C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cared for, Sandhu now wants to live
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Smile has returned to the face of Ustad Lachhman Dass Sandhu, 80-year-old “special class” artiste of AIR, who seemed to have lost all hope till yesterday. A day after Chandigarh Tribune highlighted his plight, help started pouring in for the ailing artiste.

Moved by the story, a number of residents, representatives of NGOs and schoolchildren pitched in with cash and material. While profusely thanking the donors, the veteran singer did not forget to oblige them with a ghazal or a thumri in his sonorous voice. However, officials of the Chandigarh Administration seemed unmoved, as none cared to visit him.

Accompanied by their Principal, Ms Jaya Bhardwaj, students of DAV Public School, Phase X, Mohali, were the first to arrive at his dilapidated one-room house with gifts, including a blanket, clothes and some cash. With a beautiful self-made greeting card in their hands, the tiny-tots demonstrated their care for the veteran singer on the Senior Citizens Day by spending with him quite a while.

Overwhelmed by the children’s gesture, Sandhu almost forgot his sufferings for the while as he regaled them with a hummable thumri, “More saiyyan ji utrenge paar, nadiya dheere chalo.”

Mr Raja Saboo, a former president of Rotary International, said Rotary Club would bear the expenses on his treatment and arrange a decent accommodation in an old-age home for him.

An NRI settled in Silver City, Zirakpur, Mr D.S. Modi, himself a senior citizen, offered monetary help.

Mr K.S. Lall, a retired Deputy Director of the Haryana Animal Husbandry Department and resident of Ambala City, also extended monetary help to the artiste, who, he said, had an “unparalleled art”.

Dr Pallavi Joshi, a Senior Medical Officer with the PGI, said his health problems were not acute and his legs and eyes could be alright after surgery.

She promised to take up the case with the PGI authorities.

Overcome with emotion at the sudden pouring of love, Sandhu cried like a child. “Now I want to live. Please get me treated at the earliest so that I can pass on my music to the younger generation,” Sandhu told Chandigarh Tribune.



PGI flouts ministry guidelines
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
PGI’s makeshift arrangement of delegating all duties of institute’s Deputy Director, Administration (DDA), Meeta Rajivlochan in her absence to its Financial Adviser (FA) Harmeet Singh has appeared to be in contravention of the guidelines given by the Union Finance Ministry.

While the ministry’s guidelines clearly say that the financial advisers, including those in autonomous institutes, cannot be given additional administrative and executive responsibility “as it is likely to affect their usefulness to other departments”, the PGI’s move of bailing itself out of the administrative crisis by shifting all administrative work to its Financial Adviser stands contrary to the guidelines.

Ms Rajivlochan had been sent on an indefinite leave for the past one month after she had issued an official circular challenging the authority of the PGI Director, Prof K. K. Talwar.

Moreover, through a recent circular Prof Talwar had also divested the Ms Rajivlochan of all major powers, leaving the Hindi section and the Computer cell under her. Dr Harmeet Singh, apart from handling his own duties, is also performing all duties of seven administrative wings, including legal cell, estate, establishment and vigilance cells.

While the PGI had gone in for this arrangement almost a month ago, the Ministry of Finance guidelines pertaining to the holding of the additional charge by Financial Advisers (para number 286) says the “financial advisers should not be given additional charges of an administrative or executive post in the ministry or department to which he is accredited. And if such an arrangement exists, they may be rescinded.”

The reason given under the guidelines says “it would not be appropriate for financial advisers to hold additional charge of any administrative and executive post, including regular posts in PSUs and autonomous bodies, in ministry departments to which he or she is attached, this is likely to impair that his freedom is tendering financial advice.”

The guidelines further say that the most of the financial advisers are attached to more than one departments and any administrative responsibility in a department is likely to affect their usefulness to the other department.

The director PGI, who had issued circular of delegation of duties was not available for comment.



SC order slap on admn’s face: SGPC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 1
The verdict of the Supreme Court exempting Sikh women from wearing helmet while driving two-wheelers in Chandigarh is a “slap on the face of the administration”. This was stated by Mr Hardeep Singh, member, SGPC, here today. He said the Chandigarh Administration should not forget that only Sikh women had been given this exemption.

As such the authorities concerned should keep challaning non-Sikh women for not wearing helmets.

He said all women who added “Kaur” to their first name should be regarded as Sikh. He said the SGPC also planned to issue identity cards to Sikh women.

He said he would move court in case the administration stopped challaning non-Sikh women for not wearing helmets while driving two-wheelers.

Mr Hardeep Singh said the helmet issue had been going on since 70s when the Motor Vehicles Act was misinterpreted and Sikh women were compelled to wear helmets. The same Act had now been seen in the right perspective by the Supreme Court.

He said a case in this regard had taken filed in 1998 by the SGPC. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had given a judgement which was not acceptable to the Sikhs. As such an SLP against the orders had been filed in the Supreme Court.



Accident prone rail track
Our Correspondent

Lalru, October 1
Twenty persons have lost their lives on the Zirakpur-Jharmari section of the Kalka-Ambala railway line in the past nine months. Fifteen persons reportedly committed suicides while five were run over by trains accidentally. In 2003, 33 persons were crushed under trains in separate incidents on this section while the number of casualties in 2002 was 24.

There are not any track guarding posts. On a narrow bridge on the Jharmal rivulet in Lehli village, many people were killed. A woman was run over by a train while two of her companions jumped from a bridge over the Jharmal rivulet on the Kalka-Ambala railway line at Lehli village near here yesterday afternoon.

Ms Gurmail Kaur (48), Ms Satwant Kaur (60) and Ms Nakshtra Kaur (58) of Lalru village accidentally got trapped on the bridge while taking a short cut. The noticed the 2UK Kalka-Ambala train approaching towards them at a very high speed. Ms Satwant Kaur and Ms Nakshtra Kaur jumped from over the bridge while Ms Gurmail Kaur, tried to save herself but was run over by the train. She died on the spot.

Ms Satwant Kaur sustained severe injuries and was taken to the Army Hospital in Ambala whereas Ms Nakshtra Kaur escaped unhurt. The police today handed over the body of Ms Gurmail Kaur to family members.



Ex-Army man denied benefits despite HC order
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
For almost 26 years, an ex-Army officer has been denied his pensionary benefits and the authorities continue to ignore the orders passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard and the service rules being in his favour.

Mr Chanan Singh Sidhu, who suffered disability due to an accident at the Tibet border in November, 1971, and was certified for having 80 per cent disabilities by the hospital authorities, has been given pensionary benefits only for a period of two years and five months from the date of joining service till the time he met with the accident.

Talking to TNS, Mr Sidhu said he had joined service as a commissioned officer in the 5th Batallion, the Parachute Regiment, on June 22, 1968, and suffered major injuries, including loss of right arm, when he came under a landslide on the Tibet border. Following his treatment at Delhi and at the Artificial Limb Centre, Pune, he continued to serve till June, 1978. But when his pension case was decided he was given pensionary benefit only for the two years and five months before he met with the accident and the remaining period of seven years and seven months was not counted.

He said that the rules clearly stipulate that if the disability is 80 per cent and above, all officers — both Short Service Commission and emergency — would be treated on a par with the regular commissioned officers for deciding the pension cases. The High Court, while deciding the writ petition moved by him, also ruled that the entire period of his service should be counted and his pension should be calculated in accordance with the pension scales valid in June 1968.

Nine months after the court order was passed in December, 2003, he has been running from pillar to post to get the service emoluments due to him along with the arrears due to him till date. While he has been shuttling between the Army Headquarters, Delhi, and the Controller of Defence Accounts (Pension), Allahabad, he only learnt to his dismay that the delay was on account of his file having got misplaced. He has been patiently waiting for his pension for the total period of 10 years in service but today he feels shattered. “I have constantly been in touch with the pension authorities, record office as well as the Defence Ministry, but to no avail,” Mr Sidhu said. “They have neither filed an SLP in the Supreme Court nor honoured the decision of the court in this regard till date and have only been harassing me,” he added.

Expressing his bitterness with the Army authorities, the former Captain said, “Who will like to join the Army under such service conditions even as the force is suffering from a shortfall of 14,000 officers.”



Emirates unveils discounts for senior citizens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, today announced `seasonal fares’ on their recently launched passenger service from India to New York via Dubai. The airline has also introduced reduced fares for senior citizens heading to the Big Apple for a holiday.

The special fares are valid for outbound travellers from September 21 to December 15, 2004. However, senior citizens can avail of the offer till March 3, 2005.

Announcing the offers, M Abdulla Nasser Abdulla Hussain, Emirates’ Vice President, India and Nepal, said, the special scheme for senior citizens is aimed at encouraging them to venture out and discover a completely new experience with Emirates and at the same time visit a destination as versatile as New York.

Special fares are offered to senior citizens travelling Economy Class to New York arriving at the John F Kennedy ( JFK) airport. To avail of this special offer, senior citizens are requested to book their tickets through a travel agent. The offer is valid for a return period of four to six months.

The special fares for senior citizens travelling in Economy Class from Mumbai and Delhi will be Rs 39,000 while the fares for passengers travelling from Chennai, Hyderabad and Cochin will be Rs 44,000 for a return ticket to New York.

This offer is valid for a return period of six months. Similarly for a return period of six months, fares for passengers travelling from Mumbai and Delhi will be Rs 43,000 whereas the fares for passengers travelling from Chennai, Hyderabad and Cochin will be Rs 48,000.

Simultaneously, Emirates has also announced the special return fares for passengers travelling to New York across all classes. Mumbai Economy and Business Class passengers can avail the discounted fares of Rs 47,315 and Rs 1,36,000 respectively.

While passengers travelling from Delhi are offered a price of Rs 45,160 and Rs 1,36,000 for the Economy Class and Business Class respectively. Hyderabad and Cochin passengers are offered Rs 57,100 for Economy Class, and Rs 1,48,000 for Business Class, while a passenger travelling from Chennai is offered Rs 45,160 for Economy Class and Rs 1,40,650 for Business Class. The first class passengers from all destinations are offered Rs 2,62,905. The offer is valid from September 21 to December 15.

Emirates currently operates 43 non-stop weekly flights from India to Dubai with 19 from Mumbai, 7 from Delhi, 8 from Hyderabad, 5 from Kochi and 4 from Chennai.



Function brings cheer to weathered faces
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, October 1
It was senior citizens’ day out. Leaving the lonely confines of their homes, they gathered at Tagore Theatre, Sector 18, here for a cultural function organised by the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association.

They had all reasons to feel pampered. It was a spirited cultural extravaganza and they enjoyed every moment of it.

Mr Arjan Sinha, secretary of the events, sang a soulful Shiv Batalavi song. The event then moved on to an atmosphere of fun and laughter with jokes.

Lt-Gen B.K.N. Chibber (retd), former Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Chandigarh, addressed the senior citizens. He urged them to break the stereotype image of senior citizens being unproductive. He said they could remain in good health by taking a proper diet and doing regular exercises.

He said senior citizens played a very important role in society. However, most of them were living in a state of insecurity and something needed to be done about that. The younger generation should take care of them, he said.

A magazine of the association was also released by General Chhibber.

The president of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, Mr P. H. Vaishnav, spoke about the progress made by the association in promoting recognition and respect for the senior citizens. Today there were around 750 members of the association. Several facilities and concessions were being provided by various departments to the senior citizens. A troupe of the Song and Drama Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting presented several cultural items.

On the occasion, 17 persons in six categories were honoured: consistent service to the association—Col S. S. Bedi and Capt V. P. Chaudhari; consistent service to senior citizens—Dr Rajkumar Chauhan, Mr Karamvir Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh Sethi; sister organisations — Mr A. S. Bhatti, Senior Citizens Council, Mohali, Ms Swantatar Kapoor, chairperson, Satyakash Trust; inspiration — Mr Jamna Dass, Mr M.L. Bhasin and Ms Sanyukta Khanna; fund raisers — Mr P. H. Vaishnav, Mr K. K. Gupta, Mr Sampuran Singh, Mr G. S. Ananad, Maj-Gen J. S. Bhullar and Mr V. S. Sodhi; and regular donor — Mr Jaspal Singh Kandhari.

Loneliness hurts the most

The day was an occasion for retrospection by citizens with a long experience of life.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Jamna Dass (100), a member of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, said, “I have enjoyed every moment of my life. I worked as an engineer and have beautiful memories of my youth. But this doesn’t mean that I am not enjoying old age. I believe in life and creativity. Age should not be a hindrance in achieving your goals.

“I have spent many years in America. But I didn’t like the way senior citizens are treated there, kept in old-age homes. Today in India senior citizens are getting recognition as well as a lot of facilities,” he said.

Mr J. S. Kapur (72), a resident of Sector 15, said, “I am a member of the Senior Citizens Association for the past four years and I enjoy such programmes (referring to the Tagore Theatre function). Though I am financially sound, I and my wife want our two sons and their families to live with us. We have a good house and can live together happily. But my daughters-in-law want to live separately. Apart from this, I don’t ask for anything more from life.”

Ms Joginder Kaur (64), a resident of Sector 11, who recently joined the association, said, “My children are settled abroad and I live alone here. At times the feeling of loneliness is painful. But these cultural programmes organised by the association raise my spirits. I also get a chance to meet new people.”

Among some of the demands senior citizens mentioned were free passes for CTU buses, toilets in parks, 25 per cent concession in CITCO restaurants and canteens and that at least 10 seats in theatres should be reserved for them.



Play staged
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 1
To celebrate Senior Citizens Day ' Mitti na hove matrai' an adaption from Berlot Brecht play was staged at the open- air- theatre at Kalagram, Manimajra. It was organised by the North zone Cultural centre in collaboration with the Senior Citizen Welfare Association, Modern Housing Complex, Manimajra.

Directed by the Rajesh Sharma the play' s main strength is its sufi music.

Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, member of Parliament, was the chief guest.

Mr P N Kapahi, general secretary presented the report of the association. A vote of thanks was given by Mr K L Aggarwal, vice president of the association.Back


Cop with a mission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
A man in khaki strikes fear especially if he resembles Gabbar Singh of the silver screen. But this Gabbar Singh look-alike policeman is an epitome of compassion, having donated blood 78 times during the past 24 years.

Mr Balbir Singh Chahal, Inspector (Communication), name figures in the elite club of blood donors of the city along with another policeman Rasila.

The man, who had to hide this habit from his second wife and mother-in-law, has now prevailed upon his wife and two children to donate blood. His wife, who tried every trick to stop him from donating blood, has now donated it 28 times. Two of his married sons have also been donating blood, Mr Chahal said this on the occasion of the Blood Donation Day.

Mr Chahal does not donate blood for getting some benefit. This was proved when he sustained a serious head injury in 1990. As his blood donation record was left in Delhi, where he had gone for training, his family had to buy blood for saving his life. Fourteen pieces of bone from his skull had to be removed. Doctors then told his family members, there were a little chance of his survival and if he overcame the injuries, he would become mad.

He seems to have become “mad” for a mission - blood donation - whenever required. If he denotes blood to poor, he also tries to arrange money for them.

He donated blood for the first time in 1980 when one of his 16-year-old cousins was lying on a death bed. When he reached the PGI doctors urged him to donate blood. He had regularly been donating blood even at the risk of his life. In 1991, he requested a SSP to grant him leave. When the SSP asked why he was going on leave, Mr Chahal said a BSF DSP residing in R.K.Puram, New Delhi, required blood. The SSP allowed him to go to Delhi without taking the leave. When he returned from Delhi he donated blood twice in three days in a camp organised by the Chandigarh Police. Mr Chahal (58) said not a single person to whom he had donated blood (a rare B RH negative) had died so far.



Blood donation camps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
National Voluntary Blood Donation Day was observed in the city today .A number of blood donation camps were organised in various health institutes. Three main blood donations camps were organised at the city hospitals. As many as 90 donors donated blood at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) ,Sector 32, 60 the General Hospital, Sector 16 and 400 at the PGI.

Rallies, seminars, talks and essay writing competitions were also organised. Dr Neelam Marwaha, Department of Transfusion Medicine, PGI, flagged off a rally . Dr R. R. Sharma of the department , gave a talk to NSS volunteers at Government College ,Sector 46.

The Fortis Hospital, Mohali,organised a blood donation camp in which more than 200 donors donated blood. At a function organised later in the evening, the voluntary donors were also felicitated.

The ESIC Model Hospital, Ram Darbar, celebrated its second anniversary by organising a blood donation camp in collaboration with the Thalassemmic Welfare Society and the PGI. As many as 50 donors donated blood .A health awareness camp, including an HIV\AIDS awareness exhibition, was also organIsed.

Blood donations camps were also organised at Sheed Udham Singh College of Engineering and Technology, Tangori in which more than 100 units of blood were collected.

The teams of doctors from the GMCH sector 32 also managed the blood donation camp organised by the Lions Club Chandigarh at Phase XI Mohali and at Government Senior Secondary School for boys, Fatehgarh Sahib. 



Sky Rippers' raising day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
A light air defence regiment, popularly known as The Sky Rippers, celebrated its 22nd raising day somewhere in the Western Sector today. Raised at Danapur on this day in 1983, the unit, in its short history, has taken part in almost all major operations launched after its inception, including Operation Bluestar, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Vijay and Operation Parakram.

Addressing a special sainik sammelan on the occasion, the Commanding Officer, Col Sukhdeep Bhalla, lauded all ranks for their efforts in maturing the regiment into a fine fighting outfit, a statement issued here said.

Rich tributes were also paid to unit's martyrs, Hav Raje Singh and L/Nk Chandan Singh, both of whom were decorated posthumously with the Sena Medal.



Military Nursing Services celebrates 79th raising day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Military Nursing Services (MNS) celebrated its 79th Raising Day at various military establishments today. The MNS, which comprises only women officers, dates back to March 28, 1888, with the arrival of the first batch of 10 qualified British nurses in Bombay to organise military hospitals in India.

In 1893, the strength was increased to 52 and it was designated as the Indian Army Nursing Services, a statement issued here said. It was re-named as Queen Alexandra Military Nursing Service India in 1902.

Indian nurses were enrolled for the first time in 1914 and attached to this setup.

An integral part of the armed forces, the MNS renders service to the hospitals in the Army, Navy and Air Force establishments.

The Indian Military Nursing Service was formed in 1926 and presently has eight nursing schools and one nursing college.

Bachelor of Science graduates are commissioned as Lieutenants in the Medical Nursing Service and attached to the various components of the armed forces.

Its officers have not only served in India, but have also played a vital role in United Nations Peace Keeping missions in Lebanon, Cambodia and Somalia.

Recently, MNS officers were part of the Indian medical team sent to Iran to give medical cover to the wounded in the devastating earthquake which struck Iran in December, 2003.



Speak, but with caution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday directed all central, chief and state ministers to restrict their speeches to the “achievements and deeds” of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his birth anniversary.

In a comminique, the ECI permitted them to address gatherings on the occasion, subject to the condition that they maintained “utmost caution”.

The authorities asked the ministers to refrain themselves from making “political speeches highlighting party achievements”.



Journalist honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Raj Kumar Bali, Bureau Chief of India Post, published from the USA, was awarded the Life time achievement award today at Kalagram, Manimajra. The award was given by Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Modern Housing Complex, Manimajra.

Bali covers Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh for the weekly. 



Sewadar arrested
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 1
The police has arrested Rohtas Kumar, a sewadar at the Tehsil office here.He had embezzled a sum of Rs 1, 24,000 from the tehsil office last year. Rohtas was absconding after he committed the theft in the tehsil office on February 5, 2003. He was arrested by the Panipat police from Matloda, in connection with a murder case, and was brought here on transit remand by the local police.

It may be noted that Rohtas was asked to deposit a sum of Rs 1. 24 lakh from the tehsil office with the Sector 5 branch of State Bank of Patiala, on February 5, last year. However, he neither deposited the money, nor returned to the office. The police later booked him under Section 409 of the IPC, on a complaint of the then Tehsildar, Mr Ashwani Sharma.

The police made numerous attempts to nab him, and raids were conducted at his house in Jind district. He was declared a Proclaimed Offender by a local court on September 27 ,last year.

Rohtas was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Gulab Singh today, and he maintained that he had kept RS 80,000 in the custody of his sister in Hisar, and the remaining Rs 44,000 at his home in Jind. He has now been remanded to four days in police 



Three held for stealing track plates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Railway Protection Force (RFP) caught red-handed three persons while allegedly stealing eight track plates weighing 320 kg here yesterday. Ashok, alias Shanga, from Balia in Uttar Pradesh, Sanjay Kumar and a Nepalese, Bhim Bahadur, were arrested early yesterday. A patrol party had noticed an auto-rickshaw laden with eight track plates at a deserted spot near the yard. The police arrested the three from the spot.

The RPF also arrested a junk dealer in Mauli Village, Ashok Kumar, alias Suta, for purchasing stolen railway property. The suspects revealed to the police that they had stolen eight plates three days earlier also. All stolen plates have been recovered.

Liquor seized

Narinder Singh, a resident of Dera Bassi, and Raju of Mohali were arrested on Friday allegedly while smuggling out 90 cartons of liquor to Punjab. They were transporting the liquor in a Tata 407 vehicle when they were intercepted at a picket near Palsora.



Man fakes identity, house registry

Chandigarh, October 1
A government employee forged documents to pose as a Junior Engineer of the PWD Department of Haryana and create a fake house registry to get a loan.

Balwinder, a clerk with the Haryana PWD, told Andhra Bank that he had to buy a house owned by one Ram Singh.

On investigation, it was found that the clerk had allegedly forged the registry of a house in the name of Ram Singh, who did not own any house.

This was done in alleged collusion with a loan agent.

The police has arrested Balwinder, Ram Singh and the agent Lachhman Singh.

The loan amount had been disbursed and the fraud was noticed when Balwinder stopped the repayment of the loan amount. 



LIC celebrates social security month
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Life Insurance Corporation of India ( LIC), P and GS unit of the divisional office, here is celebrating October as social security month to reiterate its commitment to the economically weaker sections of society through its various social security group insurance schemes.

One such scheme, Janshree Bima Yojana, provides insurance cover to the lower strata of society. Presently, it is the only social security scheme available and it covers people living below the poverty line in both rural and urban areas. People marginally above the poverty line are also to be covered under the scheme.

Persons in the age group of 18-59 years are covered for Rs 20,000 in case of natural death, Rs 50,000 in case of death or permanent disability due to accident and Rs 25,000 in case of partial disability due to accident.

The Shiksha Sahyog Yojana, a scholarship scheme, is sponsored by the Central Government for the poor children. Under the scheme, two children of persons covered under the Janshree Bima Yojana will be eligible for a scholarship of Rs 300 per quarter per child studying from Class 9 to 12 without paying any extra premium.

Mr N.P. Chawla, Senior Divisional Manager, LIC, has appealed to NGOs to work with the LIC and create awareness about their social security schemes.


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