C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Divali misfire: crackers land over 100 in city hospitals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
It turned out to be an inauspicious dark Divali for more than 100 persons in the city and its surrounding areas who were taken to the hospitals after sustaining burn injuries caused by crackers on Friday night.

Doctors at the PGI’s eye department say that the number of eye injuries had increased substantially this year as the number of cases on the first day had already crossed the last year’s figure of first three days, with more critically injured patients still coming to the hospital.

Saleem The number of “eye injuries has certainly gone up this Divali as we just had 25 cases last years in first three days. But this year we have already received 27 patients with eye injuries,’’ Dr Amit Gupta of the PGI’s Department of Ophthalmology told the Chandigarh Tribune.

The condition of as many as 15 patients in the PGI is reported to be critical, with a high risk of total vision loss. Out of the 27 admitted, 13 children, below the age of 15 years, suffered eye injuries due to crackers.

“We have 10 patients with serious eye trauma, seven patients came with superficial injury and injury due to foreign bodies and seven patients with perforated eye injuries who were operated upon today,’’ added the doctor.

Among those operated upon were Harjit Singh (42) from Ropar, with perforated eye who was injured last night when the cracker accidentally burst in his hand. Saleem (17) from Jagadhari, who had a torn central corneal tissue and perforated eye after a cracker burst in his hand last night. Jagga (40) from Sangrur, who was operated upon today has suffered the injuries as a cracker burst right in his face on Divali night.

Rukmani In all, 10 patients with burn injuries reported at PGI, and seven of them were discharged after first aid. Simran (7) from Nahan, Himachal Pradesh who had received 18 per cent burn injuries in a fire at a cracker shop, was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Two patients have been admitted to the emergency ward.

At GH-16, 28 patients were admitted last night, out of which four had suffered eye injuries and 24 had sustained burns in hands, face and scalp. Joginder Singh, 25, who is admitted with 50 per cent burns continues to be in a critical condition. He was injured when a spark ignited a bundle of crackers which Joginder was holding in his hand at his house in Sector 37 last night.

At GMCH -32, 21 patients reported with burn injuries and 17 patients with eye injuries were admitted last night. Most of them were discharged today. Raji (7) from Dera Bassi with 30 per cent burns in face, hands and chest and Surinder Kumar (7) from Mohali with eye injuries due to crackers. Eleven-year-old Mayur, from Rajpura and 14-year-old Vicky from Kurukshetra, were admitted with eye injuries.



94 cases in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
As many as 94 persons, including burn victims and road accident victims, were brought to the General Hospital here on Divali day. Though no major cases of burn injuries were reported, five road accident victims were referred to the PGI and the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, in a serious condition.

Six persons were injured when they were hit by a speeding car, while they were waiting for a bus near Kot Billa Dental College yesterday evening. The six persons — Upinder Kumar, Sudeshwar, Pawan, Shankar, Mohd. Ali, and Inehtishta- were waiting for a bus, when a Maruti car, coming from the opposite direction, suddenly lost control and ran over them.

All six victims were rushed to General Hospital, Panchkula, from where four of the victims, who had sustained head injuries, were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Throughout the Divali day, road accident victims were rushed to the hospital from the town, as well as neighbouring areas of Pinjore, Chandi Mandir and Barwala.

In all, 27 accident victims were rushed to hospital. It was only in the evening that cases of burn victims started pouring in.

Doctors on duty at the hospital say that the rush at the hospital began at around 7.30 p.m.

Almost 30 burn patients were brought to the hospital and the minor operation theatre in the hospital saw a heavy rush of victims. All victims were discharged after preliminary first-aid treatment.

A majority of the victims were children, and mostly boys. Most of the victims had been injured while lighting the rockets, or ‘anar’. 



20 sustain burns in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 13
More than 20 persons, a majority of them children, received burn injuries during Divali celebrations here last night. Many of those injured were discharged after first aid while, some of those who had received major burn injuries were admitted to different hospitals and nursing homes.

Rohit, a 5-year-old resident of Sector 52, was admitted to Cheema Hospital in Phase IV after his face and neck were severely burnt. Rohit was injured when a fire cracker burst in his hand while he was trying to light it. His face, mouth and parts of his neck burnt. Surinder Kumar, a resident of Phase IV here sustained an eye injury while bursting crackers and was admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

Harjit Singh, a 40-year-old resident of Phase 10 was admitted to civil hospital here following burn injuries. Harpreet Singh, a 13-year-old resident of Phase I was also taken to civil hospital following burns. Satbir Singh, a 12-year-old resident of Amb Sahib Colony here was admitted to Chawla Nursing Home with severe burn injuries on his hands. As many as 12 persons were discharged after first aid.

Harjit Singh, a 23-year-old resident of Darkan Kalan village, Kharar, was injured in an accident. According to doctors, Harjit was drunk and was driving a vehicle last night.



Godown, cracker stalls gutted in fire
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Two major fires and eight other incidents of fire were reported from the city late last night. A godown in Darua was engulfed in flames while three cracker stalls in Sector 24 were gutted in the fire.

In Darua, dry flowers and packaging material stocked inside the godown caught fire due to a short circuit. The fire spread immediately due to the presence of inflammable material and soon the entire godown was engulfed in flames. The incident took place at 10.15 pm.

The high walls of the godown made it impossible for firemen to extinguish the fire. They had to break a section of the wall to gain access to the godown. It took four fire tenders, two from Sector 17, and one each from Industrial Area and Mani Majra and one water boozer to bring the fire under control in almost five hours.

The fire tenders were called in again this morning when passers-by noticed smoke emanating from inside the godown.

In a Divali-related incident, three stalls of crackers in front of the rehri market in Sector 24 were engulfed in flames. Though the exact cause of the fire was not known, sources in the fire department said a stray spark from a cracker in the sky could have triggered the fire.

No sooner did the spark fell on the displayed crackers than the entire area was filled with bursting crackers, leading to panic among the rehri-owners. The “fireworks” continued for nearly half-an-hour and fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The stall-owners, Mr Mool Chand, Mr Ashok and Mr Nand Lal, put the loss in the fire at over Rs 45,000.

Eight minor fires were reported on Divali night from Shastri Nagar in Mani Majra where household articles caught fire from a burning earthen lamp. 



Fire in plywood godown
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 13
Mohali had its share of unfortunate incidents associated with Divali celebrations yesterday. While three fire incidents were reported in the township, the police booked four persons for gambling other than a theft in a house in Phase V.

A major fire was reported at Badh Majra village where a plywood storing godown caught fire at about 11 pm on Divali night. No one was injured in the fire but according to the owner Mr Surinder Singh goods worth Rs 1.25 lakh were gutted in the fire. Two fire tenders were sent to Preet Ply Palace to control the fire that raged for almost an hour.

According to the information given by Mr Lakhvinder Singh, Chief Fire Officer Mohali, a motor cycle parked outside a house in phase VII caught fire when a burning cracker fell on it. The incident took place at around 8.30 pm. The motorcycle owner Mr Dildar Singh is a tenant in the house. Another grass fire in an empty plot was reported in Phase 3B2 said Mr Lakhvinder Singh.

The police here booked four persons on charges of indulging in gambling on Divali. The four — Virpal Singh, a resident of Sector 48-C; Sohan Lal, a resident of Sector 48-C; Suresh, resident of Guru Nanak Colony and Om Prakash, a resident of Amb Sahib Colony, here were allegedly gambling in Phase IX. They have not been arrested but have been booked under Sections 13-3-67 of the Gambling Act.

Thieves decamped with cash and valuables worth thousand of rupees from Phase V residence of Daljit Kaur, a journalist. She had gone out on November 11 when the incident took place.

According to the investigating officer, Mr Som Nath, thieves gained entry through the back wall and ransacked the house. Ms Daljit told the police that she left home at 7.30 in the morning and returned at 10.30 p.m. and found that the theft had taken place. All valuables in the house including gold and cash were found missing. 



After 3-year decline, noise pollution on Divali may
rise this time

Six monitoring stations set up to study situation
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Although noise pollution on Divali day has been on the decline for the past three years, Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) officials apprehend a trend reversal this year. They have set up six air/noise quality monitoring stations to study the impact of pollutants left behind by the festival of lights. The locations include Panjab University, Sector 22-A, Sector 9, Sector 29, Kaimbwala and Manimajra. The CPCC will release the results of the study by next Tuesday.

Though Manimajra was found to be the most noise polluted zone on Divali last year, experts are not sure whether it will hold its position this time also. Also in the race will be Kajheri and Kaimbwala which followed Manimajra closely insofar as noise pollution levels recorded on Divali day last year is concerned. Suburbs of the city like Manimajra, Kaimbwala and Kajheri record high noise pollution on Divali because they have low buffering of noise due to thin tree cover. Canyon effect also holds good in these areas. Last year on Divali, Manimajra had recorded over 95 decibels (dB) of noise. This is extremely harmful considering any noise above 90 decibels can severely damage the ears.

Also, louder the noise, shorter is the time it requires to cause damage. The Factories Act, 1948, mentions that continuous exposure to noise up to 90 dB should not be allowed beyond eight hours per day. An exposure of 115 dB noise level should be allowed only for 15 minutes if health damage has to be prevented.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune today, Mr P.J.S. Dadwal of the CPCC said the noise pollution level on the Divali day had been decreasing since 2001. The CPCC has been regularly monitoring noise levels on the Divali night at the residential areas of Sector 22-A since 1998. This being one of the oldest and densely populated sectors of the city offers a good location for comparison of yearly data. Yearly noise pollution data in Sector 22-A on Divali night is as follows - 85 dB in 1998; 93 dB in 1999; 84 dB in 2000; 74 dB in 2001; 72 dB in 2002; and 64 dB in 2003. “This aspect, however, needs to be verified this year. We have recorded noise pollution in Sector 22 A this Divali also,” said Mr Dadwal.

A study of Chandigarh’s environment by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology also shows that noise levels during the evenings of Divali always exceed permissible limits at each measurement. However, there has been a decrease in noise levels since 2001. In 2003, the CPCC measured noise levels at various sites in and around the city one day before Divali and later on the Divali day. Ambient noise levels on Divali day were found to be higher than the pre-Divali day values at all sites.

A comparison of noise pollution data recorded at 10 pm a day before Divali and on Divali day last year shows phenomenal differences. Sector 9 recorded 60 dB before Divali and 80 dB on Divali night at 10 pm; PU 45 dB and 80 dB, respectively; Kaimbwala 48 and 95 dB; Manimajra 65 and over 95 dB on pre-Divali and Divali day, respectively, at 10 pm last year. 



Admn cracks down on 16 cracker-sellers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Teams set up by the environment wing of the Chandigarh Administration cracked down on shopkeepers, selling crackers, which exceeded the prescribed noise level and also without proper safety precautions.

Crackers of 16 shopkeepers were destroyed as they exceeded the noise level of 125 decibels. The crackers were destroyed by immersing these in water.

As many as 60 shopkeepers were given notices by the respective area Subdivisional Magistrates (SDMs) for the improper storage of sand, water and other fire extinguishing methods.



Protesting farmers beat up passer-by
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 13
Farmers protesting against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here turned violent on Divali when they bashed up a passer-by, injuring him. While the farmers alleged that he abused them and tried to attack them with his kirpan, the passer-by, Mr Rajwinder Singh Sidhu, a resident of Phase VII, Mohali, alleged that he was bashed up without any reason.

The incident took place yesterday afternoon when the agitating farmers had organised a novel way of staging their protest against PUDA on Divali. An effigy of the PUDA Bhavan had been designed and placed in the middle of the Sohana- Mohali road for burning. The effigy of the building was burnt amidst slogans against the Punjab Government. The traffic on the road was blocked when the effigy was being burnt by the farmers.

Once the protest was over and the traffic given way, a man driving past got out of his car (Tata Sierra, CH 01K 3288) and allegedly started abusing the farmers for causing inconvenience. ‘‘When he continued to use filthy language for us and our cause, despite our trying to placate him, the farmers here went out of control and resorted to beating him up,’’said Mr Tejinder Singh Jakhar, president, Kisan Hit Bachao Committee. He even tried to attack the farmers with his kirpan, Mr Jakhar added.

The farmers snatched the kirpan from him and took him into a makeshift tent and beat him up till he became unconscious. His turban came off and his clothes were torn. After some time he got up and went away in his car.

The entire incident took place in the presence of mediapersons. Eyewitnesses said Rajwinder Singh Sidhu was irritated about the traffic blockade and did get out of his car shouting abuses at the farmers who also lost no time in resorting to violence. The farmers also alleged that Sidhu was drunk when he misbehaved with the farmers.

Sidhu went to the Phase VIII police station and lodged a complaint against the farmers. He returned to the site with policemen in tow to investigate the incident. However, no case has been registered. “According to Sidhu, he is a son of a political leader and had come to stay in Punjab after having stayed abroad for many years. He is a baptized Sikh and had gone to the gurdwara in Sohana for Divali and was returning home when the incident took place. He said he was stopped by the farmers and bashed up for no reason,” said Mr Tirlochan Singh, SHO, Phase VIII police station, adding that Sidhu had met him following the incident and was not drunk. We are carrying out further investigations into the matter. We would also watch the video footage of the incident as captured by the mediapersons on the spot,” added Mr Tirlochan Singh.

Over 1,200 land holders of villages in Chandigarh’s periphery have been protesting for the past six months against the acquisition of their land by PUDA. The protesters are demanding the cancellation of the notification issued by the government with respect to acquisition of hundreds of acres of land in 10 villages of Mohali in order to carve out new sectors in Mohali. According to the PUDA notification, over 170 acres will be acquired in Sohana village, another 209 acres in Lakhnaur village, 21 acres in Landran, 124 acres in Bermpur and 162 acres in Manak Majra and hundred of acres in five other villages including Sohana, Mauli Baidwan, Raipur Khurd, Killa, Manouli.



Call to remove corrupt religious leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
“Sikhs should start a planned campaign to get rid of the corrupt political and religious leaders”, said Mr Bhagwant Singh Dalawari, an eminent Maharashtra-based Sikh scholar and social activist while speaking today at the two day seminar on “Martyrdom in Sikhism with particular reference to the Sahibzadas” being held at the Institute of Sikh Studies at Gurdwara Sahib, Kanthala, here.

In a hard-hitting tone, Mr Dalawari, who served in the Indian Foreign Services before quitting to set up a Lepers Rehabilitation Centre in Maharashtra, said no one should expect anything worthwhile from “corrupt Sikh political and religious leaders”, who were resorting to all sorts of evil measures to grab power and money.

He said that these leaders were only wedded to the philosophy of “I, me and mine” and not bothered about the Sikh religion and its followers.

“Earning of power and pelf by using all corrupt means is their only objective and no one should think that these leaders would become martyrs to serve any cause of the Panth.

Their only mission is the smooth transfer of power to their sons and daughters etc”, he added.

Earlier, Singh Sahib Tirlochan Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, who chaired the first session of the seminar, highlighted the philosophical context of the tradition of martyrdom.

He pinpointed the selfless dedication to righteousness as the prime mover and the qualities of stoic indifference to the consequences as the theme of the Sikh tradition of martyrdom.

Mr Gurdev Singh, President of the institute, recapitulated the spectrum of activities of the institute and welcomed the guest speakers and other luminaries.

Others, who spoke at the seminar were Dr Kirpal Singh, Mr Harbans Singh Noor, Brig Hardit Singh (retd), Dr Dharam Singh, Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur, Dr Gurnam Kaur, Dr H.S. Shan, Dr Man Singh Nirankari and Major-Gen Jaswant Singh (retd).

Dr Kharak Singh released the book entitled “Connecting the Dots in the Sikh History authored by Mr Noor.



Illegal sale of Army canteen supplies detected
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The ongoing General Court Martial (GCM) of a colonel has revealed diversion and illegal sale of CSD canteen supplies valued at Rs 35 lakh by personnel of an infantry battalion.

According to sources, the accused colonel was the Commanding Officer of the unit when the scam came to light.

Canteen goods meant to be transported from a depot in Meerut to Dehradun was allegedly being diverted to Ambala and being sold off there.

Duplicate bill books were reportedly being used for selling the goods and unit personnel involved in the racket used to make fictitious entries in their unit records later to account for the missing goods.

The officer is facing seven charges of corruption and acts prejudicial to military discipline and good order under various provisions of the Army Act.

The court martial is being presided over by Brig Sanjeev Langer, Commander of an Armoured Brigade.

Investigations into the affair had held 37 unit personnel, including some officers, culpable of misdeeds. So far three personnel have been dismissed from service.

While more trials by court martial in this case are expected, sources said that others had been dealt summarily and had been awarded varying degrees of punishment

Sources revealed that the whistle on the scam was blown during Operation Parakram, after one of the JCOs allegedly involved got "a bit more greedy and demanded more money for the siphoned-off goods." The period of diversion established is 2001-02.

After the brigade commander concerned received a tip-off, preliminary inquiries conducted by a major found prima facie evidence of wrong doing. Following this a court of inquiry was ordered, in which the culpability of those allegedly involved was established and disciplinary action against them was recommended.

When the case was presented before the then GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S S Mehta during a routine review of Judge Advocate General's branch, he is learnt to have remarked that rather than to destroy the unit by conducting dozens of court martials, the unit be disbanded.

It was reportedly on the intervention of the Colonel of the Regiment that the move was aborted. 



Army Commander lauds mountaineers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The Western Command mountaineering expedition to Leo Pargial-II, also referred to as Point 6773, was flagged in by the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen J J Singh at Chandimandir today.

Speaking on the occasion, the Army Commander said that the achievement of the team was commendable as Point 6773 was a formidable peak with a cliff in the east and glaciers in the north and south. It could only be approached from the south-west along a narrow ledge.

Fourteen members of the team had scaled the peak on October 17. Led by Brig M S Gill, the team consisted of 9 officers and 72 other ranks, including two brigadiers and one air force group captain.

This was probably the only expedition carried out in winter months on any peak above 22,500 feet in the Himalayan region.

The expedition was planned and executed within three months.



Id tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Id-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on Monday. Stating this here today, the Imam of Jama Masjid, Sector 20, Maulana Mohammad Ajmal Khan, announced the timings of the namaz for the festival.

The timings are: Jama Masjid, Sector 20 — 9.15 a.m; Noorani Masjid — 9.45 a.m; Idgah Manimajra — 10 a.m; Idgah Burail — 9.45 a.m; Madina Masjid Sector 41 — 10 a.m; Masjid Panchkula Sector 21 — 9.45 a.m; Masjid Dhanas — 9.15 a.m; Masjid Maloya Colony — 9.30 a.m.



Rules go up in flames as MC burns garbage
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
In violation of the apex court’s orders, banning the burning of leaves and other waste, the excess garbage generated after Divali celebrations, was being burnt at various places in the township today.

This indiscriminate burning of waste in the township resulted in increased levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the air this morning. Other than the increased levels of pollution because of large scale bursting crackers on Divali night, the morning after the festivities saw smoke and suspended particles being released because of the mass burning of garbage, including cardboard boxes, plastic and wrapping sheets, on almost all sector-dividing roads in the town.

Though most of the internal roads in the township were not cleaned by the sanitation staff, owing to Vishwakarma Day celebrations, garbage on roads dividing Sectors 17-18, Sectors 17-16, Sectors 16-Industrial Area dividing road and Sector 8-9 dividing road, was first gathered in small piles today morning and later set on fire. The excess garbage lying outside the garbage bins in most sectors was also set on fire by the sanitation staff.

The municipal council officials say that the total waste generated over the past two days was almost double the waste generated on an average each day. With excess waste generation, the existing garbage bins and small dustbins (about 63 garbage bins and 20 dustbins) in the town were insufficient. “However,” says the MC president, Ms Seema Chaudhary, “we have often asked the sanitation contractor to ensure that the waste is not burnt. I will inquire into the incident, and strict action will be taken against those found guilty”, she assured.

Other than this, burning of dry leaves, and vegetable and fruit leftovers at various Apni Mandi sites in different parts of the township everyday has even led to an increase in the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) levels in the air. This is not only damaging the air quality but is also posing major health hazards.

While particulates reduce visibility and get lodged in the lung tissues and respiratory tract, damaging the respiratory system, carbon monoxide molecules can enter the bloodstream. There these prevent the delivery of oxygen in the body and high concentration of carbon monoxide can be fatal.

Meanwhile, carbon dioxide, also emitted by the burning of garbage, is an asphyxiating gas which, if inhaled, can be toxic in high concentrations, causing an increase in the breathing rate, unconsciousness, and even death.

Even according to the Municipal Corporation Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000, the MC is also required to frame bylaws to check the hazardous practice. But in this case the MC’s sanitation staff is itself violating the rules.

It may be noted that the authorities have been on the look out for a suitable site for solid waste disposal. Till date , there is no systematic disposal or treatment of solid waste in the township. It is simply dumped in vacant plots on the periphery or reportedly in the Singh Nullah that passes through various sectors in the township. According to a survey conducted by the municipal council, 400 grams of solid waste is generated by a single person in a day. With a population of around 2.5 lakh, as much as 100 tonnes of solid waste is generated in the township every day.



Pak win spoils India’s post-Divali party
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
What could have been a classic post-Divali party was spoilt by Pakistan who beat India in the one day cricket match at Kolkata today leaving thousands of cricket fans in the city disheartened.

When India set up a stiff target of 293 for Pakistan to chase in 50 overs, it seemed India were poised for a win. Residents were planning to blow up a few crackers to express their joy. The crackers were burst but to more to let out frustration as young Mohit Verma, 16, put it, “ I was hoping for a win now the crackers are being burst just to finish them.” Since this afternoon cricket was an incentive not to venture out. Anyways the markets had been deserted a day after Divali. There was a sense of normalcy after nearly four days of bonhomie, chaotic traffic jams and Divali shopping..

Restaurants and clubs had set up big screens as usual to attract the youngsters and cricket lovers. By the evening things had warmed up. Local lad Yuvraj Singh had cracked the Pakistani bowlers for 78 runs and the mood was picking up for post-Divali celebrations. The leftover crackers from last night were put to use to express the joy everytime a boundary was scored or a sixer was hit.

The Pakistanis started well on their chase giving India the jitters. Youngster Salman Butt, scored a century and die hard supporters sitting around television screens in clubs in the city could only applaud the effort. India had almost lost it by that time. And when the final moments came and India lost, all plans to have roadside dances came to a naught. Normally one sees a traffic jam on roads after India beats Pakistan as youth take to the streets dancing away their joys. It happened each time India won in Pakistan last March. The police were well prepared to handle crowds around the Aroma hotel, the usual place for such celebrations.

Meanwhile, post-Divali the take-away restaurants reported brisk sales for home deliveries in afternoon. By the evening crowds in the markets were not like those on a normal Saturday evening.

Interestingly, shopkeepers claimed that sales would now start picking up as Non Resident Indians and people shopping for weddings will start their shopping. Normally such shoppers wait for the Divali crowd to thin out.



It was slum children and their rights all the way
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Slum children of Sector 25 posed innocent questions to two officials who came to deliver a lecture on child rights at Government High School, Sector 24, this afternoon. Least concerned about what the Convention of Children’s Rights signed by 172 countries says, the poor but determined kids were keener to know if the visiting guests could promise them something.

No wonder they poured their hearts out in front of Mr R.C. Nayyar, Member, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, and Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Adviser (Prisons), Punjab, who shared quality time with 22 slum children, now pursuing evening education. They are all beneficiaries of the Theatre Age, an NGO which runs an education centre on the premises of Government High School, Sector 24. Their education expenses are met with the money secured from selling waste paper stocks donated by individuals.

Organized by the Theatre Age, the informal interaction was meant to convince the slum children that the whole world was interested in their welfare. As Mr Bhartnagar informed them about their rights to life, protection development and participation, they listened intently only to pose practical questions that matter most to them.

“Can you provide free medicines to everyone in our slum?” questioned Sumit for whom right is something that can be immediately secured. Taking questions as they came, Mr Bhatnagar tried to encourage the students, telling them to go on despite trials. When another boy called for a blanket ban on drugs which had addicted every youth in his slum, Mr Nayyar told him how difficult it was to arrest unhealthy trends. Respecting the child’s view he said: “You stay away from drugs at your own level and exert social pressure on those who consume them. That’s the best you can do to secure a healthy future for yourself.”

The child, however, insisted that something be done about the alleged “police involvement” in the drug racket which operates openly in slums. Mr Nayyar has called for a written complaint in this regard, besides also promising that he would try to do something for the children who had been trained by a Shivalikview chef. Another problem which children voiced was lack of hygienic food and water in their area. Although they got no ready solutions to any problem, the children sat in the conference wearing discipline on their sleeves. The younger ones were, however, restive as they yawned at sporadic intervals.

Finally all of them sprung back to life when Mr Balbir Chand Bhanot, a regular donor, brought them new clothes as a token for Divali. “That’s some right,” a young one whispered to his friend.



Major fire in crockery godown
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
Goods worth Rs 7 lakh were gutted in a major fire that broke out in a sale-cum-stock outlet of a crockery house in Sector 8, around 1.30 am. A number of crockery items and soda water machines were totally destroyed in the fire.

According to information available, the fire was first noticed by the watchman in Sector 8 market. He saw smoke in the corridor outside the showrooms, but was unable to find out the source of fire. He then informed a shop owner, Mr Mukesh Jain, who stays nearby. The police was immediately informed and a fire tender was rushed to the market.

As the fire department staff broke a portion of the glass ventilator in order to extinguish the fire, they saw the extent of damage because of the packaging material of the crockery and called for the other fire tender. By this time the owner of the shop, Mr Vijay Jindal, had also reached the spot. It took the fire department staff over one hour to extingush the fire.

The fire was still smouldering in the shop even after the fire tenders left. The fire tenders were called again and they took another 20 minutes to properly extinguish the fire.

Other than this, five other cases of minor fire were also reported in the town, and another fire incident was reported from Ramgarh village near here. 



Minor fire in Mohali Club
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 13
A tragedy was averted here tonight when a thatched roof of the Mohali Club, Phase XI, caught fire while a marriage party was going on. However, no one was injured.
The roof was completely destroyed in the fire which started due to crackers being burnt by those attending the party. More than 250 persons were inside the club when the incident took place at 10 pm. Three fire engines, including one from Chandigarh, were called to control the fire.

According to Mr B.S. Sandhu, Fire Officer, Mohali, the fire could not be controlled despite all efforts because the bursting of crackers continued unabated in the complex even after the incident.

He added that despite announcements in this regard, those celebrating in the club did not put an end to the bursting of crackers.

The club manager, Mr M.K. Sharma, said there was no one standing under the thatched roof when the fire started. He said club employees had managed to control the fire within minutes and the fire engines were called only as a precaution.

However, Mr Sandhu said the club did not have any fire safety equipment and none of their employees was even trained to control the fire.

Following the fire breakout, panic spread among marriage party members who started running out of the club premises. However, when they realised that the fire was a minor one, they continued with the celebrations.



Item numbers on Vishwakarma Day!
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
An item number after the Vishwakarma Puja! Sounds unbelievable, but that is how the Labour Nirman Sangh here decided to celebrate Vishwakarma Day at Rajiv Colony today.

Scantily clad women, with their bared midriffs, jived to the tunes of latest Bollywood, Punjabi and Bihari numbers as thousands of labourers drooled over them during a function to mark Vishwakarma Day. Three dancers had been hired by the sangh to entertain the labourers “in a cultural show” which, interestingly, comprised of only dance items.

With the correct jhatkas, much to the advantage of hundreds of onlookers, these dancers entertained the audience by dancing to the tunes of “Kisi disco mein jayein”, “Ek chumma udhar de”, “Aankhiyon se goli mare”, “Allah kare din na chadhe” etc, and other such Bollywood numbers.

Labour leaders, however, maintained that the show was strictly to promote culture among the labour force and for entertainment. However, no item depicting the culture of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar was performed on stage.

Meanwhile, the Labour Nirman Sangh has demanded that temporary Labour Chowk of Sector 16 be given a permanent status of Labour Chowk. Before the cultural show, Vishwakarma Puja was performed by, Mr Jagdish Kashyap, and other members of the union. A peepal sapling was also planted at Labour Chowk. The union members demanded that “Raen Basera” and toilets be constructed for labourers at Labour Chowk. It was also demanded that electric meters be installed at their houses to avoid power theft.

Vishwakarma Day celebrations were also organised in Industrial Area by the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mr Satish Gupta, president of the HCCI, said a special puja was organised on the occasion, and prasad was distributed among the labourers.



Devotees perform Govardhan Puja
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
Hundreds of devotees today converged on the Govardhan temple in Sector 12 here for the Annakoot Govardhan Puja.
The day began with a “prabhat pheri” being organised in the sector. Devotees sang bhajans as they went around the sector. Later in the day, a “kirtan” and “katha” session was conducted by Swami Aseem Dev, founder and President of the temple.

An “abhishek” of Govardhan “parbat” was later performed. A community kitchen was also organised.



Protest against arrest of Shankaracharya
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Nearly 34 activists of the Chandigarh and Punjab unit of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal were arrested near CNI Church, Sector 18, here today.
The protesters were demanding the release of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, who has been arrested on charges of murder.

“Those arrested were released in the evening after a warning”, said a police official.

To prevent the activists from marching towards the traffic junction of Sectors 17 and 18, the police erected barricades near the church. Before the protesters could burn an effigy of Congress leaders, they were arrested.

The arrested included Mr Vijay Singh Bhardwaj, a leader of the Punjab and Chandigarh unit of the VHP, Mr Satinder Singh, secretary, Chandigarh unit, VHP, and Mr Jasminder Singh, convener, Chandigarh unit, Bajrang Dal.

The VHP leaders criticised the way in which the Shankaracharya was arrested.



Readers Write
Female foeticide widespread

Female foeticide is widespread and the problem unmanageable in Chandigarh now because we, as a society, and the authorities have not done anything except paying lip service to checking it. Even today in a city like Chandigarh we come across persons wanting to know the sex of the child or seeking abortion of the female child. When a doctor refuses to do it, they or their relatives go away and after some days may come back and taunt the doctor saying: “Look you said it cannot be done and we have got it done”.

The feedback is that it costs Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 for sex determination and Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 for an abortion. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has repeatedly told the authorities that there are more than 150 illegal MTP centres in Chandigarh and the surrounding areas. However, except for issuing notices and harassing law-abiding nursing homes and larger ultrasonology centres, which anyway are transparent in their dealings, no action is taken to deal with the problem. In fact at one of the meetings it was suggested by the DHS that the IMA should send its representative during raids on medical centres along with officials. This representative should sign the witness register and give evidence in court. This amounts to avoiding responsibility and nothing else by the authorities. It is easy targets we choose to show that we are doing something about the menace of female foeticide.

How can larger nursing homes and hospitals carry out illegal abortions clandestinely? With a large number of staff members, such cases would sooner or later be reported. Such activity is undertaken at small, shady centres which are not in the public eye, are usually unregistered and mostly run by unqualified persons. But then the IMA and the Chandigarh health authorities also differ on what the word “unqualified” means.

A trained dai, a registered medical practitioner (RMP), practitioners of alternative systems of medicine are all, as per the MTP Act, not authorised to perform MTP. Still this is being done daily without attracting action by the authorities.

We will not improve the sex ratio by conducting seminars and presenting data but by having the will to take action and follow up on it. It is surprising that only 35-odd centres are recognised by the administration in Chandigarh for performing MTP, including the PGI and the GMCH. Under the law it is not only the person who should be qualified but the centre, too, should be registered. Even if a government doctor, otherwise qualified, is clandestinely doing MTP at his or her residence, it is illegal.

When the relevant law is there and the penalty is there, why can’t we enforce it? It is pure lack of will.

Dr Neeraj Nagpal, President, state branch, IMA, Chandigarh


Chandigarh has many ahatas, licensed places where one can have as much liquor as one wants. I am not against drinking, but the way some persons drink at these places is a sight to see and ask ourselves, “Where are we going?”

One of my old friends used to run two or three ahatas in Chandigarh. In order to see things for myself, I went there. I saw boys, teenagers, drinking and losing control on themselves. I interacted with some of them and found that they were students of colleges. What a pity! Instead of discouraging drinking we are allowing everyone to become addicts.

I am sure if people drink at home they may not drink as much as they do at ahatas. Will some NGO come forward and take up this issue? I am sure no government would like to lose the revenue it earns from these ahatas, though the matter should concern the government instead of an NGO.

Col Jaswant Singh Chandel (retd), Kalol (Bilaspur)

Shift generator

I live in house number HIG 138, Sector 71. It has a common wall with the back wall of Prachin Kala Bhavan. The bhavan has installed a generator near the wall of my house by erecting a small shed. When the bhavan authorities switch on the generator it creates a lot of noise and my family is put to inconvenience. The children find it difficult to study.

In the site plan, 25’ space on each side is to be left open by the bhavan. However, most of the area near the wall of my house has been covered by the bhavan. The areas near my house are meant for residential purposes.

I have brought the problem to the notice of the Prachin Kala Kendra, Sector 35, Chandigarh, as the bhavan belongs to it and sought the shifting of the generator but to no avail.

Kuldip Singh Anand, Mohali


Postcards have not been available at the Sector 14 post office for several months. Only competition post cards are available, but the poor man’s postcards of the denomination of 50 paise are not being sold there.

The authorities should immediately make arrangements for the supply of these postcards.

Ujagar Singh, Chandigarh

Raise height of benches

The Chandigarh Administration has provided a large number of benches in parks and other public places. These are mostly used by elderly persons. Using low benches causes inconvenience to those with leg joint problems. I suggest that in future the height of the benches should be between 18” and 22”. The height of half of the existing benches should also be suitably raised.

M. Singh, Chandigarh



Tibetan body demands release of lama
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Demanding release of a Tibetan lama, Trulku Tenzin Delek, the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) will observe a week-long fast in Sector 17 Plaza, from tomorrow.

A press note issued here said, a protest march will start from the Panjab University campus and culminate at the Plaza after passing through Sectors 14, 15 and 16 markets.

Delek was sentenced to death by China for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast at Chengdu city in 2002, He is to be executed on December 2.



SAD meeting on November 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has called a meeting of its Political Affairs Committee (PAC) on November 19 at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.
Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Secretary of the SAD, said in a statement today that programme would be chalked out regarding the 300th anniversary of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas.

At the meeting, which would be presided by the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the increase in the price of diesel, petrol, LPG and other issues would be discussed.



Two bodies found at separate places in city
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 13
Two bodies were found at separate locations in the city today.
The body of Gurdhian Singh (52) a resident of Dhanas village was found in the rivulet under the bridge passing through the village. The police suspected that he could have fallen from the bridge under the influence of liquor during the night. He had injury marks on his forehead and on other parts of his body.

According to the brother of the deceased Naib Singh, Gurdhian Singh was a habitual drinker. They were six brothers and Gurdhian Singh was living with him.

Last night his brother had seen him in a heavily drunken state, and this morning, he came to know of his death.

The police said they received the information regarding the body this morning. The body was taken to the General Hospital, in Sector 16 here for post-mortem examination, after which it was handed over to the family.

A case under Section 174 of the CrPC was registered in Sector 11 police station.

In another incident, an unidentified body of a 32-year-old man was found in the corridors of Sector 22-B market this morning. The police found the body lying near the toilets. There were no injury marks on the body.

The police further said Kumar Rai was tottooed on an arm of the deceased. The deceased was a rickshaw puller and a habitual drinker, the police said.

The body was taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16 here. The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC in Sector 17 police station.



2 women killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 13
Two women lost their lives on Divali in separate accidents while another person succumbed to injuries at the PGI last night.
Anupama (21) died late last night when the motor cycle on which she was riding pillion met with an accident at Badheri chowk, at about 2 am.

Anupama’s sister Bobby said her sister was on her way back home in Sector 20 with her husband Ratan Singh and her two-year-old daughter, Ishita when the accident took place. They had gone to celebrate Divali at the house of Ratan Singh’s brother in Sector 56. Her husband is employed in Grain Market, Sector 26.

According to the police, Rattan Singh told them that he did not notice the small chowk at Badheri due to poor visibiliy and his motor cycle collided with it. Anupama was seriously injured while her daughter and husband escaped unhurt in the accident. Rattan Singh called his brother on his phone and took Anupama to the PGI, where she was declared brought dead.

The investigating police officer said the crash was so powerful that the rim of the front wheel of the motor cycle was smashed.

The family members requested the police not to conduct the post-mortem examination. The police today handed over the body of the aggrieved family members and initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of CrPC in Sector 39 police station.

In another accident, Balwinder Kaur, a resident of Ivory Tower in Sector 70, Mohali, died when the car she was travelling in rammed with a roadside tree near Makhan Majra yesterday.

Balwinder Kaur (52) was going with her husband to Dera Bassi to greet their relatives on Divali when a stray cow, suddenly came in front of their car.

Her husband, Joginder Singh, while trying to save the animal swerved his car to his left side and lost control over the vehicle. The left side of the car, where Balwinder Kaur was sitting hit the tree. She received multiple injuries in the accident but her husband escaped with minor injuries. She was immediately rushed to the PGI, where the doctors declared her dead.

The body was handed over to the family members and the police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC in Sector 31 police station.



Sector 48 resident assaulted by neighbour
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 13
An annoyed neighbour allegedly attacked a resident of Sector 48 on being denied invitation to a party held in the locality. The police has registered a case under Sections 323, 451, 506 and 34 of the IPC in the Sector 31, police station.

Mr S.K. Sharma, Registrar of Co-Operative Society in Sector 48, alleged that his neighbour, Kuldeep Singh Hothi, his son, daughter and a son-in-law assaulted him and his family members on the Divali night.

Mr Sharma said Kuldeep Singh attacked his wife and his daughter in his absence as he was at the party held in a park in their locality.

He said he rushed to his home after hearing the cries of his wife and daughter. On reaching there he saw Kuldeep Singh thrashing his wife, Mr Sharma said when he intervened to save his wife they assaulted him with iron rods and injured him badly.

Mr Sharma was taken to GMCH-32 with head injuries, said his shocked wife. He was discharged from the hospital today.

Mr Sharma said Kuldeep Singh was annoyed with him on not getting an invitation for the party.

Mr Sharma also told that his two guests were also injured in the attack as they tried to save him from the attackers.

On the other hand Sukhjinder Singh, son of Kuldeep Singh, alleged that the Sharma family had attacked his father and had injured him. He was admitted to GMCH-32. He alleged that they were not allowed to use the terrace of their home which had led to heated arguments between both the families and the fight as Mr Sharma attacked his father with a knife.

The police has not arrested any one in this regard so far. 



Two injured in clash
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 13
Two persons were injured in a groups clash near Rajiv Colony this evening. Umesh and Didar Singh, both of the opposite groups, were injured in a clash over a trivial matter. Didar Singh was reportedly coming back home when Umesh teased him. An argument between the two led to a clash.

Woman dead: A young woman, Shobha, died under mysterious circumstances at her house in Surajpur yesterday. Though her family claimed that she died because of a heart ailment, the victim’s brother said she had died mysteriously. A postmortem was conducted and the body was later handed over to the family.

Two injured: Two persons, including an 8-year-old boy, Raju, were injured in a road accident late tonight. The boy was walking down the road with his uncle, Mohan, (28), when they were hit by a speeding car (HYX-1). Both the victims sustained head injuries and were refered to the PGI, from the General Hospital here.

In another accident, Mithu, (6) was injured in a road accident, after he was hit by an unknown vehicle. He was refered to the PGI, Chandigarh.

One arrested: The police arrested Joginder Singh from Pinjore on charges of speculation and recovered Rs 310 from him. 


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