C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Muskan murder case
Hotel staff gave procedures the go by
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The murder of a call girl, Muskan, in the government-run Hotel Shivalikview could have been prevented had the reception and lobby staff followed the established procedures of the hotel industry.

The question which remains unanswered is — was it wilful negligence or just a co-incidence that a lot of hotel procedures were ignored during the checking in of the suspected murderer and during the entry of Muskan in the room number 402 where she was murdered.

The sources in the police said the man, who noted down the suspected murderer’s checking in the hotel, had entered only the name of the hotel guest, his Ambala address and the date of checking in on December 10 and the date of checking out on December 11.

There is no address or name of the second person who was to visit him. Many entries in the register were left unfilled, including his visitor, company they belong to, purpose of visit, nationality, occupation, mode of payment, vehicle number and arriving from or departing to a particular place.

Surprisingly, the Shivalikview register does not have the column asking the sex of its guest and the relationship between the guests. The suspected killer had mentioned his name but concealed of his visitor apparently to hide that a woman was to come in the hotel.

The sources in the police said Muskan had allegedly been in contact with certain waiters and had been frequenting the hotel. She reportedly went to the room through a lift in the basement to avoid being noticed by the lobby and reception staff. She reportedly was also in contact with another city hotel, according to the police.

The sources in the hotel industry said flesh trade in government hotels was much easier as there is no fear of the police suddenly checking the rooms. Some call girls also revealed that these hotels were considered safe. Police raids on government hotels are quite uncommon in the city.

Persons from the hotel industry said a customer without any luggage is viewed with suspicion. The reception and the lobby staff should make queries to ascertain that the person checking has genuine antecedents or not.

Inquiries from the private hoteliers revealed that they have a column in the reservation slip and the register specifically mentioning sex, age and their relationships. The front office person is supposed to know the relationship. If a woman visits a hotel guest, the meeting is arranged in the lobby and she is not allowed in a room of the guest, a hotelier told the Chandigarh Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

He said the police had also to be informed about the guests. He said the government hotel staff should have asked about the name and address of the other person and her address and relationship to ensure that nobody misused the hotel premises.

The front staff is also supposed to ascertain that a man and a woman in a hotel are related and if mentioned as husband and wife despite being otherwise, staff has to pose questions to clarify the relationship as a large number of call girls enter the hotels posing as wives of the guests.

Senior officers of Hotel Shivalikview refused to reply when asked if any inquiry was being conducted by the management about the possible “collusion” of their staff members with the calls girls.

The Police is learnt to have achieved a “breakthrough” in the Muskan murder case.

The sources said “the case is virtually solved.” There is no confirmation as to if somebody has been arrested or the killer identified.

No senior official was available for official confirmation of reportedly having picked up a person. During the day, there have been rumours that the alleged murder of Muskan had been arrested from Delhi.

The sources in the police said that the motive of the murder seems that Muskan had annoyed flesh trade ring leaders by providing tip-off to the police.



Fear grips auto driver’s kin
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, December 13
The family of Kulwinder Singh, the auto-rickshaw driver of Muskan, who is assisting the police in her murder case, is living under a constant fear of being eliminated by the suspected killer of the call girl.

Kulwinder lives with his wife, Rekha, in Dadu Majra Colony when the police took him along for questioning, Rekha’s father and a brother joined her when they found here alone at the house.

When this correspondent visited Kulwinder’s house today, his wife was scared to face him, suspecting him to be an associate of the killer. She began communicating only when she was convinced about the reporter’s identity.

She told this correspondent that she was all alone at home when the police took Kulwinder for questioning in the wee hours of December 11. She said nobody from her in-laws had come forward to help her. She then called up her parents. She said her in-laws refused to arrange Rs 10,000 needed to hire an advocate, saying that they do not have the money.

Kulwinder was working as labourer before he bought the three-wheeler with the help of her parents.

Rekha said she trusts her husband and believes that he has not committed any wrong. She married him seven to eight years ago. They do not have any children.

An acquaintance of Kulwinder said her family members now realised that the auto-rickshaw driver was safe with the police as the suspected murderer, who killed Muskan in a high security area, could have eliminated him as he was crucial in the identification of the suspected murderer.



Hostel in cowshed, bathroom at petrol station
Nursing students demand fee refund
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
High drama ensued outside the Punjab State Nursing Council’s office here at Phase X today when 22 students of Bengal Health Institute of Medical Sciences, Raikot, Ludhiana, raised slogans protesting against their college authorities.

The students were demanding that they be shifted to other colleges and their fee be refunded. They accused the management of wrongdoing and demanded the authorities to shut down the institute. The students alleged that though the Punjab Government had permitted the institute to fill only 30 seats but the institute had admitted 60 students. They alleged that the school had only one teacher whereas the Nursing Council had stipulated 12 teachers, including a Principal and a Vice-Principal, to be employed in the institute.

The students also alleged that the institute had no building of its own and was running on rented premises. The hostel was situated in a cattle shed and that they had to go to a nearby petrol station to take a bath.

First year students of General Nursing and Mid wifery (GNM) course, armed with the fee receipts, alleged that they were taken ‘captive’ by the institute authorities and were locked inside the hostel rooms after they raised an alarm against the anomalies going on at the college.

The students also submitted a demand charter to the council in charge, Ms Surinder Kaur, asking for stern action against the institute authorities for flouting norms. The Registrar of the council reportedly stated that the Chairman of the council had been informed and appropriate action would be taken once the matter had been investigated.

Students also showed the fee receipts issued to them, that proved that the institute had charged Rs 60,000 from them. Sources, however added, that the Institute had got the nod for admitting 50 students from the nursing council and last year they were allowed to have 60 students.



Mini trucks allowed to display ads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Making a change in its policy, the Chandigarh Administration has allowed mini trucks to carry advertisements of various companies. However, such trucks will now have to pay a fee.

Since several companies are already using such trucks for advertisement, it was decided to levy a fee, said a senior official.

A notification detailing the fee was issued today.

Such mini trucks having advertisements are normally parked on the roadside on the Dakshin Marg, the Madhya Marg and commercial sectors like 17,22, 34 and 35. Banks, telecom companies, automobile companies and cosmetic companies use these trucks. Till now this kind of advertisement was illegal. The trucks are usually parked on the road berms

The administration has amended the Chandigarh Advertisement Control Order, 1954, and legalised advertisement through these trucks. The fee for non-illuminated advertisement boards up to 50 sq ft is Rs 2,000 per month or Rs 20,000 annually. For every additional 50 sq ft or less the same additional amount will be charged.

In case the advertisement is illuminated, the rates for the same will be Rs 4,000 monthly or Rs 40,000 per year. For every additional 50 sq ft the rate is Rs 6,000 per month or Rs 60,000 per annum.



Ignored by city, village to have centre for HIV patients
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
After the city showed its inability to accommodate the hospice, the care centre for HIV\AIDS patients, the UT administration has decided to set up a hospice in the region for terminally ill AIDS patients at the Khuda Lahora village near here.

The facility will be available in January and the administration has already selected a farmhouse, to be used for the purpose.

The selection and the availability of the adequate space proved a hurdle in the process for the administration to set up the hospice within the city.

“We actually wanted the hospice to be set up within the city for the benefit of the patients. But despite floating a number of advertisements for the purpose, no one came forward for giving any place for this hospice,’’ says Ms. Padmini Singla,
SDM (East) and secretary of the UT Red Cross Society, while talking to The Tribune.

Though talks were going on for setting up the hospice for the AIDS patients at the Community Health Centre in sector 28, the residents objected to the shifting of their health centre to accommodate the hospice.

The administration then had to look for other options to get the idea of care centre rolling for the ill patients.

Sources add that the farmhouse now selected for the hospice, is an illegal construction, which the administration has acquired for setting up the care centre.

Currently planned as a 10-beded community care centre, the hospice will take care of the terminally ill AIDS patients by providing them food, medical and nursing care.

However given the limited capacity of the upcoming hospice, where merely 10 patients will be initially accommodated, the selection of patients to be admitted will be in the hands of the dealing doctors.

“The hospice will be similar to the one that the city already has for the care of the terminally ill cancer patients. However, for the cancer patients, the hospice facility will be made available to 20 patients against facility for 10 patients. We are also elaborating the facilities with the addition of the ramp there,” adds the SDM.



Indo-Pak ties with trade initiative: World Punjabi Congress chief
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
The thaw in relations between India and Pakistan and the recent confidence-building measures is the perfect situation to launch a three pronged strategy for furthering peace initiatives between the two sides.

Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman of the World Punjabi Congress and a former Minister in the Benazir Bhutto Cabinet, said doing away visa restrictions for travelling across the border and introducing permits; starting a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore; and, opening up the Wagah border for trade would help the people of the two sides to come closer.

“At least 7,000 items are being illegally imported or exported through Dubai to both India and Pakistan. It would serve the purpose of the people to have cordial economic relations. We could get the technical know how in Information Technology, meet the shortage of wheat by importing from India, rather than Australia and Russia, and in exchange we could export our textiles to India,” he said.

Asked about the recent blocks in the opening of the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad road between Kashmir and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, and Mr Zaman said that the opening of the road would be a big leap in resolving the Kashmir problem. “The Kashmiris, whose families have been separated on both sides of the border, will become the harbingers of peace, if they are allowed to travel across Kashmir,” he said. Its time both countries shun their differences and fight their common enemy — illiteracy, unemployment and poverty and improve the quality of life of their people. 
If both India and Pakistan maintain cordial relations, their defence budget will be 
reduced and funds could be diverted for implementation of mass welfare schemes, 
he added.

Mr Zaman said the World Punjabi Congress was launched by him 18 years ago. “There was a lot of resistance from the clergy and the hardliners. With the autocratic military regime of Gen Zia-ul-Haq in power then, I faced constant threat to my life. I was labelled as a Soviet agent, and an India sympathiser, but I believed in the cause of brotherhood and peace, so I persisted. Over the years, we have successfully organised 11 conferences, and the 12th conference will be organised in Lahore from April 17-20 next year,” he said.

He said that apart from visits of various delegations to each other’s country, there should be exchange programmes for youth, journalists and academicians of the universities so as to share their views and learn from each other. Such an exchange programme would develop mutual understanding and go a long way in strengthening bilateral relations.



Pak delegates accorded warm welcome
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
A riot of colours, sounds of dhol and rose petals welcomed 120 Pakistani delegates at Hotel Red Bishop here.

The delegates, led by Mr Fakhar Zaman, were here to participate in a function organised by the Haryana Sahitya Akademi.

The delegates, including litterateurs like Abdul Hussain, Abdul Shahid and Farhanda Lodhi, film stars like Ghulam Mayudeen alias Gullu, and Zareen Suleman “Panna”, and singers Shauqat Ali and Hamid Hussain, came from Kurukshetra today.

The delegation is in Haryana to attend an international seminar on “India-Pakistan Relations: Emerging Cooperation”, organised by Kurukshetra University.

The delegates, while interacting with the press, said they were touched by the Indian hospitality, and perfect arrangements made by the Haryana Government during their stay at Kurukshetra.

Dr Chander Trikha, Director, Haryana Sahitya Akademi, accorded a warm welcome to the delegates. He presented mementoes and books brought out by the akademi to all delegates as a mark of respect.

The Secretary of the Haryana Urdu Akademi, Mr K.L. Zakir, and Editor, Dainik Tribune, Mr Naresh Kaushal, were among those present on the occasion.

Earlier, Mr Fakhar Zaman also released the October-December, 2004, issue of “Shabad Boond” a magazine brought out by the Haryana Punjabi Sahitya Akademi. It is a special issue on Pakistan’s Punjabi literature.

The coordinators of the Indian chapter of World Punjabi Congress, Mr Deepak Manmohan Singh and Mr A.S. Paul, former Punjab Minister Jugraj Singh and Mr D.S. Saroya, Additional Secretary Forests and Wildlife, Punjab, and a writer in his own right, were also present.



Fog delays trains, flights

Chandigarh, December 13
Cold conditions intensified in northern parts of the country today with Amritsar recording the lowest temperature in the plains at 1.8 degree celsius and mercury plummeting to below freezing point in Kashmir valley while heavy fog engulfed the national Capital and surrounding areas delaying several flights and trains.

While temperature was three degrees below normal in Amritsar, Srinagar experienced a low of - 1.2°C.

The minimum temperature at Karnal in Haryana also settled on the lower side recording 7.3°C while Hisar and Ambala had near similar lows of 8.2°C and 8.6°C respectively, according to the Meteorological Department here.

Chandigarh recorded 8.8°C while the nights in Ludhiana and Patiala were slightly warmer in comparison at 9.1°C and 9.3°C, respectively.

The low at Shimla settled a few degrees above the normal range at 10.2°C. However, Bhuntar and Una recorded below normal lows at 2°C and 2.4°C.

In Delhi, over two dozen flights and seven trains were delayed as dense fog engulfed the national Capital and nearby areas this morning.

The runway visibility range at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here was reduced to 175 metres, which is 25 metres less than the minimum CATII landing system limit, airport sources said.

Northern Railways said heavy fog in the early hours led to rescheduling of seven trains from Delhi to different parts of the country, including the Poorva Express and Janata Express from Delhi to Howrah, Delhi-Hatia Jharkhand Swarna Jayanti Express and Delhi-Raxaul Satyagraha Express.

The Met Department said fog reduced visibility at several places in Haryana and Punjab, including Adampur, Bathinda, Halwara, Ambala, Sirsawa, Sirsa and Suratgarh.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and three others injured in a collision between two trucks due to dense fog yesterday in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur district. — PTI



Chandigarh Calling

It appears that the UT Education Department has yet to acknowledge the onset of the winter. While winter timing of schools in Punjab is from 9 am to 3 pm, students of schools in the city still attend school from 8 am to 2 pm.

A number of students who come from neighbouring places lament that the school timing should be changed as it is difficult to catch a bus. In the coming days, when fog delays the movement of traffic it will become difficult for the students to reach the school on time.

Pandora’s Box

The usage of a phrase “Pandora’s Box” in an invitation card for the annual function of the primary section of Carmel Convent School created embarrassing moments for the school authorities. The sentence “It’s time for the Pandora’s Box to open” is often used as a negative connotation but was used in the starting phrese on the invite by the school authorities. On being pointed out by some parents, the school authorities had to clarify during the function that the phrase did not mean any negative connotation in the invitation card. The school is considered among the well-established schools in the city.

Bird watchers, get ready

Come winter and the city’s bird-watchers’ fraternity, many of them armed with binoculars, start bracing themselves to welcome to unknown feathered friends from faraway lands, including coot from the Himalayan range and the red-crested pochard from the highly arctic regions of Europe and Asia. They flock to the comparatively cooler regions in India, including the Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake — a home to these migratory guests.

While flocks of coot, a keen swimmer and an ace diver, and the pochards brigade, another diving duck, have already joined their Indian partners, more guests from Siberia are expected to lard here in a week or so. These guests come calling at the outset of November every year and get set to fly back to their sweet homes by the March-end, with the bone-rattling chill fleeing with the advent of the summer.

Soil scientist honoured

A soil scientist and watershed development expert, Dr SS Grewal, has been selected Fellow of the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists.

The honour came to Dr Grewal at the National Conference on Resource Conserving Technologies for Social Upliftment held at New Delhi recently. Four other scientists were also selected Fellows for their contributions in the field of natural resource conservation for the poverty alleviation and environmental protection.

Dr Grewal is also the co-recipient of the ICAR Team Research Award (1991-93) and the KG Tejwani Award (1998-99) in the field of natural resource management.

Beggars’ day

The City Beautiful seems to have been completely taken over by beggars. All major traffic light points in the city and the markets in Sector 17, 19 and Sector 9 (Madhya Marg) are the “best business” places for the beggars. Their “business” starts around 10 am when most beggars, especially women and children, walk barefoot on the road for begging. Throughout the day, they can be seen hopping from one side of the traffic light to another collecting the money. But Saturdays are busy days for these beggars for they carry a bowl with some oil and an idol of the Shani Dev and tug at the commuters/shoppers religious sentiments by exhorting them not to displease the god and give away some offering.

Reason to smile

Come winter and the waiting attendants at the PGI have some reason to smile. The worried attendants of the patients prefer well-manicured lawns of the hospital to catch up with a siesta and have an hour or two of the ever-eluding afternoon nap. The lawns in front of the emergency building and Bhargava Auditorium seen to be the favourite place for not only the attendants but also for the patients who are seen taken out for a round in the sun on stretchers or sometimes with the support of their family members. “The dingy dark corridors and wards within the hospital are quite uninviting. I ask my family members to take me out for a stroll in the sun,” remarked a patient. The only thing, which the sun lovers must gaurd against, (apart from the harmful UV rays, of course) are the violent group of monkeys, who can attack them unannounced any day.

Take this step after marriage

A number of complaints in dowry-related cases are filed with the intention of ‘taming’ their spouses. An investigation officer of the Woman and Child Support Unit of the UT police revealed that the number of such cases is increasing day by day. Earlier, complaints were filed by women against her husbands. It does also matter that who files the complaint first. If a husband filed a complaint first, he can spare himself from being arrested on the complaint filed by his wife. Under such situations some husbands acting smartly filed the complaints of misbehaving by their wives, said the police officer. A person who was listening to this talk gave a smart remark that one should file such a complaint immediately after ones marriage to avoid harassment later.

Parking problem

A visit to southern sectors of the city paints a true picture of the haphazar parking of vehicles, especially four-wheelers in residential areas. The problem becomes more serious at night, besides giving a poor visibility to an outsider visiting these sectors.

Some houses facing parks may not be seized of this problem. There are a few others who prefer to park their four-wheelers even on road so as to keep a vigil on their vehicles. They resort to do so since there are no open spaces in front of their small houses. The haphazard parking in these sectors hinders the smooth flow of traffic.

There is a dire need to earmarked the parking areas in the residential areas. Even some have suggested to sentinel to provide underground parking lots in these residential areas and charge nominally from those availing themselves of the service to east out the growing menace.

— Sentinel



Widow waits for state relief
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Three years after a soldier made his final exit from the world in a mine blast during Operation Parakram in Rajasthan, his wife has been struggling for her rights. Though she was granted pensionary and other benefits by the Central Government, the Haryana Government failed to keep its promise.

Soon after her husband's death in December, 2001, "high-ranking civil officers" had reportedly assured Pushpa Devi of Sountali village in Ambala district that ex-gratia compensation would be paid, along with other benefits applicable to families of martyrs belonging to Haryana. But promises remained promises.

Going into the background of the case, Pushpa Devi alleges that her husband Subedar Mam Chand — recruited into the Jat Regiment — was killed, along with 17 others, on December 28, 2001, in Longewala. Another 17 personnel were severely injured in the blast.

She claims that the "nature of the incident was described as battle casualty during Operation Parakram".

The soldier was cremated on December 31 the same year with full military honours.

This is not all. The road leading to their native village was christened after the soldier's name. A memorial was also constructed after the village panchayat donated land. For the purpose, Rs.1.5 lakh were spent by her out of the compensation granted by the Central Government. Though the District Administration promised to reimburse the amount, the money was never paid.

Pushpa Devi adds that the Haryana Government was soon moved through Zila Sainik Board's Secretary for grant of ex-gratia compensation payable to families of martyrs belonging to the state in accordance with instructions issued by the authorities concerned initially on September 22,1998.

She further adds that documents in support of the compensation claim, including residence proof and battle casualty certificate, were also furnished. But to her utter surprise, the case was referred back with noting that the soldier's case was not covered under the state government policy.

Assisting Pushpa Devi in her struggle, Chairman of the All-India Ex-servicemen Association Bhim Sen Sehgal says that the petitioner's case was apparently not forwarded to the Haryana Chief Secretary — authority competent to accept or reject claims.

The rejection, he claims, is "totally wrong and cannot be sustained". He adds that the Central Government is a competent authority to determine whether the death is covered under the category of battle casualty for financial benefits.

Once the Central Government issues a certificate describing the death as battle casualty and releases the dues, the Haryana Government cannot say that the case is not covered under the state policy.

He has also filed a writ petition on Pushpa Devi's behalf. Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla, have issued notice to the State of Haryana through its Chief Secretary.



Sahgal admits leaking information to Tehelka men
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Colonel Anil Sahgal, who is being tried for professional impropriety in the Tehelka case, today stated before the general court martial that he had divulged certain information about the Army's procurement process and equipment requirements to tehelka.com operatives who were posing as arms dealers.

Deposing as a defence witness during his cross-examination, Colonel Sahgal said that he had directed his assistant, P Sashi to disclose the price of a single piece of hand-held thermal imagers (HHTI), which were being sought by the Army to the Tehelka team.

He added that he had also told the Tehelka operatives the temperature range in which the imagers were required to work.

On the issue of information about the procurement process, he said that he had divulged only unclassified information. He added that the information about the army's requirement which he had shared with them had already been published in various defence journals.

On being asked by the prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, as to why he shared the information with the Tehelka team, he declined to comment. Colonel Sahgal also stated that members of the Tehelka team had been introduced to him by Sashi as dealers of CSD items, who were also interested in renting his house and it was in that respect that he had accepted Rs 20,000.

He, however, declined that there was any link between renting out of his house and giving out information pertaining to defence deals.

He also denied that information pertaining to the HHTI deal was divulged for the purpose of comparison of different offers, issue of contract or payment of commission. He added that the issue of commission regarding equipment supplied by Bharat Electronic Limited was discussed by him with the dealers.

The Colonel's alleged involvement with a call girl, which was secretly video-taped by Tehelka operatives also came into focus during the hearing today, with Mr Moudgil quizzing him on his sexual habits and experience. The video tape concerned was played in closed court.

Colonel Sahgal said that he had enjoyed the company of the call-girl, he been in a totally inebriated state when the episode had taken place and the act had been forced upon him.

He contended that all the lights of the room where the act had taken place were on and any normal person would switch off the lights before getting into the act. He also maintained that given his inebriated state, he was forced by the call girl to take a bath so that he could regain his senses and was able to perform.

On being asked by Mr Moudgil about the fact that he had insisted on a particular sexual activity with the call girl after she had refused the same, the accused stated that he did not recall the same. The cross-examination will continue tomorrow.



Old man alleges cheating; police yet to arrest anyone
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
The police here is yet to arrest any one of the six persons booked for allegedly cheating an 86 year old resident of Chilla Manouli village Pritam Singh. Main accused in the case, Karamjit Singh, also a resident of the village, reportedly sold over five acres of land belonging to Pritam Singh using his power of attorney.

According to Pritam Singh who can barely see and hear due to old age, Karamjit Singh allegedly took his thumb impressions on a large number of documents on the pretext of filing some papers in PUDA.

“He told Pritam Singh that PUDA was going to acquire his eight acres of land and he would help in filing an objection with the authority. He hurried up the whole thing saying that the last date of filing objections was close,” related one of Pritam Singh’s relatives.

Karamjit Singh along with his uncle the village’s lambardar Sher Singh allegedly used the power of attorneys to sell parts of Pritam Singh’s land.

“Two qilas were sold first on November 30 and then three qilas on December 9. The same day on December 9 morning, we had brought the matter to the notice of the naib tehsildar Mohali Mr Sucha Singh who told us to go to the patwari to get the power of attorneys cancelled. While we went to meet the patwari, the naib tehsildar registered the sale of our land,” related the relative.

The police yesterday booked the lambardar along with four others in the case including two lawyers and the buyers of the land.



HUDA JEs resent “outsiders’ absorption”
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
The HUDA Junior Engineers Welfare Association has decried the alleged illegal absorption of Sub Divisional Engineers (SDE) from other state government departments in Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) .

In a complaint to the Chief Administrator HUDA, a copy of which was released to the press, the Association has alleged that the SDE’s on deputation to HUDA were not being reverted back to their parent department. The deputation period cannot be extended beyond five years under any circumstances, but some SDE’s in HUDA are still in HUDA even after seven to nine years, they alleged.

The Association has further alleged that they had often complained and asked for the repatriation of the SDE’s, but now efforts are being made to absorb these deputationists in HUDA. They say that there were many degree holder Junior Engineers working in HUDA, having 15 to 20 years of experience, but they haven't got even one promotion. We should be given promotion to the post of SDE’s, they demanded.



Fauji Beat
Fake terrorists’ surrender raises controversy

THE surrender of 47 alleged fake militants at the Headquarters 16 Corps in J&K last month, has kicked up a controversy against the Army. It is alleged that these boys posed as terrorists to avail of the cash grant of Rs. 1.50 lakh, a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 and government guarantee for bank loan.

Since they surrendered with arms, the Army seemed to have taken them as terrorists. The assumption of the Army was not only wrong but it could also put it in a dangerous situation. The incident has landed the Army in an embarrassing position. How come the Army did not have information about the terrorists set-up in its area of responsibility? Generally, the intelligence agencies send their reports to the Army. Apart from this, the Army has its own intelligence sources. It is incredible that the Director-General of Police, Mr Gopal Sharma, who was also present at the surrender ceremony, had no information about these terrorists.

If this is to be believed, the question arises what kind of anti-terrorist operations are we carrying out in J&K?

ECHS polyclinic

It is common to see Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) members with prescription slips, given by Polyclinic Chandigarh, at the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir. They go there to get medicines, which are not available at the polyclinic. This defeats they very purpose of a polyclinic in Chandigarh.

The medicines to the polyclinic are issued by the Command Hospital. The medicines, which are not supplied to the hospital by the Army Medical Store, are locally purchase for the polyclinic by the Command Hospital. The hospital authorised have said the demand for medicines by the polyclinic will be met and the local purchase would not take more than two days.

Most of the ECHS members feel that the timings of the polyclinic — 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. do not meet the requirement as a member who needs its services after working hours will be deprived of its. The officer in charge of the polyclinic says that the polyclinic cannot be opened beyond these timings because of the limited medical staff. He says in an emergency, a patient can go to an empanelled hospital and within 48 hours, the polyclinic must be informed on telephone about the admission/treatment.

A gallant General

The Victoria Cross, instituted in January 1856, is the highest gallantry award of the British empire. It was in 1911, that the right to receive the Victoria Cross was extended to Indian soldiers. The then Second Lieutenant P.S. Bhagat of the Bombay Engineers Group (BEG), popularly known as Bombay Sappers, was awarded Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Abyssinian Campaign in 1941 in World War-II.

The late Lieut-Gen Bhagat was the first Army Commander of the Northern Command when it was raised in 1972. He was one of the most popular senior officers and was held in high esteem by officers and jawans.

Bombay Sappers still celebrates Victoria Cross Day every year to commemorate the award to General Bhagat.

Refund of MBS

Sime ex-servicemen, on becoming members of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme, seem to think that the amount paid by them for the Medical Benefit Scheme (MBS) will be automatically refunded to them. They must know that unless they send the MBS-95 membership card in original along with a photocopy of the ECHS receipt and their bank account number to the Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF) office in New Delhi, they will not get the refund.

— Pritam Bhullar



Women power to take on ‘insensitive’ state
Tribune News Service

Delegates at a workshop organised by the Women Power Connect in Sector 24, Chandigarh, on Monday.
Delegates at a workshop organised by the Women Power Connect in Sector 24, Chandigarh, on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 13
Women Power Connect (WPC) is not just another women’s organisation which has been floated to merely deliberate on women’s issues. The WPC is the outcome of a ‘dire need’ to wage a battle against the silence and passivity displayed by the state and the law-enforcing machinery against abuse of the weaker sex.

At the helm of affairs in WPC are activists drawn from various backgrounds who have been closely associated with fighting violence against women. While other organisations try to create an awakening among women against dealing with violence of all kinds, this forum is an attempt to educate and empower the elected women representatives from the village to the national level to raise their voice against such acts and influence policy-decisions.

Says Dr Ranjana Kumari from the Centre for Social Research, a member of the WPC’s working group, “We are in the process of holding consultations with women’s groups all over the country to identify problems typical of every state and region. Dowry in the north, witch hunting in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, female foeticide in Punjab, rising cases of HIV among married women and water problems in rural areas, the list is endless and we are bothered about every such problem that is troubling the women of our nation.”

The members of the working group were in town to hold a session with NGOs and women’s organisations for a feedback on the problems of women of the region. The two-day workshop started today at Parkview, Sector 24, here.

Primarily a lobbying organisation, Dr Kumari added that the WPC would work to facilitate elected women representatives to make efficient use of their powers to influence policy decisions, and, in the bargain, make the decisions gender-sensitive.

Ms Feroza Mehrotra, Deputy Regional Programme Director, United Nations Development Fund for Women, said that WPC was needed despite so many other women organisations because women were still ignorant about their powers and could not effectively raise issues at suitable due to for lack of information.

“The task on hand is very big. The scope of issues the National Commission for Women and other such bodies are dealing with is very vast. This makes them toothless and makes them ineffective to a certain extent. We will focus only on empowering elected representatives,” she said.

The members of the working group among others Dr Pam Rajput, Ms Benita Sharma, admitted that there was a need for a social movement and change in the mindset of men to improve the status and condition of women.

Replying to a question Dr Kumari said that women were misusing, Section 498 A of the IPC pertaining to dowry, but the responsibility was with the police. “The police is adopting shortcuts and arresting everybody named in the FIR without any investigation. The women are not to blame,” she said.



Workshop on police ends
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
A two-day workshop organised by the local Institute for Development and Communication with the help of the IPS Association, Punjab, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, New Delhi, ended today with discussions on the relevance of civilian oversights for ensuring police accountability and police accountability through internal control mechanisms.

Mr Shastri Ramachandran, Associate Editor, The Tribune, opined that while the police was one of the all-pervasive social force, yet it had not merited many debates or discussions. He pointed out that the Indian police had an uncanny ability to subvert and subdue other institutions of civil society. It showed little respect for established institutions.

He narrated his experiences of repression by the police in Tamil Nadu when MGR was the Chief Minister to explain how the police was able to even persuade other institutions of the state to ignore civil liberties and become a its handmaiden of.

The only way in which civil liberties could be safeguarded, he said, was through the civil society being constantly on its guard to ensure that the institutions of the state functioned within the bounds of the law and did not rise above the law.

Listing various functions of the police, Mr Kanwar Sandhu, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, stated that the police had been found wanting in performing many of its functions due to many reasons. “One being that the police thinks it is the handmaiden of the government. Police loyalty is justified when the state is fighting subversion but now it had stretched to ridiculous limits,” he said.

Mr Prem Kumar, former Resident Editor of Indian Express, highlighted the need for transforming the police functioning as it had become a politicised force.

Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC, emphasised that the media was not a homogeneous institution and therefore, it was not possible for it to have standardised parameters for ensuring police accountability.

Stating that there is a need to widen the scope of women, minorities SC and ST commissions from being merely corrective interventionists to preventive interventionists, Dr Rainuka Dagar said the bodies should work towards building support for democratic norms of policing, providing quality legal aid and creating a network of advocacy groups.



Siddiqui for revising role of police
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
The society must decide the role of the police. At the pace with which the society was changing, the definition and role of the police should be revised at least once a year. This was stated by Dr A.A. Siddiqui, DGP, Punjab, as part of his presidential remarks at the concluding session of the two-day workshop on Police and Community Interface organised by the Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh here today.

Mr Siddiqui added that there were several masters who oversaw the police and the question as to whom the police should be accountable remains unanswered. He stressed there was an immediate need to change the image of the police, which though not easy could be achieved through community participation. Mr Siddiqui pointed out that the setting up of the Police Community Response Centre System in Punjab over a year ago was a small step towards this direction.

On police autonomy, Mr Rohit Chaudhry, DIG, Economic Offences Wing, pointed out that the concept had been upheld many times in many nations with the basic premise being that police officers were not agents or officers of the city and that their powers were derived from the law. He added that in India, while the Shah Commission on emergency excesses had observed that the police was used and allowed itself to be used for questionable purposes, the National Police Commission report had recommended that police be insulated from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference. He pointed out that the chief of police’s officer be assured of a fixed tenure of office and should be selected from a panel by the UPSC. He added that there was a need for a media policy in the police which should be both proactive and reactive.

Mr K.S. Dhillon, IPS (retd), former DGP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh and VC, Bhopal University, stated that there was a need to create responsible mechanisms of accountability and to be transparent and articulate about what we expected from the police. This could be done by scrapping the Indian Police act of 1861 and framing a new Act that was more in line with contemporary times.

Prof S.L. Sharma said indiscipline was rife in the police force. The gazetted officers were indifferent to the problems of the non-gazetted. There was a need to have greater communication between the various levels of police officers.

Prof Randhir Singh warned that options for a change were severely limited by the socio-economic context in which we lived. Without an understanding of the holistic context the changes hoped for may not happen despite the best of efforts.

Dr Rajivlochan requested the senior officers not to stop their juniors from being idealistic in the name of being practical. There is nothing impractical in being truthful and performing one’s duty to the best of one’s ability.

The need for policies on gender sensitisation and mainstreaming of gender issue was also raised by Dr Ranjana Kumari of Centre for Social Research, New Delhi.



Awareness camp for poor women
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 13
A 10-day-long awareness generation camp for women was organised by Yuvsatta in association with the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board in the slum area of colony No. 5.

The aim of the camp was to generate awareness among poor women about issues like status of women, law, health, hygiene, economy, religion, culture and HIV/AIDS.

Vocational training was provided in the art of mehandi, manufacturing of handmade greeting cards to help generate a source of income.

A centre, Kasturba Gandhi Kendra, was set up in the colony to help market the handmade products in the city.

Ms Kamlesh Gupta, Chairperson, Chandigarh Social Welfare Board, launched “Rainbow greeting cards” at the kendra. The cards are priced between Rs 15 and Rs 25. Ms Gupta also gave free accident insurance cover of Rs 50,000 to 30 women participants.



Passport staff flay privatisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Members of the All-India Passport Employees Association today opposed the decision of the Regional Passport Office (RPO) authorities to outsource certain jobs in the preparation of passports.

Raising slogans against the outsourcing of the work, the members organised a rally here and announced that the association members would start a relay fast outside the Main Passport Office from December 20.

Under an ambitious plan prepared by the Ministry of External Affairs, the pending work in RPOs would be privatised.

The printing and scanning of the passports, besides the sale of the forms, had already been privatise by the RPO.

The Chief Passport Officer, in a circular to the RPOs, has restrained the regular staff from working on Saturdays.

Sources said the decision had been taken with a view to bringing about transparency in the working of the RPOs.



Power sub-division for Mullanpur
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
Cabinet Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang today announced the establishment of new electricity distribution sub-division at Mullanpur Garibdas village near here. According to a press note, Mr Kang disclosed that with this distribution sub-division, more than 12,000 consumers from 35 villages of the area would be benefited.

He said for new connections, depositing of electricity bills and other routine problems relating to electricity supply, consumers needed not to rush to Mohali. Moreover, there was a lot of load on Mohali distribution sub-division due to which the area of Mullanpur and its surrounding areas got ignored.



MP criticised for staging dharna
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 13
Mr Rajesh Gupta, a councillor of the Chandigarh Municipal Council, has criticised Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP from Chandigarh, for staging a dharna against the Administration for setting up a school at a site earmarked for the park in Sector 21-A. Mr Bansal has staged a dharna at the site on Sunday.

In a press statement, Mr Gupta, councillor from Ward No. 12, alleged that the MP had been misguiding the residents of Sector. He staged the dharna to hide his incompetence in restraining the UT Administration from setting up of a school at the site, he said.

Before parliamentary elections, Mr Bansal had assured the residents of the locality that no school would be allowed to come up at the site if he won the elections. It was quite surprising the MP, who belonged to the Congress, have to register his protest against the Congress-led government in the Centre to oppose the setting up a school at park’s site, pointed out Mr Gupta.



Readers Write
Revive camping site

A large number of tourists from abroad come daily to Chandigarh. Several tourists come in their own vehicles and want to stay at a camping site in the city. The Administration had earmarked a camping site near the Sukhna Lake. CITCO put up tents there for tourists. Later this place was taken over by the Central Reserve Police Force.

The police vacated the site more than three years ago. Now the area has been given to a horse-riding society at a nominal rent. This is illegal as a place earmarked for a specific purpose cannot be used for any other purpose.

The camping site should be revived.

Narinder Singh,

“International” Community centres

While the Punjab Government has set up community centres in various phases in Mohali, these have not been given attractive names.

It is felt that the centres need to be given names like Maharaja Ranjit Singh Palace, Queen Land Palace, Maharaja Palace and Greenlands Banquet. These may even be named after some other celebrities of the region.

Attractive nomenclature will create a brand identity. It will lead to enhanced use of the buildings, too.

D.M. Singh, Mohali

School buses

The safety of schoolchildren and senior citizens has been endangered as school buses have started plying in inner lanes where vehicles are parked in front of houses. Very little space is left in the lanes for plying school buses. This can lead to accidents and an increase in atmospheric and noise pollution.

I request the Chandigarh Administration to prevail upon school management not to ply buses in lanes. The buses can stop at specified points on B roads and pick up children.

S.S. Nanda, Chandigarh

Cattle menace

You have done a good job by highlighting a major problem before the Administrator about cattle roaming on roads in Chandigarh, endangering lives (November 18).

It is necessary to set up pounds away from sectors. The pounds should be manned by trained animal caretakers. The Administration and voluntary organisations of animal lovers and environmentalists can join hands in this endeavour. The animals could be used in the cottage industry for driving machines.

S.C. Ummat, Chandigarh


Your correspondent has done well by bringing to the notice of the Administrator, the long standing problem of stray cattle. The Administrator, being a retired General, will certainly take positive steps to rid City Beautiful of the menace.

Cattle have taken many a precious life in the city. I appeal to him to tackle the problem expeditiously.

G.R. Kalra, Chandigarh



2 nabbed for stabbing cook
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 13
The UT police today arrested two youths for stabbing and robbing cook Gambhir Singh, of Palsora village near petrol station in Sector 56 on December 8 night.

Surinder Singh (21) alias Ganja of Sector 56 and Sunil Kumar (20) alias Shera were arrested from Sector 24 this afternoon. The police said the accused were identified by the victim who was accompanying the police party. The police also recovered the mobile phone from their possession.

The police further disclosed that the accused had displayed a fake registration number (CH-01-F-1275) on their Bajaj Chetak scooter, which lead to the arrest of a wrong person of Dhanas Colony a few days ago. It further added that the original registration number of their scooter was CH-01-C-7542.

The police said Surinder Singh alias Ganja was booked under the NDPS Act last year and was facing a trial.

Gambhir Singh was coming home after a late night party at Gill Resorts in Naya Gaon on December 8 when he was intercepted by two scooter-borne youths near a petrol pump in Sector 56 on the pretext of asking for an address. As soon as he stopped, the youths threatened him to give his wallet and mobile phone at a knifepoint. When Gambhir Singh resisted, the robbers stabbed him before taking away his belongings. The wallet contained Rs 320.



Goods worth Rs 3 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 13
Goods worth Rs 3 lakh were reportedly stolen from a shop while a house was reportedly burgled of Rs 25000, according to the police.

Mr Anwar Khan, owner of a shop in Sector 32-D market filed a complaint to the police today morning that more than 125 branded watches, 60 mobile phone sets of companies like Nokia, Sony, BenQ and Reliance, 15-20 recharge coupons and cash Rs 22000 were stolen from his shop last night.

Mr Khan told the police that he closed his shop on Saturday evening and left the cash in the shop

A case under Sections 380 and 457 of the Indian Penal Code was registered in the Sector 34 police station.

In another incident, Mr Balram Ghai of Sector 38-A reported to the police that cash Rs 25000, one camera and some other articles were stolen from his residence, yesterday.

Vehicle stolen

Mr Lalit Kumar of Hallo Majra village reported to the police that his Maruti car (CH-03-E-5049) was stolen from Kali Mata Mandir in Sector 19 on December 11. A case under Section 379 of the IPC was registered in the Sector 19 police station.

Purse snatched

Ms Ambika Sahini of Sector 47 reported to the police that two unidentified youth on Yamaha motor cycle (PB-11-F-5733) snatched her purse containing Rs 3,500, a driving licence, a registration certificate and some other articles from near her residence on December 7.

Certificates missing

Ms Ashish Chandra of Sector 35-B reported to the police that an envelope containing a matriculation certificate, transfer certificate and marks sheet was misplaced from his carry bag some where in the market in Sector 35-C on December 11. The police has registered a DDR in this regards in the Sector 36 police station.



Two youths held for snatching woman’s purse
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 13
The UT police arrested two youths, for snatching a purse in Sector 35, today.

Karan (25) and Prashant (19) from Sector 56 snatched purse of Suman Sidhu, a resident of Sector 11, Panchkula. Ms Sidhu complained the police that two motorcycle-borne youths snatched her purse from near the petrol station in Sector 35 at 1.45 p.m. from near her office. The purse contained Rs 2,000, a gold-plated watch, a driving license and other articles. She was going with her two colleagues, when the incident happened.

“We could not note down the number of the motorcycle as the youth acted so fast and disappear in no time”, said Ms Sidhu. Some passersby noted down the number and informed the police. The police nabbed the youth at 2.30 p.m. from a near Sector 36, 37, 41 and 42 roundabout.

The police said the accused after taking the things out from the purse they disposed it of in an open area near the Beant Singh Memorial in Sector 42. The police recovered the stolen property from their possession and also recovered the purse from that area, said the SHO of Sector 36 police station.

The police said Karan is a drug addict while Prashant is student of 10+2. They had borrowed motorcycle of their friend for the incident.

A case under Section 379 and 456 of the Indian Penal Code was registered.



One held for immoral trafficking
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
The police has arrested Vicky, one of the three pimps, who had brought bar dancers from Mumbai and was in immoral trafficking in Panchkula and Punjab.

The accused has reportedly named two Punjab Police officers — Deputy Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of Police — among their regular clients. Senior police officers say that the accused was arrested today evening, and they are likely to get a list of all the persons who were supporting the flesh trade racket.

Vicky, along with Sanjay and Thakur alias Irfan, had brought two bar dancers from Mumbai on a monthly contract of Rs 40,000 each. The girls were supplied to different clients, who included top police officers and bureaucrats in Punjab, claim the local police.

Meanwhile, raids are being conducted to nab other accused — Sanjay and Thakur.


Three persons were injured in a clash between two groups at Old Panchkula last night, when a group of men came to forcibly evict a tenant from a shop here. Tenant Parvesh lodged a complaint with the police that the group led by Mr Charanjit Buddu charged at him with swords and other sharp-edged weapons when he refused to evict the shop. Parvesh, Charanjit and another person were injured in the clash.

Discharge application filed

The police today filed a discharge application in the court of Mr Ajay Aggarwal for Amit, Sumit and Manoj — the three accused in a case of homicide. They were accused of hurling stones at the residents of a slum colony in Sector 12-A, and a three-month-old child was killed after he was hit by a stone.

The police today claimed that the complainant in the case, Mohar Singh, had now given a statement that the child died after it fell off from her sister’s hands, and was hurt. Mr Aggarwal, while deferring the decision on the discharge application, released the three accused.


Two cars were reportedly stolen from ICL Certification Limited — a company in Industrial Area here last night. The security guard at the factory, Mr Rajiv, said that four persons came to the factory who assaulted him, tied his hands and locked him in a room. They then took away the two cars — a Qualis (HR-03D-8665) and Indica, parked in the factory premises. He said he managed to free his hands with great difficulty and then informed the General Manager of the company about the theft. 



Hot Millions’ sales tax records checked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
A team of the Sales Tax Department and Excise Department checked the account books and excise records of Hot Millions and its various branches here.

The exact quantum of evasion, if any, will be calculated only after going through the records. Officials confirmed that the records of liquor sales at Salad Bar were checked. The teams checked the records of the payment of the entertainment tax by Hot Millions for setting up video games at one of its outlets.

The Excise Department today also sent notices to the Chandigarh Club, Chandigarh Golf Range (CGA) and Sector 17-based Blue Ice, asking them as to why their bar licences should not be cancelled.

In the case of Blue Ice, the police had written that frequent brawls have been taking place there. Blue Ice has been asked to reply as to why its licence should not be cancelled in view of the law and order problem.

In case of the Chandigarh Club and CGA, liquor from Haryana was found being served at separate parties during a raid by the Excise Department yesterday. Even if the host has obtained licence to serve liquor, he is not allowed to serve liquor purchased from other states.


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