C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Girl kills mother with lover’s help
Our Correspondent

Inderjit Kaur Deepak
Inderjit Kaur Deepak

Kharar, March 1
A woman was murdered by her young daughter and her alleged lover here late last night. The cold-blooded crime, which sent shock waves in the small town, was committed with the two killers first giving the middle-aged widow sedatives, then attempting to strangle her and ultimately slashing her wrists.

Bhupinder Kaur, who worked in the Punjab School Education Board at Mohali, was murdered by her daughter, Inderjit Kaur, (21) with the help of her lover, Deepak, around 1 a.m. Inderjit Kaur admitted to mediapersons that she had committed the crime and had used knives to slash the wrists of her mother.

The room where the murder took place presented a ghastly sight. The bed, on which the body was lying, was full of blood.

The murder was the result of a well-planned conspiracy which was being hatched by Inderjit Kaur and Deepak for the past many days.

Inderjit Kaur had allegedly sent her younger brother, Gagan, to her maternal grandparents’ place some days ago so that the two were free to carry out their plans.

According to the police, Inderjit Kaur first gave sleeping pills to her mother at lunch time and later she was again given the pills in the ‘Chapattis” at dinner. When Bhupinder Kaur went off to sleep, Inderjit Kaur contacted Deepak on the mobile phone who soon reached the house of his beloved. Deepak lived just a few houses away in the same lane.

After committing the crime the two lovers came up with a story to mislead the police. In the morning Inderjit Kaur, who had her hands and legs tied, reached near the gate when she heard someone passing in the street. She reportedly started banging at the gate trying to catch the attention of a passerby. It is learnt that the passerby stopped after seeing the girl and called the neighbours. Inderjit Kaur told the neighbours, who gathered at her house, that some persons had forcibly entered her house last night and tied her legs and arms. She told them that later they killed her mother and took away cash and jewellery after carrying out a search.

However, the police team that reached the house of the deceased could not digest the story narrated by Inderjit Kaur and suspected some foul play. The police questioned that if the mother had been murdered by those persons, why was the girl spared who had no marks of any injury on her body? Why were the gold bangles of the deceased taken away and not the gold earrings that Inderjit Kaur was wearing? However, during the police questioning the girl admitted that the two of them were involved in the crime.

According to the police, two knives had been used in the crime. While the girl hid one of them in a “diwan” lying in one of the rooms, Deepak hid the other one in a house nearby. Deepak was arrested by the police from his house.

The case is being investigated by SHO Gurcharan Singh with the help of CIA in charge, Mr Gurdeep Singh.

According to the police, Inderjit Kaur was studying in BA final in Government College, Sector 42, Chandigarh, while Deepak worked with a DJ company. Their affair was going on for the past three years.

Mr S.S. Garewal, SP, (D), told mediapersons at the police station here that Inderjit Kaur, who belonged to a Jat Sikh family, had an affair with the youth belonging to another community. Bhupinder Kaur used to object to her daughter’s roaming around with the boy which used to annoy the two.

A post-mortem examination of the body was done by a board of three doctors — Dr H.S. Oberoi, Dr Pushpinder Sapra and Dr Sukhwinder Kaur — at the Civil Hospital here. It is learnt that no ligature marks were witnessed on the neck of the deceased by the doctors though injury marks on both the wrists were there. The viscera has been sent for a chemical examination to Patiala to know the exact cause of death.

Mr Balwant Singh, brother of the deceased who lived in Sia Khurd village, said they came to know about the incident at 7 a.m. today when the family received a phone call from a neighbour. He said he could not talk to Inderjit Kaur about the crime as she had been taken away by the police by the time they reached Kharar.



NOC to Quark: fire officer suspended
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 1
The tussle between the local Fire Brigade and the management of Quark City over the issue of a no-objection certificate to the multi-crore project took a new turn when the Fire Station Officer, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, was suspended by the Department of Local Government today.

The orders, issued by Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary to the department, said the suspension would be with immediate effect. The charge sheet is to be issued later. During the period of suspension, the headquarters of Mr Lakhwinder Singh will be the Municipal Council, Barnala.

Earlier, another Fire Station Officer based here, Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, was transferred to the Municipal Council, Sangrur, on February 17. He had raised objections on various grounds in writing to the grant of a no-objection certificate relating to fire safety to Quark City.

Sources said that there was an argument between Mr Lakhwinder Singh and the MD of Quark City at a meeting held in the office of a senior officer in Chandigarh today. Mr Lakhwinder Singh had reportedly wanted to know from the MD whether Quark had taken permission for the construction of high-rise buildings.

Earlier, the proposed building site was visited by Mr Sandhu, who then sent a report regarding the issue of the NOC to the Ropar Deputy Commissioner on November 19 last year. The report pointed out, among other things, that construction activity was going on at full swing without taking the required permission in this regard. It was also stated in the report that Quark City was surrounded by certain industrial units on whose premises explosive items were stored. Quark was also running a unit in which high-speed diesel had been stored underground. The management of this unit had allegedly not made fire-fighting arrangements according to the National Building Code, 1983, the report had said.



70 structures demolished
Our Correspondent

Mani Majra, March 1
Continuing with its anti-encroachment drive, the UT, Estate Office demolished 70 structures, that had come up illegally along a road in pocket no 8 near Indira Colony, here today.

The residents of the area objected to the removal of a structure in a cremation ground and the non removal of a liquor shop in locality.

Equipped with six earth movers, a crane and five trucks a team of the enforcement wing of the Estate Office today removed four religious structures, 30 junk yards and some other shops. To avoid any untoward incident, over 200 police personnel were also deployed at the site.

The demolition drive was carried out for about eight hours in the presence of Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, ADC, Mr SK Setia, Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) and Mr Suresh Kumar, SDO (Enforcement).

The officials, however, added that the liquor shop owner had been paying rent to the government for operating from there. They claimed that 40 acres of encroached land has been cleared of encroachments. 



Confusion at tehsil office following hike in stamp duty
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
Confusion prevailed at the tehsil office today following the hike in stamp duty by the Punjab Government from the current 6 per cent to 9 per cent for all property sale and conveyance deeds that are registered in the cities and towns.

Not a single registry or sale deed was executed through the day at the office with officials waiting for written orders regarding the increase in stamp duty. In the absence of any instructions from the DC’s office, the tehsildar’s office restricted itself to granting power of attorneys.

The Punjab Government yesterday promulgated an ordinance for imposing additional stamp duty on registration of conveyance deeds at the rate of 3 per cent, over and above the present rate of 6 per cent in areas falling under municipalities and municipal corporations with immediate effect.

“But we are still to receive any orders to this effect. Till then I guess everyone will have to wait,” said Mr Mandeep Singh Dhillon, Mohali Tehsildar.

Sources also pointed out that since many times such decisions are revoked or rolled back, a majority of the sale deeds registrations would be put off for some time. “Today we had very few persons who came for work at the office. Property dealers would have asked every one to wait till a final letter regarding the immediate implementation of the orders is received,” pointed out Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM, Mohali.

Unhappy over the hike, property dealers in the township are, however, not so hopeful of a rollback. “The increase is too much. But it is at least not as high as 12 per cent during the last Congress regime in the state. Now buyers would have to pay 9 per cent to PUDA for a conveyance deed and later if this property is sold another 9 per cent for the registration of the sale,” said Mr Surinder Singh Saini, a property dealer in the township.

It is not just the long wait for written orders that is leading to all that confusion. The enhanced rate of 9 per cent would be applicable also to rural areas, falling within the 5 km peripheries from the outer limits of the municipalities and the municipal corporations. “We would have a rough idea of which villages are included in these limits and which are not. But in cases where some parts of the village falls within the limit and the rest does not, we would need a demarcated plan to follow,” said Mr Dhillon.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, was not available for comments.



Mohali Test acid test for security agencies
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The prospect of terrorists and enemy agents trying to slip into the country along with several thousand Pakistani nationals crossing into India to view the Indo-Pak cricket match is keeping intelligence and security agencies on their toes.

About 8,000 Pakistani nationals are expected travel through Punjab on their way to Mohali for the match next week.

What is worrying the authorities is that this could provide a safe and easy passage into India for undesirable elements.

"It would definitely be a tough task to keep a tab on such a large number of foreigners," an intelligence officer said. "We would be putting all our antennas up," he added.

The immigration authorities at Wagah would definitely be scutinising the papers of all entrants, but intelligence officers are well aware of the possibility of fake documents being used to gain entry into the country. Intelligence officers suspect that the other side could use the opportunity to send in someone to make personal contact with other operatives.

Then there is also the possibility of some one or the other "disappearing" after crossing over.

The matches are scheduled to be held at Mohali and Pakistanis are expected to stay in hotels scattered all over the town's vicinity.

A large number of military installations are within easy reach of Mohali and Chandigarh, which adds on to the intelligence agencies' worries. Particularly important is Ambala cantonment, which is not only highly sensitive, but also easily accessible. It is also reported to be a major operating area of Pakistani ISI agents. The military intelligence as well as the military police, which mans entry points to military stations, are stepping up vigil.

All foreign visitors are required to register with the local police at their place of stay. As a further precautionary measure, the police is reported to be setting up cells in hotels where the Pakistani visitors would have to register on entering and leaving the hotel premises. "However, there are no restrictions on their movements or meeting anyone," an officer said.

It is a known fact that intelligence officers (donning a different identity) form a part of official delegations visiting other countries.

Intelligence agents are also slipped into hostile countries along with civilians travelling in large groups. Sources said during the visit of the Pakistani Rangers' delegation to Chandigarh for talks a few months back, two colonels had tried to give their liaison officers the slip during a shopping trip.

What is also keeping the authorities on tenterhooks is a incident which occurred about a month ago when a Pakistani national managed to slip pass checkpoints at Wagah without a single document in his possession.

According to sources, immigration officials had not bothered to see his documents and only put him a couple of cursory questions before allowing him to proceed.

His interrogation revealed that the he had travelled as far as Mumbai and sustained himself by eating at langars or sharing a meal with someone.

He had sold off his watch for a mere Rs. 25 and that was all the money he had. He was apprehended on his way back.



Police to verify credentials of hosts
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
The Mohali police will verify the antecedents of all those families who have offered to accommodate Pakistani guests at their homes. More than 70 families from Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula have offered to lodge the Pakistani fans in their houses during the Test match between India and Pakistan, commencing from March 8 at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium here.

Sources said at least 71 families had registered with the PCA offering accommodation and food to the guests from across the border. However, according to Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, SP, Mohali, the number of such families could go up since the PCA was receiving similar requests every day. “We would get the final list by March 4, following which a verification drive of these families would be carried out. No harassment would be caused to the families. The verification would involve just a routine check of the families in order to ensure that unwanted elements were not involved in the name of accommodating the guests,” he said. Mr Aggarwal added that this was decided during a meeting with the PCA members held here this evening.

The police would also check all hotels, guest houses and other places time to time, which were likely to house Pakistani fans. Special arrangements would be made to provide security cover to these accommodation points, Mr Aggarwal assured.

Out of 7,500 tickets, which were sent for Pakistani people, more than 5,000 had already been sold and around 5,000 visas had been given to the Pakistani spectators to witness the Test match, said Mr G.S. Walia, treasurer of the PCA.



PCA tie-up with major eateries for Mohali Test
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
It will not just be cricket, but cricket with loads of fun. Spectators will have the option to eat at special counters set up inside the stadium by major eateries like McDonalds, Pizza Hut , Nirula’s and Hot Millions. The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has tied up with them and also with Pepsi and Coke for providing drinks. Since India and Pakistan are playing a Test match starting March 8, it will be leisure time for the fans.

A total of 7,500 tickets are reserved for the spectators from Pakistan. Apart from this, 65 journalists and photo journalists from Pakistan, some members of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Board of Control for Cricket in India numbering 40 are expected to turn up. “We will have the exact figure of the Board officials’ guest list in three to four days,” Mr Walia said.

The PCA is preparing to receive the Pakistanis on March 6 and March 7 at the Wagah-Attari border. Special reception counters are being put up at the border. Representatives of the Amritsar administration and district cricket board officials will be present there to help the Pakistani enthusiasts and provide all information.

Special information cards are being prepared for the Pakistanis, which will provide information about boarding and lodging arrangements in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. We are looking for every possible accommodation, including hotels, dormitories and bhavans in Mohali, Chandigarh, Panchkula and outskirts,” said Mr G.S. Walia, treasurer, PCA.

To meet the demand for ISD/STD, five to seven telephone counters will be placed behind the stands for spectators. The telephone exchange at Mohali has been intimated to activate the already laid lines to facilitate easy telephone access for these people.

Special packages are being planned by various tour operators for Pakistanis to visit places like Delhi, Shimla and other nearby spots. Arrangements can also be made for those who want to visit their ancestral places here in India.

Meetings are being arranged soon with the Sector 17 traders’ associations and other shopping centres to facilitate the Pakistani guests with extra discounts and comforts,” opined Mr Walia.



Haryana CM issue keeps city police on toes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The caste divide in the Haryana Congress for the chief ministership today kept the Chandigarh Police on its toes.

Around 200 police personnel were deployed outside the Haryana Vidhan Sabha building in apprehension of violence if the chief ministerial decision was taken at the crucial Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting. The police was being led on the spot by DSP (Cenral) Subhash Sagar and DSP S. S. Randhawa. Several Station House Officers also remained on the spot. An anti-riot squad had been kept ready.

The Chandigarh Police heaved a sigh of relief when the newly elected MLAs emerging from the meeting revealed that the CLP had unanimously decided to leave the matter of selection of the next Chief Minister to the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) President Ms Sonia Gandhi.

According to sources, between 2000 and 2500 supporters of chief ministerial aspirants had gathered at the Assembly building. The vehicles brought by the supporters, mostly of Bhajan Lal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, were parked on the road. The queues of vehicles stretched to the Sector 4 MLA Hostel of Haryana from the Vidhan Sabha building. The sources in the police and intelligence said it was feared that the supporters of Mr Lal and Mr Hooda could clash if a decision was taken in favour any of the two leaders.

The assessment of the police about a possible clash was based on history, as when Bhajan Lal was elected leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the last House, supporters of the two leaders had indulged in physical clashes.

Sources in the police who have been watching the Haryana politics, said the issue of Jat and non-Jat leader in Haryana is very emotive and a decision in favour of any of the caste group could have caused trouble to the local police. Sources said earlier also when Bhajan Lal was in contention for the post against any of the Jat leaders, there had been a visible tension amongst supporters of the contenders, putting a strain on the Chandigarh Police.

The sources said that former Governor G. D. Tapase’s incident was also an eye-opener for the law-keepers. They said the supporters of Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda had been kept in the Piccadily Hotel before being brought to the CLP meeting site.



Concern over poor upkeep of Le Corbusier's creations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Mr Jean-Pierre Duport, President, Foundation Le Corbusier, today said efforts were on to get the works created by Le Corbusier, the architect of Chandigarh, declared as protected monuments under the world heritage list by UNESCO.

The foundation, created as per the wishes of Le Corbusier, looks after the property left behind by the master artist and makes efforts to preserve his creations around the world. Addressing mediapersons, Mr Duport stated that meetings had already been held between the foundation's representatives and UNESCO officials in this regard.

"We are trying to involve the Union Government, particularly the Chandigarh Administration, in supporting our efforts. We need to respect the master and his art by preserving his works," he observed.

Mr Duport, who is in the city to participate in the ensuing two-day seminar on Le Corbusier's tapestries, being organised here from March 5 to 6, also expressed concern over the poor upkeep of Le Corbusier's creations in the city.

"Every effort must be made to protect these things as they are, apart from having been crated by the maestro, part of the city's heritage. If need be, the foundation is ready to chip in with assistance in finding conservation experts," he said.

Underlining the need for stronger ties between the city and the foundation, Mr Duport, who was earlier Civil Governor of the City of Paris, said it was with the purpose of making people understand the works, particularly tapestries created by Le Corbusier, that the foundation was as organising the seminar.

"Experts in the field of artifact restoration will deliver lectures about the subject. It is important to understand the significance of this city and the need to conserve its heritage. After all, Chandigarh was the only city planned by Le Corbusier," he added.

Referring to the unfinished projects in the city, which were planned by Le Corbusier, Mr Duport said while all such projects could not be completed, the Knowledge of Museum could be built as the Museum of Architecture and Town Planning Museum. 



Another kidnapping suspected in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
An unidentified 20-year-old youth is reported to have been kidnapped in a white Skoda car. The police, however, has not got complaint of disappearance of anybody from the city.

According to the police, a contractor Jagdeep Sahni reportedly saw a youth crying for help from a car that might have been running at a speed more than 100 km per hour near the St. Kabir Public School.

Mr Sahni and an engineer of the Electricity Department of UT, Gurjinder Singh, saw a youth sticking out his neck from a window of the car and crying for help. Mr Sahni told Chandigarh Tribune that he could not record the registration number of the car as by the time they realised there could have been something serious, the car had disappeared from the sight. The car was heading towards Sukhna Lake and Kishangarh, the eyewitness said. He said the youth seemed to be around 20-year-old and was clean shaven. The eyewitnesses failed to recognise the suspected kidnappers.

The eyewitnesses suspected that the youth might have been forcibly taken in the car. They informed the police but the police was clueless.

The police suspects that either the person who was being taken in the car could have been abducted from outside the city and administrated sedatives or it might have been a case of two persons creating a hoax. A Crime Branch team was called on the spot to find out the suspected kidnapping but no concrete clue emerged.

According to the police, kidnapping could only be confirmed after somebody complained of disappearance of a youth.



Passing Thru

What is the scope of housing finance in the country? What is your growth target?

K.G Sathyasinghan
Mr K.G Sathyasinghan, MD, PNB Housing Finance.

Immense scope. To cash on the housing sector boom in the country, PNB Housing Finance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Punjab National Bank is targeting 20 per cent growth in its business in the northern region by the end of this fiscal.

What has led to a rise in demand for home loans?

Favourable interest rates, tax sops and growing consumer base. The effect can be seen from the astronomical growth in the businesses of banks and housing finance companies. During the last financial year, the company sanctioned housing loans worth Rs 350 cr.

What would be the focus of the company?

The focus would be on housing for rural and urban poor so that they can have a shelter over their heads. The other areas of thrust would be recovery of over dues, reduction of cost on borrowings and increasing the volume of business.

Any plans to launch new scheme?

The company has decided to come up with a new home loan scheme to tap the growing housing finance sector. The product, to be introduced after March 2005, would be a mix of floating and fixed schemes.

— Poonam Batth 



Freak weather keeps residents guessing
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The weather gods seem to have retracted from their sunny demeanour in the city, Mohali and Panchkula over the past few days. With a resurgent nippiness in the air due to the rain, the mercurial change in the weather means a rethink on packing the woollens, just yet.

The Meteorological Department, however, does not consider this alternating weather an aberration for this time of the year. With a slow start to the winter rain, these showers and the accompanying chill is indicative of a few hiccups that normally occur before the warming up begins. As a result the Met Department does not even seem unduly concerned with all too frequent weather variations that the residents of the city are facing.

Overall, the winters seem to have been less harsh this year when compared to the past two years. One of the lowest temperatures recorded this winter was at 3.6 degrees Celsius on January 10.

The lowest was on December 27 at 3.4 degrees Celsius. This when compared to 2.6 degrees on January 2, 2004, and 1.4 degrees on January 10, 2003, is more than 2 degrees higher than 2003. So it does not seem to be a prolonged winter as one might imagine.

Mr Chatar Singh, Director, Meteorological Department, Chandigarh, says the night temperatures in the city are, in fact, above normal for this time of the year. Tuesday’s minimum temperature of 15.4 degrees Celsius is actually 4 degrees above normal due to the cloud cover retaining the heat. The maximum temperature recorded at 21.8 degrees Celsius on Tuesday was, however, three degrees below normal due to the light rain throughout the day.

Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh have recorded normal rainfall this year whilst Haryana and Punjab have had rain in excess this year.

The Met Department says the weather will continue to remain same for the next two days with light showers and the occasional clearing up of the clouds.



Allocations for handling sewerage hiked
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The city now plans to take better care of its garbage and sewerage. Budgetary allocations for handling sewerage flowing into Punjab have been hiked and the same is true for the management of garbage.

Rs 12 crore has been earmarked for sewerage treatment plant and another Rs 3.50 crore for managing garbage in the Budget for the year 2005-06. The new sewerage treatment plants are coming up in Sector 47 and in Raipur Khurd village located on the Chandigarh - Ambala highway. The Municipal Corporation is going to plan a garbage treatment plant and requires money. In total, the Municipal Corporation has been given Rs 50.50 crore for carrying out various developmental tasks. Rs 10 crore will be spent on the completion of the fourth phase of the Kajauli water supply scheme, while Rs 2 crore will be spent on creating the supply network for treated water.

Among the expenses of the Administration, salaries will once again form the single largest expense at Rs 350.60 crore, while the second biggest expense will be on buying power and Rs 285 crore has been allocated for that. This year, the spending was Rs 278 crore, while the recovery of bills is expected to be Rs 310 crore.

The Chandigarh Administration will once again earn more than what it spends — which is rarity in the country.

The Administration has been allocated Rs 793 crore on running its day-to-day affairs and has been asked to generate a revenue of Rs 960 crore by way of revenue and tax collection. This means a surplus of Rs 167 crore for the year 2005-06. Even in this financial year ending March 31, 2005, the earning was Rs 134.51 crore more than the spending of Rs 783.16 crore. All earnings go straight to the Consolidated fund of India

Another important hike is in the roads and bridges. The allocation will be on a 50:50 ratio by the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation.

Also the allocation for Panjab University has been hiked from Rs 28.49 crore to Rs 30.71 crore. 



Pak Evacuee Board proposes heritage status for
Katas Raj

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Katas Raj, a medieval town sacred to the Hindus, lies about 2 km west of Choa Sadian Shah on the Choa-Kallar-Kahar road in Pakistan. Its importance is derived from the fact that it contains over 100 temples built over a period of over 1000 years by the Hindu kings. Some of these temples are decaying though some have been well maintained.

Chandigarh, March 1
For some years now, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) of Pakistan has been hugely concerned about the conservation of Hindu and Sikh shrines on its soil.

And whereas the board has been managing and preserving close to 1000 such shrines in various parts of the country, it is specifically interested in protecting Shri Katas Raj, a shrine of immense historical significance to Hindus.

Shortly, the board will be proposing a World Heritage Site status for Katas Raj, located close to Choa Sadian Shah and is about 40 km from the city of Chakwal. The shrine, spread over 50 acres, is rich with unique architecture that stands independent of genres, weaving a classic charm of its own. It also features a water body considered as holy as the Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan. Even historically, the site in Pakistan is said to be of as much religious significance to the Hindus as the Puskhar in India.

In Chandigarh today, Choudhary Muhammad Ashraf, a former Chief Secretary, Azad Kashmir, currently with the ETPB, told The Tribune that unlike India, Pakistan was short of experts in architectural conservation. Calling for support on this account, Mr Ashraf said, "We are keen on collaborating with India to save this architecturally blessed site. It dates back to thousands of years and bears no resemblance to any work of temple architecture in India, be it Madurai or Mathura. The complex has temples spread over a vast area and it has fresh water springs with much medicinal value. We are about to propose a World Heritage Site status for the Khatas Raj."

Interestingly, the board has submitted a full-fledged proposal to former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, asking him to facilitate linkages in India. Said Mr Ashraf, "We also got donation for the site from Mr Chautala, and we were hoping he would try and get some conservation experts from the Archaeological Survey of India for us."

At another level, the board is managing Sikh shrines, including Gurdwara Janam Asthan at Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal among others. Churches are not in the purview of the board. Mr Ashraf said, "Christians manage churches on their own as they belong to the Diocese. We are only managing about 3000 acres attached with Hindu and Sikh shrines all over Punjab”.

In its present shape, the Katas Raj wears a dead look, with its crumbling walls and lost glory. And though many of the locals ascribe miracles to the holy water of its lake, there is not much that the board can do to save the shrine, which is among the holiest Hindi shrines in the world.



Fire victims seek allotment of booths in Sector 18
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Owners of booths in the rehri market of Sector 18 here are seeking immediate allotment of the newly constructed booths in the market adjoining the present site. The reason for this is the major fire that broke out yesterday in which nearly 40 shops were destroyed.

The booth-owners had earlier made a representation in this regard to the Administration on January 31.

Mr Gurbachan Singh Anand, president of the Gandhi Rehri Market and other officer-bearers today drafted a representation for the Governor and other senior officials of the Union Territory.

Pointing towards the fully constructed booths in the adjoining plot, he said “the structures were ready for possession. Yet the allotments had not been made for a fairly long time. The loss in the fire yesterday could have definitely been prevented if we had the new booths.”

In a representation to the UT Administrator, it was stated that “in the past there was a fire in the rehri market of Sector 46 and victims were allotted new booths at a lower price. We should also be given a similar compensation.”

Rehri-owners have also sought that they be provided the facility of interestfree loans for tiding over this crises.

A list of the rehri-owners directly affected by yesterday’s fire has put the total number of fire-affected shops at 39.

The UT Administration today announced an amount of Rs 5,000 as relief for those who lost their complete belongings in the fire. Those who suffered a partial loss will be paid Rs 3,000.

A decision was made in this regard following a visit of Arun Kumar, Deputy Commissioner to the site of fire today morning. He said, “after a detailed survey of the loss, some more relief can be administered to those who suffered severely”.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former Member of Parliament, also visited the site.



Army Postal Corps anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Army Postal Corps (APS) celebrated its 33rd anniversary at Chandi Mandir cantonment by organising a barakhana for all locally based serving and retired APS personnel. A tea party was also hosted for officers of the Western Command. headquarters

The APS is an extension of the Department of Posts. Though among the youngest services in the Army, its history dates back to 1856 when the first field post office accompanying the Indian Expeditionary Force was raised as a war time organisation, a statement issued here said.

The Jammu and Kashmir operations in 1947-48 brought about the necessity to raise a postal department as a permanent organisation in the Army. It was affiliated to the Army Service Corps till it became a separate corps on March 1, 1972.

The APS maintains a link between armymen posted in far-flung areas and their families. It is also involved in other welfare activities like bringing small-saving schemes and insurance schemes under the Postal Life Insurance to the jawans’ doorstep.



Withdrawal tax: experts unsure of implementation
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The proposed new tax of 0.1 per cent on cash withdrawals of Rs 10,000 or more daily from banks, which has been described by the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, as a move to check black money is the talking point of Budget 2005. This proposal has drawn lukewarm response from the banking heads and experts, who have serious reservations about its implementation.

Ms Neena Singh, Vice-President and Regional Head of the HDFC Bank, said, “The move is good as it will encourage transactions through cheques and plastic cards rather than cash on the lines of the pattern being followed internationally.” However, it is the limit which being small will create problems for the customers, more so if someone is withdrawing cash in an emergency or pay salaries, she said.

While the techno-savvy banks would be able to handle the collections and remittances, but the going would not be easy for the banks having manual functioning for the onus of collections would be entirely on them. It would also put extra burden even on all those customers who pay their taxes and deposit their legally earned “white money” in banks, she pointed out. Since the Finance Minister was not averse to giving this proposal a second look, the withdrawal limit may be raised. The perspective of the tax would emerge clearer once the modalities for its implementation were worked out, she added.

“The proposed tax may pose some administrative problems in transactions for the banks would be required to issue some kind of receipts and make arrangements to remit the tax collected to the government,” said Mr Hemant Contractor, Chief General Manager of the State Bank of India, one of the leading nationalised banks in the country. The walk-ins at banks and the frequency of withdrawals at ATM’s would increase and this would have a bearing on the quality of services offered to the customers, he said adding that for the focus of the nationalised banks had been to make the customers move to other channels of banking so that they could be provided better services. But now the common man would be forced to visit the banks for withdrawals of smaller amounts time and again.

People would simply start withdrawing smaller amounts on different days. But since no clear guidelines had come it was hard to say how the tax on withdrawals would be implemented by the banks and who would be covered, he said.

The Regional Manager (branch banking), Chandigarh, Mr Sunil Matta, of the ICCI Bank, also has similar queries — “What kind of returns or data base are they looking for? It’s not clear at this stage and we are waiting for instructions in this regard. However, this tax will push people to use their debit and credit cards more often and reduce their dependence on cash transactions.”

The problem, however, according to experts, was that the bulk of black money transactions do not happen from bank accounts. But, in the name of trying to tap black money, the government would put double-taxation burden on the consumers.

The proposal was illogical and impractical and it’s implementation would be a cumbersome exercise for apart from cash withdrawals, the tax also applied to other transactions, including encashment of term deposits, purchase of bank drafts or bankers cheques for over Rs 10,000.



Postal staff hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
In a prelude to the nation-wide indefinite strike by postal employees, the employees of the Chandigarh and Punjab circle of the Postal Department organised a rally at the General Post Office, Sector 17 today.

Attended by around 120 employees, the rally was addressed by the Mr H.L.Sidhu, vice president of the All India Rail Mail Service and Motor Rail Service Employee Union (Group C), Central Headquarters.

The union leaders are going to different cities to create awareness about the proposed strike call given by central employee’s bodies in the Postal Department, the National Federation of Postal Employees and the Federation of National Postal Organisation.

The employees are demanding the scrapping of the proposed amendment in the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, upgradation of their pay scales, fulfilling the issues in the December 18, 1998 agreement with the department, regularise the contractual employees, merger of 50 per cent DA with the basic pay of the extra department employees (EDE) in the rural areas.

Giving three departmental promotions after 10 years, 20 years and 25 years has also been demanded.



UT employee facing harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
An employee of the Chandigarh Administration is at his wits end due to harassment by his colleagues.

First, the services of Mr Dharam Pal Verma, employed as a sanitary inspector, were wrongly terminated without a show-cause notice in February, 1996, by the then Municipal Commissioner, Mr M.P. Tyagi.

The previous Home Secretary and Secretary, Local Government, Mr R.S. Gujral, decided the case in favour of Mr Verma in May, 2004. He ordered that the termination of Mr Verma was illegal and set aside the order passed by Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, in February, 1996. Mr Gujral had asked the Director, Health Services (DHS), to finalise departmental proceedings against Mr Verma within two months.

This was to be based on principles of natural justice. Mr Verma had been suspended for alleged absence from duty for nine days way back in 1991. This charge is not yet proved.

However, even as Mr Verma was preparing to join duty, the Director, Health Services, ordered his compulsory retirement without allowing Mr Verma to join duty after his suspension. Mr Verma has appealed against the order to the Health Secretary, Mr S.C. Poddar. He has also pointed out that the authorities owe him arrears of salary and benefits running upto Rs 15 lakh during his suspension period from August 24, 1994, to May, 2004. Nothing has come out of the case excepting payment of Rs 2 lakh to Mr Verma on account of arrears.

The ordeal for Mr Verma started in 1996 when the then Municipal Commissioner, Mr M.P. Tyagi, who terminated his services, was not his appointing authority. As if this was not enough, an inquiry was conducted under Rule 14 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules while the termination orders were passed under the Punjab Civil Services Rules.

Mr Verma was transferred on deputation to the Municipal Corporation in November, 1995. By that time, he was under suspension from August, 1994, for no specific reason. The then MC Commissioner, Mr M.P. Tyagi, did not allow him to join duty as sanitary inspector. Mr Verma, in his now upheld petition, alleged that Mr Tyagi terminated his services though he was not authorised to do so as he was not the appointing authority. Legally the case would have been referred to the Chandigarh Administration. 



Suspension of HUDA staff revoked
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 1
The suspension of the Accounts Assistant of HUDA, Mr Rakesh Kashyap, has been revoked. He joined the duty today. He was placed under suspension two weeks ago.

Sources in HUDA say that the Mr Kashyap was asked to join duty yesterday. The order revoking his suspension states that though the inquiry against him is underway, but he could join the duty. Mr Kashyap, along with Mr Sunil Bansal, Accountant, was placed under suspension on February 14. They were accused of demanding bribe after fabricating dues to be recovered from a showroom owner in Sector 11 here.

A complaint in this regard was reportedly filed against them after it was alleged that they offered to give a clean chit to a showroom owner in Sector 11 for no dues certificate, and sought bribe for doing the job. 



MC launches cleanliness drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A month-long sanitation drive was launched by the Municipal Corporation from Sector 47 today.

Hundreds of MC employees could be seen working at different places in the sector. The roads were being swept clean. The outgrowth of wild grass was being cut.

Local residents were seen helping the MC staff at certain places in cleaning the sites of waste at various places. Mr Rajesh Kumar, a shopkeeper, said, “It is appreciable to see the enthusiasm of the workers today. I could not hold myself back so I went to help them”.

A senior resident of the sector said there had been several cleanliness schemes in the past in the city. Most fizzled out within a short period. One was launched by Mrs Kamlesh, a former Mayor. This one looked different as employees of different wings of the corporation were assembled on a common platform and only one specific area would be taken up at one time.

While addressing a function to mark the inauguration of the drive in Sector 47, Ms Anu Chatrath, Mayor, said, “We felt that instead of a plan in a scattered area of action, it was better to deploy the workforce at a common place. We are setting an example for the local residents to follow”.

Mr P.S. Aujla, Municipal Commissioner, was also present on the occasion. Also present were Mrs Pushpa Sharma, Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Sohan Lal Vaid, Deputy Mayor, and Mr Jitender Bhatia, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, Mr Rajesh Gupta and Mrs Kamla Sharma, all councillors.

Schoolchildren presented a cultural show on the occasion. A small presentation on the history of the city since inception by DAV School, Sector 15, was appreciated by the audience.

Talking to the Tribune later, Ms Chatrath said that more than 1,500 employees of different wings, including public health, horticulture, sanitation, buildings and roads had worked together for a common programme. “Sanitation is my primary concern during my stay in my office,” she added.



PVGV Group seeks removal of MC chief
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 1
The People’s Voice God’s Voice Group- a welfare group — has demanded the removal of Ms Seema Chaudhary as President of the Municipal Council and from its membership.

In a letter to the Commissioner, Urban Development (Local Bodies), Haryana, Mr B.L. Tandon, Convenor, PVGV Group, alleged that Ms Chaudhary indulged in various acts of omission and commission during her tenure as the municipal council chief. He said Ms Chaudhary should be removed as she had already been indicted in an inquiry conducted by the Vigilance team of the Urban Development Department, in a case of sub-standard work being carried out by the council and over the payment to contractors.

The PVGV Group alleged that the conditions of contract for maintenance of street lights were also violated. It alleged that the contractor was allowed to continue working for 10 months, even though his work was found wanting in the two months trial period of the contract. The council’s technical staff had recommended the cancellation of the contract, but Ms Chaudhary had overruled these recommendations.

Ms Chaudhary, when contacted, denied the allegations levelled against her by the PVGV Group. She said she had neither pilfered the public money nor favoured anyone while allotting the contracts. “All terms and conditions of the contract, as laid down, were followed. If ever there was any discrepancy in the work of the contractor, the latter was fined heavily,” she added. 



Search Within
How a leprosy patient changed Amte’s life

Sophia Society's Dr Paulos Mar Gregarios Award for 2005, presented to Baba Amte, mentions that it was being given in recognition of his work of "creative compassion." Since the Baba, in his nineties, is ailing, his son, Dr Vikas Amte, received the award from Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan on February 27.

Here is the story of how an aristocratic lawyer, who once speeded in fancy sports cars, wrote film reviews for magazines and corresponded with film stars of the West, underwent a transformation that subsequently brought him many awards, including Templeton Prize.

One rainy evening, as Amte was heading for home after a day's hard labour, he came across a huddled figure on the roadside. At first it seemed like a bundle of rags. But then he noticed some movement. Baba looked closer and recoiled instantly. Lying before him was a man in the last stages of leprosy. The dying man had no fingers. Maggots crawled over his naked body. Horrified by this sight, terrified of infection, Baba ran home.

But he could not run away from his guilty conscience. How could he have left a lonely forsaken man to lie there in the rain? So he forced himself to return and feed the man. . That man, Tulshiram, died in Baba's care and irrevocably changed young Amte's life.

Baba had always thought of himself as being fearless and daring. The encounter with TuIshirarn shattered this self-image. The very sight of Tulshiram filled him with an irrepressible dread. Even as he cared for the dying man, this fear would not leave him.

There seemed to be only one answer, one lone way of overcoming this dread. He must live and work with leprosy patients: "That is why I took up leprosy work. Not to help anyone, but to overcome that fear in my life. That it worked out good for others was a byproduct. But the fact is I did it to overcome fear."

To some he is a dreamer. But Baba Amte is no ivory tower philosopher. Once he decided to devote his life to the service of lepers, he went to study leprosy at the School of Tropical Medicines at Calcutta. He set up Maharogi Sewa Samity for treatment, training and rehabilitation of lepers. In 1951 he established 'Anandvan' with his wife, two small sons and six leprosy patients, on a 50-acre waste, rocky land leased to him by the government at Warora near Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

But stemming the disease did not make the afflicted better human beings. ''For, a man can live without fingers, but he cannot live without self-respect.'' And receiving charity is not particularly conducive to enhancing self-respect. His talisman is "Charity destroys, work builds." That became the motto of his ashram.

He decided to turn the waste land into green land. But how could the weak leprosy patients be put to work? Then there was the prevailing prejudice against lepers that prevented others from joining the venture.

It took a contingent of 50 young volunteers of the Service Civil International to solve this problem. They, from 36 countries, spent three months at Anandvan building, a clinic and two spacious hospital wards. Their action broke the barriers with the Warora community. Seeing the foreigners at work, the local people felt moved to make some contribution.

Gradually, Baba's dream came true. Today the ashram holds 3000 inmates. There is a general hospital for leprosy patients, a college, several vocational training schools and a host of other institutions to meet the needs of the wretched of the earth.

Once the leprosy-affected persons are fit enough to leave the hospital, they become working members of the community, busy in the fields or workshops where a variety of products were being manufactured. This has made Anandvan a virtually self-sufficient village. Most of the erstwhile patients, having learnt a skill, returned to the world outside, self-reliant and capable of earning their own living.

In a country where leprosy is still widespread and a complete taboo, it has been possible to create a community of lepers, who are looking after the blind, the deaf and the dumb. They teach crafts to teenagers, who have failed in the school system, as well as supporting themselves with the produce of their own hands.

It is indeed amazing how this Gandhian transformed a helpless and pitiable group of lepers into a caring community capable of sustaining itself and contributing to the welfare of others who are weak and handicapped. He has often been described as 'a true Indian Albert Schweitzer', for he gave up his law practice and title of Mayor the day he came face to face with human misery in the form of a leper wrapped in rags.

M.P.K. Kutty



Body found
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, March 1
Body of a beggar was found near a police post in Nada village yesterday. According the police, the beggar had been putting up in a bus queue shelter in the village for the last a couple of years.

The police has sent the body to General Hospital, Sector 16, for post-mortem examination. Inquest proceeding in the case has been initiated by the police.



Ex-serviceman arrested
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 1
An ex-serviceman who allegedly fired at his brother-in-law and his family in Sector 67 was arrested yesterday.

Chetan Singh, a resident of Mauli village, who was irked by the behaviour of his wife, allegedly reached the house of his brother-in-law and fired at him and members of his family. The shots hit a wall and the members of Davinder Singh’s family had to hide themselves in a room to save themselves.

Mr Davinder Singh had alleged that the moment Chetan Singh entered the house last evening, he started abusing him. He even said that his sister was mad and that was why she had been divorced by her first husband.



Shopkeeper duped
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 1
A Bartana-based shopkeeper was allegedly cheated by a conman on late Sunday evening. Mr S.D. Sharma, the shopkeeper, said that a scooter-borne youth reached his shop at about 8.30 p.m. and purchased five packets of refined oil and a toothpaste.

The scooterist wearing a full-face helmet gave his a 1000-rupee note for the commodities he purchased. The scooterist took the commodities and the balance money from Mr Sharma and sped away.

Mr Sharma came to know that he was cheated by the customer only after his son Subodh Kumar found that the scooterist had given them a fake note of Rs 1,000. Both father and son tried to chase the scooterist but in vain. 


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