C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU students angry over snap poll
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, August 24
The decision of the Dean, Students Welfare, Panjab University, to hold elections to the Students’ Council on September 3 has jolted the student leaders as they feel that they have been deprived of the time needed for campaigning.

Since Janmashtami falls on Friday, which is a holiday, and Saturday and Sunday are off days, and they have to stop campaigning at least two days before the election, they say that they have all the more reason to feel at a loss.

With only four days of canvassing left, most of the councils are still to declare their candidates. Soliciting votes won’t be easy for them. The Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) has called a meeting to decide the candidates for the post of vice-president and to discuss the campaigning strategy.

Dalveer Singh (Goldy), president, SOPU said, “The decision to hold elections early has surprised us. At several meetings held with the DSW, it was said that this time the poll would be held in the first week of September. Now we are left with very less time. Moreover, we cannot protest against the decision as it will affect campaigning”.

Amandeep Singh, president, PUSU, said: “We have only four working days for electioneering. Still we have enough time to remind the students to vote for us. The main problem is that PU has not declared the results of various students this time and the last date of admission is August 31, which is also the last date of filing nominations. Because of this, many students will be debarred from contesting the elections and many will not get their identity cards which will exclude them from voting”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to visit the city on September 23. It could be one of the reasons to hold the elections earlier so that all police personnel will be free at that time for security and other purposes. At a press conference held today, Nirmal Singh said, “We always try to hold poll early but it always used to get delayed. This time the administration has sent the letter early, so we have succeeded in holding it on time”.

Students desirous of filing nominations are advised to keep their original certificates of matriculation/higher secondary from any Indian university/board or equivalent, to verify their date of birth.

The last date for filing the nominations is August 31 from 10 am to 11 am and scrutiny will be done on the same day till 12 noon. At 1.30 pm the list of candidates will be displayed and from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm, students can file objections. The list of the approved candidates will be displayed on September 1 at 11.30 am and withdrawals will be accepted from 11.31 am to 1 pm. The final list will be displayed at 3 pm.



‘Waking’ up to mishaps
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The traffic wing of the Chandigarh Police has failed to make the mornings safe. Nothing else can explain the occurrence of two accidents, including a fatal one, in the early hours today.

A survey of the city at about 7.30 am — soon after the mishaps — revealed that the cops were just not present at almost all the major intersections in the city till about 8 am. Even the traffic lights were not functioning at several places.

The result is there for all to see. Though the exact date is not readily available, sources in the Chandigarh Police headquarters say as many as 2389 accidents were reported to the cops from January, 2000, till April this year.

In 2004 alone, 411 accidents were reported to the police. Out of the total, as many as 141 proved fatal. A substantial number of these mishaps took place in the mornings.

A majority of the victims were pedestrians or office-goers. In some of the cases, the vehicles responsible for the accidents remained unidentified. As a result, the families of the victims could not even get compensation from the insurance companies.

Quoting examples of early morning mishaps, the sources assert that only last month as many as 10 students belonging to different schools in the city sustained injuries in two separate mishaps that occurred in the early hours.

Giving reasons, the sources assert that a large number of car drivers and two-wheeler riders in the city are jumping red lights wherever functional, besides flouting other traffic rules and norms, with impunity in the absence of the traffic cops in the early hours. The violators include under-aged school students.

Besides the students, even the state transport and school buses are violating the rules and directions issued from time to time by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for making roads a safe place to travel. All this is resulting in mishaps, the sources assert.

In an attempt to justify the absence of police personnel in the mornings, a senior officer of the Chandigarh Police says the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is to be blamed for the problem.

Claiming acute shortage of manpower, the officer says a proposal for an increase in the manpower was first forwarded to the authorities concerned way back in 1995. The proposal was again sent to the Ministry in February, 2004.

In the proposal, a sanction of 1081 posts for the police stations and another 450 posts for the traffic police was sought. A study team of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) visited the police stations and special units in May last year to assess the staff requirement on MHA instructions. But the proposal is still pending with the Ministry. Action has not been initiated on another proposal aimed at reorganisation of the traffic police force, the officer adds.

In an early morning mishap, a Sector 42 resident sustained head injuries after being hit by a Santro car in Sector 21. He was on his way to a friend’s house after exercising in the Sector 16 Rose Garden when the accident took place. In the other accident, a Sector 49 resident was killed after his scooter skidded on the road dividing Sector 46 and Sector 47.



PUSU threatens to close BMS block
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) activists led by its president Amandeep Singh held a protest at the BMS block of the Panjab University today.

They said that protest was held due to non-fulfilment of the demands of students.

Students of the BMS block, comprising departments of B.Pharmacy, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Microbiology and Human Genome, also took part in the protest.

“There is no water cooler which is in the working condition, from where will the students drink water. Also sanitation facility is poor in the block, sewerage system is not efficient and canteen is also not functioning properly,” said Amandeep Singh, president, PUSU.

According to the PUSU president, Amandeep Singh,” We met the director of the BMS block on August 12 to apprise him about the problems faced by the students and he assured that he would look into the matter and would do the needful at the earliest, but nothing has been done till date, so we are left with no other option but to protest and if there is a further delay in meeting these genuine demands of students we will lock-up the BMS block.” 



Gang of liquor smugglers busted, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
The crime branch of the Chandigarh police today claimed to have busted a gang of inter-state liquor smugglers with the arrest of two residents and seized six cartons of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

Sources in the crime branch said that acting on discrete information about liquor being smuggled out, from Himachal Pradesh to Chandigarh, a trap was laid near the railway light point. A team of crime branch officials stopped a white Indica car coming from the Panchkula side. A search of the car led to the recovery of illegal liquor. The police arrested the occupants of the car, Surinder Kumar of Sector 56 and Parveen Kumar of Sector 40-C here.

The sources added that on questioning, the suspects failed to produce any licence or permit to carry such a consignment to the city. A case has been registered against them under the Excise Act at the Mani Majra police station. During interrogation the police said, Surinder Kumar, a suspect, disclosed that they had brought the consignment from house No 412-A in Sector 6, Panchkula.

The sources further added that these smugglers had occupied a residential house, belonging to a senior retired officer of Punjab, which was being used to stock smuggled whisky. The whisky was subsequently dispatched to various buyers in the region. Surinder Kumar reportedly made a disclosure statement that a large number of cartons of whisky had been stocked in that house, meant for selling to different buyers in the region. On the basis of the disclosure statement, a police party along with a team of the Panchkula police was sent to the house for recovery of the stocked whisky.

A search of the house led to further recovery of 245 cartons of IMFL of various brands, which was deposited with the SHO, Sector 5 police station. The Panchkula police had also been keeping track of the accused.



Makhan Singh’s kidnappers dodge Durban police
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
Raids were conducted at five or six places by the police in Durban but the alleged kidnappers managed to give the slip.

This was stated by Mr Bhupinder Sharma who is closely linked to the family of Makhan Singh, who was allegedly kidnapped in South Africa on August 15. Mr Sharma said that he had today talked to Mr M.H. Nigdi, a Commissioner in Durban, in connection with the case.

Mr Sharma said that Mr Nigdi suspected that the persons allegedly involved in the crime were not from Pakistan but were Indians. The police there was working on one or two clues. The information about the case was also telecast on TV channels there, he added.

Mr Bhupinder Sharma had today gone to Delhi along with Sukhdev Singh, brother of Makhan Singh, to meet Mr Tejinder Luthra, DCP, Crime, in connection with the case. The police in Delhi was not very helpful, said Mr Sharma.

The members of the family of Makhan Singh have not received any phone call from the alleged kidnappers here today.

The parents of the kidnapped youth, living in Kumbra village here, remained surrounded by relatives and friends who kept giving solace to them. Makhan Singh’s maternal grandfather, Mr Kishan Singh, who had come from Garhi Saini village in Ludhiana district, told the Chandigarh Tribune that they had been telling Makhan Singh not to go to a foreign land but he did not listen. He said that the family did not even know whether he went to South Africa through a travel agent or not.

His father, Mr Karam Singh, who retired last year as a havildar from the Department of Jails, said that he did not know from where Sukhdev Singh had collected Rs 5 lakh to pay as ransom. His friends must have helped him with the amount. He said that people from the village had also been very helpful to the family in the time of crisis.

It is alleged that Makhan Singh was kidnapped in South Africa by a group of persons who claimed that they belonged to Pakistan. They had demanded Rs 15 lakh as ransom but had reduced the amount by half after the family expressed its inability to arrange that large a sum. The kidnappers had asked the family to hand over the amount to some persons in New Delhi.

Kidnappers of Makhan Singh, are suspected to be Punjabis and not Pakistanis, according to reports received here tonight. The kidnappers, believed to be four in number, were suspected to be from places like Patiala, Bathinda and Zira.



Passing Thru

What is your immediate concern?

Colin Gonsalves
Colin Gonsalves, Director, Human Rights Law Network

Non-availability of ARV drugs and discrimination against the HIV-infected are the main concerns. It is vague that the GoI should supply free ARV drugs in high-prevalence states which are only six. I don’t understand the logic behind categorising states as low and high-prevalence. Does the government mean it will wait to supply life-saving drugs until AIDS gets beyond control in the so-called low-prevalence states?

What, in your estimation, is the extent of fresh HIV + cases in India?

As per government figures, fresh cases are 23,000 a year. But a single district in Karnataka recently revealed 3,000 fresh cases. It’s strange that before 2004, the Gov only had an AIDS prevention policy. Treatment was not part of its duty. It was only when the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab in association with us filed a petition in the Supreme Court and demanded supply of ARV drugs for the AIDS-infected that the then Health Minister Sushma Swaraj accepted treatment as part of government policy.

— Aditi Tandon



Power dept staff stage walkout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Employees of the Electricity Department today walked out of the office morning in protest against their pending demands. The call for strike was given by the UT Powermen Union, Chandigarh.

Mr Bhag Mal Rana, president of the union, said the strike got a good response from the employees. The office work suffered for two hours from 9 a.m. onwards.

A rally was organised in front of the department office in Sector 20. The protesting employees again held a two-hour boycott in the afternoon. Mr Rana said the agitation could take a serious turn in case their demands were unheard. “We have been given an appointment with the Superintending Engineer on August 30,” he said.

The protest walk-out was organised against the Chandigarh Administration’s decision to hand over meter reading and bill distribution work into private hands. Mr Rana said “It was being planned to transfer maintenance work to contractors while the genuine demands of the employees remained unheard.”

The union also sought stoppage in the reduction of pay and recovery from employees, filling up of vacant posts and demanded offer of appointment for next kin of the deceased employees.

Free spectacles for kids

CHANDIGARH: Problem of refractive errors is high among schoolchildren of Chandigarh. This was highlighted by Director, Health Services, UT, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, also Vice-Chairman, State Blindness Control Society. She was speaking at a day-long workshop on “Training of Teachers for Screening of Schoolchildren.” Stating the grave consequences of eye injuries on account of use of crackers and bows and arrows during the festive season, Dr Walia admonished parents to adopt restraint and select crackers carefully. Dr K.S. Rana, Member, Secretary of the State Blindness Control Society said the society would shortly be providing spectacles free of cost to the poor and needy children. — TNS



Army’s chief judicial officer charged with obtaining ‘illegal’ certificate
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Judge Advocate-General, Major-Gen Nilendra Kumar, head of the army’s judicial branch, has now been accused of obtaining an “illegal” certificate to take advantage of provisions of law, apparently not applicable to him, for disposal of a civil suit filed by him and his brothers in a Lucknow court.

While posted as Deputy Judge Advocate General at Headquarters Central Command, Lucknow, a peacetime appointment, he allegedly obtained a certificate from a fellow officer stating him to be “a soldier within the meaning of the Indian Soldier’s Litigation Act”.

A copy of the certificate made available to The Tribune showed it to be issued on April 28, 2000, by Brig A. Samantary, then Brigadier (Personnel) at Headquarters Central Command. The Brigadier’s name and decoration have been handwritten beneath his signatures.

Soldiers falling within the meaning of the Act are those who are serving under war-like situation, serving under special conditions or who are unable to get leave for prosecuting or 
defending civil suits. The British enacted it in 1925 for the benefit of 

Army Headquarters (AHQ), in response to a query on this issue, confirmed that Major-Gen (then Brig) Nilendra Kumar and his three younger brothers had been involved in litigation for almost 10 years for eviction of tenants from their property. It however, denied that the certificate was illegal or any attempt to mislead the judiciary was made.

An official spokesperson maintained that a certificate was required under the UP Urban Buildings (regulation of letting, rent and Eviction) Act for the purpose that Brigadier Kumar was a serving Indian soldier within the meaning of the Act in connection with the private suit. The certificate can be used where the landlord of the building is a serving or retired Indian soldier as defined in the Indian Soldiers Litigation Act and where such a building was let out any time before his retirement. The spokesperson added that the certificate was taken note of by the court concerned and then even by the High Court.

Legal experts, however, said that such a certificate has to be issued by the soldier’s commanding officer, in this case the GOC-in-C, Central Command and not by any other officer. Also, every soldier is not entitled to an early hearing and at least one of the three aforementioned conditions have to be met to get the certificate.

Further, where a suit has been filed together by three brothers, all of them cannot take advantage of one of them being a soldier. This implies that unless the soldier concerned is the sole owner of the property, he cannot take advantage of the Act.

Experts also said that the Act was primarily for timely eviction of tenants in cases where a soldier about to retire and has only about two years residual service left. Here, General Kumar has over three years of service left. On the matter of the courts accepting the certificate, a lawyer commented that as per the Indian Evidence Act, actions done by the government we presumed to have been done in the manner in which they are required to be done. He added that it was not for the court to explore or examine whether the certificate obtained by a brigadier was authentic or complete unless any objections to the contrary we raised.



Cops save woman from drowning
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
Vigilant cops today rescused a Mohali resident while she was drowning in Sukhna Lake. Just two days ago, the Chandigarh police had intensified patrolling at the lake and also equipped cops with life jackets in the wake of rising cases of suicide at the lake.

Sources in the police said Ms Asha Pant (46), a resident of Phase V, Mohali, accidentally fell into the lake after she slipped from the bank while watching birds near the police post. It was around 6 pm when the accident occurred. The people gathered there and raised the alarm. Assistant Sub-Inspector Raj Pal and Head Constable Jagdev jumped into the water to rescue her. Ms Pant by that time had reached into the deep waters but the timely action of cops saved her from drowning.

The police said Ms Pant was living alone at Mohali as her husband Lt-Col P.Y. Pant had died earlier and her only son was settled in Delhi.



CPI conference on Aug 28
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
A conference of the Chandigarh District Council of the Communist Party of India will be held on August 28 at Ajay Bhavan here, said the secretary of the council, Mr Devi Dayal Sharma.

At the beginning of the conference, Ms Sheela Didi, a nominee for the Noble Peace Prize for 2005 and leader of the Indian Women Federation, will hoist the party flag and Mr Bant Brar, assistant secretary of the CPI, Punjab, will inaugurate the session. Several resolutions would be passed at the session.

The CPI will raise its various demands at the conference. The party wants that the post of Administrator of the UT, Chandigarh, be abolished and the post of Chief Commissioner revived. It also favours construction of a dam on the Ghaggar, covering of all open manholes, bonus to government employees and government jobs to kin of the deceased employees.



Passport problem rectified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
In connection with a news item “harassment at passport office” which appeared in these columns on August 19, the Regional passport Officer (RPO), Mr Arvind Kumar, said the old passport of Ms Rama Abrol, a resident of Ambala, had been traced and intimation of the same had been sent to her by a speed post.

The lady confirmed that she had received the old passport.

He said the old passport containing valid visa of USA was not sent to the applicant as the speed post centre was not supposed to receive a re-issue case.

“The Chief Post Master-General, Haryana, had been requested to direct all the speed post centres not to accept the old passports cases in violation of the existing instructions as it led to harassment to the applicants,” said the RPO.

He said position regarding the rules had been explained to the elderly couple and he had sought a few days time to get the matter investigated.

The RPO office receives more than 1100 passport applications every day and the task of retrieving one particular application out of more than 8000 files was a Herculean task.



SP ensures crime-free Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
All efforts will be made to reduce incidents of crime in the town and the safety and the security of the residents will be ensured.

This was stated by Mr Pavan Kumar Rai after taking over as SP of Mohali here today.

He said though he had not drawn up any agenda for the town so far, he would be fixing his priorities after discussing the town’s problems with his subordinates. Every area had different problems related to it, he added.

Mr Rai is an IPS officer of the 1997 batch and hails from Uttar Pradesh. He was earlier working as SP in Jalandhar.



Cable-laying work affects BSNL phones
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 24
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) here is faced with an uphill task these days. A private telecom company is busy laying its underground cables in Phase IV and V here. Offering its land line services it is allegedly carelessly cutting and snapping BSNL cables, leading to BSNL phones going dead.

Other than the nuisance of dug-up roads BSNL officials today alleged that the company workers were not even informing them about where their wires had been accidentally cut.

“This company is using the “trenchless” method of laying underground cable. This means that the workers make two trenches across a 100 meter length of road and dig from one trench to another under the road. This way we cannot detect damaged cables. We have no way of knowing till the company informs us. Though the company is supposed to repair it immediately using a joint kit, in many cases these damages are left unattended to and the trench is closed,” explained Mr K.R. Choudhry, Divisional Engineer, BSNL, Mohali

A similar problem was caused by the company almost a fortnight ago in Phase V and later in Phase IV. “A series of telephones went dead in the same line of houses. We had to dig up the road in order to just locate the fault. We have instruments that can locate an underground fault to the nearest meter but there have been cases when we were even unable to locate the fault till we had dug at two different places,” he added.

Mr Choudhry added that after having repaired the faults at Phase V and in the series of houses starting from house number 430 in phase IV, they had receive a fresh set of complaints for a similar fault in the line of houses numbering 900 in Phase IV.

BSNL officials also pointed out that though private telecom companies are granted permission from the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to lay their cables, they need to discuss their layout plan with BSNL. 



Scooterist dies at ‘killer’ roundabout
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, August 24
The UT Administration seems to have turned a blind eye to the “killer” roundabout’ of Sectors 46, 47, 48 and 49 that has claimed many lives. In fact another scooterist died in a mishap this morning.

The scooterist, Hazoora Singh (66), a resident of Sector 49, was killed when his scooter skidded near the roundabout. He suffered serious head injuries. He was taken to the GMCH, Sector 32, where he was declared brought dead, the police said.

Accidents are quite common at this roundabout and at the stretch of road dividing Sectors 46 and 47. Commuters claim that approximately 60 accidents occurred this year. However, the police figures put the number much smaller than this. Also there is no denying the fact that a majority of the cases end up in compromise.

The rush of heavy vehicles, which is diverted from Dakshin Marg to dividing road of Sectors 31 and 32 exacerbate the problem. This stretch of road links the Dakshin Marg to the Vikas Marg (Sector 48 and 47 road). Long route buses also use this road to reach the ISBT, Sector 43.

Many times it become difficult for vehicles to move on this road as some stretches on the road are full of potholes and uneven moulds. Some of the pits are more than three-feet-long and can cause serious accident.

The situation deteriorates during the monsoon. The road is often inundated with water and it becomes difficult to spot potholes. The downpours this monsoon have washed away parts of the road.

After the rains, the sand gets accumulated on the sides of the road making it slippery and perilous for the motorists, especially two-wheeler drivers. During the night, non-functional street lights make it difficult to spot herds of cattle moving freely on this road.

The police initially faced problems in identifying the victim, Hazoora Singh, as he was not carrying any documents which could establish his identity. The family came to know about the tragedy, when Mukhtiar Singh, his son, found his scooter lying on the roadside.

Hazoora Singh is survived by his wife, a married daughter and two sons.



SAFMA team to visit city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
A team of SAFMA preparatory mission for Punjab-Punjab consultation and Indo-Pak parliamentarian conference led by Mr Imtiaz Alam, Secretary General, SAFMA will be in Chandigarh tomorrow to discuss future agenda for action.

The meeting will take place at the Chandigarh Press Club tomorrow at 11.30 am.



Big lizard scares family
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
Family members of Mr Ram Chander, residing in Phase XI, were scared when they spotted a big lizard (goh) inside the house.

Mr Ram Chander immediately sought the help of the local fire brigade. The big lizard was chased out of the house by fire brigade employees.

Mr K.C. Sood, sub fire officer, said no one in the family knew when the lizard entered the house. But they were scared after they saw it inside the house.



C-Toss kicked off
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
C-Toss programme was launched at the Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45, in association with the Department of Information Technology, Chandigarh Administration, today. 



ASI killed

Chandigarh, August 24
A 45-year-old Assistant Sub-Inspector, Mahavir Singh, succumbed to his injuries at PGI, Chandigarh, yesterday. He was hit by a truck near Chandimandir two days ago, when he was going on his motor bike. He was posted at the Haryana Police Headquarters, Panchkula. TNS



Mohali industries association rues inflated bills
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 24
Members of the Mohali Industries Association (MIA) here have protested against the inflated bills of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

According to Mr Balbir Singh, president of the association, the electricity board this month submitted inflated bills to various industries on account of “power factor”. In some cases, the bill received by certain industries was almost Rs 20,000 more than their average bill amount.

Mr Balbir Singh pointed out that the electricity board normally charged for a reduction in the power factor from industries which had applied for large load connections. “Power factor reduction was not charged from small and medium load industries. However, the board seems to have applied this charge to all industries. But they have done it without giving us even a chance to improve the power factor in our industries,” he lamented adding that installation of shunt capacitors led to increase in power factor.

Alleging that the Mohali industries had been given hiked bills last month also on account of certain errors, Mr Balbir Singh said they had requested the board to allow them to pay those bills in installments. “We had barely managed to solve that issue and now this month we have been slapped with still larger bills,” 
he said.



Rice millers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
A large number of rice millers today staged a dharna under the banner of the Punjab Rice Millers Association, in front of the Directorate of Punjab Food and Supplies here today in support of their demands.

Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the association, said the Centre and state governments had ignored completely the long pending demands of rice millers in the state.

He said rice millers would boycott the procurement of paddy in the coming season and would also not stock paddy procured by the government agencies, on the premises of their mills in case government failed to accept the demands of the association before the beginning of the procurement season on October 1.

He said the security deposits made by millers in previous years should be released.

The orders issued by the Union Government to recover the cost of already used gunny bags should be withdrawn and the stock maintenance cost that was to be paid to millers, should be cleared at the earliest.

He said the government was to pay Rs 300 crore to millers as stock maintenance cost.



Winner gets Maruti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Ms Ishita Sood, a resident of Sector 35-A, won a Maruti Swift, at a ‘lucky draw’ organised by the State Bank of India in collaboration with the Business Promotion Council of Sector 17 at the Plaza here this evening.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Managing Director of the CITCO, drew the slip for the lucky winner.

As many as 17 prizes were also given for winners in separate categories of colour televisions and air conditioners.

The market wore a festive ambience throughout the day.


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