C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CBI to probe cops’ role in heroin haul
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Meanwhile, the CBI within its own internal meeting in the past two-three days has contemplated over the fact that the entire matter is sub-judice. Sources said CBI officials have raised this query with the Administration as to what aspects of the case are sub-judice. The CBI will be writing a formal letter on this query. The CBI will seek more details of the case.

Chandigarh, November 3
Certain officials of the Chandigarh Police are under investigation by the country’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Chandigarh Administration has formally asked the CBI to inquire into role of police officials into the sensational claim of recovering heroin worth Rs 50 crore from three persons, including a Canada-based person.

Following approval from Adviser to the UT Administrator Lalit Sharma, the CBI has been asked to inquire if any wrong-doing was committed by the police officials involved in the claim of recovering drugs. Sources said the UT IG Rajesh Kumar, had recommended that an independent agency be asked to look into allegations of the families of the accused that the contraband was “planted”.

The families of the accused have claimed before the Government of India that they were not involved at all in drug smuggling and the police had booked them under false cases.

The supposed recovery of 80 kilogram of contraband was made on December 14 last year and the case had made headlines across the country. It was claimed as one of the biggest ever haul of narcotics allegedly having links with “international drug syndicate”.

The Administration in its request to the CBI has not specified for investigation by name of any police official, however, senior officials, while confirming the development, said, it was up to the CBI to unravel the truth, if any, in the allegations.

After the reported seizure, the then SP (Operations), Mr H.G.S. Dhaliwal, held a press conference and claimed that Devinder Singh, resident of 14 Balenoy Avenue, Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Ajay Malik from Sector 18-B, Chandigarh and Lingraj, hailing from Orissa and working at Malik’s guest house in Delhi, were arrested with 42 kg of high grade charas and 38 kg of opium from the Sector 20 and 21 light point in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

The seizure of the drugs in question was made by a team led by Inspector Vijay Kumar who claimed to have nabbed the three on the basis of specific information. The police said the arrested persons had even revealed that the members of the drug syndicate had to tell them where the contraband was to be supposed to be delivered.

Mr Dhaliwal had claimed said initially the group had set a target of supplying three quintals of contraband to the international market but could not manage it. The group had then set a target of supplying one quintal of contraband. The police had claimed that the contraband was hidden in plastic bags and filled with strongly smelling spices to mislead sniffer dogs.



Single bidder for hotel site; auction postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The auction of the city’s highest-priced hotel site in Sector 35 attracted only one bidder here today. Slated to be held at Shivalikview Hotel in Sector 17 this morning, the auction had to be postponed after only one bidder turned up.

The entire machinery of the local municipal corporation waited for two hours before calling off the auction. Additional Commissioner, O.P. Popli and Joint Commissioner Kulwant S. Kalson, five Councillors, Chief Accounts Officer, officials of the corporation and the administration, all of them waited till 1 pm after which the announcement to postpone the auction was made.

The earnest money of Rs 25 lakh was refunded to the sole bidder, Col Inderpal (Retd), who offered Rs 22 crore for the site. According to the terms and conditions, the hotel site is a leasehold property. The successful bidder would have had to complete the building within three years from the date of auction. A double-storey basement for parking had been made mandatory.

Sources said the high reserve price of Rs 48 crore for the 2.6 acre site proved to be a deterrent for bidders. Also, another major factor in the failure of the auction was the leasehold condition of the site with a ground rent of Rs 1.2 crore which would have risen further in subsequent years.

The administration’s abrupt decision of shifting from freehold to leasehold basis proved a failure in the last commercial auction as also in the auction of multiplexes and the 11-storey complex in Sector 17. To add to this, the stringent bylaws made the hotel project totally unviable and resulted in indifference towards the auction, the sources added.

It may be recalled that in the late 90s, the municipal corporation made its first bid to auction the site with a reserve price of Rs 32 crore. The bidder who finally got the site lodged his protest about the lack of architectural framework for the construction of a hotel. Through the court, he finally managed to get back all the money he had deposited with the corporation. Since then, the auction of the site was shelved.



Ranbaxy fire: PSHRC seeks report in 8 days
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 3
Taking suo motu cognizance of the fire incident at the Ranbaxy factory here, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Punjab government to submit a detailed report of the incident. One person had died and two were injured in a fire that occurred at the bulk drug plant of the company here on October 30. Interestingly, the Mohali fire Department yesterday gave a clean chit to the company in the incident.

The orders passed by the full Bench of the Commission yesterday state that Punjab government, through the Chief Secretary, would submit his report of the possible cause leading to the fire and negligence if any contributing to it. The report of the Chief Secretary should be submitted to the commission within eight days.

The Commission noted that it had carefully examined the news items appearing in different newspapers pertaining to the incident and considered it prima facie a violation of human rights.

The Bench, chaired by Justice N.C. Jain and comprising members Justice R.L. Anand, Mr B.C. Rajput, Mr N.K. Arora and Mr V.K. Sibal noted that the matter had been dealt by the Commission through a complaint following a similar incident in the factory. Quoting from the orders passed by the commission in the case on August 27, 2003, the bench pointed out that the commission had directed Ranbaxy organise at its own cost, annual audit inspections of the unit by the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC was to submit its report to the state government and it was the state government’s responsibility to ensure that the recommendations of the Council were implemented by the company’s management. ‘‘This is in addition to the other safeguards which the state government and its agencies have prescribed in their reports for the Ranbaxy people. Any failure of non-implementation of the recommendations of the NSC or those of the agencies of the state government would entail serious consequences and the state government shall be failing in its duty for the non-implementation of the recommendations/suggestions.’’ quoted the Bench from last year’s orders.

The Commission last year however ruled out the possibility of shifting out or closing the factory noting that Ranbaxy was providing employment to hundreds of families and contributing revenue worth millions of rupees annually to the government.



Nepali Maoists drum up political support to
dethrone king

Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Sympathisers of Nepali Maoists have heightened political activity in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to drum up political support for a violent campaign to dethrone their King Gyanendra.

The Maoist sympathisers have also threatened if India did not stop support to the king, 1.5 lakh soldiers in India and 80 lakh other Nepalis settled in the country would revolt.

These facts have surfaced during intelligence gathering by Indian authorities in Chandigarh and surrounding areas of Punjab and Haryana.

The intelligence agencies have collected information that one Nepali Jan Adhikar Suraksha Samiti on September 12 held a meeting near the Bhopal Singh Stadium in Burail warning the Government of India against, what they called, supporting King Gyanendra.

The Maoist sympathisers have been holding sports activities in the region to camouflage their political purpose. This sports event in the Bhopal Singh Stadium was attended by around 250 Nepalis from Ropar, Chandigarh and Panchkula.

The intelligence agencies have identified a group of four or five leaders, including one from Ropar, who are supporting the cause of Maoists.

However, the intelligence agencies have not yet found any concrete evidence of the Nepalis in the region collecting funds or involved in any armed activity in the region, the intelligence sources told The Tribune here today.

The agencies are analyzing the content of the fiery speeches of the leaders to understand if these could be construed as anti-India.

These leaders are suspected to be holding regular meetings in a party office in Sector 21 in Chandigarh. The core group of leaders has been holding meetings with Nepalis in different offices apparently to drum up support for Maoists in Nepal.

The underground political activity of the Maoist sympathisers is suspected to be going on for long and the mode of communication has purposefully been kept as Nepali apparently to ward off the intelligence agencies.

The intelligence agencies now have hired Nepali translators.

The translated speeches of the leaders revealed that they had threatened the Government of India with a revolt from 1.5 lakh Nepali soldiers. The Maoists have also warned if the Government of India did not desist from supporting King Gyanendra, 80 lakh Nepalis working in India would turn against a friendly country.

The main leader of the Maoist sympathisers is quoted by the intelligence agencies as having said if India was so fond of the king, he could replace President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Dueba could be foisted on India in place of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The leaders told the Nepali audience that India instead of supporting a fight for freedom was backing up the king.

The Maoist sympathiser leaders sought to rake up anti-India feelings saying "India does not want Nepal to grow and be freed from hunger, poverty, unemployment, mass exodus and flesh trade."

They also suspected that the US wanted to use Nepal against India and China by propping up the king.

The Maoist sympathisers also said that Indian authorities were fabricating cases against Nepalis to weaken their movement.



Study shows women lose more lives due to burns
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

* 55.4 per cent of the female victims of unnatural deaths lost their lives due to burns and flames.

* In 36 per cent cases, lives lost due to pouring of kerosene on their bodies.

* In 23.3 per cent cases, lives lost due to bursting of kerosene stoves.

Chandigarh, November 3
Kitchen, it seems, has emerged as a virtual danger zone for women in the region as the burn injuries while carrying out domestic chores have led to most of the unnatural deaths among women in the past two and half decades.

Be it deaths due to leakage and bursting of the kerosene stoves, loose clothes catching fire or deaths due to pouring of kerosene on body , PGI’s statistics have established that women are losing their lives more within the “safe environs” of their four walls, making fatalities due to burn injuries the leading cause of unnatural deaths among women coming to the PGI.

Going by the statistics compiled by the Department of Forensic Medicine, PGI, recording the cases of deaths due to burn injuries in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh from 1977 to 2002, more than 55 per cent of the female victims of the unnatural deaths, have succumbed to burn injuries.

What the researchers have described as the “clear cut sex differential,” the percentage of unnatural deaths due to burns and flames are nearly four times more than that in the males.

While in merely 12.8 per cent of the men who had died due to unnatural causes (which include deaths in road accidents, falls, suicides) the reason was burn injuries, the proportion in females was 55.4 per cent, with majority of the victims being the unsuspecting housewives.

On further analysis of the cases, the experts have found that more than 88 per cent of all the cases of burn mortality was due to flames. It has been further revealed that the 23.3 per cent of the fatalities were due to bursting of the kerosene oil stove while 20.2 per cent were due to leakage of kerosene due to stove’s malfunctioning.

And in nearly 15 per cent of the deaths the loose clothes had caught fire leading to death.

What could possibly be the dowry deaths in the region, the experts also found that in as many as 36 percent of the women who died due to burns, which were caused by pouring of the kerosene on them.

“These could be the dowry deaths, as the instances of the pouring of kerosene on the body, which led to the victim’s death was noticed only in case of the females victims coming to the PGI.

Moreover, generally the women in the age group of 16-35 years were involved in these cases,’’ observed a senior faculty member of the department.

Looking for possibilities that would help in bringing down the number of deaths due to burns, the doctors at the PGI offer varied solutions.

“Thought should be spared for the kinds of kerosene stoves that are being manufactured as a number of mishaps are due to either the accidental fall of the stoves,” observed the department’s head, Dr Dalbir Singh.



Decide soon on need-based changes in houses: leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Cutting across party lines, local political leaders have sent a joint memorandum to the Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Lalit Sharma, criticising the Chandigarh Administration for overlooking people’s demands while finalising the much-awaited “need-based changes” in city houses.

The Administration had last week allowed a 150 sq ft room in the backyard as the only need-based alteration. A committee formed to study and recommend the need-based changes had sent a list of 28 changes.

The memorandum says “representatives in this committee regret that the administration had held only two meetings during the past more than one year.”

It says “we regret that a section among the officialdom involved in policy making is creating unnecessary delays in the need-based modernisation in the city.” Also it has been demanded that no future demolitions should be carried out and no notice issued till the committee gives a final decision.

The demand is for the immediate implementation of need-based changes as per requirement of trade and its occupants, flexibility in place and floor for shops and offices. There is a need for having 100 per cent covered area in basement and rear courtyard, besides the need for relaxation for setting up neon signs.

The committee members had put forward a constructive plan to simplify the complicated procedure of building plan sanction, compounding and completion of city buildings. This had included modification in housing board houses, more area in cheap houses, extendable main gate for car parking, removal of frame control in one kanal and bigger houses, besides an additional area within the zoning.

Another major demand to be rejected was the permission for projections or balconies. These were allowed in old sectors and in any case these have been allowed even in Mohali and Panchkula.



HUDA tells panel not to hold Apni Mandi in Sec 14
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 3
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has asked the Market Committee not to hold the Apni Mandi in Sector 14 from this Saturday onwards.

With HUDA building its showrooms in Sector 14, on the road dividing Sector 14 and 15, where the mandi is held every Saturday, the former has requested that the mandi not be held from now onwards. The market committee, on the other hand, has, so far, not decided on an alternate site for holding the mandi.

Apni mandis are organised in various parts of the township on all days, except on Wednesday. Except for Monday and Thursday, when the mandi is organised at the Sabzi Mandi in Sector 20, the apni mandis are organised at open spaces in front of commercial centres in various sectors.

On Sunday, the mandi is organised near the showrooms in Swastik Vihar in Mansa Devi Complex, on Tuesday near the Sector 16 market, which is proposed to be the City Centre of Panchkula; on Friday in Sector 25-26, and on Saturday near the Sector 14 market.

With commercial activity picking up in most of these markets now, and HUDA aiming to develop these fast, the shopkeepers in these commercial places, have for long been pleading that the apni mandis be shifted to alternate sites, so that their business is not affected.

The parking spaces in these commercial complexes are occupied by vegetable and fruit sellers. Worse, the waste being left behind ,a day after the mandi is held, is causing insanitating conditions, and is an invitation to flies and stray cattle.

Earlier, an apni mandi was held at Sector 4, on every Thursday, and in Sector 8 on Monday. However, after HUDA sold off its showrooms in Sector 8 and business started here, and with the construction of Haryana Public Service Commission in Sector 4, the apni mandis have been shifted to Sector 20. The mandi in Sector 16 was shifted temporarily, but was again started in the sector, after some residents demanded it. 



Tribune Impact
Power ‘hotline’ freed from illegal load
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has at last freed the “hotline” to the main waterworks here from unauthorised additional load, turning it into an independent special facility.

The power load of Phase VI had been unauthorisedly put on independent power line for the waterworks, leading to power cuts and disruption in the water supply. It adversely affected water supply to major parts of the town. A number of requests by officials of the Department of Public Health over the years to free the power line from the illegal load fell on deaf ears.

With The Tribune highlighting (September 23) that the PSEB was making a mockery of the waterworks “hotline” facility, for which the municipal council had doled out over Rs 11 lakh, board officials got down to work erecting new poles and making arrangements for shifting the unauthorised power load. The load has now been shifted to the Verka milk plant feeder.

According to sources, the “hotline” was carrying around five times the load sanctioned for the waterworks for past many years. A load of about 15 amperes had been sanctioned for the waterworks but an additional unauthorised load of 60 to 70 amperes was put on the special line, defeating the very purpose for which it had been installed.

It is learnt that the “hotline’ facility to the waterworks had been provided by the PSEB in June 1999 but it failed to remain an exclusive facility due to the irresponsible functioning of board officials. Without realising the purpose of an independent feeder, the power load of Phase VI was unauthorisedly shifted on the “hotline” soon after it was installed.

Officials of the Department of Public Health repeatedly requested the power board authorities to remove the additional unauthorised load but to no avail. One such letter had been written by officials concerned to the PSEB authorities on May 15, 2002, in which it had been stated that repeated power disruptions on the independent line were adversely affecting the supply of water.

When the town faced power cuts this summer, services at the waterworks also got affected. Power cuts were imposed on the “hotline” even when according to rules round-the-clock power had to be maintained in the case of an independent feeder. Such a facility is provided in case of emergency services. The Public Health officials again approached the board authorities on September 10 this year requesting them to free the “hotline” from power cuts as it was adversely affecting the supply of water to the town.

The council had approached the power board for an independent power feeder to the Phase VI waterworks so that the system could be run without disruptions, ensuring better water supply. The permission for the “hotline” was granted by the Chief Engineer, Operations, Patiala, on April 24, 1998. An estimate of Rs 11, 11, 243 for the installation of an independent feeder was prepared. The amount was then deposited with the power board on October 8, 1998.

The Director, Local Government, was asked by the PSEB in June 1999 to deposit an additional sum of Rs 19,181 as the expenses incurred on providing an independent feeder to the water works exceeded the estimate prepared in this regard.



Think before you wrap gifts this Divali
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH: Divali is the time to receive and give gifts. Gifts wrapped in colourful, bright wrapping paper are a part and parcel of the festive season. But beware! You are endangering the environment by using these enticing wrapping papers. Glossy wrapping paper is not environment-friendly as it is non-biodegradable and cannot be recycled. It takes hundreds of years to disintegrate threatening our ecosystem.

The “killer” wrapping paper flies around because it is lightweight and chokes sewers, nullahas, rivers and choes. Ironically, its durability and its appealing look, the very qualities that make it a favourite with gift givers, are dangerous for environment.

A visit to various sectors reveals that the market is flooded with gift-wrapping papers of various designs and colours. The demand is more among sweetmeat sellers. They have stocked a huge quantity of glossy papers.

Environmentalists say the Administration should impose a ban on the use of such papers. If not, at least it should be more vigilant during the festival season, especially Divali and the wedding season.

Glossy paper is made of crude plastic and chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Its colourful dyes can contaminate soil and water.

“It makes much more sense to wrap your gifts in biodegradable materials, like recycled paper, newspaper, jute, cloth and ribbons etc”, says Mr S.K. Sharma, president of the Environment Society of India.

“There is a need to generate awareness about this cause among the people. Now people are aware about the pollution and hazards caused by crackers and there is a lot of check on the practice of bursting crackers mindlessly. The time is ripe to generate awareness about harmful effects of wrapping papers also”, he added.

In cities like New Delhi, the Department of Environment is running a campaign against this. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation should also give it a serious thought.

So spare a thought for our environment and look for gift wrappings made from handmade paper, rice paper and tissue cloth available in the market or be creative and try out other novel ways of wrapping gifts.



Strike by LIC development officers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 3
Development Officers of the Life Insurance Corporation observed a one-day strike and held a dharna in front of their regional office in Sector 17, today. The call for one day strike was given by the National Federation of Insurance Field Workers of India, protesting against the management’s policies and the unilateral circular on incentive schemes.

The leader while speaking on the occasion said, in the changing scenario all private players are given the opportunity to operate on a level playing ground by opening the Life Insurance market for them. They further said despite privatisation the LIC has registered a growth in the last three years by over 90 per cent in conventional insurance business.

Mr P.K. Joshi, President of the Chandigarh Division said that it was an organised and systematic move by certain vested interests to destroy the public sector giant.



Gold, Rs 75,000 stolen
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 3
In the fifth daylight burglary in a week, thieves decamped with cash and gold and valuables worth Rs 75,000 from the residence of, Mr Kamlesh Sharma, an Irrigation Department employee here today. The occupants of the house in Phase III-A were away when the burglary took place.

According to the owner, thieves entered the house by jumping over the back wall. The thieves gained entry into the house by breaking the locks on the outer doors of a room that opened into the back verandah.

Mr Sharma, said that he and his wife, Shashi, worked in Chandigarh and had left home at 9.45 in the morning while their children left for school. When Mr Sharma’s, 14-year-old son returned home at about 2.30 pm, he found the main door bolted from inside. He raised the alarm and with the help of the neighbours broke the main door to enter the house. ‘‘Apparently the thieves were still inside as they heard the door open and bolted the door from inside of the room they were in. They ran away from the back, the same way they came,’’ said, Mr Sharma. Mr Sharma, added that the thieves were three in number as there were three apples lying half eaten inside the house.

‘‘Thieves had broken into each room, opened all almirahas and scattered the various items stored away. Rs 15,000 cash was missing along with all the jewellery and other valuable,’’said, Mr Sharma. The police is yet to register a case and further investigations are on in the matter.



Motorcyclists hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 3
Sunil Gupta, a motorcyclist was hit by another motorcyclist Anil Khandewal of Sector 45-A, at the Sector 35-43 turn on October 1. The police said that Anil was triple riding the vehicle when the accident occurred. Sunil Gupta was admitted to General Hospital and the other three were admitted to the GMCH, Sector 32. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC and 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act has been registered against Anil Khandewal in the Sector 36 police station.

Purse stolen

Madu Gupta of Sector 15, filed a complaint with the police that her purse containing two gold earrings, a gold necklace and two gold chains was stolen from her residence from period between October 10-21. She came to know about the theft quiet later. A case under Section 380 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered in the Sector 11 police station.

In another incident, Akhtar Mehmood of Sector 40-A, reported to the police that one pair of bangles was stolen from his residence yesterday. The thieves entered the house by removing the grills fitted on the window of the house. A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered in the Sector 39 police station.

Vehicle stolen

Mr Dilbhag Singh, of Ward No 6, Kharar, reported to the police that his Indica car (HR-01-M-1849) was stolen from the market in Sector 26, yesterday. A case of theft under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Dr Punit Singh, a resident of the PGI campus, Sector 12, reported that her Kinetic Honda scooter (PB-65-A-1758) was stolen from market in Sector 22, yesterday. A case of theft has been registered.



Woman crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 3
A 30-year-old woman was crushed to death, and another injured seriously when a truck coming from behind overturned and fell on her.

The incident took place at 11 am, near Yadavindra Gardens, Pinjore, when the victim, Urmila, along with a friend Kamla was walking to Pinjore. The police says that the truck (HP-09A-0976) was loaded with cardboard sheets, and the driver, Rinku, could not control the vehicle. While Urmila died on the spot, Kamla was injured and rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh.

3 arrested

The police has arrested three persons- Mangal Singh, Raj Kumar and Rajbir Singh on charges of speculation and recovered Rs 795 from them. In another incident, the police arrested Arvinder Jaswal, Ashok Kumar and Santa Ram from Abheypur village on charges of gambling and recovered Rs 1250 from them.



4 held for flesh trade

Panchkula, November 3
The police here this evening arrested Bina Devi (36) for running a flesh trade racket along with three girls and a case under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act was registered.

Following a tip-off in the Sector 20 market, a police team led by Surjit Singh sent a decoy customer to the girls. A deal was struck at Rs 3,000. As soon as the decoy paid Rs 1,500 to Bina Devi, the police arrested four members. Those arrested include Beena Devi, a 20-year-old girl from Jalandhar, a 15-year-old girl from Kolkata and a 27-year-old city resident. TNS



Woman, daughter held for cheating

Mohali, November 3
The police here has arrested the mother-daughter duo who allegedly had duped a handicapped resident Sanjiv Kumar of Pinjore of Rs 44000.

The two, Mahima and her daughter Shabnam, both residents of Phase I here had promised to help Sanjiv get a flat in Mohali.

They had told him that a relative of theirs was posted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and they would use his office to get the flat allotted under a special scheme. However the duo did not fulfill their promise and sanjiv approached the Mohali police. TNS


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