C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Additional Director of Local Govt killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

G.R. Bansal Lalru, December 26
Mr G.R. Bansal, an Additional Director of the Department of Local Government, Punjab, who sustained severe injuries in a road accident on Saturday, succumbed to his injuries at the PGI, Chandigarh, this morning.

He had met with an accident on the ‘killer’ Kalka-Ambala highway near here, late last night.

According to the police, Mr Bansal along with Mr J.B. Goel, Secretary Technical Education, Punjab, and two others - Mr A.K. Virdi and Mr Ram - were on their way back to Panchkula after paying their obeisance at a religious place in Balesar, Rajasthan, when their Esteem car (CH-03K-7697) rammed into a stationary multi-axle vehicle (HR-38D-9163) on the highway at 11 pm on Saturday.

Mr Bansal, Mr Goel, Mr Virdi and Mr Ram sustained serious injuries while the car driver, Mr Bhushan escaped unhurt.

A critically injured Mr Bansal and other victims were rushed to a private hospital in Panchkula. Since the CT Scan machine at the hospital was out of order so Mr Bansal was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. Struggling for his life for six hours, Mr Bansal had a massive heart attack and he breathed his last this morning.

Mr J.B. Goel, Mr A.K. Virdi and Mr Ram who had also sustained injuries were also admitted to the same hospital. Mr Goel was later shifted to Silver Oak Hospital in Mohali. The others were discharged after preliminary medical assistance.

According to Mr Bansal’s family members, who were following the Esteem car in a Tata Qualis, the accident took place on the highway when the driver of the car tried to save a cyclist and lost control over the wheel. The car rammed into the multi-axle vehicle, which was loaded with iron rods and parked on the highway. Iron roads pierced the body of Mr Bansal who was sitting on the front seat.

Mr Goel received fracture on his one leg while Mr Ram sustained injuries on his forehead, according to daughter of the deceased, who was travelling in the Tata Qualis.

The body was handed over to the family after post-mortem examinations at the PGI, this afternoon. The drive of the multi-axle vehicles is said to have absconded.

After impounding the vehicles, the police has registered a case under Sections 283, 337 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code at Lalru police station.



Panel to look into CGHS dispensary’s working
Concern over ‘skeleton facilities, erratic functioning’
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The functioning of the Central Government Health Service (CGHS) Dispensary in Sector 45, which caters to the needs of thousands of Central Government employees and pensioners of the city, Mohali and Panchkula, has come under scanner.

Miffed at its “erratic functioning” and repeated complaints from the beneficiaries, the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee (CGEWCC) has formed a subcommittee to suggest ways and means to improve its functioning.

The subcommittee, formed under the chairmanship of the Mr L.K. Puri, Chief Post Master General, Punjab and Chandigarh circle, will submit its report by December 31, sources told Chandigarh Tribune.

The sources said serious concern was expressed at the functioning of the dispensary at a recent meeting of the CGEWCC held here.

It was alleged that the dispensary provided only “skeleton facilities” to over one lakh Central Government employees and there was a glaring “mismatch” between the number of doctors and card holders.

Due to lack of facilities at the dispensary, the government employees and pensioners had been facing a lot of problems. Clinical and diagnostic facilities were limited at the dispensary and no super-specialities hospitals were recognised by the CGHS, further compounding the problems of the employees, Mr Yash Pal Bhagat, committee secretary, alleged.

It had been a long-standing demand of the Central Government employees that they should be allowed to avail of facilities directly from the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and General Hospital, Sector 16. Currently, only certain cases are referred to these hospitals.

In Delhi, the employees are free to purchase medicines from the open market and the same facility should be extended to the employees here, an official said.

Moreover, apart from augmenting the facilities at the local dispensary, at least two more dispensaries at Panchkula and Mohali should be set up, he added.

Also, there was a need to provide emergency services at the dispensary and extend working hours from the present 7.30 am to 1.30 pm.



Twist to sexual harassment case 
Evidence says Sabu was not in the city
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, December 26
In a new twist to the sexual harassment case involving the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Regional Officer, Mr P.I. Sabu, the evidence with the Chandigarh Police has revealed that Mr Sabu was not in Chandigarh on December 14, the day on which a Class-IV woman employee had allegedly been harassed and humiliated in the board office in Sector 32 here.

The Class IV employee, Ms Sumitra, in a complaint at the Sector 34 police station had alleged that on December 14, when she went to the room of the Regional Officer, she was harassed and abused by him.

On the basis of the complaint, the police had begun investigations into the matter. A Sub-Inspector from the Sector 34 police station had gone to the board's regional office on last Friday.

As per the evidence with the police, the Regional Officer was attending the annual function of the junior and senior wing of The Senior Study School, Pultighar (Amritsar).

He attended the two functions as the chief guest as indicated in the invitation card of the school.

The Principal of The Senior Study School- II, Mr Vijay Mehra, in a letter written back to the staff of the Regional Officer had thanked him for attending the school function.

The police would be procuring the photographs which would prove that Mr Sabu was attending the function of the school at Amritsar.

In the complaint made by the Class IV employee, it had been stated that after being humiliated by the Regional Officer, she came out of the room and then a junior assistant went inside to ask Mr Sabu about the matter.

The evidence with the police revealed that the Junior Assistant, Mr Harpreet Singh, had come late to the office.

The attendance register showed that the junior assistant, who was a witness in the case of harassment of the Class IV employee, had taken a prior permission to come late to the office. Against his name 'LP' (late permission) had been marked.

The police was probing the authenticity of the version of the complainant and was also verifying the evidence submitted by the Regional Officer in his defence.

In another complaint of harassment made by Ms Sunita Rani, an assistant at the board's regional office, in her complaint at the Sector 34 police station had alleged that on November 25 she was called by the Regional Officer to his room where he made advances towards her. But as it turned out, on November 25, Mr Sabu was on an inspection of the Partap Public School, Hambran road (Ludhiana).

The Director of the School, Ms Inder Pal, told the Tribune that the Regional Officer along with the Principal of Kendriya Vidylaya, Kapurthala, Ms Sham Chawla, was at the school from 11 am to 5 pm.

The Tribune is in possession of the evidence to show that the Regional Officer did not attend the office on November 25 and December 14. A senior police official told the Tribune that investigations into the case were expected to be completed in the next two days.

Sources in the board revealed that the board had decided to hand over the investigations into the case of the tampering of answer books to the Chandigarh Police. All the papers and the tampered answer books in possession with the headquarters were being handed over to the police. To ensure a fair inquiry , the board authorities had directed the Regional officer and the Assistant Secretary (Answer Book Cell), Mr M.P.Arora, to proceed on leave till the investigations were over.



Sector 21 murder: theft was not the motive
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
Even one day after the gruesome murder of Sundri Agnihotri (74) at her residence in Sector 21, the Chandigarh Police is still groping in the dark, entirely clueless about either the murderers or their motive.

Agnihotri was murdered in broad-daylight yesterday and her body covered with a quilt, was found by her husband in the drawing room of their house. A knife was found on a sofa where her body was lying and a piece of rope was found near her hand. The police said she might have been strangulated before her throat was slit with a knife. There were no blood stains on the knife found on the sofa.

Servant of the house Parkash who had gone to celebrate Christmas with his family yesterday morning returned in the night and was thoroughly interrogated by the police. However, sources in the police said, nothing could be gathered from him and he seemed innocent.

The police said today six other persons had been rounded up for interrogation but the investigations were not moving in any particular direction. A police source added that the initial theory that the murder was done by thieves who had stolen valuables and cash from the house was rejected by the family of the deceased. Family members reportedly informed the police that all valuables including Sundri’s gold bangles and cash, were found in the house. With nothing missing from the house and the servant’s return to the house had left the police completely directionless.

The police added that Agnihotri’s post-mortem report was still awaited as hospital was waiting for the constitution of the board for the same. It added that fresh samples had been handed over to the forensic team for investigations.

Mr V.K. Agnihotri (85), husband of the deceased, who had retired as Director, Land Acquisition Department of Himachal Pradesh, noticed his wife lying on the floor at around 12:30 pm, when he came out from his room to have his lunch. He tried to move her and found that she was dead. He immediately called his neighbour and told him that his wife was dead. The neighbour came to his house and called Mukat Hospital for ambulance. Doctors medically examined her and declared her dead. 



City to become role model, says Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today reiterated his commitment and firm resolve to making the Union Territory a “role model” of development, peace and prosperity for the rest of the country.

He added that the realisation of the dream was possible only with the support, cooperation, love and vision of the people of the city.

Addressing a gathering at a Christmas get-together organised by the Christian Community of Chandigarh, the Governor said India had shown the way to live in peace and harmony to the rest of the world, despite its multilingual and multicultural civilisation.

The “unity in diversity” has acted as an integrating factor and cementing force in making India a strong and vibrant nation. He invited public to share their ideas and suggestions to harmonise conflicting needs.

General Rodrigues made a fervent appeal to people from all walks of life to come forward and focus their attention on the uplift of the needy and poor, and work for creating a caring, giving, classless society —the message given by Jesus Christ and other saints and sages through the ages.

Most Rev Gerald John Mathias, Bishop of Simla-Chandigarh Diocese, who was the inspiration behind the get-together narrated a story centered around humility, love and blessing.

Carols by famous Rodrigues brothers, Errol and Edwin, a prayer dance by tiny tots of St Anne and Christmas messages by the Bishop marked the celebrations. The Governor and his wife were felicitated by the Christian Community on the occasion.

Prof Christopher Edwin read the felicitation address. The programme ended with Santa Claus distributing sweets to children.



Widow struggles to get pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Two years after her husband died, an aged widow of an ex-serviceman continues to struggle for getting her family pension sanctioned even though it should have been released within weeks of her husband passing away.

Eighty-year old Gurdial Kaur’s husband, L/Nk Amar Singh of the Bombay Sappers, had died in August, 2002. Since then she has been running from pillar to post for getting her rightful dues.

“We have written repeatedly to the Regimental Centre in Kirkee and have also taken up the matter with Army Headquarters and the Controller of Defence Accounts, but little headway has been made,” president of the Ex-servicemen’s Grievance Cell, Lieut Col S.S. Sohi, said.

“The response so far is that the relevant information is not available at the centre because the documents concerned were over 50 years old and have hence been destroyed,” he added.

He said that under normal circumstances, family pension was sanctioned within six to eight weeks after a couple of verifications by the local authorities. Further all relevant information concerning service and family pension is recorded at the time of retirement and maintained at the centre, he added.

Similar is the case of 76-year old Ajmer Kaur, who is fighting for her pension since her husband, Hav Ujjagar Singh, a resident of Fatehaulapur village in Punjab, had died in August, 2003.

He, too, belonged to the Bombay Sappers and non-availability of old records is being cited as the reason for the pension being held up.

Meanwhile, two other aged widows fighting for their pension for the past about two years, have finally got their dues. Colonel Sohi, who had taken up their case, said that the documents of 85-year-old resident of Balongi village, Surat Kaur, had been misplaced by the pension disbursing authorities.

It was after repeated communication with the Sikh Regimental Centre and the pension authorities that the Regimental Center sent a set of duplicate documents. These were then forwarded to the Controller of Defence Accounts, which issued fresh orders for sanction of pension along with arrears.

Balwant Kaur, whose husband Lal Singh, had served with the Bombay Sappers too had to struggle for two years as the relevant documents were not available with the centre.



Relief for Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Following tidal waves resulting from a massive quake in the Indian Ocean affecting the eastern coast and the Andamans, Western Command will be sending 40 tonnes of rations for the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The rations are expected to be airlifted from Chandigarh tomorrow. So far, no troops from Western Command will be joining in the relief operations. Manpower is being made available by Southern Command.

The Chandigarh Air Force Station, meanwhile, has been placed on alert to airlift rescue teams and relief material. “We are on the standby, but have not received any orders so far to undertake rescue sorties,” a senior officer at 12 Wing said this evening.

The IAF’s Southern Air Command is already undertaking sorties to airlift relief material to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Chennai has been made the hub of air operations across the Bay of Bengal.

Chandigarh has three transport squadrons, including a helicopter unit. Heavy light aircraft like the IL-76 and the Mi-26 as well as the AN-32 from this base have rendered yeoman’s service during times of distress in the past.



Year of sweet IT dreams and sour MC reality
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 26
With Mohali emerging as a major IT and BPO destination this year, the property prices in the township skyrocketed virtually overnight.
The 40-acre Quark city, an integrated township dedicated to the IT industry, was inaugurated by the Chief Minister giving the much- needed fillip to the local industry.

But in the process, owning commercial and residential plots in Mohali became a distant dream for the ordinary buyer.

In fact, the year began with the Punjab Chief Minister's visit to the Government College, Mohali, in the first week of January where he announced that Mohali would emerge as the hub of IT industry.

Come February and the first flower show of Mohali — Guldasta —was organised by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

A flower show, a cultural feast, competitions for children and many other events were organised during the two-day bonanza that proved to be a hit.

PUDA also got a new Chief Administrator, Mr A.S. Chattwal, who replaced Mr Sanjay Kumar.

In March, the Punjab School Education Board made headlines when many of the class X and Class XII examinations conducted by the Board were postponed following the widespread leakage of question papers through the state.

The exams were rescheduled and conducted again but left a question mark about the credibility of the examination system in the state.

The Board also got a new Chairman this year. Dr H.S. Sidhu, a renowned economist of the state, was entrusted the task following the retirement of Dr Kehar Singh.

Cholera broke out at a BSF camp in Kharar in June. More than 20 persons from the camp, suffering from diarrhea, were rushed to the Civil Hospital at Mohali and PGI.

The Mohali residents gave a poor response to the Lok Sabha elections in May with only 37 per cent of the total voters casting their vote, the lowest polling percentage in the Ropar constituency.

While August brought good news with the JCT Electronics Limited re-opening its gates after the company's closure in March, 2002, companies like the Punjab Recorders Limited and Electronics Systems Punjab Limited (ESPL) closed down leaving hundreds jobless.

Another fire in the Ranbaxy's unit here that led to the death of one employee in October refreshed memories of the series of blasts and fire that took place last year.

Questions regarding industrial safety remained unanswered as a major fire broke out in the Punjab Communication Limited here earlier.

The year also saw widespread protests among the allottees of residential plots floated as the part of schemes by the Punjab Small Scale Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) and PUDA.

While 280 freehold residential plots were allotted in the Phase VIII A Industrial Area by the PSIEC, over 3900 residential plots had been allotted by PUDA in Sectors 76 to 80 in 2000. The allottees had not been given the physical possession of the allotted plots.

The farmers of villages around the township spent the year protesting against the acquisition of their land by PUDA.

While the protest meant that there would be no carving of the new sectors in the township, the farmers too met with no success. The government, however, formed a committee to consider a new land acquisition policy for the state.

Professor Chinmoy Shanker Dey of the Department of Biotechnology, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), was awarded the National Bioscience Award by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

Dr Dey, had also been awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, 2003, in medical sciences. NIPER too had a new Director Professor P. Rama Rao from within the Institute.

The work on the Municipal Council building in Sector 68 finally began in November this year when Chaudhry Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Government, Punjab, laid its foundation stone.

The Council could not privatise octroi collection in the township this year following a stay by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, perpetual problems of stray cattle and sanitation remained unsolved through the year with the Council failing miserably on both counts.

The township residents also paid for a lack of coordination between PUDA, MC and the PWD.

While the Phase V residents endlessly waited for the government to solve the problem of flooding, the issue of the maintenance of gardens and drinking water supply to the new sectors remained unsolved.

In August, the students of the Sahibzada Ajit Singh Institute of Information Technology got a rare chance of interacting with the President of India, as part of an online videoconferencing interactive session.

But it came to naught halfway during the session when a communication snag cut off the institute from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. 



Hike commutation to 40 pc, say pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Senior citizens’ day was celebrated by the Punjab Pensioners’ Association at the Sanatan Dharam Mandir, in Sector 22, here today. Speakers from among the retired employees of the Punjab Government and the Central Government drew attention of the audience towards a decision of the Supreme Court that they ought to be respected and taken care of socially and financially.

The function was presided over by Mr Ajit Singh Bagri, Mr Prem Sagar Sharma, Mr Darshan Singh Kheri, Mr B.R. Maini, Mr Pratap Singh Lamba, and Mr Khushal Singh Naga, all office-bearers of the Punjab Pensioners’ Association (PPA).

Mr Bagri expressed anguish that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Amarinder Singh had not tried to redress the grievances of pensioners.

Their demands included implementing 50 per cent pension of the basic pay scale as had been done in Haryana and the Central Government. The PPA passed a resolution that commutation should be increased from 33 to 40 per cent, adding that widows getting pension on compassionate grounds should also be entitled to dearness allowance as was the practice earlier. They also demanded that all those pensioners who live beyond 80 years should be given an additional 15 per cent as pension as was true for the MLAs of Punjab.

The various speakers appealed to all pensioners to remain united and announced the gherao of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in the coming budget session. The senior citizens appealed to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to abstain from encouraging foreign direct investment.



Shift seer case from Tamil Nadu: Swami Nareshacharya
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Swami Ram Nareshacharya Ji from Kashi today demanded that the trial of Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati’s case should be shifted from Tamil Nadu in the interest of justice.

Coming down heavily on the vindictive attitude of the Tamil Nadu Government in handling the case, the Swamiji also came down heavily on the role of the Central Government which, he alleged, had remained a silent spectator to the feelings of the majority community. The Swamiji is on a visit to Chandigarh.

He claimed that the Kanchi seer had been serving the suffering humanity by opening the hospitals and educational institutions. By arresting him, the government had forgotten his services to the humanity and tried to strike at the very tenets of the Hinduism.



Watch scheme a failure: residents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Terming the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme of the Chandigarh police as a complete failure, the president of the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations, Mr P.C. Sanghi, said that yesterday’s murder of Ms Sundri Agnihotri, in broad daylight has put a question mark on the claims of the police regarding increased night patrolling.



Thieves give slip to residents
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
In a dramatic incidence, thieves, who could have been nabbed, gave a slip to residents and escaped easily after committing a crime.
It is learnt that when Mr Avijeet and his family returned from gurdwara at around 6.30 pm, he noticed that locks of his house in Sector 47 were broken and it was closed from the inside.

Neighbours suggested to lock the house from the outside and to inform the police. The police was informed after 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the theives turned off the lights of drawing room but the lights of one room was on. They even knocked the doors from inside. When people raised the alarm, the thieves jumped from the second floor on first floor then on the ground and escaped.

A cash of Rs 7,000 is reportedly missing from the house. Interestingly, the lock of house 2611/1 was also broken. The house belongs to Punjab, MLA, Santokh Singh Chaudhary. No loss of property was reported. At present, he is not living here. The police is investigating the case.



Maruti car stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
Mr Baljinder Singh, resident of Sector 55, lodged a complaint that his Maruti car (No. PB-13-0024) had been stolen from Sector 42 on Friday.
Mr Paramjit Singh resident of Baterla village, lodged a complaint that his Kinetic Honda scooter (No CH-01-S-4015) had been stolen from Sector 17, on Saturday.

Mr Ratish Sood, resident of Sector 8, lodged a complaint that his camera had been stolen from showroom.

Mr Samir Bector, resident of Sector 23, lodged a complaint that his Nokia mobile phone had been stolen from Sector 37 petrol pump on Saturday. Cases have been registered.

Gambling: The local police arrested Surinder Kumar, resident of Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, for gambling near Government High School, Sector 26, on Saturday and recovered Rs 250 from him.

A case under Section 13-A/3/67 of the Gambling act has been registered. Later, the accused got bailed.

Telephone cable: Mr V.K. Mahajan, Divisional Engineer, Telephone Exchange, Sector 34, lodged a complaint that two rolls of telephone cable had been stolen from Sector 45 during the intervening night December 24 and 25. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.



Education board clerk in VB custody
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 26
A Kharar court yesterday remanded a clerk of the Punjab Education Department and another person in two-day custody of Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) for their alleged involvement in a racket pertaining to the alleged illegal transfer of teachers in the state, reportedly unearthed by the VB.

Ravinderpal Singh and Harjinder Singh were directed by Duty Magistrate Ranjan Khullar to be produced again before the court here on Monday.

Arrested by the VB on Friday, the accused were produced before the court here yesterday.

Seeking 14-day VB remand of the accused, the prosecution submitted that the involvement of other persons in the racket and details of the money exchanged under the racket and to whom it was circulated were yet to be ascertained.

Informing the court, the prosecution said one of the accused was posted as clerk in the head office of Education Department (Secondary) in Chandigarh and had “misused” his power and “forged” the signatures of department’s deputy director to order the transfer of 18 teachers of the department to their desired places across the state.

The prosecution contended that the accused had “accepted” gratification for extending the “favours”.

Opposing the prosecution’s plea, the defense counsel refuted the allegations levelled against the accused while pleading their innocence.

A case under relevant Sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered at Mohali VB police station yesterday. 



Items worth 30 lakh stolen from shop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Thieves decamped with video cameras and other electronic items worth around Rs 30 lakh from the Sony World showroom in Sector 8 here today. According to the police the burglary reportedly took place sometime last night and was discovered this morning by Mr Sanjay Jain, the owner of the shop.

The police said Sanjay had come in the morning to get the shop cleaned when found both shutter-locks broken and the shop ransacked. He realised that 25 video digital still cameras that were on display were missing from the showroom. Some DVD recorders and other electronic accessories were also found missing. Some amount of cash from the cash box too had been taken by the thieves.

Interestingly, the thieves left the various laptops on display untouched.


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