C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


1,590 CHB flats, 5 new power stations for UT
Tribune News Service


  • Gap between non-model and model schools to go.
  • Rural infrastructure to be upgraded.
  • Ten new schools to be added in city.
  • 936 units of CHB being handed over to allottees.
  • Another 1590 flats of different categories in Sector 63.
  • Separate scheme for economically weaker sections.
  • Five new 66 KV power substations coming up.
  • New transport system held up due to technical clarifications.
  • E-governance project will be started very soon centres being set up.

Chandigarh, August 15
The UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), in his speech on the occasion of the 58th Independence day, today, reiterated how the quality of life in Chandigarh and infrastructure was among the best in the country.

Justice Verma said the human development index of Chandigarh was the highest amongst all states and union territories of the country. It has also the highest per capita income in the country and has been ranked among the best cities of the country for business and investment.

Claiming that the policies pursued by the Administration had energised the economy, he said, the quality of life in Chandigarh had further improved in over the past few years. He announced that “E-governance” was in the process of being implemented for improving the efficiency and transparency of the various departments. Computerised citizen’s service centres (Sampark Centres) are being set up at eight locations to enable the residents to avail services like payment of bills, submission of applications, receipt of documents etc. The public dealing departments will be linked to all these Sampark Centres. Computerisation of Estate Office and its property records had been completed.

The UT Administration has taken steps to improve infrastructural facilities in the city. Steps have been taken to improve the power supply to residents. For this power purchase agreements have been signed with several agencies to meet the gap between the demand and availability of power, the Administrator said. New 66 KV substations are being installed in Sectors 12, 39, 47 and 52 and Mani Majra.

Roads are being continuously upgraded. To remove the congestion on roads and to reduce the number of accidents, cycle tracks along V-3 roads at Lok Path and Himalya Path have been constructed. The work of construction of cycle tracks along V-3 roads on Sarovar Path, Sukhna Path and Vidya Path will be completed by the end of September.

Justice Verma explained that the planned launch of the new transport system for the city from August 15 had been held up since some technical issues were required to be resolved.

On health facilities , he said Block ‘C’ of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, had been constructed and made operational at a cost of Rs 38.9 crore. Equipment of Rs 8.94 crore had been purchased for this block. With the operationalisation of Block C, its bed strength had increased from 250 to 500. The bed strength of its cardiac care unit (CCU) had increased from 4 to 9 and that of the intensive care unit (ICU) from 4 to 14.

Facility of CT-scan has been made available in the hospital and its services are being provided to the public at a subsidised rate. For the treatment of cancer patients, a high technology linear accelerator was being installed in the GMCH, Sector 32.

The UT Administration is also aiming at bringing rural infrastructure at par with urban infrastructure. Under this scheme, all lanes of Kaimbwala village have been made of concrete and all storm water drains have also been relaid. The Administration has decided that the remaining villages will also be provided with the same urban facilities.

The Administration has decided to remove artificial difference between model and non-model schools except medium of institution. There will not be any difference between model and non-model schools. The infrastructure, teacher-student ratio and other facilities available in the schools will also be available to non-model schools, Justice Verma announced.

The quality of education in the non-model schools will also be brought at par with the model schools. Therefore, we have decided to do away with the nomenclature of model and non-model schools.

The Sarv Siksha Abhiyan has been started so as to ensure that no child is left out from primary education. More schools in Sectors 8, 24, 38, 42, 47, 52 and 56 and in villages Raipur Khurd, Kaimbwala and Kajheri will be constructed.

Under the slum rehabilitation programme, Chandigarh Housing Board has constructed 1056 tenements in Sector 56 and the physical possession is being handed over to the eligible beneficiaries. About 472 booths in rehri markets of Sectors 7, 8, 11, 24 and 46 have been completed and are being allotted to the eligible persons. As many as 108 booths for rehri owners in Sector 18 are under construction. About 600 more booths in Sectors 37, 38, 40 and 41 have been planned.

Chandigarh Housing Board has completed the construction of 936 dwelling units in Sector 51-A and these houses are being handed over to the allottees. About 1590 houses of different categories have been planned on 40 acres in Sector 63. Chandigarh Administration has entrusted the Chandigarh Housing Board the work of construction of 228 EWS units in Sector 38 (West) and 352 EWS, 96 LIG and 96 MIG flats in Sector 49.

For the welfare of farmers and traders a second grain market in Sector 39 has been developed which has reduced the rush at the existing grain market in Sector 26. Tin sheds have been constructed in subzi mandi, Sector 26 at a cost of Rs 75 lakh.

The Administration has plans to specifically promote the knowledge based industry in the city. The Punjab Engineering College has been upgraded and declared a deemed university by the Government of India. The Chandigarh Technology Park is coming up on the outskirts of the city which will give employment to about 5000 educated youth.

The Chandigarh Administration, Justice Verma said, was involved in promotion of tourism and had taken several initiatives to make ‘City Beautiful’ a popular tourist destination. Weekend tourism cultural shows have been started at various locations in the city.

A Bollywood facilitation cell has been set up by the Tourism Department to encourage and facilitate Film and TV serial shootings at various beautiful locations in Chandigarh. A single window system has been set up for clearing tourism projects.

A 24 hour tourist helpline has been set up with the support of Chandigarh police for the speedy redressal of tourist complaints.

Synthetic tennis cushioned courts will be laid at Lake Club. The facilities for cricket are being improved.

While concluding his speech he appealed to the citizens to keep the city clean and segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable kitchen waste in separate bins and not to litter the city’s open spaces with garbage and debris. This should be thrown only at designated places to enable the Municipal Corporation to dispose it in a systematic way.

The following are the results of the march past and the cultural presentation. March past police - Chandigarh Police Platoon 2; Home Guard/Civil Defence — Chandigarh Fire Service; NCC (Boys/Girls) — Navy Wing Boys; Scouts and Guides — Government Girls Model Senior Secondary School-18, Schools boys and Government Girls Senior Secondary School 20-B in girls category. Overall trophy — Chandigarh Police .

Cultural event: Dandiya Government Model Senior Secondary School-40.


Gawritex security officer hurt in clash
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 15
The chief security officer of Gawritex Industries, Capt S.S. Kambhoj, was seriously wounded when a group of men from another company attacked him and his security men with lathis and stones here today.

The incident took place this afternoon at Gawritex’s newly-opened showroom in Phase I. Mr Amit Gawri, director of the company, said he had gone to the showroom around 2 pm and was amidst discussion with his security staff when a group of men from a rival factory, led by its general manager, barged into the premises of their showroom and tried to take illegal possession of its front portion.

“When we tried to prevent them from doing so, they called their men over and attacked us with lathis and stones. As the other group numbered over 30, a few of my security men fled. Some of us took shelter inside the showroom and we downed the shutters. Mr Kambhoj and Parmod Kumar, a staff member, could not get inside the showroom and they were brutally assaulted,” he said.

He said they called the police, but it took its own time to come. “I suspect that the police is hand in glove with the other party, which prevented it from coming to our help in time. We had locked ourselves in and it was only after the police came that we came out,” he added.

The police, however, said it responded as soon as it got the information. It said the industrial plot where the company had opened its showroom a month back, was a disputed property. “While one of the owners rented out the shed to Gawritex, the co-owner rented it to the other party. When the other party came to take possession of the front portion of this plot, the two sides clashed,” said a police officer who is investigating the case.

Meanwhile, Captain Kambhoj, who received injuries to his head, arms and back, has been admitted to the General Hospital, Panchkula.


Tricolour hoisting, cultural shows mark I-Day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 15
The Education Minister, Haryana, Mr Bahadur Singh, hoisted the National Flag at the Sector 5 cricket ground as part of the Independence Day celebrations here today.

While paying tributes to the freedom fighters, he said they got us independence by making sacrifices and we should live with harmony and peace. He said the state had made contribution in the freedom struggle and a number of people had died while fighting for Independence.

He highlighted the development works undertaken by the INLD government. He said approximately 44,000 development works had been carried out under the Sarkar Aapke Dwaar programme.

He also gave away 10 bicycles to girl students under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Fifty-two persons were honoured for their achievements in various fields.

Students of various government and private schools presented a march past and a cultural show on the occasion. Manav Mangal School won the first prize for the best cultural item, while The Gurukul, Sector 20, got the second prize in the cultural function. Kirti Gahlawat and Ashish Dhiman, students of Manav Mangal School, who won various yoga competitions, were also honoured.

At Kalka, the SDM, Mr Devinder Kaushik, hoisted the National Flag. Students from various schools presented a march past and a cultural show.

The Director-General Health, Dr B.S. Dahiya, hoisted the National Flag at the health subcentre, Burj Kotian village, near Pinjore. A health camp was organised by a team of doctors led by Civil Surgeon, Dr Satvir Chaudhary. Around 380 persons were examined on the occasion.

At HMT, Pinjore, a senior workman, Mr C.L. Sharma, hoisted the National Flag. As many as 79 employees were given prizes for their suggestions under the Employees Suggestion Scheme. Students of St. Vivekanand Millennium School and HMT Employees’ Education Society High School presented a cultural show. The General Manager, Mr S.K. Sharma, was also present.

The local unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad celebrated Independence Day at Saket Hospital, Sector 1. The members distributed fruits and sweets among the inmates. Earlier, the chief guest, Mr Shambehari Garg, hoisted the National Flag. Students of Saket School, Chandi Mandir, presented a cultural show comprising patriotic songs.


Harbhajan star attraction at I-Day function
Tribune News Service

Students present a patriotic dance at the Independence Day celebrations in Mohali
Students present a patriotic dance at the Independence Day celebrations in Mohali on Sunday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Mohali, August 15
Over a thousand schoolchildren participated in a spectacular cultural show held to mark the 58th Independence Day celebration here today. The presence of Punjabi singer-actor Harbhajan Mann at the function was the highlight of the celebrations.The township’s administration in charge, the municipal council President and the police chief also attended the ceremony.

The ceremony was held at Government Senior Secondary School Phase 3B1. The SDM , Mr M.L.Sharma unfurled the flag and delivered the Independence day speech.

Singer-actor Harbhajan Mann and his singer brother, Gursevak Mann, were given special awards at the celebrations. Residents of the township, they were honoured for their role in preserving and promoting Punjabi culture.

While Harbhajan Mann was present throughout the three-hour ceremony, Gursevak Mann could not attend the function. His award was also accepted by Harbhajn Mann. For students performing in the various cultural sequences, the presence of Harbhajan Mann provided a big boost .

Farmers observe protest

Farmers agitating against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) expressed their resentment on Independence Day. With black ribbons tied to their heads they held a torchlight procession.

According to Mr D.P. Singh, a farmers leader, peasants’ condition are no better than slaves . ‘‘For us independence means to be able to decide on our own what we want to do with the land we own. We do not want to give it to the government for a song,’’ he said. 

Students of private and government schools in rural areas performed giddha, bhangra.

Among the schools whose students performed included Government Senior Secondary School, Phase 3B1, Shastri Model School, St Xaviers School, Gian Jyoti Public School, Gem Public School, Kids Village, Government High School Phase 11, Sant Isher Singh Public School, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Sohana, Shivalik Public School, Government Senior Secondary School, Manouli, Government High School, Daon, Swami Ram Tirath School, Government High School, Landran and Government High School, Gobindgarh, Greenfield Public School and ITI, Mohali. The NCC units of some of these schools participated in the parade.

The Principal of Shastri Model School, Mr Ram Lal Sewak was also honoured.Teachers of government schools and private schools were also honoured. Students who were honoured today were mostly from private schools of the township. Many persons who had donated blood for record number of times were also awarded.


Nehru’s speech played at I-Day function
Tribune News Service

Students of Saint Soldier International Convent School, Phase 7, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day
Students of Saint Soldier International Convent School, Phase 7, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day.

Students of Genius Public School, Sector 69, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day
Students of Genius Public School, Sector 69, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day.

Students of DAV Public School, Phase 10, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day
Students of DAV Public School, Phase 10, Mohali, celebrating Independence Day on Sunday.

A patriotic scene from Indian history enacted by children of Rai School to commemorate Independence Day in Chandigarh
A patriotic scene from Indian history enacted by children of Rai School to commemorate Independence Day in Chandigarh.

Mohali, August 15
The 58th Independence Day was celebrated with great fervour at Saint Soldier International Convent School today. The programme began with the playing of a recorded speech by former Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, delivered on August 15, 1947. This was followed by a classical dance. Students of Class VI recited and dramatised ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’. The battle scene was presented in a realistic way. The students were enthralled with a dance ‘Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka’ and bhangra’ by students of Class IX. A skit on the visit of a ‘freedom fighter’ in the 21st century India stole the show. Concluding the function, Principal Mrs V. Tiwana in her speech asked the students not to follow the West blindly but learn the best it had to offer in terms of accountability and civic sense. At the same time they must preserve the values, art, culture and identity of their county.

Bearing a festive look, DAV Public School, Mohali, celebrated Independence Day today. Dressed in colourful attire, students presented an attractive function which took off with a welcome song followed by hoisting of the National Flag by Principal Jaya Bhardwaj. In her speech, the Principal emphasised the need to inculcate the spirit of patriotism in the young generation to keep the unity and the integrity of the country intact. She also exhorted them to follow the slogan ‘Each one teach one’ in its true meaning. Poems, speeches and songs eulogising the role of our freedom fighters also marked the occasion. A group dance by the senior girls on the tune of “Dulhan Chali” and another one on the tune of “Jahan daal daal par” mesmerised the students.

Students of Genius Public School, Sector 69, Mohali, celebrated Independence Day with great zeal and enthusiasm. The students felt great pride in reciting patriotic songs. As many as 100 saplings were planted in the school.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee member, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, today visited Raipur Kalan in Mohali subdivision and hoisted the national flag. This village, along with many other neighbouring villages, had been affected by floods last week. Mr Sidhu gave monetary help to the tune of Rs 60,000 to 35 flood-affected families. A sum of Rs 5,000 each was given to families of those whose houses had been damaged in the floods. Others who suffered less damage were given Rs 2000 each and those whose wheat had been damaged were given Rs 1,000 each. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sidhu appreciated the stand of the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on the SYL issue. He stated that Ms Sonia Gandhi's choice of Dr Manmohan Singh as the country's Prime Minister was a historical decision. He also gave awards to students of five schools who had participated in the celebrations. Mr Omrao Singh of Mauli Baidwan gave Rs 2,500 to the village youth club. Mr Raghbir Singh, Sarpanch, Dharamgarh also gave the schoolchildren Rs 500 each for their performance at the function. Mr Gurmukh Singh Kumbra also gave a grant to the youth club.

Students of Shivalik Public School Phase VI celebrated Independence Day today. The school campus was decorated with colourful buntings and balloons. The school Director-Principal, Mr D.S. Bedi, hoisted the national flag and took the ceremonial salute at the march past. The cultural programme began with a shabad ‘deh shiva var...’ followed by a large number of items comprising poems, jhankis, speeches, songs, dances and skits. Mr D.S. Bedi applauded the combined efforts of the teachers and students in presenting the show.

More than 300 students of the Jan Shikshan Sansthan here celebrated Independence Day today. The National Flag was hoisted by Mr Dildar Khan, Director of the sansthan, who also greeted the students and staff on the day. He emphasiesd the importance of the day and asked the students to work for achieving the ideals set by freedom fighters. Apurba Baruah from the north-east said people could learn a lot about the virtues and hard work and patriotism from the people of Punjab.


Man found dead in car
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 15
Harpreet Singh, a resident of Moga district, was found dead in his Hyundai car (PB 10 AT 1328) in the market of Sector 35 last night.

The police received information that a car had remained parked at the market for a long time. Mist had settled on the glasses of the car due to air-conditioning. The police opened the car and found the body of Harpreet on the seat.

The police checked the papers of the car and informed Harpreet’s relatives, with whom he had been living, in Sector 34. According to the relatives, Harpreet was an alcoholic and had been receiving treatment from a de-addiction centre in Mohali. He had been keeping unwell because of his drinking habit.

There were no injury marks on the body. A relative of the man stated that they had no suspicion on anybody regarding the incident and requested against the holding of autopsy.

Harpreet is survived by his wife, who is currently in the USA.


Citizens greet Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Justice OP Verma (retd.) today was ‘At Home’ with distinguished citizens of Punjab and Chandigarh on the lawns of Punjab Raj Bhavan.

Distinguished citizens started trooping in Punjab Raj Bhavan one hour before the ceremony to greet the governor. The pathway of Punjab Raj Bhavan was specially decorated to receive the distinguished gathering.

Mounted Chandigarh police personnel lined the pathway It may be added that this time Justice Verma ordered replacement of ordinary with the tricolor.

The ‘At Home’ function began as the Governor, along with the first lady, took the salute at the rostrum specially erected for this purpose as a Punjab police band played the National Anthem.

The Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, was the first to greet the Governor.

Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, and Senior civil, military and police officers of Punjab were present in strength at the function. Office bearers of all political parties greeted the Governor on this occasion.

The Governor and the first lady, Mrs. Shobha Verma, intermingled in the august gathering. Freedom fighters were present in strength to greet the Governor on this special day.

The Governor said that nation was proud of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters in the freedom struggle.

Progressive farmers from different parts of the state came in strength to greet the Governor. Senior officers of Western command also greeted the Governor and the first lady on this happy occasion.

Councillors boycott ‘At Home’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
A few councillors of the Municipal Corporation boycotted the At Home function of the UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, held at the Punjab Raj Bhavan here today.

The councillors said they had taken the decision to protest against the Administration's failure to invite them to the Independence Day function in Sector 17.

“We were sent invitations for the At Home function only. The Administration didn't deem it fit to invite elected representatives of the people to the function held in Sector 17. The selective invitations extended to a handful of councillors is not acceptable. The discrimination is uncalled for,” they rued.


Arjun projecting secular image with eye on PM's post: Joshi
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, a senior BJP leader, today castigated the Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Mr Arjun Singh, for his utterances on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, as he wanted to become the next prime minister by projecting his secular image in the Congress party.

Talking to media persons at a function organised by the Panchnad Research Institute at DAV College here, the former HRD said in becoming the next prime minister, Mr Singh had the backing of certain Congressmen and Leftist parties. "Such type of political gimmicks were nothing new for the minister as he had done a similar thing in the Narshima Rao government.

On being asked about the statement of the minister that BJP has saffronised the history text books, he said it was his effort to project his secular credentials. He ridiculed the HRD Minister for making a issue out of nothing. The experts appointed to pinpoint the anti-secular extracts have not been able to pinpoint anything so far.

Earlier, speaking at the function Dr Joshi said the western concept of modernisation was yielding fatal consequences for the human being. He said the problem and concern of the world could not be divided among nations and boundaries and they had been dealt collectively. He pointed that major contributor to the global warming was the West.

He said signs of increasing awareness about the richness of mind and skills and not looking towards the west for solutions was a healthy sign. He pointed that during his tenure as HRD Minister it was found that uneducated and unskilled persons could also contribute in the nation-building. The engineers and professionals often look towards the West for their solutions. " But we have the experts in our villages who can solve problems specific to their land", added Dr Joshi.

During a programme ' India Innovation' launched by the government for people with bright ideas and innovations from the rural and uneducated sections of society, the government received about 40,000 applications. Citing examples, he said the innovations were unique and stunning. Some of the innovators have been getting repeated invitations to display their project from the world over.

Earlier, Mr Suresh Soni, a RSS leader, said India was lagging behind due its shortcomings." We have forgotten our past and we shall have to shed mental slavery". he added. Mr Shyam Khosla and Mr KS Arya, President and Vice- President of the Panchnad Research Institute, also spoke on the occasion.


Take pride in national history, says Joshi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
A nation that does not take pride in its history cannot progress. This was stated by former Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, after unfurling the Tricolour at the BJP office in Sector 33 here today.

He said even after 57 years of Independence, the country had not been able to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the haves and the have-nots.

“We need to know our position on the world stage. Whether we have been able to ensure a better future for the coming generations and wipe out class differences? We also need to know why our exports are dwindling? The answer lies in the wrong projection of history. A nation which is ashamed of its past cannot progress. A nation which calls its nationalists terrorists in history books cannot progress. I attempted to change that so that every Indian has a reason to walk with his head held high,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Satya Pal Jain, former Member of Parliament, said the “revolutionary changes” made by Dr Joshi in the history books were aimed at putting history in the right perspective.

Cong celebrations

The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) celebrated Independence Day at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Sector 35 here. The Tricolour was unfurled by Mr Surinder Bhatia, general secretary of the CTCC and chairman of the Congress Sewa Dal.

National Song and National Anthem were sung as Sewa Dal volunteers saluted the flag.

Among those present on the occasion were Mayor Kamlesh, Mr Dharamvir Manchanda, Mr Sunil Parti, Ms Lalit Joshi, Mr Chander Mukhi Sharma, Mr Surinder Singh and other office-bearers. The president of the CTCC, Mr B.B. Bahl, and the local Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Bansal, were out of town.


Controversy over Army NCO's death
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
A controversy has arisen over the death of an Army NCO from gunshot wounds while deployed during counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir. While the deceased's family is alleging the incident to be a murder and is suspecting a cover-up, the Army is terming it as a suicide.

The incident happened a few weeks ago while the deceased trooper, L/Nk Amrik Singh from a Sikh battalion deployed in Kupwara, had been detailed to lead on a patrol. He had suffered two bullet injuries from an AK-47 rifle, one on his temple and another on his face.

Amrik's brother, Ranjit Singh, a locally-based building contractor told The Tribune that the family learnt of the incident after receiving a call from the unit on June 18. He said that a senior JCO who conveyed the news was vague and did not give any clear-cut picture about what happened. Even the escort party bringing the body to his village was evasive and in a hurry to leave, he added.

Ranjit said he was told by unit personnel that Amrik's body had been found in bushes adjacent to the camp and two empty AK-47 cartridges were recovered alongside. Just a day before the incident, Amrik had written a letter to a friend, which revealed nothing abnormal.

He added that while returning from the Regimental Centre in Ramgarh in May, Amrik got into trouble with some other jawans, including those from his unit, on the train. Matters came to such a pass that Amrik had summoned him to Ambala railway station to get things sorted out.

Ranjit also claimed that after the incident, a jawan from the same unit, who had retired recently and is residing in a nearby village, came over and urged the panchayat to issue a certificate that Amrik had been suffering from depression due to some domestic problems.

He has forwarded a written representation to the Army, highlighting the facts of the case and seeking a thorough probe into the matter. The Army is understood to have ordered a court of inquiry.

The official Army spokesman at Srinagar, when contacted, said that reports received from the unit stated it to be a clear case of suicide and there were witnesses to this effect. He said that Amrik had been detailed to go on a patrol and as the party was about to leave, Amrik came out of his tent, suddenly cocked his weapon and fired upon himself. He said that Amrik had been depressed as his brother-in-law had been missing for some time.

The spokesman added that the family wanted Amrik to be declared as a battle casualty so that they could get the benefits authorised in such cases. This, however, is denied by Ranjit, who claimed that the family has not even made any attempt to get his regular service dues such as provident fund and gratuity.


Kanwar Mahindar Singh (1921-2004)
Life was his passion

Jaya Thadani

Kanwar Mahindar Singh
Kanwar Mahindar Singh

Kanwar Mahindar Singh’s death on August 15 ended a long battle with cancer and Chandigarh lost one of its most colourful citizens.

Through the many decades he spent in Chandigarh, he was known principally as a sportsman, equally skilled in tennis, golf and cricket and admired for his knowledge of the history of these games.

On any afternoon of the year he could be seen, happily braving Chandigarh’s winter wind around the golf course, or scorching on the tennis court, making his opponent run about sweating, while he himself concentrated on placing the ball. “Preserve your own energy and exhaust the other chap” was his strategy. His encouragement of the young was unflagging. Many will recall the enthusiastic and expert coaching they received as youngsters. Until a few weeks ago, he still drove himself to the tennis courts to watch, even though he could hardly walk.

On the golf course he set a memorable example of “British sportsmanship” as he had learnt it, laughing at his own “mucked” shots with an exaggerated “Hai! Hai!” or praising an opponent’s successful putt.

Cricket was a lifelong passion, inherited from his father and, in old age, instilled into his grandsons, who he played with and inspired, even after the doctors declared him “terminal”.

Kanwar Mahindar Singh was born in Delhi on January 12, 1921. His father’s generation, educated in England, became known as the last Victorians in Empire and brought up their children in the same mode. Though not a Church-going Christian, Mahindar remained rooted in Christian values and stern disciplines.

His grandfather, Raja Sir Harnam Singh was a Trustee of The Tribune and his great-grandfather, Maharaja Randhir Singh of Kapurthala was instrumental in starting the newspaper, then published from Lahore. His father, Raja Sir Maharaja Singh, held high office both in British times and in independent India. His mother came from the well-known Punjab family, The Maya Dases.

Mahindar Singh was educated first at Bishop Cotton School in Shimla and then in Cape Town, South Africa, when his father was Agent General for India in that country. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, where, like his father, he excelled in games. Returning to India when World War II broke out, he finished his education in Lucknow and took a job with Tata’s in Calcutta, later changing to Mahendra & Mahendra. As a “box wallah” his business acumen was soon recognised.

But what Calcutta remembers, even today, are his social skills: his ability to get on with everybody, irrespective of class, colour or creed. The white “burra sahib”, his wife, his children, or his bearer, all met with the same genial good manners. His many friends recall well his generous hospitality: the bibulous dinner parties, the “gramophone dances” on his terrace, the sing-songs, led by himself on his accordion. And always in demand, a battered doll named Koko that he used for his ventriloquism, a talent shared with his father.

Handsome and “England-returned”, the young Mahindra was considered a “catch” as a husband. Hence many a young hopeful was disappointed when he chose the beautiful widow of India’s air-ace, Karan Majumdar, who had been killed years earlier in a plane crach. “Premo” was the daughter of P.N. Dutt, IES, Registrar of Panjab University.

A few years later, Mahindar, his wife and their only child, Nihar, moved to Chandigarh accompanied as always by an aged dog and a parrot, both dearly loved. He set up a small business which, with careful management and a loyal staff, has flourished over the years. As hospitable as ever, he quickly formed a circle of friends for his golf and tennis.

Affectionately known as “Kanwar Sahib”, he preferred to be addressed as “MS and Co.”, declaring “The days for all that pomp are over”. Accordingly, he lived without ostentation or possessions, never bragging about his background, or about his successes in business or in sports.

Although he was delighted to be called “The Father of Chandigarh Tennis” very few know that he was a semi-finalist in the Veterans Doubles at Wimbledon and that he was ranked in World Veterans Tennis.

Nor is it common knowledge, because he would never speak of it, how much he did for his stepchildren, or how generously he would always come to the aid of family, or in-laws, whether it was elders needing care or the young needing aid.

After his wife’s tragic death from cancer, “MS” looked forward increasingly to the tennis tournaments which took him to many parts of the globe, giving him opportunities, not only for the tennis he loved, but also for meeting a variety of people, an experience in which he always took pleasure. They, in turn, were charmed by his old-fashioned courtesy and his modesty. “Why ever did they abolish these lovely Rajas?” asked his American hostees. “He’s the only real gentleman I’ve seen coming out of the Empire” said a Wimbledon fan.

A versatile and complex man, his reticence made him difficult to be known, except superficially. Even his daughter, to whom he was devoted, described him as “chilly” to those had did not know well. He wore his laurels lightly, ready to joke about the compliments heaped on him wherever he went, just as he joked about the assorted sports trophies all over his home. And, in the end, he was still ready to joke about his failing faculties, choosing to ignore, for as long as possible, the ravages of the progressing cancer.

A few months ago, in a letter to a friend he decided on a fitting epitaph for himself, from Walter Savage Landor:

“I’ ve warmed both hands before the fire of life.

It sinks, and I am ready to depart.”


Creator of Cactus Garden dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
Dr Jagdish Singh Sarkaria, creator of the famous Cactus Garden in Panchkula, passed away in the PGI this evening. An expert in bonsais and cacti, Dr Sarkaria had been severely ill after he suffered a stroke on August 10. Ever since he was being kept on a ventilator.

He was 86 years old and is survived by two sons and a daughter. Dr Sarkaria was an MS (Master of Surgery) and he later developed interest in gardening. He rose to become one of the finest research persons in the field of cacti in the entire country.


Woman deprived of Rs 50,000 in shop
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 15
A sum of Rs 50,000 was stolen from a purse lying on the counter of a garment shop in Sector 34 market yesterday.

Ms Vishali Sharma a resident of Sector 43, reported that she went to a garment shop in Sector 34 to make some purchases. They spent about two hours in the shop.

According to her, she might have left her purse only for a while unattended as she was busy in selecting the garments. There were two girls in the shop at that time, who left the shop in a suspicious and hurried manner.

After a while she thought about her purse. She found it lying on the counter. It was open and there was no money inside it. The police has registered a case of theft at the Sector 34 police station.


2 held on theft charge
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 15
Four cases of theft have been registered in various part of the city and two persons have been arrested in this connection, according to a press note issued here today.

Nirmal Singh, a resident of Sector 20, was arrested on the charge of stealing a scooter (CH-01-C-4978), following a complaint by Mr Braham Singh, a resident of Sector 32. Mr Braham has alleged that the accused stole his scooter from Mouli Jagran on yesterday. A case has been registered under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC at the Mani Majra police station. The accused was arrested from Mouli Jagran.

In another incident, Vishal Kalia, a resident of Sector 37-C, was arrested red-handed while stealing the mobile phone of Mr Parteek Maheswari from his room in the KKR Hostel, Sector 12. He has been booked under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC at the Sector 11 police station.

Mr Amaninder Singh, a resident of Phase 1, Mohali, has filed a complaint at the Sector 34 police station, that someone has stolen his Bullet motor cycle (PB-65-C-1262) from SD College, Sector 32. A case has been registered under Section 379 of the IPC.

Mr Hardev Singh of Sector 31 has reported that someone has stolen his scooter (HR-03-B-5595) from the CMC parking lot in Sector 17 on Saturday. A case has been registered under Section 379 of the IPC at the Sector 17 police station.

Woman commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 15
A 30-year-old woman, Sandhya Batra, committed suicide by hanging herself with her dupatta at her Sector 20 residence this morning.

Her body was found hanging in her room by her parents. She was unmarried, and has left behind a suicide note saying that she was ending her life on her own will. The police have initiated inquest proceedings.

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