C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Id-ul-Fitr celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
Id-ul-Fitr was celebrated with great fervor in the city today. Thousands of the Muslims and others offered namaaz in Jama Masjid in Sector 20 today.

Mr Pawan Kumar Basnsal, MP, greeted Muslims on the occasion. Governor of Haryana A.R. Kidwai, who was also present there, said, “It is a day of forgetting old grudges and ill-feeling towards others”. He exhorted people to maintain peace and do good deeds. He also explained the meaning of Islam.

Mohmmad Ajmal Khan, Imam of the mosque said, “Id brings a lot of happiness and peace with it. It is the occasion for showing joy for the health, strength and opportunities which Allah has given to the believer. Allah is watching everyone so we should not hurt anyone.”

A fair was held at the mosque. Id was also celebrated in the mosques of Mani Majra and Sector 45.

City-based Sayra Bano said, “After the prayer, we embrace each other and say Id mubarak. Today people visit each other’s homes and exchange gifts and sweets. Children ask for Idi (money) from the elders. Even I have prepared a lot of sweet dishes, including sewayian and firni for the day. Everyone wears new clothes,” she said.

Id-ul-Fitr is one of the two annual festivals of Muslims celebrated the world over. Id marks the end of Ramzan or fasting. On this day people thank Allah for the reward of Ramzan and giving them strength to observe Roza and worship for a whole month. 



MC’s proposal to extend limits rejected
Chitleen. K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
In a major setback to the Municipal Council of Mohali, the Department of Local Bodies, Punjab, has rejected a proposal sent by the Council for the expansion of its outer limits. A final decision on the matter had been hanging fire since December 2000, when the newly elected Municipal Council had at its first meeting cleared the proposal for the extension of Municipal limits to include new areas and populations.

Sources in the council said the Department of Local Bodies had decided against extending Mohali’s municipal limits in wake of the elections to the council next year. Interestingly, however, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, Chaudhry Jagjit Singh had at a recent visit to Mohali assured the Council president that this demand would be met favourably.

Council President Kulwant Singh, said that he was not aware of this decision but in case it was true, the Council would send a fresh proposal to the effect. He added that a large number of industrial units, factories and residences had come up in the township since the last extension of the civic body’s jurisdictional limits in 1995. “The council was losing revenue to the extent of Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore on this account,’’ he said.

The proposed expansion sought control over five new sectors, the upcoming railway station, the material and bulk market and the Industrial Area, Phase VIII A. Currently spread over an area of 23.86 square km — the area from which it is collecting revenue— includes residential areas from Phase 1 to Phase 11, Sectors 70 and 71, Mattaur village and Industrial Area, Phase 6, Phase 7, parts of Phase 8 and the Phase 9 Focal point while the proposed expansion area, over 2000 acres is located on the South-East and North-East fringes of the town. Starting from the Kambala railway station, the proposed boundary would skirt villages Mauli Baidwan and Sohana and join the causeway over a seasonal rivulet at Lakhnour village. From where it will be extended to the Balongi bypass. However, the populated areas of Mauli Baidwan, Sohana and Balongi and Kambala have been excluded as the civic body will have to spend huge amounts on providing basic amenities to these villages.

The proposed railway station at Kambala village along the Chandigarh- Ludhiana rail link has been included to earn revenue from freight. On the southern side, the MC has been demanding the inclusion of Sectors 66A, 67, 68 and Sector 69 within its limits. These sectors are populated and fully developed but have not been handed over by PUDA to the council. ‘‘We had earlier demanded that Sectors 76 to 80 be also given to the council but we were in a fix after the land acquisition proceedings for these five sectors were stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court,’’ said Mr Kulwant Singh.

‘‘Other than these we propose to include the Phase VIII Industrial Area developed by the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC). Other than Godrej, ICI paints, newspaper Hindustan Times, Quark etc have opened offices here. But we are not earning penny from them despite the fact that they use our infrastructure, roads, markets parking etc.’’ Mr Kulwant Singh said.



Petrol price cut brings some relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Residents of the city and surrounding areas, subjected to a three-pronged attack on their budgets following massive hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG 10 days ago, today heaved a sigh of relief as the government announced a reduction in the petrol prices by over Rs 1.15 per litre.

However, the farmers and housewives continued to feel the heat of price hike as there has been no change in the prices of diesel and LPG for running tractors and households.

The Union Government had only 10 days ago raised the price of petrol by Rs 2.20 per litre. The prices of diesel were hike by Rs 2.10 per litre and LPG was made costlier by Rs 20 per cylinder.

Motorists, particularly those using private vehicles, were of the view that it would make at least some difference to their monthly fuel bills, which had suddenly shot up after a hike of over Rs 2 per litre was announced.

Though still not happy, teenagers were of the view that the reduction would at least leave something in their pockets for meeting other day- to -day expenses.

Farmers were, on the other hand, far from satisfied. The reason was not hard to see. "We have been protesting against the hike. Still we are the ones who have been ignored by the government," said Karam Singh Rana, an agriculturist. “Diesel is required not only for running tractors, but also for transporting our produce to the markets. The hike in fuel prices will result in an increase in the prices of the produce. As such, the demand will register a decrease".

Transporters were also angry. "The fuel prices have increased, but the freight charges have remained the same. In case the government fails to roll back the diesel prices, we will be forced to increase the freight charges. This will, in the end, increase the rate of inflation", said Mr S.K. Verma, a transporter, adding that prices of almost all production of daily consumption will go up.

“The worst hit would be the prices of vegetables and edible commodities as their transportation from the nearby townships is completely dependent on trucks,'' said Vinod Kumar, a grocery merchant.

Housewives were, however, soar about the price hike and felt that the government should have rolled back the same.

Hira Yadav of Sector 41 said LPG was in fact the "most essential component" and one could not do anything without it.

"Power and water consumption can still be checked in case of price hike, but nothing can be done to reduce the consumption of LPG. You just cannot eat half-baked vegetables".

Expressing similar sentiments, another housewife Nirmala Nayyar of Sector 23 claimed that they were at an average using two cylinders in a month. As such the hike had "multiple effect" on their budget.

The following are the current and revised retail selling prices of petrol in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula following the rollback announced by the Union Government tonight.. The new price will be effective from midnight tonight.



Know thy candidates
Municipal Corporation byelection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Congress candidate Harmohinder Singh Lucky: President of the local unit of the Youth Congress, the 31-year old advocate says development is his main agenda. “Anybody voting for development should vote for the Congress. We have our party at the Centre, our party in power in the corporation and the local MP is also from our party. This gives me a definite edge over the others to perform if voted as councillor,” he says.

To counter rivals who claim that he is an “outsider”, and not reside in either Sector 20 or Sector 33 which comprise the ward, he has even shifted his residence to Sector 33. Previously, he has been the president of the National Students Union of India and secretary of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC).

Independent candidate Rajesh Kumar Gupta: A businessman by profession, he is relying on his long association with Sector 20 and its residents to garner support. A graduate, who fought the last election as an independent, 40-year-old Mr Gupta claimed that he was contesting election since hardly any development had taken place since the corporation was formed.

“Every time, political parties impose candidates from outside on us who were least bothered about development. This prompted me to contest elections so that our cause is represented in the corporation,” maintains the Congress dissident.

BJP candidate Mr Girdhari Lal Jindal: A member of the Aggarwal Sabha and the Dera Bassi Industrial Association, he has been closely associated with the RSS-VHP and has been active in the BJP since the last five years.

“The BJP has won the seat twice before, even after putting up candidates who were outsiders. This puts me in a slightly better position than the rest. I will certainly retain the seat after seeing the given the response of the public,” he said.

Chandigarh Vikas Manch candidate Dr O.P. Verma: A dental surgeon and resident of Sector 20, he contested the last election on the ticket of the CVM after being disillusioned by the Congress and lost to his nearest rival by 50 votes.

Despite being defeated, he continued to work for the people and claims,” I was with them in their times of sorrows and joys, got a numbers of odd jobs done for them and attended to the problems of the residents. I have lived and worked among these people.”




Jailbreak: Court seeks “privileged” documents
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Having drawn a lot of flak for its failure to prevent the escape of three dreaded terrorists involved in the assassination of then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, the UT Administration and the police later went overboard in trying to keep sensitive documents connected with the case away from public scrutiny.

And, the plea taken for not submitting these documents, just consider this. A letter dated August 12, 1998, sent by UT Home Secretary ordered that the Chandigarh Police would thoroughly inspect every nook and corner of the jail after every 10 days. The inspection team was to be aided by sniffer dogs and metal detectors.

Earlier, on April 27, 1998, the UT Home Secretary had directed the Chandigarh IGP to strengthen the security of the outer parts of the jail. The order said that outer part of the jail would be under the security and control of the UT Police. The security towers were to be manned by CRPF jawans, while only the internal part of the jail was to be controlled by the jail staff.

Another letter, this one dated June 24, 1998, sent by the Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh, said that the entire area outside the Model Jail would be patrolled by mounted policemen in three shifts round-the-clock.

Yet another directive, this one dated June 22, 1998, had the UT Superintendent of Police informing the jail superintendent that all visitors to high-security prisoners, which included the escapees, would be checked by the Chandigarh Police. Similarly, goods brought by such visitors were also to be carefully scanned before being handed over to the prisoners.

All these documents, which could go a long way in nailing the truth, were sought to be kept out of public glare on the plea that they were privileged.

Some other documents that were declared privileged included the report of the three-member committee constituted after reports talked of the presence of a tunnel inside the jail. The committee, headed by then AIG (Prisons) Gyanesh Bharti, had reportedly concluded that no such tunnel existed.

Privileged ? "These documents are necessary to prove that top officers kept on sitting over important matters without any action, and now shifting the blame on junior officers. Tell me, what is so privileged in these documents? Why can't the public know about them?" asks Advocate Deepak Sibal, counsel for former Deputy Superintendent Dalbir Singh Sandhu, one of those arrested in the case.

Some questions that will beg for answers once the trial gathers momentum are why were the prisoners not spotted by the "mounted" policemen posted outside the jail?

More importantly, were mounted policemen present in the area at the time of the escape?

When Mr Sandhu wanted access to these documents through his lawyer, Chandigarh Additional Sessions Judge Balbir Singh ordered nine out of the 16 documents to be submitted in the court.

While the prosecution made two documents out of the nine available for inspection, it tried to prevent the remaining seven documents from being seen by anybody. The stated reason: these were privileged.

However, on November 10, Judge Balbir Singh, while disallowing the plea of prosecution, ordered that all nine documents ordered to be presented to the court be made available.



Traffic woes on national highway
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur , November 15
A narrow bridge on the Sukhna choe and a level crossing near Dhakauli village have become major traffic bottlenecks on the busy Kalka-Ambala National Highway-22 here, making it a “killer highway”.

Constructed several decades ago, the partially damaged bridge seems to have failed to keep pace with the ever-increasing traffic. And the condition of the level crossing has also made it an accident-prone area.

It is surprising that the authorities concerned have preferred to turn a blind eye to the plight of the level crossing and the bridge. Over the years, the construction activity in the area has gone up by leaps and bounds and traffic has increased tremendously. However, the failure to widen the highway or make alternative arrangements for the vehicular traffic has made crossing the road quite a tough task.

Motorists say that passing the bridge in the morning and evening is a harrowing experience. Since the highway is the only link to Himachal Pradesh from the Ambala and Patiala sides, the motorists are at the receiving end of the heavy traffic. Traffic moves at snail’s pace on this 2-km stretch of the highway during office hours.

The haphazard parking of trucks and other commercial vehicles, carrying construction material to different areas of the region, along the highway has compounded the problem.

Residents of the area complain that the parking of vehicles outside various marriage palaces, hotels, restaurants and other commercial buildings further adds to road congestion. Motorists, stuck in traffic jams, often face harassment at the hands of the octroi staff deployed at the level crossing.

Similarly, the parking of goods carriers along the highway at Zirakpur-Panchkula barriers has also been obstructing the view of localities. Long queues of truckers could often be seen here.

According to Mr Jaspal Singh, a Zirakpur-based property consultant, driving on this stretch has become difficult. “Huge traffic chaos is frequent on the road, as the bridge over Sukhna choe fails to carry heavy volume of traffic both ways”, he added.

In an attempt to take their turn first for crossing the bridge, motorists often violate traffic rules and create traffic jam on the bridge which further causes inconvenience to general public, said Mr Neeraj Jain, a Zirakpur resident.

Mr Kanwal Kapoor, a resident of a housing society, said that long queues of vehicles on either side of the Dhakauli level crossing have been putting residents of the area to a great hardship. He added that the level crossing remains closed for long time and residents of nearby residential colonies and housing societies are to inconvenienced. “Speeding vehicles throw up dust on our establishments along the highway,” rued Mr Ranjit Singh, a shopkeeper.



Senate nominations unfair, says Pawan Bansal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The nomination list for the Panjab University Senate, received by the authorities last week, has stirred a hornet’s nest. Local Member of Parliament and Senator, Mr Pawan Bansal, holds that the list of 36 members reeks of “political affiliations and a clear cut BJP bias”, but former Member of Parliament and senior BJP leader, Mr Satpal Jain, maintains that no list could have better represented all sections of society.

The two funding agencies of Panjab University, the HRD Ministry and the Punjab Government differ on this debate as no name from their lists has made it to the Senate. Neither has anybody been picked up from the recommendations made by Mr Pawan Bansal.

“Instead, former BJP MP Lala Lajpat Rai, a matriculate, has been renominated to the Senate and former Punjab DGP, Mr P.C. Dogra’s, name figures in those selected.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, BJP general secretary, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, their names figure among many others. The BJP-RSS has got the lion’s share in the list. Making a couple of nominations from other parties can’t be used to cover up the leaning shown to the BJP,” Mr Bansal stated.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the nomination list, Mr Bansal said that some of those on the nomination list are not even remotely connected to education. “Their entry into the Senate will contribute to falling academic standards and meetings would be reduced to a battle ground of the BJP versus the Congress. I firmly believe that the Senate is not a place for politicians but, given this list, we would have no option but to be party to playing politics in the House,” he added.

Mr Bansal rued that the nominations had been used as a tool to induct into the Senate all those who could not fight elections. “How else can the authorities explain the criteria adopted in selecting Senators and ignoring names from the HRD Ministry and the Punjab Government. The university must, from now on, not expect any financial assistance from them over and above what is due,” he reasoned.

Meanwhile, coming out strongly in favour of the list finalised by the Vice-President of India who is also the chancellor of the university, Mr Satpal Jain, emphasised that the Vice-President deserved to be complimented for the balance he has struck in identifying people from all walks of life.

“It is insulting to attribute motives to the Vice-President with regard to the nominations. A few political leaders have been nominated but I see nothing wrong with it. In 1992, the Congress nominated 11 MPs to the Senate. Anyway, the Congress party and its leaders must respect the nominations made by the Vice-President’s office and not drag him into any controversy,” he asserted.

* Only one woman is among those nominated to the Senate

* Names recommended by the local MP, the Punjab Government and the HRD Ministry have been ignored

* BJP MP’s, president and general secretary of the Punjab unit are among those nominated to the Senate

* New Senate assumed office from November 1, 2004, for a period of four years.



Property owners on Rent Act notification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA) today reiterated its earlier stand that notification to amend the Rent Act shall be instrumental in bringing down the rentals as more and more investors shall come forward to invest in real estate. The demand and supply factor shall force the accommodation to be cheaper.

Apprehensions raised by the various tenants’ bodies’ leaders about the general price hike due to the high court decision setting aside of the Commercial Tenants Association Petition in the Rent Act Case were unfounded and baseless, said the POWA after holding its own executive meeting presided over by Brig Sant Singh ( Retd ).

The POWA further emphasizes that the decision shall have far-reaching effects on the overall economy of the country as the construction sector shall generate more employment directly as well as indirectly through its more than 250 ancillary industries. Nation’s interest should rein supreme over vested interests of property usurpers.



Chandigarh Calling

It seems that there is no contingency plan of traffic diversion with the Chandigarh Police. The chaos on the city roads on the eve of Divali was enough to expose the lack of planning on part of the police authorities.

As per the standard practices being followed in metros, the police keeps ready a contingency plan to divert traffic in case of road blockade due to a road accident in any part of the city. On November 11, a day before Divali, vehicles were moving bumper to bumper on the roads dividing sectors in the southern part of the city. Cops watched helplessly as motorists violated all traffic norms to make way for their vehicles. The worst affected were senior citizens who were unable to manouevre their way through traffic.

Hollow slogans

Rallies and functions organised in city schools to spread the message of “ Say no to crackers” had very little effect on Divali. Students of almost all schools bursted crackers. The police control room was flooded with distress calls by ailing and senior citizens seeking help in checking noise pollution. The problem of crackers can only end when the government sincerely bans their use, feel many residents.

Cracker prices

So you thought that the crackers available in the market this Divali were very expensive. Well, not if you were a last-minute shopper. The rates of almost all kinds of crackers fell by almost 100 per cent on Divali night. As many residents discovered when they went to buy crackers from kiosks set up at various places in Panchkula. A resident of Sector 9 in Panchkula, who went to buy a fresh stock of crackers, discovered that the cost of fireworks he had bought the day before had reduced by almost 100 per cent on Divali night. This was perhaps the reason that the sale of crackers went up suddenly after 7.30 pm on Divali night. The cracker sellers, also aim to sell off maximum stock and save themselves the botheration of stocking crackers for the next year.

Fun for kids

At the recently concluded Divali mela, a camel, nicely decked up with colourful strappings (see picture), became the cynosure of all eyes, especially tiny tots. Most of them were enthusiastic for a joy ride on the “ship of the desert”. The curious angels had the feeling of being transported to the golden land of sands, home to this wonderful beast of burden. (see picture)

Free ride

Many rickshaw-pullers moving around the PGI are offering to carry people inside the campus without charging anything from them. The motive behind this move is not social service. The free ride is a business tactic they have come up with.

The empty rickshaws are not allowed to go inside the campus by the security guards because of congestion of traffic on the campus. The rickshaws without passengers fall prey to the wrath of security guards, as they deflate the tyres of these rickshaws.

Only rickshaws with passengers are allowed to go inside the PGI campus. The innovative rickshaw-pullers offer free ride to go in and come back with passengers. The tactic is proving useful not only to the rickshaw-pullers but also to visitors to reach the departments concerned inside the campus.

Fighting for leprosy patients

At first glance bright and bubbly 22-year-old Tejinder Kaur looks like just another young woman of her age but it is her dedication to the cause of leprosy patients and their rehabilitation that makes her different from the other girls of her age.

She has been working for improving the lot of leprosy patients in the city for the last four years. She has served as the executive member and president of the Leprosy Welfare Mission, Chandigarh, and detected as many as 32 patients suffering from leprosy in the areas surrounding the city under the leprosy elimination programme of the mission.

Creating awareness about the disease is of utmost importance, she says and that is why she is also actively involved in organising seminars in schools to make young children aware of the disease.

Leprosy is totally curable if treated properly and there is also a need to give social acceptance to the patients and not treat them like castaways, believes this young woman who has just completed her post graduation from Panjab University, Chandigarh. ‘‘I have made a humble beginning and still have miles to go to enable leprosy patients live with dignity in society’’, she adds.

— Sentinel



PCPL director honoured
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 15
A cultural programme was organised by Sri Vishvkarma Shiksha Parchar Committee, Dera Bassi, here on Sunday.

Punjabi folk singer Kuldeep Manak, along with other artistes Prem Fauji, Miss Sikha and Major Jaswal enthralled the gathering. Punjabi TV anchor and artiste Navjot Noor also performed.

The Committee also honoured Mr Avtar Singh, director of PCPL, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, with Shri Vishakarma Udyog Rattan Award-2004. Mr Narinder Dhiman, Chairman of the Committee, said that the award has been given to Mr Avrat Singh for his performance and providing job avenues to the local youths in industrial units in this area.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, MLA Banur Assembly constituency was the guest of honour. He appealed the public to maintain brotherhood and following the teaching of Lord Vishvakarma.

Earlier, Mr Pavan Bansal, Managing Director of a Zirakpur-based construction company, inaugurated the function. Besides residents of the nearby villages, Mr Narinder Sharma, president of Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, former president of Dera Bassi Municipal Council, Mr Bhupinder Saini, chairman of Retract Clubs, Dera Bassi, and some other personalities of the area were also present.



Relative to be subjected to polygraph test
Jeweller kidnapping case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
With the investigation into the 22-day-old kidnapping of a Sector 41 jeweller reaching nowwhere, the Crime Branch has decided to subject one of his relatives to a polygraph test in the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL).

Rakesh Chauhan, alias Raju, a cousin of the jeweller Sunil Kumar, has been summoned to be present for the test tomorrow, according to sources.

Raju had earlier been arrested by a team of the Sector 39 police station in connection with the kidnapping of the jeweller. The jeweller had taken more than a lakh rupees and some gold when he accompanied an unidentified person on the night of October 23.

The decision to put Raju to the polygraph was taken by the Crime Branch after the interrogation report sent by the Sector 39 police station revealed that the accused had not divulged anything and was generally “non-cooperative” during the interrogation

After the police station had completed interrogation of Raju, he was granted bail. After he was out from the jail, the Crime Branch was handed over the investigation of the case, as nothing concrete had emerged from the investigation.

The police arrested Raju on the basis of the statement of the wife of the kidnapped jeweller, Sunita Chauhan, who said that Raju, her husband’s cousin, had introduced the unidentified person to her husband.

The Crime Branch has also summoned Raju to join the investigation afresh in an apparent bid to reconstruct the scene before the alleged kidnapping. It has also asked a relative of the kidnapped person, Prem Chauhan, to help Sunil’s wife recollect as to when the suspected kidnapper had called up Sunil and at what time. The police has got mobile call details of Sunil from Reliance Telecom to look into the mobile call details of the kidnapped person. The wife of the jeweller had said that the suspected kidnapper had called up her husband once, a month before the kidnapping and again three or four days before the kidnapping.

The police, however, feels if the woman could give the date and time of the calls received by the kidnapped person, the kidnapper and his location could be identified.

The Crime Branch has also got a sketch of the suspected kidnapper made and sent it to Amritsar and Delhi, as Sunil’s wife had said that the suspected kidnapper had told her husband to accompany the kidnapper to Delhi and Amritsar to get gold stocks on credit from these places.

The police has sent information to police stations of Amritsar, Delhi and Ambala. The Crime Branch has also sounded the National Crime Record Bureau about the incident. Various hospitals of North India have been asked to give details of unclaimed bodies and unidentified injured persons.



VHP protest against arrest of seer
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15
Members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal today staged a protest march against the arrest of the Kanchi seer in Tamil Nadu.

The members led by Mr Sukh Dev Raj Behl, Mr Om Prakash Goel and Mr Bharat Bhushan Goel, began their march from Sector 7, and went to the Deputy Commissioner’s camp office. They submitted a memorandum to the DC’s staff, to be forwarded to the President of India.

They were demanding that the arrest of the Shankracharya was uncalled for. They said that the Hindu community was disturbed over the arrest of the seer, and demanded the intervention by the President to order an impartial inquiry in the murder.



Hindu bodies merge, to protest against seer’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Representatives of various Hindu organisations today formed the Hindu Maha Panchayat to protest against the arrest of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati by the Tamil Nadu Government.

According to a press note, the organisations, which have been merged to form the new body included the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Parv Sabha, the Chandigarh Kendriya Ramlila Maha Sabha, the Bajrang Dal and the Puri Peeth Parishad.

The Panchayat will hold rally from Sectors 22 to 17 to protest the arrest, the press note added.



Fauji Beat
Gender factor in armed forces

AFTER a gap of several years, a controversy has again erupted over women joining the armed forces. To put things in the right perspective, we need to examine the issue both from the peace and the war scenarios’ angle.

As for peace time, we had opened entry to women in the administrative wings of the defence forces in 1992. The experiment, by and large, has been quite successful. Some sexual harassment cases, which came up, have been dealt with under the law.

At the time of induction of US forces in Saudi Arabia in 1990, a former Marine officer, who turned journalist, said: “Women could play their part in the rear areas, but soldiering was something best done by men”.

He went on to say that he was not alone in expressing misgivings about what would happen if women got involved in combat. “As soon as women started coming home in body bags or the Iraquis captured a few and raped them, we would see an end to it”, he further quipped. And this actually happened.

Among the US troops in the Gulf war, 8 per cent were women. They not only contributed their share to the victory of the allied forces but also figured in the list of casualties and the POWs. Of the 13 women killed, five were battle casualties. Two women, who became the POWs, were Major Rhonda L. Cornum and Specialist Melissa Coleman. They had a horrifying and unspeakable experience at the hands of the Iraqis. The indecent sexual assault of these women POWs, has put a question mark on the feasibility of women being allowed to go to combat.

The women are not suited biologically for frontline soldiering. They can, however, be taken in the administrative wings of the armed forces. But they should not be moved to the war zone.

Rajput Regiment’s dinner

The Officers’ Association of the Rajput Regiment held its 11th annual get-together at the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Guest House, Chandigarh, on November 5. It was an occasion of great rejoicing for a gathering numbering over 35 serving and retired officers and their wives.

The Chandigarh chapter of the Rajput Regiment came into being in 1993. It has been holding an annual function over dinner every year since then. Being over 300 years old, the regiment has given a large number of Generals to the Indian Army. The late Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, who was known as the father of the Indian Army, was also from this regiment. He was commissioned into 1 Rajput, which is now 4 Guards (1 Rajput). The Haji Pir hero, Lieut-Gen R.S. Dayal (retd) is also from this regiment.

Since this regiment holds an annual get-together, the officers and their spouses start waiting for the day well in advance. One could see a cheer on every face while reminiscing over the service days. For the serving officers and their wives, the stories of various wars and the good old days recounted by the elders provided a real thrill. Lieut-Gen Milan Naidu, Colonel of the Rajput Regiment, and his wife also attended the get-together.

Ex-servicemen department

According to a recent government decision, a new department is being set up in the Ministry of Defence for the welfare of ex-servicemen and to solve their problems.

This will enable the ex-servicemen to deal with only one authority for all their problems. But only the time will tell as to what help this department provides to the ex-servicemen.

Accommodation for ex-servicemen

The ex-servicemen going to Kargil can make use of a sarai, which is functioning there for them. Another ex-servicemen sarai is also being established at Padam in the Kargil district.

— Pritam Bhullar



48 Squadron celebrates Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Setting up of a unit museum marked the 45th anniversary of the Air Force’s No. 48 Squadron, a frontline transport outfit, here today. The museum was inaugurated by the Air Officer Commanding, 12 Wing, Air Cmde S.S. Tilloo.

The squadron’s first Commanding Officer, Gp Capt Jaspal Singh (retd), and a number of ex-squadron officers, were also present on the occasion.

A traditional pre-flight breakfast was hosted by the squadron, where memories of the old days were revived.

The breakfast is special in the sense that it is a power-packed diet served to pilots before they embark on a sortie.

A small memorial dedicated to a crashed An-32 aircraft is the highlight of the museum, which has been set up in a room within the unit’s accommodation at the local Air Force station. The memorial contains the names of IAF personnel killed in the crashes along with a short note on the accident.

The museum depicts the squadron history and photographs, trophies, mementos and relics. A few pictures of the famous paradrop at Tangail during the 1971 Bangladesh campaign, in which the squadron took part, are also being made available to the museum by retired officers. A number of squadrons in the IAF maintain their own small museums as a source of inspiration and information.

Presently, commanded by Gp Capt Rajeev Sachdeva, the squadron was raised on November 15, 1959. It got its first aircraft, the venerable Dakota, on February 5, 1960.



Protest by Congress workers
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, November 15
To protest against the arrest of Hardeep Singh, one of the assailants, who attacked Mrs Manisha Malik, a Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat councillor, and her husband, 20 workers of the Congress party today organised a rally and raised slogan against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, MLA Banur, Mr Narinder Sharma, president, Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat and Mrs Malik.

Headed by Mr Bal Kishan, a Congress leader, the protesters criticised them for falsely implicating Hardeep Singh, his brother Pradeep Singh and some others in the case. Carrying effigies of the three the protesters raised slogans outside the residence of Mrs Malik in Ekta Vihar Colony in Bartana village.

They then reached the Lohgarh police post in a procession. The police, however, dispersed the protesters when they reached outside the police post.



Media reports on Bhajan Lal refuted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Mr Deepak Rai Walia, deputy spokesperson of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), today refuted media reports that HPCC chief, Bhajan Lal, was on his way out.

Mr Walia said the rumours about the change in leadership were being spread by vested interests in the party and the media to mislead the electorate ahead of the Haryana Assembly elections early next year.

The people of Haryana whole-heartedly accepted Mr Bhajan Lal’s leadership during the last Lok Sabha elections when the Congress won nine out of the 10 seats.

The good turnout at Congress rally in Karnal today and statements of the senior AICC leaders proved that Mr Bhajan Lal would lead the party in the next assembly poll, he added.



Industrialist alleges threatening calls
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
A city-based industrialist alleged that he had received threatening calls from a mobile phone of Bal Sehgal, the former head of Quark Company.

Mr Pankaj Sharma of sector 8, in his complaint, alleged that on November 2 he had received a call on his cell phone from a mobile (9811208091). The caller allegedly threatened the complainant and used filthy language. He further alleged that he received a call at around 3 am on November 14. The caller’s number this time was 98155-88888. The police has registered a case under Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code in the Sector 3, police station.

Mr Bishwa Lal, SHO of Sector 3, police station said that they are investigating the matter. The police has written to the mobile service providing company to provide the details of the owner of the user and also give the details of time and durations of the calls made from that number.



Young man held for kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
A team of the Sector 11 Police Station today arrested a 21-year-old resident of Janata Kumhar Colony for allegedly kidnapping a 15-year-old girl of the same area on October 30.

The girl has also been recovered from Sushil. Kumar and sent to Nari Niketan after she insisted that she should be sent with the accused and not with her parents.

According to the police, both of them were apprehended when they were spotted in the same locality. The police said they had gone to Meerut and Muzaffarnagar. They planned to go to some other place after visiting the boy’s house. The reached the city from Uttar Pradesh today itself. The police has put both the girl and boy through a medical test to confirm if the girl had been raped.

The girl, however, in her statement before a judge said that she was 18-year-old and that she wanted to live with the boy. The parents of the girl, however, said that she was only 15 but they could not produce any proof of her age. The police is likely to put the girl through a denture X-ray to find out her age.



Valuables worth Rs 1.25 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
Thieves decamped with cash and valuables worth Rs l.25 lakh in two separate incidents of theft in the township. Thieves took away gold worth Rs 20,000 and cash Rs 35,000 from a residence in Phase 11 here while the owners were out of station for a few days. In another case, thieves emptied the cash box of Sportking, a readymade garment showroom in Phase VII here, decamping with at least Rs 70,000.

Thieves took advantage of the fact that the shop is closed on Sunday and allegedly entered the shop by lifting the shutter. The theft was discovered by the shop’s manager this morning. The SHO Phase VII, Mr Tirlochan Singh however said the theft at Sportking seemed to be work of insiders since the thieves did not touch any other item inside the shop. “Even the galla was not broken. The thieves knew that the key of the cash box was kept under the box,” he said.

Police sources added that the shop manager cum incharge Mr Vivek Thapar said that the theft was discovered when the shop was opened in the morning at 10.30am. But the police was informed at 1.30pm, pointed out Mr Tirlochan Singh. The SHO added that the theory that the thieves entered the shop through the shutter was not convincing “However, we are still investigating the theft and would be registering a case,” he added.

In the other case, the Bansals of Phase 11 had been out of station to Muktsar for the past four days. They found the house ransacked on their return. Gold and cash worth Rs 55,000 was found to be missing.



Minor raped
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a middle aged man near Chanmiya village in Morni. The victim was returning home after having dinner at a friend’s house, when she was waylaid by the accused, Pritam Singh of Pinjore.

He dragged her in the forest nearby and raped her. The girl’s father approached the police today, and an FIR was registered under Section 376 and 506 of the IPC. The girl’s medical examination was done at the General Hospital here late this evening, and accused Pritam Singh has been rounded up by the police.


The Kalka police has arrested three siblings- Radhe Shyam, Ramesh Kumar and Kanta Devi from Jalandhar on charges of harassing Radhe Shayam’s wife, Darshana Rani, for bringing insufficient dowry.



3 held for baby’s death in clash
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15
The police has arrested three youths who were involved in the clash in Sector 12- A yesterday which led to the death of three-month-old Mamta. Amit and Sumit, alias Chinu, were produced before a local court and remanded in judicial custody while Manoj Sharma was arrested following police raids late in the evening.

Other youths, who were involved in the clash, have been identified as Satish Dubey, Sandeep, Boni and Gaurav.

The youths had pelted jhuggi-dwellers here with stones when one of the jhuggi-dwellers, Pritam Singh, objected to one of the youths picking up apples from his rehri. A 10-year-old girl, Sunita, who was standing nearby carrying her baby sister was hit and a stone also hit the baby on the head.

Meanwhile, colony residents said this was not the first time that the youths had troubled them. Dina Nath, a resident of the colony, said the youths would often stand at a ‘paan’ shop, near the colony, and pass lewd remarks against the women.

“We had complained to the police a number of times, but to no avail. Had the police taken action earlier, things would not have taken such a ugly turn,” he added.



3 held for gambling
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
The police here booked three persons on charges of indulging in gambling in the township. The accused Suresh, a resident of Sector 69, Kishore Kumar, resident of village Lambian and Patras a resident of Nehru colony Sector 53 were allegedly gambling in Sector 71. They have been arrested under Sections 13-3-67 of the Gambling Act.



Police releases missing woman’s photo
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
The Mohali police is on the lookout for the past six months for Indu Pathak, a 28-year-old-resident of Nangal, who disappeared from Mohali on April 30. Releasing her photograph to media today, police sources pointed out that while a case of kidnapping against a Chandigarh resident on a complaint given by Mr Harish Sharma, Indu’s brother, had been registered no arrest had been made in the case.

Harish had complained that his sister was working with Forest Corporation Limited as a steno typist in Chandigarh and travelled every day to Chandigarh from Nangal for her job. On April 30, she had told her brother that she will be going to the Punjab School Education Board for some work before she goes to office but she never reached her office. Sources added that she had visited the Board that day and went missing from there.



Roughing up of passer-by: FIR against farmers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
The police here has registered an FIR against the farmers who had on Divali day bashed up a passer by, while staging a protest against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here. The agitating farmers had alleged that the passerby had abused them and tried to attack them with his kirpan, while the passerby, Mr Rajwinder Singh Sidhu, a Mohali resident, had alleged that he was bashed up for no 
reason at all.

The incident took place on Divali afternoon when the agitating farmers were staging their protest by burning an effigy of the PUDA Bhavan. 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, Rajwinder Singh who was driving past got out of his car (Tata Sierra, CH 01K 3288) and allegedly started abusing the farmers for causing inconvenience. the farmers alleged that he even tried to attack the farmers with his kirpan. The farmers snatched the kirpan from him and took him into a makeshift tent and beat him 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.

Sidhu went to the Phase VIII police station and lodged a complaint against the farmers and a case was registered on his complaint yesterday.



Man arrested for attempting suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
A 35-year-old father of four children was today arrested by a team of the Sector 31 Police Station for allegedly attempting to hang himself in an intoxicated condition in Ram Darbar.

According to the police, Dharminder had made all preparations to hang himself at his house when the police team was tipped off about his intention to commit suicide. The police untied the noose around his neck. He was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital for medical aid. He is stated to be out of danger, the police said.

The police said he sustained minor injuries but was saved as the police got information in time. Dharminder was allegedly fed up with bickerings between his wife and mother. He is also suspected to be taking drugs, according to the police.



Cheating case against PGI nurse
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
A nurse of the PGI allegedly duped an ex-serviceman of Indian Air Force of Rs 30,000 promising to get employment for his son at the Secretariat. A case of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC was registered against her here today.

Satnam Singh of Sector 40 has alleged that he paid Rs 30,000 to Gurdarshan Kaur on September 12, 2001, as she promised him that she would get her son a job at the Secretariat. She neither got his son the promised job nor returned the money.

He said he went to her house at Sector 38 to get his money back but the nurse told him that she would return the money on June 4, 2002.

He further alleged that when he went to her house on that date, she was not there.

He was told that she had vacated the house recently.

Mr Satnam Singh said once his son happened to meet Gurdarshan Kaur at the ICU in the PGI. On being asked about the money she replied to his son that she did not know him and also said she would not give any money to them. 



3 held with boxes of illicit liquor

Chandigarh, November 15
The Sector 31 Police Station teams today recovered more than six boxes of illicit liquor from three persons arrested here today.

Satish Ahuja of Model Town Ambala was arrested on the basis of a secret information. Ahuja was taking two liquor boxes to Ambala in a Maruti car (HR-17A 0060) when the police checked his vehicle.

Ahuja was allegedly taking the liquor from the city and selling it to jhuggi dwellers in Ambala.

In separate raids, the police party set up a picket at Hallomajra where Mohmmed Raja and his younger brother Nuruddin were arrested separately along with more than four boxes of illicit liquor. According to the police, Raja was carrying a sack on his back when he was spotted by the team posted at the picket.

As soon as Raja saw the police he threw his sack and ran away but he was nabbed after being chased by a team of the police.

Nuruddin was also caught in a similar fashion along with two boxes of illicit liquor.


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