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74-yr-old woman murdered
Victim was a former HP Joint Director (Education)
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 25
A retired Joint Director of the Education Department, Himachal Pradesh, Ms Sundri Agnihotri (74), was murdered in broad daylight in the drawing room of her Sector 21 house today.

Ms Agnihotri's body was covered with a quilt while her face was kept uncovered. She was wearing a cap and socks and shoes. A knife was found on a sofa, while a piece of rope was found near her hand. The police said she might have been strangled before her throat was slit. However, there were no blood stains on the knife found on the sofa.

The servant of the house, Parkash, had gone with his family since morning to celebrate Christmas in a church. The police is trying to trace him.

Mr V.K. Agnihotri (85), husband of the deceased, who retired as Director of the Land Acquisition Department, Himachal Pradesh, noticed her lying on the floor at around 12.30 pm, when he came out from his room to have lunch. He called his neighbour, who called up Mukat Hospital for an ambulance. Doctors examined her and declared her dead. The police was informed about the incident at around 4 pm.

The SSP, UT, Mr Gaurav Yadav, visited the spot at around 7 pm and talked to police officers investigating the crime. The DSP (South) said the woman might have been strangled before her throat was slit. A room of the house was also ransacked. The police is also working on the theory of money being the motive behind the murder.

He said no locks were found broken in the house, which indicated that it was the work of a known person. A team from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory was called, which collected blood and other samples from the crime spot. A dog squad was also pressed into service to pick up vital clues.

Mr Agnihotri, being an aged person, could not hear any noise of resistance. The couple was living alone as their two sons are settled in Jaipur and Pune. Both their sons, Col Lalit Kumar Agnihotri and Col Rajiv Kumar Agnihotri, had taken voluntary retirement from the Army.

Parkash was living with the aged couple along with his family for the past seven years. He has two children.

The police said a neighbour had noticed the servant coming to the house at around 2 pm with an unidentified man on a scooter. The police has sounded an alert for the servant.

A case has been registered at the Sector 19 police station.

The murder has put a question mark on claims of the Chandigarh Police regarding its various schemes like the neighbourhood watch scheme, regular visits by cops to houses of elders living alone and keeping records of servants and tenants. 



Christmas chill makes a comeback
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The fabled “Christmas chill” manages to return, no matter how bright the sun has shone on any given day in December except the 25th. So was it today when the temperature dropped significantly, yet again, altering the weather systems in control of the region.

The drop was 3.2°C as compared to yesterday when the Met office had reported 19.2° C at 5.30 pm. Today at the same time, the temperature was just 16° C. But it was not the lowest of this month as many might be thinking. Weathermen had earlier also recorded 14°.

As the temperature dropped, humidity rose, again encouraging fog formation in the weather system. As against the humidity of 78 per cent recorded yesterday, the Met office today recorded a humidity of 83 per cent. Weathermen have forecast fog and mist formation for tomorrow.



Fun-filled X-mas for students
Tribune News Service

Students of Ryan International School depict the birth of Jesus as a part of the Christmas
Students of Ryan International School depict the birth of Jesus as a part of the Christmas celebrations in the school. 

Chandigarh, December 25
Students of Ryan International School celebrated Christmas by participating in various activities which had begun from December 21. Students from Classes III to VIII made Christmas cards. On December 22, a fashion show was organised followed by an inter-house carol-singing competition.

The Chandigarh and Panchkula branches of Euro Kids School celebrated Christmas by singing carols. The Christmas tree was decorated with colourful gifts. The children enjoyed their session with the Santa Claus.

At the Stepping Stones Senior Secondary School, Sector 37, students had a fun-filled day as the school wore a festive look. Santa Claus distributed sweets among the children. The children sang carols and danced to the tunes of “ We wish you a merry Christmas”.

Yagna contest

An inter-house yagna competition was held at MDAV High School, Sector 22 here. Ms Vasundhra Rehamni, Professor of Dayanand Chair, Panjab University, was the chief guest. Four students of each house performed the yagna. The competition ended with yagna prathana. The Principal, Rekha Arya, informed the students about the significance of yagna

Mahotsava at Dev Samaj

The 154th annual mahotsava of Dev Samaj began at Dev Samaj Bhavan, Sector 36, here on Saturday. The four-day event is celebrated every year to commemorate the birth of Bhagwan Devatma, the founder of the Dev Samaj.



School kids celebrate Christmas
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 25
A Christmas party was organised at Mother Mary School, Dashmesh Nagar, Kharar. Children came to school in fancy outfits. They were distributed cakes, sweets and gifts by Santa Claus. The school campus was decorated with stars, balloons, bells and a glowing Christmas tree. Children sang Christmas carols and danced to the tune of "We wish you a merry Christmas" with Santa Claus and the fairies. The school Principal, Mr E. Phillip, advised the children to follow the path of universal brotherhood.

A Christmas party was organised at Tiny Tots Foundation School, Mohali. The children came to school in fancy outfits. The school campus was decorated with stars, balloons, bells and a glowing Christmas tree. Children sang carols and exchanged cards. Ms N. K. Sobti, a senior teacher of Convent of Jesus and Mary, Pune, explained to the children the origin of the festival and instilled in them values of love, caring and sharing with the less fortunate.



Multi-storeyed housing mooted for city
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Concerned at the unprecedented boom in the real estate, particularly the residential property, at the recent auction here, a proposal to provide multi-storeyed rental accommodation has been mooted by the Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA).

With owning property going beyond the reach of the middle and even the higher classes, the housing accommodation in the city has literally become unaffordable. The steep price hike is definitely going to affect the rentals and only those having tonnes of money shall capitalise on the trend to multiply their wealth, says POWA general secretary, Mr R.P. Malhotra.

POWA feels that the Chandigarh Administration has the social as well as the administrative responsibility to provide affordable accommodation to the common citizen. Growing housing demand, scarcity of land and faulty laws and policies governing the real estate sector are a few major reasons for the costly rental accommodation.

The Chandigarh Administration and for that matter its only sponsored agency entrusted with the job of housing — the Chandigarh Housing Board — are not leaving any chance to capitalise on the housing paucity by devising policies to earn as much revenue as possible, Mr Malhotra said.

It is high time for the Administration to act and come to the rescue of the public at large. POWA suggests that the Administration should envisage a comprehensive plan for multi-storeyed housing complexes on rental basis.

For this, besides the CHB, land should be allotted for multi-storyed housing projects to private colonisers willing to provide quality and affordable rental housing accommodation. POWA says that the Chandigarh Housing Board should be entrusted with the task of a supervisory agency rather than promoting its own projects.

However, such a plan shall succeed only on doing away with obsolete rent laws as only then the investor shall feel safe to invest his money. POWA has demanded the withdrawal of Rent Act protection to tenants paying a rent less than Rs 1,500.

Besides creating ample employment opportunities, the plan, if contemplated and implemented comprehensively, shall unearth hoards of black money. 



Stamp duty hike ‘anti-investor’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Samadhaan, a pressure group for social justice, today termed the decision of the Punjab Government to hike the stamp duty by 50 per cent as "anti-investor, highly unjustified and in total contravention of the policies of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.”

An executive body meeting today said it was bound to have far-reaching effects on the economy of the country as it would drastically affect infrastructure development by marring the growth of the construction sector in the region.

Deploring the step, members said the government should adopt the policy of implementing user charges to generate funds for the development of the state and welfare of the population. Broad-based and rationalised taxation, besides giving better compliance, would attract less evasion. 



Reservation not applicable in restructuring: CAT
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The policy of reservation in favour of members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes is not applicable to the restructuring scheme of the Railways, the Chandigarh Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ruled.

Giving this decision on a bunch of applications filed by certain Railway employees, the Bench directed the Railways to consider the applicants and other eligible persons for placing them in appropriate pay scales under the restructuring scheme with all consequential benefits.

"The reservation for the SCs and STs will not be applicable when making promotions to the posts upgraded on account of restructuring of cadres", the Bench said, quoting a judgement of the Supreme Court.

"Where the total number of posts remained unaltered, though in different scales of pay as a result of regrouping, it would be a case of upgradation of posts. It would not be a case of additional vacancy or post being created to which the reservation principle would apply. If the case is restricted to all existing employees, who were redistributed into different scales of pay as a result of upgradation, there cannot be any reservation," the order said.

Saying that the matter had been examined keeping in view the observation of the Supreme Court, the Bench asked the Railways to implement it within three months from the date of the receipt of the order.

Going into the background of the introduction of reservation, the order said the framers of the Constitution had provided in Article 16 to make an exemption from equal opportunity of jobs under the State in favour of any class or classes of posts for the SCs and STs where they were not adequately represented.

However, it was never meant to give all the positions in a particular cadre to the reserved categories so as to put the unreserved categories to a big disadvantage, the order added 



Missing youth: 2 months on, no FIR
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, December 25
Mr Raghunath Singh Rawat, a resident of Sector 28, is a harassed man. Even over two months after his son, Satish Rawat (22), went missing under mysterious circumstances, the police is dragging its feet on the registration of an FIR.

The police has not registered an FIR despite written complaints to the UT Administrator, the IGP and the SSP by Mr Rawat.

Mr Rawat alleged that police was shielding the suspect, Harsh, a resident of Sector 20-B. In a complaint to the Administrator, he alleged that Harsh had kidnapped his son and might have murdered him before taking the money that his son got after selling his scooter.

Mr Rawat, a clerk in the UT Electricity Department, said his son left home on October 20 and a DDR was registered at the Sector 26 police station on November 17. Mr Rawat said he and his ailing wife were under depression after their son went missing.

During the search for his son, he met an auto dealer in Sector 41. The dealer told him that two youths, including Harsh, had sold a scooter (CH-03-N-3613) to him for Rs 17, 600 on October 17. The dealer also gave him a mobile number, which belonged to Harsh.

He then handed over the number to the police. The munshi at the Sector 26 police station, Mr Suresh Kumar, spoke to Harsh on the mobile, Harsh reportedly conceded that he was with Satish when he sold the scooter, but now he did not know the latter's whereabouts.

The SHO of the Sector 26 police station, Mr Jarnail Singh, claimed that the police could not establish Harsh's complicity in Satish's disappearance. "We have interrogated him and found nothing against him," the SHO claimed.

Asked about the police's “biased” role in the case, the SHO termed the allegation as "baseless".



NCC cadets carry out dress rehearsal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
NCC cadets selected to represent Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh at the national Republic Day Camp in New Delhi today carried out a full dress rehearsal at the concluding stages of pre-Republic Day Camp being held in Chandigarh.

A comprehensive rehearsal of the cultural and national integration presentation was also carried out to fine tune the timing and other aspects of the items incorporated into the presentation. Marks are deducted for non-adherence to the laid down timing and other stipulations. Four items, including group as well as solo songs and dances, will be presented.

The cadets are scheduled to meet the Governor of Haryana, Mr A.R. Kidwai, on December 29, before they depart for Delhi on December 30. 



Land given to Quark for a song: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 25
Mr Sukhbir Badal, Member of Parliament, today alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh’s government had “sold” prime land in Mohali to Quark at throwaway prices in the name of giving a boost to the IT industry. “All those concessions that are given to an IT industry and more were doled out to Quark. But what Quark is building here is not just an IT park, but a city that would have commercial and residential pockets. These would be sold by the company for large profits,” he alleged.

Mr Badal was speaking to mediapersons after inaugurating the works of Khalsa College Centenary Bhavan here today.

Pointing out that similar concessions had recently been given to Vipul Infrastructure, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress government had become a government of barter in which any thing and everything could be bought provided one was ready to pay the price for it.

He alleged that the government had sold Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), Mohali, a flagship company that was earning profits for the government to a European company that was not even dealing with tractors. “Companies like Sonalika who are into tractor-trailers were not even allowed to bid for the company’s shares. Why? Because the deal had already been struck with a finance company abroad,” he alleged.

When asked about the alleged role of the Akali government in the closure of Punwire, Mohali a blue chip company, Mr Badal said a CBI inquiry was on and many FIRs chargesheets had been filed. “But there is nothing against the Akalis in that,” he said.

Mr Badal demanded a CBI inquiry into the intranet scam allegedly involving the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh. Doubting the credibility of the Nehra Commission report that had reportedly exonerated Raninder Singh from the scam, Mr Badal alleged that the Chief Minister had tried to cover up his family’s role in it.

Stating that three years of the Congress rule in the state had been a reign of scams, Mr Badal pointed out that all these would be brought before the public when the Akali government came into power. “There is documentary proof against the Chief Minister’s son in the intranet scam but despite this, he has been let off,” he alleged.

Demanding that the government should be more accountable to the people, Mr Badal said the chief minister was not interested in public works. “The only time he gets out in public is when he is playing polo,” quipped Badal. “His government has had no achievement to its credit. He is running a government using the police and the vigilance,” he said.



Truckers mock SDM’s order
Park vehicles on government land
Bipin Bhardwaj

The illegal parking of trucks on the intersection of the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Panchkula-Patiala highways has virtually converted the site into a truck union.
The illegal parking of trucks on the intersection of the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Panchkula-Patiala highways has virtually converted the site into a truck union. — Tribune photo by Pankaj Sharma

Zirakpur, December 25
The illegal parking of trucks and other vehicles on the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat land along the Chandigarh-Panchkula road has come up again despite directions of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. The Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat has virtually turned a blind eye towards the encroachment.

With the coming up of an illegal parking lot in the intersection of the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Panchkula-Zirakpur road in less than a fortnight after its removal, the competency of the civic body authorities has come under a cloud.

The illegal parking of heavy vehicles on the government land has virtually turned the place into a truck union. To provide tea and eatables to the truckers, tea stalls and dhabas have also come up. This has also affected the smooth flow of traffic on the busy road.

Parking of loaded tractors and mushrooming of slum along highway has become a cause of concern for the residents of Sunny Enclave a housing colony, located opposite the site.

Mr S.C. Dhall, a resident of Sunny Enclave, complained that the illegal parking of trucks and mushrooming of jhuggis have put the colony residents to inconvenience.

He said, “I met the in charge of the Lohgarh police post and gave a complaint in this regard. He expressed his inability in removing the encroachment and said these could not be removed unless the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, declares the area a no-parking zone.”

Mr Narinder Sangha, SDM, along with Mr Narinder Sharma, president and Mr Girish Verma, Executive Officer of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, had visited the area on November 22 and asked them to clear the area of the encroachments.

Taking note of the problem, the Inspector-General (Zonal) of Punjab Police, Mr Rajinder Singh had visited the area on November 30 and directed the police to get it removed. He had also directed them to challan the trucks parked illegally at various places in Zirakpur area.

The residents complained that the Nagar Panchayat authorities have not only ignored the directions of the local administration but also disobeyed the directions of the IGP.



Vajpayee's birthday celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
A community lunch was organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party on the occasion of the 80th birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at Shiv Mandir, Phase II, Ram Darbar, here today.

The 'bhandara', which began at noon and concluded at 3 pm, attracted a large number of people.

The state office-bearers as well as the district and mandal presidents of the BJP were present on the occasion.

Earlier, the local unit of the BJP held a meeting at the party office. The meeting was chaired by the president of the local unit, Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, and attended by the executive members and other office-bearers of the party.

The meeting highlighted the role of the NDA government in enhancing the prestige of India. 



Lack of civic amenities in Sec 15 decried
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 25
The Citizens Welfare Association has decried the lack of civic amenities in Sector 15 here. From the problem of widening of roads to maintaining sanitation and stray cattle menace, the association has vent its ire at the Municipal Council. The association said the water pressure supplied by HUDA to houses here was too less and residents staying on the first and second floors could not get enough water supply.

Mr S.K. Nayar, president of the association, said the roads in the sector were in a deplorable condition with potholes, and needed to be broadened. Mr Nayar also lamented the deplorable condition of public parks , inaccessibility of branches and ATMs of important banks and poor sanitation in Sector 15.



Pickpocket arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 25
Mr Ranjit Singh of Mansa Devi Complex, Sector 5, Panchkula, has reported to the police that he caught Chetan, a resident of Mouli Jagran Complex, red-handed while picking his pocket. The wallet in his pocket contained Rs 110. The police has arrested the accused and registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC at the Sector 17 police station.

Purse stolen

Mr Inderpal Singh, a resident of Sector 38-C, has filed a complaint with the police that someone stole the purse of his wife at the ISBT, Sector 43, on Wednesday evening. The purse contained Rs 1,500 and some jewellery. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 36 police station.



3 petty thieves nabbed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 25
The local police today nabbed three persons allegedly responsible for a series of small thefts in the township.

According to a press statement issued by the SSP, Ropar, Mr S. P. Singh, the two thieves were caught red handed while stealing the gutter covers etc. A stolen scooter has also been recovered from the two.

The two accused were nabbed at a special 'naka' set up by a team led by Mr Tirlochan Singh, SHO, Phase VIII, yesterday.

The accused were riding a scooter (PB-27A 2593) which was later found to be stolen.

The accused, Sham and Manga, both residents of a jhuggi near Mundi Kharar, reportedly confessed that they had stolen the scooter from the Phase VII, Mohali.

They also told the police that they sold the gutter covers and other similar items to a junk dealer Vicky of the Guru Nanak Colony.

The police later nabbed Vicky also. A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC has been registered against the three.



Shop burgled

Panchkula, December 25
Thieves broke into a shop in Sector 17 last night and reportedly decamped with cash to the tune of Rs 5,000 and items worth Rs 6,000. TNS



Chain snatched

Mohali, December 25
Kamaljit Singh of Phase I here complained to the police that unidentified persons snatched his gold chain near his house late on Thursday night. He told the police that he was in the process of shifting to his new house when he was accousted by the miscreants who snatched his chain. TNS



Woolen Expo warms up chilled crowds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
From Angoras to pashminas, jackets to stoles, suits to shawls, the Woolen Expo at the Sector 17 Circus Ground boasts of these and much more.

Being a weekend, the expo attracted a number of visitors from all age groups, all on a shopping spree and interested in anything from the Rajasthani 'gajak' to quilts and bed spreads.

Tomorrow being the last day of the expo, the organisers offered huge discounts to the customers in an effort to sell as much as they could.

The Angora wool shawls, knits and colourful Kullu socks as also the Rajasthani jewellery proved to be a rage with the crowd.

The stalls of the delicately embroidered shawls and suits all the way from Kashmir, the jamdani stoles with sequin work and the intricate embroidery of Gujarat splashed on shawls attracted a lot of clients as did the stalls of games and books for children.

The second-hand books on every subject at a nominal price of Rs 50 each, the showpieces in wrought iron and brass as well as the kitchenware were also up for sale at the expo which had stalls to cater to every taste.

The Bikaneri snacks, eatables and decoration pieces were also displayed at the expo.


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