal procedure is completed. This is despite the fact that land owners have been paid compensation. Stay in some cases has been granted as early as in 1990 but the matters have not even come up for hearing in the court. Senior officers of the Administration are going to approach the Registrar of the High Court and plead for an early hearing of these cases.

It all started when junior officials presented before the Finance Secretary and the Legal Remembrance on how prime pieces of land were under occupation of people who have obtained a stay. The FS asked for a complete list of such cases. The list has been supplied for the knowledge of higher authorities.

Sources have pointed out a startling fact. There is no policy on what to do. 

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Revolt against UT Cong chief
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

B.B. BahlChandigarh, July 12
A revolt has broken out in the local unit of the Congress party against the president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC), Mr B.B. Bahl.

In a letter addressed to the Congress chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, all the three presidents of the District Congress Committees (DCC’s), namely Mr D. D. Jindal, president, DCC (Urban-I), Mr Pawan Sharma, president, DCC (Urban-II) and Mr Bhupinder Singh Badheri, president, DCC (Rural), have levelled a series of allegations against Mr Bahl and demanded his “immediate removal from the presidentship of the party in the interest of thousands of workers who worked day and night (in the recent Lok Sabha elections) and voted the local Congress candidate, Mr Pawan Bansal, to such a massive victory”.

The communication said that Mr Bansal won by a huge margin of almost 46, 000 votes which was cause for great joy to all of them but at the same time, it did not hide the “act of treachery done by the man who was supposed to steer the party to victory. Our heads hang in shame when we recall the role of Mr Bahl”.

“During the election campaign, he made every effort to sabotage the election. He propped up a rebel candidate and financed him, spoke out publically against the official candidate, leaked official strategies to the Opposition candidates, used vulgar and unparliamentary language against the party workers besides meting out shabby treatment to the party workers. He also failed to convene party meetings, distribute election material and allocate duties to polling agents.

“Even after the election he has undertaken no political activity and made the party totally defunct. There has been not been even a single meeting of the party office-bearers after the election. Parliamentary elections are testing times for the party but Mr Bahl stabbed the party in the back when it needed him the most.”

The communication from the three DCC chiefs has come close on the heels of another letter addressed to Mr Bahl a few days ago by 11 senior TCC leaders demanding a meeting of the TCC to discuss the post-poll scene in the Union Territory. The letter was signed among others by Mr Ram Pal Sharma, senior vice-president, Mr Subhash Chawla, general secretary, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, senior Deputy Mayor of Chandigarh and Mr H.S. Lucky, president of the Chandigarh Territorial Youth Congress.

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Candidates harassed during counselling
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
It turned out to be a day of harassment for candidates who had come from far off places to appear in the centralised counselling being conducted at the Sector 26 campus of the National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR) for candidates who appeared for the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) here today.

The candidates and their parents lamented that a lot of time was being wasted in completing the procedural formalities. Many of the parents alleged that the officials conducting the session did not allow the couples to accompany their children. They alleged that the officials flouted the rules by categorically telling them that either the father or the mother could accompany the candidates.

The harassment of the candidates was further compounded by a power breakdown which further delayed the schedule.

It may be mentioned that under a new experiment the NITTTR is conducting the counselling for candidates from July 7 to 17 for admission to various engineering colleges, including the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). Officials of the NITTTR said the counselling under “one roof “ helped the students and their parents to decide on the institute of their choice.

On the condition of anonymity, a doctor couple said it was virtually impossible for either of the parents to decide out of the hundreds of options in a few seconds. They alleged that when they both insisted on attending the counselling for their child, they were manhandled. “An official who claimed to be the in charge there challenged us to do whatever we could do”, said the doctor couple.

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Girl abandoned by brother
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 12
She stares into nothingness for hours together. The pain in her huge eyes, set in the pale face, is apparent the moment you look at her. In a state of shock, she would not even know that you have called her several times, unless you shake her out of her shell. But ask her about her family, and the eight-year-old girl breaks down and is inconsolable.

The little girl, who says that her name is Pooja, was abandoned by her brother last night. Her parents died a few years ago, and she had been staying with her brother in a jhuggi in Sector 15.

According to Pooja, her brother, whose name she does not reveal, was without work for quite some time. Yesterday, he took her on a rickshaw, on the plea of taking her to the market in Sector 15. Once they reached the Raghunath Mandir, Sector 15, he took her inside and then quietly disappeared.

After waiting for him for quite some time, she got panicky and started crying. A few devotees at the temple saw the child crying inconsolably, and tried to pacify her. It was then that Mr Mansa Ram Ahuja, a social worker, approached the child and tried to ask her about her family. The girl told him that she was not keeping well and that her brother had deserted her.

Since the girl had an injury on her foot and was weak because of malnutrition, he took her to General Hospital, Sector 6. The girl is now undergoing treatment here, but is unable to tell her brother’s name or where they were staying.

Doctors attending on her say that she is weak and after receiving medical aid, she will be shifted to Bal Sadan in Sector 15.

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Riar for reviving democracy in SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The newly elected SGPC member from the city, Mr Gurpratap Singh Riar, has his agenda for his five-year term chalked out. From reviving democracy and ousting dictatorship in the 170-member House, he plans to move resolutions seeking the abolition of the NRI quota in admissions, opening a public school and allocation of funds to members to carry out developmental works in their areas.

In an interview here today, Mr Riar said the NRI quota for admissions was promoting corruption and sale of education. “We don’t need any foreign exchange now. The NRI quota has outlived its importance. It must be done away with,” he said.

Adding the he would move resolutions seeking ban of criminals contesting elections and casting votes, Mr Riar emphasised that he would press for quarterly meetings of the general house. “The meetings are held only when a president has to be elected. No issues can be taken up then. If a regular schedule is laid down, the House can debate issues of immediate concern to society and Sikhism,” he maintained.

For the city, he plans to open a public school in Sector 44. “What I have in mind is that 75 per cent of the expenses would be borne by the SGPC while 25 per cent would be paid by the students. In the school, we will have 65 per cent seats reserved for Sikh children while the remaining would be open to all,” he stated.

Admitting that the domination of the SAD in the SGPC House would make it an uphill task, he claimed that he would join hands with a few like-minded men for the purpose. “I am in touch with a few persons who are on the same wavelength and want to do something for the society. We will make things work to our advantage,” he held.

He ruled out an alliance with the SAD, which had denied him a ticket for the SGPC poll from the city. “I have nothing to do with the SAD as far as religious commitments are concerned. I will flay the wrongs done by them openly. However, I am open to political alliances, if approached,” Mr Riar claimed.

He said he would try to get approval for sanction of funds to SGPC members from the House. “Just like any other MP, MLA and councillor, we should also have funds at our disposal to work for the benefit of society,” he asserted.

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Hardeep to focus on Sikh youth
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 12
Mr Hardeep Singh, the newly elected member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today stated that there was a need to enhance powers of SGPC members.

The SGPC as an institution has been politicised. Religion and politics can go together but religion should show the right path to politicians and not vice versa. Politics is leading SGPC, making it subservient to political aims. The SGPC is being run by a limited number of people, the president, the executive and the employees. Members merely have a supervisory role to play. Members would have more say in the day to day functioning,’’ he said.

Listing his priorities, Mr Hardeep Singh said he would be working with and for Sikh youth. ‘‘There is a need to make sikh youth aware of the history and culture of their religion. They are suffering from an inferiority complex and that is the reason so many of them do not want to retain ‘Sikhi swaroop’. But if Sikhs living in foreign nations can proudly follow the tenets of Sikhism why cannot the Sikh youth living in Punjab,’’ he said adding that Sikhs should inculcate Sikh values in their children from a young age.

‘‘Sikhism is a most modern religion and it is only because of ignorance of what their religion stands for are that the youth are getting out of its fold. This mental weakness among sikh youth has to be dealt with by strengthening their will power,’’he said. Lamenting that enough religious leaders were not working towards this aim, Mr Hardeep Singh said a sustained and focused effort in this direction was required to bring about a difference.

The SGPC is a very powerful organisation and can achieve a lot if its efforts are directed and focused towards particular aims. But this might not be possible with its present form of functioning. The SGPC should be watching the interests, of the Sikh Community,’’he said.

Known for his documentaries on Sikh religion and its history- ‘Amar Khalsa’ and ‘Dharam Di Chadar,’ Mr Hardeep Singh has planned some new documentaries. ‘Khasam Ki Bani’ is on ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ and ‘Gursikhi Di Eh Nishani’ is about ‘Sikh maryada’. Then I have planned a major project on Banda Singh Bahadur. Such efforts are my and my team’s personal achievements. No other Sikh organisation, including the SGPC, has worked in this direction.’’

Mr Hardeep Singh was talking to The Tribune after being declared as the winner of the seat from Mohali by the SDM and returning officer Mr M.L. Sharma.

Mr Hardeep Singh of the Panthic Morcha defeated Mr Maan Singh Sohana of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) by a margin of 2460 votes. While Mr Hardeep Singh polled 11790 votes, Mr Maan Singh Sohana got 9330 votes. The other Maan Singh Sohana got 73 votes. Out of the total electorate of 50148, the total number of valid votes cast was 21193.

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TRIBUNE IMPACT
Relief rains on “carwala” Baba
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Offers of help and money poured in throughout the day today for the “carwala Baba” whose miserable plight was highlighted in the columns of the Tribune yesterday.

A constant stream of visitors comprising people from all walks of life offered solace and monetary help to the 89-year-old Bachan Singh, who has been abandoned by his four sons and has been living in an old Ambassador car, parked by the roadside in Sector 27 for the past four and a half years.

A visibly pleased Bachan Singh told TNS that response from the ordinary people had been overwhelming. “I am so grateful to your paper and the people at large. Insaniyat is not yet dead. They have been coming to me since morning with offers of money, bread, biscuits, clothes...”, said Bachan Singh as he sat on a folding bed under a tree. “Ironically, none of my sons has turned up. Not that I care any longer”.

For Bachan Singh, the day began with an offer for adoption from an old age home at Hoshiarpur conveyed to him through this correspondent. An official from the local branch of Helpage India offered to provide him with medical help.

Mr K.S. Brar, a resident of Sector 36, offered to give him a sum of Rs 1000 a month for the next couple of years if he has a bank account. Bachan Singh says that he has a bank account and the passbook is with him.

Mr V.S. Sodhi, Vice-President of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, also met Bachan Singh and offered to help him in finding a suitable accommodation in the Old Age Home in Sector 15 besides some monetary assistance. According to Mr Sodhi, Bachan Singh indicated that he would prefer to stay on at his present location for sometime.

Yet another resident of Chandigarh, Mr Harmandeep Singh, conveyed to the Tribune his offer of providing him accommodation in a school run by his mother besides some monetary assistance.

Another gentleman from Dera Bassi conveyed to Bachan Singh an offer from a gurdwara to allot him a room along with some monetary assistance.

Throughout the day, Bachan Singh was surrounded by visitors. While this correspondent spoke to him, a couple alighted from a car, quietly put some currency notes in his hand and left without uttering a word.

Another elderly gentleman arrived in a chauffeur driven car, sat with him for a while and left after handing over some money to Bachan Singh.

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Midnight drama: ‘I am not Xen in charge’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
After a hectic day -- gurdwara elections and results -- when I returned home around 11.30 last night there was no electricity in parts of Sector 44-B. Probably yet another transformer had flamed out ! It was perhaps the third of our Sector during this summer.

Since there was no sign of power supply being restored even after half past midnight, I rang up the Sector 43 complaint office to find out what the problem was and how long it would take before the power supply gets restored.

The attendant, Mr Rajpal Singh, was evasive saying that men were at work and supply would be restored soon. But when I insisted on knowing the cause for the disruption, he said that Sector 44-B transformer had conked off.

When he was asked to give the telephone number of the Executive Engineer (Xen) of the area, he said he did not know as he was just deputing for the Sub-station Assistant (SSA) who had gone to the site for rectifying the fault. But when I insisted, he gave me a number which turned out to be the office number of the Executive Engineer.

I got back to him and asked him to give me the residence number of the Xen. This time he gave me a number which was of another Executive Engineer, who had been previously in the Sector 44 Electricity Division.

Interestingly, even this Executive Engineer did not have the residence telephone number of his successor . The one he had was changed long time back. I got back to the Complaint office again. This time Mr Rajpal Singh gave me a mobile number which again did not exist.

I again called Mr Rajpal Singh expressing my displeasure at an attendant of a complaint office who does not know the residence number of his supervisory officer. But this time he asked me to wait and then he suddenly found a slip from which he read out both the new residential telephone number and mobile number of the Xen.

After making six calls and spending about half an hour, I could ultimately reach the Executive Engineer who was already aware of the problem and said that it would take at least an hour or so for the power supply to be restored.

But when I complained to him about the attendant at the complaint office not knowing his telephone number, he tried to explain that the attendant must be "illiterate", and may not be able to read the numbers written on Public Information Board of the complaint office. "Yeah, there are many in our department who do not know how to read and write. The are just the ones who put thumb impressions to get their salaries." I was shocked by his revelation. Can anyone, who is illiterate, get a government job these days ?

When asked why the proper transformers which can take the load of the sector were not put up, he blamed the mismanagement of the department for the problem. "It is why this department is on sale," the Xen said.

Subsequently as I rang up the Chief Engineer to complain over the manner in which the complaint offices and power supply problems were handled, I got the answer that the Chief Engineer was not at home, he had left his mobile phone at home and would be back only after an hour or so. It was already 1.30 a.m. and I could recognise the voice of person on the other side of the phone. It was none other than the Chief Engineer himself.

When I asked him whether he himself was on line , he asked for my identity. Once I revealed my identity, he asked me about the problem and promised to get not only the power supply restored in another 15 minutes but also make sure that attendants at all complaint offices in the city would behave properly and give correct information sought from them from this day onwards. Power was restored at 2.25 a.m.

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CAT orders UT to prepare seniority list of lecturers 
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 12
In an important decision, the Chandigarh Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the UT Administration to prepare the seniority list of all lecturers employed in various government schools in Chandigarh within three months and objections invited from lecturers.

The Bench headed by Mr J.S. Dhaliwal also ordered that within two months thereafter the objections be dealt with and disposed of and the list finalised.

Passing this order on an original appeal (OA) filed by Mr Yashpal Sharma and 55 other lecturers working in various government schools in Chandigarh, CAT also noted that in the absence of proper seniority list, the policy of selection and promotion of lecturers was not being strictly adhered to.

In their OA, Mr Sharma and other lecturers had claimed that due to the absence of seniority list of lecturers, promotions and selections of lecturers are not being done properly. The petitioners also claimed that many arbitrary promotions, including promotion of junior over the head of seniors, had been done.

Saying that as UT follows the Punjab pattern, 75 per cent of the lecturers were to be appointed on promotion from among masters and mistresses, while 25 per cent were to be direct recruits. However, the petitioners claimed that the policy was never followed.

Apart from praying that a fresh seniority list be ordered to be prepared, the petitioners also sought that responsibility for the lapses should be fixed.

They also prayed that revised pay scales and allowances be paid to them from the date from which they became eligible for the same along with interest.

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CHANDIGARH CALLING

The Chandigarh Traffic Police is going overboard devising different ways and means to streamline the ever-burgeoning flow of traffic on the city roads. In an endeavour to make the management of traffic hassle free, almost all sensitive points have been provided with rotary or traffic lights. Strange as it may sound, there are points where both rotary and traffic lights have been provided. It more often than not leads to traffic snarls.

The presence of a rotary and traffic lights at the busiest-ever railway crossing has become a great traffic hazard. Traffic comes to a near halt here, especially during the peak office hours when every office-goer and or school kid is in tearing hurry to reach his or her destination.

“The traffic here moves at a snail’s pace in view of the situation arising out of the presence of the both, especially when the traffic cop is not around. The worst sufferers are those travelling from the railway station and Modern Housing Complex side,” said Naresh Khullar, a Modern Housing Complex resident.

When buttonholed, a traffic cop on duty there minced no words. “Due to the presence of traffic lights and rotary, it becomes all the more taxing to manage the enormous flow of traffic especially during the peak hours.”

Miserable conditions

With no proper toilets or electric fans, one can easily imagine how miserable it would be to stay in such conditions. But this is what the undertrials have to face who are detained in the police lock-up at the Panchkula Judicial Complex.

Nearly 15-20 undertrials from Ambala Central Jail are brought to the Panchkula court for appearance every day. These undertrials are made to stay in the small lock up which can hardly accommodate seven or eight persons, says an advocate, Mr Ashish Goel. He further stated that sometimes the lock-up was packed up with the persons far exceeding the capacity of room. These undertrials were kept in the lock up from 7 am to 1 pm with no basic amenities being provided for their detention. The inmates of the lock-up can be seen crying and shouting for space and water. The other aspects related to hygiene and ventilation were no better. There was no electric fan, proper toilet and water arrangements for the undertrials. The inmates could be seen covering their noses due to pathetic smell that comes out from the over-flowing toilet built inside the lock up. Moreover no food was served to the undertrials during this long period leading to some persons falling unconsciousness sometimes. Despite repeated pleas and several inspections in the past; nothing concrete had come out of it.

That the accused should be accorded minimum comfort was beyond the wildest imagination of the authorities. Neither the police, nor the judicial authorities seemed worried about the condition of undertrials kept in the lock-up. After all, the delivery of criminal justice had no place for human rights; at least the law-keepers should ensure this.

However, this issue has been raised by the practicing lawyers of the local Court, Mr Manoj Arora and Ashish Goyal and a representation has been given to National Human Rights Commission. A copy of the same has been forwarded to Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, D.C and S.P, Panchkula.

Freedom fighter

Mrs Savitri Devi, a well-known freedom fighter and wife of the late Comrade Ram Kishan, former Chief Minister of Punjab, died at Delhi on July 3 at the age of 83.

She is survived by two sons, Mr Vijay Mehta and Mr Abhey Mehta and two daughters, Mrs Manorama and Mrs Meenakshi. Mrs Savitri Devi took an active part in freedom struggle and courted arrest many times. She also went to jail for the cause of freedom. After Independence, she was engaged in constructive work to help the poor.

A pubic meeting was held at Arya Samaj Mandir, Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi, to pay tributes to her.

Sector 22 market

Walking in Sector 22-D, the oldest and busiest market of the city is fraught with danger. The tiles laid down in the pathway decades ago have caved in at several places. The tiled pathways have wide gaps. Shopkeepers in the area say everyday one or two persons, trip. Nobody expects such hurdles in the city’s top market.

It is very risky for women and children. Women wearing high heels often fall as the heel of the sandal often get caught in these gaps, says a shopkeeper. The rain water outlet is also in the pathway and several people lose small items like keys and mobile phones as they accidentally drop it into the rain water outlets. Just two weeks ago, a two-year-old child’s foot got entangled in the outlet. These outlets should be at the edge of the pathway or it should be sloped in such a manner that rain water drains of with gravity, said Ms Poonam Shah, a visitor to the market.

— Sentinel

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Kalka, a picture of neglect
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 12
The cash-strapped Municipal Committee of Kalka has failed to carry on any development work in the historical town, which presents a picture of neglect.

Defunct streetlights (residents say that the lights have not been functioning for several months), insanitary conditions, poor water supply and dilapidated condition of roads in all colonies is more of a norm than exception in this town, which is the gateway to Himachal Pradesh. Though officials of the Municipal Committee (which was established almost 70 years ago) say that a sum of Rs 15 lakh has been spent on development works during the past one year— Rs 1 lakh has been spent on each ward — the sorry state of civic amenities in the town is for all to see.

The MC's annual budget ( about Rs 82 lakh last year and estimated at Rs. 1.25 crore this year) is spent mostly on salaries of its employees and the upkeep of its infrastructure. It is estimated that a sum of Rs 52. 99 lakh of the total budget goes as salaries each year. Whatever is left is consumed on relaying the CC flooring of roads, constructing new roads and the yearly construction/ renovation of a retaining wall along the Sukhna river to avoid floods.

Officials in the MC say last year, a sum of Rs 15 lakh, which was received as grant from the Local Bodies Department, was used for the relaying of roads. "We now need money for the repair of streetlights and for relaying the drainage network (construction of open drains). As soon as we receive the grant of Rs 30 lakh from the Local Bodies Department, these works will be taken up on a priority basis," says an official of the committee. As a result, insanitary conditions prevail in most areas and streetlights in most of the 15 wards remain out of order. Residents say they have to carry torches if they have to move out at night.

The MC has no funds to provide any recreational facilities to residents — be it improving the Rabindranath Tagore Palika Udyan or the municipal library. Even the parks in Housing Board Colony are being maintained by residents themselves.

Though the MC's earnings have increased since 2001, when house tax and fire tax were imposed and 3 per cent of stamp duty was given to MC. Earlier, the only source of income of the MC was rental income from shops, shop licences, development charges, token tax and municipal tax, totalling to about Rs 55.71 lakh a year. Though the vacancies in the MC are not being filled now, the bulging salary of the employees have reportedly eaten up the MC's coffers.

MC officials say with grants from the state government not forthcoming, the realisation of taxes from residents is difficult. They say that with a number of colonies now coming up outside the lal dora, the MC cannot charge any development tax from the residents of these colonies.

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Rotary Club holds installation ceremony
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Rotary Club Chandigarh Central organised its installation ceremony here last night . The team under the leadership of Mr Navjit Singh Aulakh, president and Mr Rajneesh Gupta, secretary, took the oath.

The other members of the team are Mr J.S. Lamba. Mr SK Checker, Mr RS Cheema, Mr N.Rawal, Mr DS Saini, Mr V.Parkash, Mr Anil Sharma, Dr JS Bedi, Mr Lakhbir Singh, Mr Satpal Singh and Mr RS Singh.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Aulakh said the club was already supporting a school for slum children in Sector 49 and was about to start evening classes in collaboration with New Public School in Sector 18. The club is going to start a TB control drive with the assistance of UT Health Department. Mr US Bhargava, General Manager of the Punjab National Bank, Delhi, was the chief guest.

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FAUJI BEAT
Politicians’ inborn prejudice harming Army

WHEN the first Commander-in-Chief of Independent India, Sir Robert Lockhart, presented a paper to Jawaharlal Nehru on the proposed size and shape of the Army in the light of the perceived threats, his (Nehru’s) remark was: “Rubbish, total rubbish”. He further said: “We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army”. Imagine what would have been the fate of this country if the Army had really been scrapped.

Even today, the bias against the Army rides high in the political mind. Besides, all political parties harbour a sinister intention to politicise the Army.

When Admiral Mountbatten suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru during the latter’s visit to the UK before the Chinese aggression that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) should be appointed in India, Pt Nehru showed his inability to appoint one because of Krishna Menon’s opposition to it. Despite a firm decision having been taken on this appointment in 2001, we are still dragging our feet on the issue.

After Independence, the Army has gone down and down in status, pays and pensions. It has lost its pristine glory and “izzat”. It has been put to great disadvantage in every war because of its outdated equipment. In India, it takes more than two decades to get the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) deal finalised. The light combat aircraft (LCA) and main battle tank (MBT) still remain dreams. The tale of aircraft carrier is no less laughable. Why all this mockery? Answer is simple: inborn prejudice of the Indian politician against the Army.

Officers’ messes

Officers’ messes play an important role in the training of the armed forces officers. They are the homes to bachelor officers who learn about the traditions and history of their regiments from the antique silver pieces displayed there as also from their seniors. It is this institution that infuses esprit de corps and regimental spirit in the officers. Besides, it is here that young officers learn mess etiquettes and customs of service.

Overwhelmed by the false sense of economy, some out of tune enthusiasts tried out the experiment of doing away with unit messes by amalgamating these with the station messes in the 70s. Thank God, this idea did not pick up, otherwise the regimental spirit and traditions of various units would have fallen by the way side.

Don’t shed transparency

Instances keep coming to light, which give an impression that the Army is also losing transparency like most other services. In three recent cases i.e. fake killings in Siachen, officers allegedly taking bribes from other ranks for selecting them on UN missions and Major S. Ravishankar’s death at Mathura, the Army authorities have not come clean in the public eye.

Because of the paucity of space, only Maj-Ravishankar’s case is brought out here. While serving in 1 Corps Signal Regiment, Maj Ravishankar applied for 10-day casual leave from August 22, 2003. On August 24, the CO of the officer informed his family that he had died in a train accident and his body had been cremated after an autopsy.

The father of Maj Ravishankar has been requesting the Army since August last year that an impartial inquiry be held into his son’s death. This is because the CO and two Majors of the unit had told the family that he had committed suicide. To this, his father had said that Ravishankar was happily married and was to become Lieut-Colonel in September, 2003. There was, therefore, no reason, said his father, for him to commit suicide. According to the father of the deceased, his son had exposed certain serious irregularities in the unit. To keep these under wrap, his son was eliminated.

Why did the Army dispose of the Major’s body before the arrival of any of his family members? This abnormal action of the Army is unpardonable and hence rightly gives rise to suspicion.

— Pritam Bhullar

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Accident victim dies of injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
A 30-year-old resident of Dhanas today died after he was allegedly hit by an unidentified vehicle at the Railway light point.

Anil Kumar succumbed to his injuries at the PGI. He was referred from the GMCH on July 1 when he was hit by an unidentified vehicle.

According to the police, Anil Kumar was found on the footpath near the Railway light point during the day on July 1.

He was serious and taken to the hospital.

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Sewa Dal group to leave for Amarnath cave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
A group of 60 devotees will be leaving for Amarnath Yatra under the banner of the Tribune Amarnath Yatra Sewa Dal via Baltal on July 16. Mr Nardeep Patrai, Mr Sanjeev Khosla, Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Kulbhushan Jain are in charge of the group, said Mr Dinesh Kumar, President of the Dal.

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Man held for conspiring to kill tenant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
A landlord was today arrested for allegedly conspiring to kill his tenant Morepal who was shot at the neck on July 7 at Kishangarh.

Bishram was allegedly involved with Inderjeet in the conspiracy to eliminate his tenant. Bishram reportedly owed Morepal Rs 40,000. Morepal and Bishram had altercations over the return of the money for long.

Bishram’s arrest followed that of Inderjeet who shot at his wife Usha’s uncle Morepal suspecting him of encouraging his wife to separate from him. Usha has been living separately in Barnala for four months. The police initially said Morepal was allegedly shot at by Inderjeet and another person had caught the victim before Inderjeet fired a shot.

After days of efforts, the police extracted information from Inderjeet that the other person involved in the shoot out was Bishram. According to the police, Morepal had spent around Rs 40,000 on the renovation of the house of Bishram before the former rented the latter’s house in Indira Colony. The police said Bishram and Morepal were related and hailed from Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Inderjeet alleged procured the country-made pistol from Uttar Pradesh for the purpose of allegedly eliminating Morepal. Morepal had initially suspected that his landlord might have been behind attack on him.

The police claimed that Bishram had been evading arrest and was today arrested from the outskirts of Indira Colony. Both Bishram and Inderjeet were today remanded to judicial custody.

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Junk dealer held for attacking SI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
A junk dealer was today arrested for allegedly attacking a Sub-Inspector of the Police Control Room (PCR) last night.

Harjeet Singh of Sector 38 allegedly assaulted Sub-Inspector Jaspal Singh of the PCR when he reached his house on the complaint of Harjeet’s father.

An inebriated Harjeet allegedly misbehaved with his father when the latter refused to give him the money had he demanded, the police said. When situation went out of control, Harjeet’s father informed the PCR. Sub-Inspector Jaspal Singh along with his team went to house number 2142 in Sector 38-C and tried to control Harjeet Singh. Harjeet Singh allegedly attacked Mr Jaspal Singh and tore his uniform.

The Sub-Inspector then informed Sector 39 police station which sent a team of police personnel led by Sub-Inspector Hari Prasad. The police station team arrested Harjeet Singh after booking him under Sections 353, 332 (assault on public servant) and 506 (threatening) of the IPC. Harjeet Singh was today produced before a local court and remanded in judicial custody.

According to the police, Harjeet Singh, who deals in junk in Palsora, had not been doing well in his business and had been demanding money from his father.

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Labourer stabbed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 12
A labourer was allegedly stabbed by another labourer in Industrial Area near V Tex, following a drunken brawl today afternoon. The victim, Shripal, has been admitted to hospital with injuries on his back and legs.

The police says that Shripal and Pappu had a dispute over lending of some money. At around 1.30 in the afternoon, the duo met in Industrial Area and there was a heated argument between them.

The argument got serious and the two began hitting each other. In the meantime, Ram Gulab, father of Pappu, came there and he attacked Shripal with a knife.

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Burglars decamp with cash, goods worth Rs 1 lakh
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 12
Cash and goods worth Rs 1 lakh were stolen from the Sector 16 residence of a General Manager with Milkfed, Punjab, while the family was away to Moga for two days.

The burglary came to light this morning, when the family of Mr SK Gupta returned home after two days. On returning home, the family found the house ransacked and cash worth Rs 30,000, silver utensils and ornaments weighing 800 grams, and saving certificates and bonds worth Rs 1.10 lakh stolen.

The miscreants had reportedly made their entry through the back side of the house, which faces the road dividing Sector 15 and 16. The lock of the iron grill door on the backyard was broken. The burglars then removed the grill and the wiremesh on the window of the kitchen, and then made their entry through the window.

Said a shocked Mr Gupta: “The burglars had a good time in our house and must have worked at leisure. They had a feast with the fruits and bread from the refrigerator, and we found the left overs on the table.” His daughter- in- law, Mrs Priya Gupta, said the miscreants reportedly had a lot of time to themselves, as they had searched each and every nook and corner of the house. From the bed boxes to the almirahs and trunks in all rooms, they have searched each and everything in the house.” She added that the burglars must have worked at night, because the lights in some rooms were on when they came back.

The family informed the police when they discovered the burglary and an FIR was later registered. A team of forensic experts also visited the spot and lifted finger prints from the scene of crime.

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Burglar arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , July 12
The local police has arrested a burglar alleged to be involved in at least 12 cases and had been evading arrest for years. He was declared a proclaimed offender in three cases for jumping bail.

Baljinder Singh, alias Balli, of Kaloli village, Patiala district, was last arrested in 1996 when he was allegedly found involved in 10 cases of burglary and theft, the police said.

The police said the latest case registered against him was on July 10.He was wanted by Sectors 19, 11, 17 and 26 police stations.

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Labourer run over by train
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, July 12
Mumtaz Ansari, a migrant labourer, was run over by a train on the Kalka-Ambala railway line in Dhakauli village early this morning.

Hailing from Bihar, Mumtaz Ansari (28) was crossing the railway line when he met with the accident.

According to the Railway police, Ansari was working with a contractor and was residing in the village for the past few months. The Railway police personnel removed the mutilated body which was sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for post mortem.

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Two firms willing to buy Punwire 
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 12
Employees’ protest not withstanding, as many as 24 parties have shown interest in buying Punwire as a whole or its various other property items.

The liquidator appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court had on June 25 put up the company for a total of Rs 38 crore. The interested parties were asked to visit the premises between July 6 and July 11.

The advertisement had listed various moveable and immovable assets of the company in Mohali and Mumbai along with their reserved price. While the liquidator, Mr B.K.L Srivastava, received over 22 responses for the smaller items up for sale, only two parties have shown interest in buying the sick unit.

Lying closed for the past five years, the once blue chip company worth Rs 500 crore, owes over Rs 600 crore to its various creditors. On April 12, this year, a 10-year revival plan was mooted by a core group formed by the government for the purpose. It was decided that the government would move the court to stay the liquidation proceedings of the company but it was not done following which the employees of the company had restarted their protest.

Mr Shahid Ahmed, the leader of the protesting employees, meanwhile, stated that a convention of the representatives of various employee unions and political parties would be held in Mohali on July 26.

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Better connectivity key to business growth: CII study
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The physical connectivity of Chandigarh was inadequate and failed to keep pace with the requirements of the city, thereby hampering the prospects of business growth in the Northern region. Releasing a new study conducted by the CII (Northern Region), Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Northern Region, said Chandigarh’s own industrial strength coupled with the anticipated growth in various services called for a strong network of physical infrastructure to give a boost to the economy.

Most of the enterprises in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh had their corporate offices in Chandigarh and even the connectivity of rapidly upcoming industrial townships like Baddi, Barotiwala, Dera Bassi, Mohali, Panchkula and Parwanoo was invariably dependent on Chandigarh and needed to be enhanced.

To widen the trade prospects and all-round development of the region, the study proposed the creation of the Greater Chandigarh Region (GCR). The GCR might encompass Mohali, Panchkula, Ambala, Baddi and Parwanoo. For this, the Chandigarh Administration and the state governments of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab should work together to make a master plan and request the Union Government to notify Chandigarh and its periphery areas in other states, on the pattern of the National Capital Region (NCR).

The study stressed that the road projects on Ludhiana-Chandigarh

Section and the Kurali-Siswan - Baddi Road need to be completed on a priority basis. Eight-lining of the Ambala-Chandigarh Highway was also the need of the changing scenario. In terms of rail connectivity, the current services of the Shatabdi were not sufficient. A faster train, covering the Delhi-Chandigarh circuit in less than two hours, was required. Furthermore, the UT Administration should work with the Ministry of Railways and Planning Commission for establishing direct connectivity between Chandigarh and key cities in the region such as Gurgaon, Noida, Dehradun, Amritsar, and Jalandhar etc. The CII report also called for putting on a fast track the project linking Chandigarh with Ludhiana.

The study also highlighted that the passenger traffic at the major airports in the Northern Region registered a growth rate of 9 per cent in 2002-03 as compared to 1999-00. The Chandigarh airport alone recorded a robust growth of 52 per cent during 2003-04, as compared to the previous year. Ludhiana being an important hub of industrial activity in the region, there was an urgent need for air connectivity between Ludhiana and Delhi.

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