C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


DC-designate Rao’s powers curtailed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

R.K. Rao
R.K. Rao

Chandigarh, May 28
In an unprecedented move which may cause a bureaucratic controversy, the Chandigarh Administration today stripped the Deputy Commissioner-designate, Mr R.K. Rao, of two important works. He will not handle the work of Estate Officer and also the work of Commissioner Excise and Taxation.

This piece of bad news for Mr Rao comes even as he is set to join here either on May 30 or 31. At present he is DC Yamunanagar.

In what may cause murmurs in Haryana, the new Estate Officer of Chandigarh will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Chandigarh Housing Board, Mr Amarnath, a UT cadre IAS officer. Meanwhile, the new Commissioner of Excise Taxation will be Municipal Commissioner Mr P.S. Aujla, a Punjab cadre IAS officer. The work to Mr Aujla is on a temporary basis and eventually it will go to Mr Sanjeev Sahai , a 1986 batch UT cadre IAS officer, who has been posted as Chairman of CHB, top sources in the Administration confirmed.

Today’s orders mean that vast powers vested with the DC by virtue of being the Estate Officer and the Excise Commissioner, stand negated and two UT cadre IAS officers will enjoy these powers. Unlike the DC of districts, in Chandigarh the main work of the DC is revenue collection and Estate matters.

Traditionally for the past 39 years, since 1966, the work of the Estate Officer and the Excise and Taxation Commissioner has been handled by the Deputy Commissioner.

It may be recollected that in 1998, the MHA had posted Mr Dinkar Gupta as SSP Chandigarh. The then Administrator, Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber, had issued fresh orders to appoint him as SSP Headquarters, an inconsequential post. Mr Gupta, a Punjab cadre IPS officer, had backed out and did not join duty.



Sabotage behind blank TV screens
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Residents of the city regularly face blank television screens owing to rivalry between different camps of cable operators. The cable service got disrupted last evening in the city and in Mohali. The same problem was witnessed about 10 days ago.

Service providers and cable operators worked on repairs and the supply was restored to a majority of the sectors by this evening. Cable operators say that service providers who don’t subscribe to pay channels, including Siti Cable and FCN, seem to be “hampering the services to affect our market”.

Cable operators along with the Siti Cable staff were on the roads, detecting the trouble spots. It was found that the cable had been tampered with “severely” at more than 10 points in the city. Since the supply line along the southern belt was tampered with, the supply to Mohali also stopped.

Certain sectors started receiving the signal in the morning but in pockets of Sectors 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16, the repair work went on till late evening. The teams detected the trouble spots in Sectors 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 35, 36, 37 and 38, besides other areas.

Mr S.S. Bedi, president of the Cable Operators Association, said: “The public is livid at us. I am answering telephone calls venting ire on us. The supply has been restored in a majority of the areas, however, normal supply can be expected by tomorrow as certain pockets in Sectors 11, 14, 15 and 16 are still affected”.

He said the cable wires had been cut and the repair process was tedious. It was difficult to register a case as it was not a case of normal theft. It seemed the cable operators would have to engage private security. 



Woman jumps to death in PGI
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
A 21-year-old-unmarried woman allegedly jumped to death this morning from the sixth floor of the Research Block in the PGI. Venu Sharma, a resident of Housing Board Colony, Dhanas, left behind a suicide note holding no one responsible behind her extreme step.

According to the police, Venu Sharma might have jumped from the sixth floor of the building as she used to attend classes in a typing centre run by the PGI Welfare Department about two years ago. As there was no eyewitness of this incident, it was not clear from which floor Venu had actually jumped.

She was found lying on the debris with multiple injuries. Surprisingly, there was no blood stains noticed at the spot. Venu sustained fractures on her limbs and she hit the ground with such force that her body got twisted. She died on the spot.

The police received information at 11:30 am and rushed Venu to the emergency, where the doctors declared her brought dead.

The police said Venu, a BA final year student, left her home around 10 am for a stitching centre in Sector 30, as usual. She came to the PGI by bus. Her father, Mr Naresh Sharma, is working as a senior technician in the Bio-Chemistry lab. The family members of Venu told the police that there was no dispute at home and she today left home in a happy mood.

The family members of the deceased have taken the body without conducting a postmortem, said the police.

A vibhuti, dry leaves and a notbook with religious signs was recovered from the body.

In a separate incident, the local police recovered the body of Deepak (12) a resident of Mansa Devi Complex floating in the Sukhna Lake early this morning. The police suspects that the deceased might have drowned about two days back.

The police said they received information at about 5 am when someone noticed a body floating in the lake. Giving description of the body, the police said the man was wearing black trousers, while shirt with thin black lining. The police suspects that the deceased might have jumped from a tower within the lake as a pair of bathroom slippers was found from there.



Sunday Special
Raising their servants’ kids as their own
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, May 28
A penniless couple in search of shelter found a new way of living when they knocked at the door of Mr Chandan Singh (84), a resident of Sector 8, about eight years ago. Mr Chandan Singh, whose wife was on the deathbed at that time, not only provided them with a job as domestic help, but also shelter. Now they are living with him as part of his family.

Mr Chandan Singh, whose wife died in 1997, lives alone with his servants. He retired as the Additional Director, Food and Civil Supplies Department, in 1979. His elder son is settled in Hong Kong and the younger one is a businessman in Delhi.

Mr Chandan Singh said Subhadra, a Bengali girl, had married just a few days ago before coming to live in his house with her husband in 1997. He said he provided them shelter, food and monthly income and treated them as his own children. Now she has two children — a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter.

He has raised her son like his own grandson and got him admitted to a public school. “Earlier, the school authorities were reluctant to admit the child in the school because of his illiterate parents but when I told them that I will take care of every need of the child and will also help him in studies, they agreed.”

Mr Singh takes keen interest in the overall development of the boy. “The child is a bright student and will do something in life. I usually take him along with me to restaurants and other places to teach him table and other manners.”

He has also promised them that if the child is keen on higher studies, he will send him to the USA and provide opportunities that will be no less than those he would provide to his own grandchildren.

This is not an individual case as there are several elderly people living in the city who have found a new support system that transcends the traditional family and social ties.

Another resident of the same sector, Mr Harbans Lal Khanna, is 96 years old. He has no children and his wife died in 1986. No other person related to him lives in or around the city. Mr Khanna, who retired from the Punjab State Electricity Board in 1967 as an accountant, is comfortable financially.

Despite old age, Mr Khanna is managing his affairs on his own. “But I also have a family now that loves and supports me,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. He has accommodated the family of a peon, who was working with him in the PSEB, in his spacious home. “They are very careful and are living in a portion of my house. I have shared some of their expenses like food and lodging. I have also incurred expenses on their children’s studies,” he says.

He adds, “I make no compromises on the quality of education to be provided to these children. I have admitted them in a private school and I am paying Rs 500 monthly to my servant. They take care of me in the night and the children have added colour to my otherwise drab life.”



More powers sought for panchayati raj bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
A 10-day training programme for panches and sarpanches of UT villages at Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here proved to be an eye opener for 160 participants.

On the concluding day of the training programme held at the CRRID here yesterday, the participants while airing their views before the UT Home Secretary and the Deputy Commissioner demanded that more powers and at least five government departments be handed over to panchayati raj institutions.

The women panches and sarpanches found it to be an ideal platform to demand simplification and speedy redressal of panchayat related disputes so that they did not have to go to police stations and courts. This affected their family life. Some of the women participants were candid enough to admit male dominance in running the affairs of the panchayats.

Attention of the District Administration was drawn towards the declining female ratio due to female foeticide, low literacy rate, and vacancy of teachers in government rural schools. The CRRID faculty called upon the women participants to work for the development of the villages.

Representatives of villages decided to form a pressure group which could drive the Chandigarh Administration to the stage of implementing their genuine demands.

During the programme, the faculty of CRRID informed the participants about the need for gram panchayats to generate their own resources, need for improving the social aspects of life in the rural areas and replicate the successful schemes of sanitation and development implemented in the urban areas.

Mr Didar Singh, chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, while speaking at the function, said the rural character of the 18 villages should be retained rather than making them part of the Municipal Council. Ms Jasbir Kaur, Sarpanch of Daria village, pleaded that the rural character of the villages should be retained by not including them in the Municipal Corporation.

Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director General of CRRID, while speaking on the occasion, advised the villagers to come up with a proposal regarding the departments they can handle.

The Home Secretary, Mr Krishan Mohan, assured that problems of the villagers would be addressed. Ms Padmini Singla, SDM (East), informed that Chandigarh Administration was studying the implementation of panchayati raj in other centrally administered Union Territories.

During the concluding function, the participants were informed about the salient features of Panchayati Raj Act, common property resources, birth and deaths registration, primary education, need to use computers at panchayat level and need for micro planning at village level.



Computer training for children with multiple disabilities at Prayaas
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28 
After 19 years of purposeful existence, the Prayaas Rehabilitation Centre for Special Children located in Sector 38, Chandigarh, is ready with another offering. The centre will provide for an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cell for comprehensive empowerment of special children - the first of its kind in the region. To begin with, there will be room for 40 special children in this special branch of Prayaas which will impart computer asserted training to children with multiple disabilities/communication disorders. Those covered will include children suffering from hearing impairment, dyslexia, autism and stammering.

Conceived and patronized by famous pediatrician from the region Dr BNS Walia and supported by the UT Administration and the State Bank of India, the centre is based on two research realities - that access to computers enhances cognitive abilities of children and that learning is induced by risk taking. Successfully implemented in special schools across England, the technology is being brought to India for the first time. 
The learning process will be kick started shortly by two British experts in the field in pediatric physiotherapy, assertive education and computer education for children with communication disorders and learning disabilities. They will train resource persons at Prayaas, besides helping children upgrade their skills for two months. Computers worth one crore have arrived, but Government Institute for Mentally Retarded Children, Sector 32 is yet to vacate the allotted space to enable the running of the cell at Prayaas.

Once the centre starts functioning, children with multiple disorders will have many opportunities opening up for them. The centre will assist special children in physical, cognitive and supportive fields. It will enable them to take risks and improve learning. Because such a process would be strictly private and non-judgmental, it will help children to correct their mistakes more easily than they would have in a normal school environment which does not cater to special children's special needs.

The ICT, as has been shown by the British experience, helps best in improving vocabulary of hearing impaired children, developing their familiarity with environment objects, correcting their spellings, training them in nursery and primary curriculum and preparing them for mainstream schools.

The centre, experts point out, will also improve special children's eye-hand coordination by encouraging them to play computer games. Though apparently the use of computers seems tough, it is not so. Mitra of NIIT has shown that completely illiterate children from slums of Delhi could learn to operate the computers without any guidance - simply by the process of trial and error.

At Prayaas, however, learning through computers would be facilitated by many resource persons. Recently, Prayaas has also been declared the State Resource Centre for Children with Disabilities.

Director, Social Welfare UT Ms Madhavi Kataria, says, "Delayed diagnosis of disabilities results in slow learning among special children. But once the child gets hooked to the computer and an interesting presentation of educational material, he will start putting voluntary efforts into learning. We hope the availability of computers and software for the ICT project helps us achieve this goal."

For counseling and therapy, those interested can visit Prayaas between 9 am and 1 pm from Monday to Friday. Being supported by the Indian Council for Child Welfare and the PGI, Prayaas counsellors can be contacted at 2690872.



35 p.c. Army men prefer civil medicare, suggests a study 
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Research undertaken by a senior Army Medical Corps officer has revealed that a large number of army personnel are preferring civilian practitioners or institutes for availing medical treatment. The study has also found that about half the personnel preferring civilian medicare are choosing alternate therapy like homeopathy or ayurveda, which it suggests could be a new trend.

The research revealed that 65 per cent personnel preferred military hospitals while 35 per cent, which the report termed as a "big number", were going for the civil set-up. The research surveyed an assorted group of 1,000 army personnel below officer rank from all across the country, and the findings were published about a month ago.

Based upon the findings, the report has suggested the possibility of military hospitals introducing or outsourcing commonly sought and complementary alternate medical practices like homeopathy and ayurveda. "This may require detailed deliberations," the report said. "The study probably is indicating a trend which is worth researching further," the report added.

In fact, the Army's medical establishment and the Defence Research and Development Organisation are reportedly researching the use of homeopathy in the treatment of frostbite. A project had also been initiated to use extracts of certain succulents and plants to treat frostbite in high altitude areas.

The research noted that though the Armed Forces have the best organised and highly advanced medicare network of with a multi-tier system giving access to patients even in the most remote areas, yet a portion of the clientele felt that the services of the civil setup were better.

According to the report, troops seek allopathic treatment in the civilian sector because they or their families do not have access to the "expected level" of medicare in the military establishment in the immediate vicinity. This may be true for troops based in far-flung areas.

As far as preference for alternate or complementary therapy is concerned, the study found that age or education had no bearing on it. Influence of relatives and friends along with other factors like ease and effectiveness of treatment and low costs were cited as the reason.

The study has suggested strengthening up of the military's peripheral medical set up so that troops and their families based in small towns or far-flung areas do not feel the need to turn to the civilian establishment for medicare.



Rare manuscripts to go online
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
A miniature (2x2 inch) Bhagwad Geeta, to be the country’s smallest and read only using a magnifier, or the tome titled “History of the world” dating back to 1634! This is merely a glimpse of the collection of original manuscripts and rare books with the Panjab University’s AC Joshi Library, which is ready to have a facelift, courtesy the digital world.

Moving on from merely eulogising its rich collection hidden in the obscure almirahs, PU is making compact discs (CDs) of its much acclaimed manuscripts so that the collection is just a click away. Out of total 1,491 manuscripts currently in the library, 285 have been digitalised so far and 45 CDs have already been made.

The collection of the original manuscripts includes Guru Granth Sahib, Dharam Shastra and Amritsar Ki Ustatti. In addition, more than 20,000 rare and old books belonging to 17th, 18th and 19th century are available with the library, which are available to the students for reference inside the library only. The digitalisation of rare printed books is already complete and available on the library website.

Though difficult to put a price tag on the collection, its custodians say each book can fetch lakhs. “Most of the books and manuscripts have been donated by the PU alumni and are worth lakhs. The two volumes of “History of Indian Mutiny” published in 1863 are worth around Rs 10 lakh, informs an official.

Describing the digitalisation process, archivist Mritunjaya Kumar says, “We plan to put to all manuscripts on a website that can be assessed through an in-house password protected by the university. In this way, people even at the far-off places can utilise this rare collection.”

Sources say the manuscript section is far less visited than expected. “Not more than two persons on an average come to the section daily. If they are available online, these works stand a better chance of utilisation,” adds an official.

Preservation of the collection

In the absence of any effort of preservation, most of the rare books and manuscripts are showing signs of wear and tear. However, these have miraculously escaped any serious damage. Majority of the rare collection has been described as “mildly” damaged, while a few books have suffered “excessive” damage, and require a four-step restoration process. “This is a new area that we are currently focusing on.

The four-step process includes fumigation, lamination, binding and restoration of the books and most of the books here require two, if not four steps of the process. We plan to start the unit here soon,” adds a library official. 



Renovated night shelter opened
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
Mrs Jean Rodrigues, wife of the Punjab Governor, inaugurated the newly renovated Rain Basera (night shelter) near the Bus Stand in Sector 17 here today.
The Rs 10 lakh project was launched by the UT Red Cross and will provide all modern basic facilities to tourists at nominal charges.

The night shelter has a family hall with cooler. This shelter has lights, geysers, fans and new beddings.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, said it would be run on a no profit no loss basis and visitors would be provided with a bed, sheets, pillow and a comfortable stay for 12 hours at a charge of Rs 30. The family hall with cooler would be available at Rs 50 per bed.



General visits Engineers’ Brigade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, visited an Engineers Brigade in western Sector today. He was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Lakshmi Raman, president, Army Wives Welfare Association (AWW),Western Command.

General Pattabhiraman witnessed the modifications and innovations carried out by the formation during the recent past based on the experiences of Operation Parakram.

On the occasion, a ladies meet was organised at the Brigade Headquarters Officers Mess, wherein Mrs Lakshmi Raman interacted with others.



President’s award for two
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 28
Ms Sudha Babbar, Principal of Jainendra Public School, and Mr R.K. Kakkar, Municipal Councillor, have received an award of the President of India for their outstanding services during the Census of 2001.

The award was presented to them by Mr S P Sharma, Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Haryana, at Chandigarh on Thursday.



Man crushed under train
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 28
An unidentified man was crushed under a train near the Chandimandir area on Thursday. His body was found by the police yesterday. The Railway police said the man could be around 25 years of age and was wearing a black trouser and black and blue shirt.



15 booked for assaulting driver
Our Correspondent

Lalru, May 28
The police has booked 15 unidentified employees of Agro Dutch Foods Limited, an industrial unit near Lalru, for their involvement in the Haryana Roadways bus driver assault case.

The unidentified employees of the industrial unit were booked for obstructing the driver from performing his duties, disrupting traffic, assaulting the driver, threatening him of dire consequences and some other charges on the complaint of the victim, Mr Sukhwinder Singh. Cases under Sections 353, 332, 186, 34, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC have been registered against the suspects at the Lalru police station.

The police has also failed to recover the weapons used by the assailants in the crime. No arrest has been made so far.

Eyewitnesses said the police had been trying to hush up the case. Unidentified persons had been booked though the police had rounded up over 12 persons after the incident, they alleged.

Despite putting the assailants behind the bars, the police offered them tea and biscuits after taking them to the police station. They were later let off, residents of the area alleged.

Armed with weapons, batons and sticks, a group of 15 persons blocked the Kalka-Ambala highway near Lalru, pulled out the driver of a Haryana Roadways bus and assaulted him on Friday afternoon.



Couple in dock for forging father’s will
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
It is a flick straight from a Bollywood potboiler. A local couple allegedly forges father’s will and other documents in connivance with certain officials to grab a prime commercial property in Sector 22-D here.

However, the mother’s perseverance pays off and the couple — Rakesh Prashar and Nisha Prashar — are cooling their heels in Burail jail here with a local court remanding them to judicial custody today.

On the complaint of the mother — Ms Usha Prashar — the couple was arrested by a Sector 17 police station team under Sections 420, 193, 120-B of the IPC on May 26. They were remanded to judicial custody for the recovery of the original will, which was allegedly forged and used for the transfer of commercial property (3025-D in Sector 22-D market).

It was alleged that Rakesh first tried to show himself as buyer of the property by showing special power of attorney and will of 1993. However, after losing the case against his father, he allegedly concealed vital facts and got the property transferred to his and his wife’s name.

This case, experts feel, had brought the functioning of certain Estate Office officials, who do not issue any notice to other legal heirs, under a cloud. It was alleged that the complainant had approached the Assistant Estate Officer and the Estate Officer, but nothing was done.

It was only when the matter was brought to the notice of the SSP that an FIR was lodged and the above facts came to light.



Liquor smuggler in Army uniform arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
Looks can be deceptive. The police realised this fact last night when they intercepted a man in army uniform on suspicion, only to find that he was carrying illicit liquor. After conducting a search the police recovered as many as 60 bottles of XXX Rum from his possession. Other than this, in two separate cases the local police arrested two persons and recovered 68 bottles of liquor from their possession.

According to the police, Lali, a resident of Dana Mandi in Ferozepore district in Punjab, was caught last night from near Nirankari Bhavan on the railway station road. A police party on duty saw a man in army uniform pushing a rickshaw which was apparently overloaded with luggage. This invoked suspicion in the minds of the cops and they made an inquiry. A search of the luggage led to the recovery of 60 bottles of XXX Rum without having a seal of CDS (Central Defense Services) and Lali also failed to produce any Identity Card of the Army.

The SHO of Mani Majra police station, Mr Dhan Raj Sharma said Lali was smuggling liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab. He said he used to travel by a night train to Ferozepore and smuggle the liquor there. A case has been registered against Lali under the Excise Act and he was produced before a local court today which remanded him to judicial custody.

Shankar, a resident of Sector 25, was arrested from the market place in Dadu Majra Colony on Friday. The police recovered 45 bottles of Double Dog whisky from his possession. In a separate incident, Rajesh Kumar Sarna alias Raju of Sector 19 was arrested with 23 bottles of countrymade wine King from near Neelam Cinema yesterday. Two separate cases under Excise Act have been registered in this regard.

Scooter stolen: Mr Harish Kumar of Sector 22 reported to the police that his LML Vespa Scooter (CH-01-D-3417) was stolen from his residence on Friday. A case of theft has been registered in the Sector 17 police station.

Injured: One rickshaw puller, Ram Asra of Colony Number V sustained injuries after being hit by a Maruti Wagon R Car (CH-03-P-6128) near Sector 44 and 45 turn on Thursday. He was admitted to the GMCH, Sector 32. A case of negligent and rash driving was has been registered in this regard yesterday.



3 women pick-pockets arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
The local police arrested three women on the charges of picking pockets in a CTU bus near Dhillon traffic lights point this afternoon. The police recovered Rs 700 from them.

According to the police, Deepmala (22), Anita (30) and Neha (40), were nabbed when the conductor of a bus got suspicious about their actions. The trio, who had children in their laps tried to disembark from the bus suddenly, invoking suspicion in the mind of the conductor. He raised an alarm and asked the passengers to check their belongings. On seeing this, the trio tried to run away, but was soon nabbed by the policemen present nearby. Their search led to the recovery of Rs 700 and they reportedly confessed to their crime. 



Body of 45-year-old man found
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
A body of a 45-year-old man was found by the police in fields at Gharuan village, near Kharar, today. According to the police, the body bore severe injury marks. The police believe that the victim had been involved in an accident and was thrown into the fields by those involved in the accident. The police has, however, ruled out the possibility of murder.

3 hurt in accidents: Three persons were seriously injured in two accidents here on Saturday. While two drivers were injured following a head-on collision of their trucks, another person was injured when a car hit his scooter. Both truck drivers, one admitted at the Civil Hospital, Kharar, and another at the PGI, are critical. The police said the accident that took place at the busy Khanpur Chowk in the township led to a traffic jam.



Woman complains against son
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
A Sector 37 resident has been booked on the charge of cheating for getting a booth registered in his name by submitting a fake affidavit. Interestingly, the complainants are the widow mother and three siblings of the accused.

The matter came to light when the police registered a case on the charges of cheating, giving false evidence and criminal conspiracy under Sections 420, 193, 120-B, IPC, against Rakesh Prasher, a resident of Sector 37, on Wednesday. A complaint was filed in this regard by the widow mother of the accused, Ms Ushan Prasher, and others.



Woman dies of excessive bleeding
Our Correspondent

Lalru, May 28
Mrs Jaswinder Kaur (35), a resident of Lalru, died in the PGI, Chandigarh, after excessive bleeding yesterday.
According to the police, the victim had gone for an abortion at a local hospital some days ago.

After the abortion, she had also got fitted a contraceptive (Copper-T), which caused her continuous bleeding.

The police has started investigating the matter after registering a case under Sections 304-A of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Surinder Pal, husband of the deceased. 


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