C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Peaceful town shaken out of slumber
Arson, vandalism rule Panchkula roads;
miscreants target Sectors 16, 17, 18
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

A PCR motor cycle is burnt by arsonists near Sector 10, Panchkula, on Friday.
A PCR motor cycle is burnt by arsonists near Sector 10, Panchkula, on Friday.

Panchkula, September 2
A reign of terror was unleashed in the town today by armed hooligans, who shook the town out of its reverie, as caste-based politics showed its ugly head — far away from the “Jatland” and “Dalit heartland”.

“Preplanned” rampage by the lathi and sword wielding youths, claiming to be the Dalits, began around 8 am this morning.

From Mauli Jagran in Chandigarh, and moving through Panchkula for over two hours before tiring themselves out, the mob shattered everything in sight, showing scant regard for human life that they endangered in the process.

For most residents, the Dalit protest against the Gohana incident came as a shock. Staying in one of the most urban townships of Haryana, most residents had never fathomed that arsonists would run amuck on roads, smash their vehicles, block their free movement and destroy their beautiful roundabouts.

The arsonists ravaged the Sectors bordering the UT — Sector 17, 18 and 16. Burning of buses, tyres on the roads, and smashing of vehicles — both government and private plying on the roads, and even those parked outside houses — remained the order of the day, even as the police and civil administration decided not to take a retaliatory recourse.

Political patronage of the arsonists was evident as they spoke to “Bhai Sahib” on the telephone, giving him each detail of the damage they had left behind.

“But this ‘inaction’ was a plain failure on the part of the administration,” complained Aaina Jain, a resident of Sector 18.

“They (the mob) entered the Sector and without any provocation refused to stop causing damage to our vehicles. What kind of strategy was this?” she asked angrily.

Brig R.M. Sharma (retd), president of the Residents Welfare Association, Sector 17, said the citizens felt let down.

“The entire Sector was surrounded by arsonists and people were confined inside. The administration seemed least concerned as rioting went on for over two hours,” he says.

A senior citizen of Sector 18, who heads several social organisations in the township, on the condition on anonymity, said the rampage was a result of political unrest in the state.

“It is obvious that people want to unsettle the government and thus such actions were sponsored and patronised by influential political bosses,” he alleged.



Violence makes residents insecure
Naveen S. Graewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The unprecedented violence in Panchkula, with goons roaming about freely sans fear, picking their targets at will has caused a deep-rooted gash on the minds of the people of the city, reminding some of them of the lawlessness that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the acceptance of the Mandal Commission Report (1990). Many Panchkula residents have confessed to be feeling insecure, drawing parallels between these incidents of violence.

One common trait they mention between the incidents that happened today and those in 1984 is that at both these times the Congress has been the ruling party. However, Congress members were on the Opposition in Parliament when violence sparked throughout the nation, following the acceptance of the Mandal Commission Report by then Prime Minister V.P. Singh. Memories of these past incidents of violence have sent shivers down the spines of many Panchkula and Chandigarh residents, who say they feel very unsafe.

A senior police officer who was doing the rounds in his official vehicle throughout the day refused to give any directions to the men in ‘khaki’ to stop violence on the plea that he was awaiting instructions from his higher-ups before initiating action on the crowds. Though, it may be explained as a strategy to avoid repeating a Gurgaon-like situation, it is almost unpalatable for a passer-by to watch a policeman performing the role of a helpless onlooker.

The violence remained confined to select pockets, neighbouring Dalit colonies, but it has exposed the potential of sparking a caste clash in the Panchkula-Chandigarh-Mohali belt that has come to be known as one of the most affluent regions of the country with the highest literacy rate. According to Mr R.K. Handa of Sector 7, “The acts of violence today have dispelled all notions of the city being a safe place”. He said, “So far most people believed that Chandigarh - Panchkula were very different from Punjab and Haryana and offered better protection to life and property”.

Mr Satish Kumar, a newspaper hawker who claims to be an eyewitness to today’s violence, said, “I am appalled at the manner in which the police was following the lathi-wielding crowds. They watched those involved in these dastardly acts from a distance without doing much. A bus was torched even while a girl was still inside and her clothes caught fire. She escaped with great difficulty. While all this happened, the policemen just looked on”. He obviously was suggesting that the force had orders to remain mute spectators by the powers-that-be and that the entire act by the mob was pre-planned.

Several retired police and military personnel, who did not wish to be quoted, blamed security forces of a “complete intelligence failure”. They question the inability of the police to gather intelligence on what a handful of people were planning to do. “The police stations are always aware of the notorious elements in a particular area. As a routine precautionary measure, these elements are either whisked away or adequately warned. There are provisions in the IPC and the CrPC to take preventive steps”, a retired IPS officer said.

Almost all Panchkula residents who spoke to The Tribune said the foremost task before the Haryana Government was to take effective steps to ensure restoration of confidence of the people in the state machinery.



Channel prevented from broadcasting news
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 2
The police forced the local news channel not to broadcast its news about the rioting in the township today. Chief Editor of the Din Bhar news channel, Vipin Garg alleged that some policemen converged on his office in Mani Majra and prevented his staff from broadcasting the news at 9 pm.

“They said they had received instructions from the Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, that the news should be prevented from broadcasting. We tried to get in touch with the SP, but he was not available. The Deputy Commissioner, though, said that he had not given any instructions to stop the broadcast of our news,” he alleged.



PU Poll
Mudslinging rules Open House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Around 2,000 students gathered to take part in an Open House organised at Panjab University here this morning. Held in the grounds opposite the Students’ Centre, the debate attracted supporters in large numbers from various student bodies. However, it were mostly the supporters of SOPU and PUSU who dominated the scene.

The debate saw presidential candidates from each party address the gathering, followed by vice-presidents (all girls), except for PUSU whose former vice-president addressed the gathering.

Spokespersons for each party were the last to speak.

While open mudslinging in individual speeches was more than evident, the issue of national political parties influencing student parties dominated the scene. The issue of three presidential candidates for the SOPU alliance on the final list also got a mention. Each candidate was given 5 minutes to speak, followed by two minutes each to answer two queries from the audience.

The questions answered in the end were not only pointed but, in many cases, personal.

Interestingly, the number of girl students seen supporting the parties was considerably less this year. PUSU supporters were the first to arrive at the venue. They marched from their makeshift tent in front of boys’ hostels, shouting slogans and distributing pamphlets.

The SOPU-NSUI-SOI alliance arrived thereafter. Interestingly, except for the spirit of the alliance, the leaflets and mini flags carried by the supporters only had “SOPU” written on them.

Students supporting the ABVP-HSA alliance were the last to arrive on the scene, even after the first presidential candidate Amandeep from SOPU started to speak.

Supporters of INSO and the SFI too arrived later, but went unnoticed amidst the din of sloganeering, hooting and cheering by supporters of the SOPU-NSUI-SOI alliance and PUSU.

The debate, which was scheduled to begin at 11.30 am, began 45 minutes late.

Draws were held to decide the order of speakers. However, the din created by students led to a lot of confusion.

Despite strict instructions barring the presence of outsiders on the stage, the police had a tough time handling those who wanted to take to the stage.

Leaders of various parties spoke amidst jeering by supporters of the opposing parties, while supporters threw pamphlets and hurled abuses at those of the rival groups.

Only three spokesperson could speak for five minutes each from each party — one of the speakers had to be a girl, second president and third any other member.

First time ever!

  • While separate enclosures are usually made for girls and boys, for the first time “gender” rule was not followed and each party was separated from the other by barricades. Supporters of PUSU and SOPU were separated by a barricade guarded by the police.
  • For the first time supporters left as soon as speakers from PUSU and SOPU finished speaking, despite the fact that speakers from other parties were yet to address. Although leaders present on the stage tried to play it down by saying that it was done to avoid any clash, they themselves were seen leaving.




Commuters were today harassed due to the closure of the PU gate No. 1. Many could be seen complaining and fuming as they turned back and took another route to enter the university.

Green turbans missing

Missing in the PU Open House debate today were the trademark green turbans one has always seen the student activists of the Haryana Students Association (HSA) wearing during the debate session. Many insiders claimed it was so because of the rift and split this year and also due to the formation of the new student organisation, INSO, formed by their country cousins.

Colour game

The student leaders came “dressed” in the colour of the student organisation they represented. Ex-presidents Rajwinder Singh “Lucky” and Malwinder Singh Kang were dressed in the colour of the PUSU banners while Dalveer Singh ‘Goldy’ presidential candidate of SOPU+ NSUI+SOI alliance wore a shirt similar to their party colour. Interestingly, the pamphlets and agendas too of the various parties are in the same colour. However, it was not clear which colour represented the ABVP+HSA alliance as while their banners were bright orange their pamphlets were purple!


After the Open House debate ended, the university authorities had a tough task on their hands to pick up the hoards of pamphlets that littered the grounds and also the roads leading to the Student Centre from the boys hostel Nos 1, 2 and 3.



Reforms in PU’s exam branch top agenda
Swarleen Kaur

Main Demands

Toilets of various departments at the varsity be made clean
End to queues at fee counter
Revamping of Music Department 
Students viewpoint in various decisions be considered by the authorities 
Proper supply of water at girls’ hostels
Auditorium be built with a capacity of 3,000 people

Chandigarh, September 2
Reforms in the working system of the Examination Branch of Panjab University are at the top of the agenda of student leaders in this year’s Campus Students’ Council elections.

The examination branch is anathema for students wanting to get their roll numbers, degrees issued, and revaluation or any other exam-related job done. These things can take days to complete as students run from pillar to post, attempting to get their examination related work done.

“The worst place in Panjab University is the Examination Branch where most of the time students are at their wits end, trying to figure out how to get their work done. Any improvement in this branch will be a big relief,” says Shyamli, a student of MA-I (English).

Another important suggestion put forth by a third year student of Law department, Anurag Chopra: “The main problem is that examinations get delayed every time. Though student leaders are helpful they must do something in this regard. The university should also organise competitions in various subjects to draw maximum participation from students. I think only our leaders can bring about this change on the campus.”

According to Shailaja Verma, currently pursuing Master’s degree in history at the university: “There are a lot of girls who come from outside Chandigarh to attend classes on the campus. They travel to and fro every day. There should be some sort of transportation to bring them to the university campus and take them back. Other colleges have buses and transportation arranged. Even we should have something similar here.”


Students’ council poll today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The Panjab University Campus Students’ Council elections and elections in the city colleges affiliated with it will be held tomorrow. Voting will start at 10 a.m. in various departments of the university.

As many as 7,416 students are eligible to vote in the PU. One hundred and ten polling booths have been set up in the university. The elections are being held for the four posts of president, vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary for the Students’ Council and also for 75 department representatives.

Thirtyeight students from various departments of the PU were elected unanimously today. Elections will now be held to elect the remaining 37 department representatives.

The final result from each department will be submitted to the Dean Student Welfare office. According to Prof Nirmal Singh, DSW, PU, the result is expected to be out by 2.30 p.m.



Leader-speak before poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Amandeep Singh, presidential candidate, PUSU: “We have been in power for the past three years and we will win this year too. We don’t need to prove our achievements. The fact that you have chosen us continuously for three years speaks for itself.”

Dalveer Singh ‘Goldy’, presidential candidate, SOPU: “What no one could do in national politics in the country, we did in this university. We brought two warring national parties together under one banner. Our party is and will remain one and, with your blessings, we will win.”

Satinder Dhaiya, presidential candidate, ABVP+HSA: “We don’t believe in winning and losing. We believe in hard work.”

Vikas Rathee, presidential candidate, INSO: “These other parties only have rajniti; we have only raj no niti.”

Bhuvan Azad, presidential candidate, SFI: “Inqalab zindabad! It’s time we remembered our forgotten heroes.”

Gagandeep, vice-presidential candidate, SOPU+NSUI+HAS: “Vote for the one you think is the best according to you. If elected I will fight against sexual harassment.”

Sheetal, vice-presidential candidate, SFI: “We need to find solutions of our everyday problems.”

Ankita Thakur, ex-vice-president, PUSU: “We are not from any political party but from the students’ hearts.”

Geetanjali, vice-presidential candidate, INSO: “We are a new party, but if you trust us, we can prove that we are the best party.”

Chavi, vice-presidential candidate, ABVP+HAS: “Why do only girls have to have a deadline to enter hostels, why not boys too? I am not here for politics. If elected I shall fight for gender equality.”



PUSU, SOPU supporters clash

Supporters of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) and the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) clashed after Open House debate here today.

According to a PUSU activist: “Some Science students and girls came and sat in out tent after the debate. Suddenly, former presidents of SOPU Kushbaz Singh Jattana and Ranjit Singh Raju along with presidential candidate Dalveer Singh (Goldy) and some supporters came to our tent. They misbehaved with the girls and one of the girl even slapped Goldy. The argument then turned violent.”

However, Dalveer Singh (Goldy) said: “It is just a rumour and PUSU activists just want to spoil our votes. We had some argument and one of the PUSU supporters beat up one of our supporters.”

Peace was restored only after the intervention of the police. — OC



Canvassing sans posters in MCM DAV
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 2
Following instructions from the college Principal, campaigning was held without pasting of posters, hanging of bunting or raising of slongans on the MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36, premises this time.

The Principal had also asked candidates to canvas in smaller groups instead of participating in an Open House debate.

Candidates discussed their agendas and tried to understand problems of the students in around 25 small groups today.

On the contrary in Government College for Girls, Sector 42, Sri Guru Gobind College, Sector 26, Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, DAV College, Sector 10, Government College, Sector 46, and SD College, Sector 32, door-to-door campaigns were held.



School sites won’t come cheap now
Administration to put land on auction
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
In an important decision, the Chandigarh Administration has decided to auction sites identified for new schools in future.

The change in the allotment policy will mean that schools will no longer get land “at throwaway prices, which was as low as Rs 2,100 per square yard in certain cases”. The reserved price here will now be the same as the rate of the market price, which is over Rs 23,000 per sq yrd in majority of cases.

The decision to auction land will also be implemented in case of land for all other institutions, it is learnt.

A senior official in the UT Administration confirmed the change in the policy for school sites.

Following a long debate, the administration has taken the decision to allot school sites through auction in future. A notification to this effect is expected shortly.

A senior official said: “The new policy will be a big check on parties buying school sites at a meagre price compared to the actual rates. A screening committee will first sieve out genuine parties. It has also been decided that the reserved price will correspond to the rate of existing price of land.”

It was pointed out that earlier the school sites were allotted by the administration.

“These were meant to be given to deserving parties. The city already has a number of institutions that are backed by reputed names and missionaries. At the same time there have been allegations of undue favours to certain parties. Transparency in allocation of sites often became the subject of discussion. This had led to many unpleasant situations for the administration,” the official pointed out.

“A number of schools were opened in the name of helping the poor and deserving students. In actual practice, a number of schools charged heavy fee and cater only to well-to-do families. Without bias for any party, we will like to auction the sites and make some extra money. This money will be spent on the welfare of city residents.”

At the same time, a school teacher said: “I think the auction system will make it impossible for a large number of genuine parties to open a school for the poor and deserving. Under the new policy, such an exercise will be virtually impossible. If a party wants the land at concession, the administration can make an alternative policy with inbuilt checks to ensure that it benefits the category of students for whom it is being allotted.”

The officer said: “There are sufficient number of schools for the poor and deserving. Government schools with qualified teachers and good infrastructure were best suited for them. The poor and Backward Classes also had special concessions. Independent school ventures largely have the business aspect attached to them and I think auction best suited the need.”



Forum to protest ban on vendors’ movement
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 2
Members of the Dalit Rights protection Forum, Punjab, will stage a dharna in front of the Mohali SP office tomorrow in protest against a police order banning the entry of vendors on the inner roads of residential areas in the township.

According to a press note issued by the president of the forum, Ms Pushpa Salaria, an arbitrary, unreasonable, illegal and cruel order was passed early this year by the former SP, Mohali, Mr Rakesh Agarwal, banning the entry of vendors in the residential areas of Mohali. She added that such an order was totally illegal as people could not be restricted from going anywhere to earn their livelihood. “The Police can only investigate their permanent addresses, police record etc but cannot stop their earnings. She said till February 2005 they received a large number of complaints from members of weaker sections of the society who were detained illegally by the Mohali police in compliance with these orders.

Following a protest launched by the forum these orders were taken back and it was decided that these vendors would be given identity cards. However, despite more than 200 applications having been submitted to the SP’s office for the identitycards office had not issued any. She alleged corruption had increased in the Police Department due to these orders. She pointed out the forum had been demanding that these orders be taken back and the vendors issued I- cards after proper verification.



Truckers disrupt traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Truckers parking their vehicles in front of the Fire Station in Mani Majra last night staged a ‘dharna’ and disrupted vehicular traffic following a row with the municipal corporation authorities over their parking rights.

An SDO of the corporation accompanied by the SHO came to the spot and asked the truckers to clear the place. The truckers said they had paid a parking fee of Rs 2 lakh to avail the facility.

The protest spilled over to the streets as the protesters raised slogans and also stopped the vehicular traffic much to the discomfort of the commuters.

Following an intervention by the ADC, the issue was resolved around midnight. Truckers have been allowed to use the space for parking their vehicles.



Man found dead in Sec 46
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 2
A man in his early 40s was found unconscious under mysterious circumstances near the site of Apni Mandi in Sector 46 here this morning. The police took him to GMCH, Sector 32, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Police sources said the deceased was identified as Rajnish Kumar, resident of Sector 46.

The family of the deceased told the police that Rajnish was working as a peon in Haryana Civil Secretariat. He was living alone and his wife had deserted him long ago.



Another suicide in Sukhna Lake
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 2
Even as the Chandigarh Police saved a father-son-duo from drowning in Sukhna Lake this early morning, a Wing Commander’s wife allegedly managed to end her life by jumping into the lake in the afternoon. She was reportedly suffering from depression. At the time of the incident, as many as 11 cops were maintaining vigil with the help of binoculars and other devices.

Giving details of the incident, the sources in the police said 60-year-old Gurbir Kaur, a resident of Mohali’s Phase V, allegedly drowned herself in the lake around 12.30 pm.

Her husband, Wing Commander (retd) I.S. Bhutter, told the police that he returned home after meeting a dentist at around 11 am only to find Gurbir Kaur was not at home. A search of the house revealed a book lying in the bedroom, in which Gurbir Kaur had written that she was going to commit suicide. No one was responsible for her death, she had declared in the note. The word lake was also mentioned in it.

Acting fast, he called up Mohali’s Superintendent of Police before rushing towards the lake. The SP, Mohali, alerted the Chandigarh police, which swung into action and started looking for the woman. By the time Mr Bhutter reached the lake, it was too late. A piece of cloth floating on the water revealed that she had just jumped in the murky waters. After some time the cops retrieved the body from the lake and tried to resuscitate her seeing some signs of life in her. But it was too late. They shifted the victim to the General Hospital Sector 16, where the doctors declared her brought dead, said the police.

The police while quoting Mr Bhutter said Gurbir Kaur was under depression of late and was also taking treatment from the PGI. He told the police that she used to tell him that she would commit suicide. He had also reportedly consulted a doctor and was taking precautions in this regard. He further told the police that last week he along with Gurbir Kaur and some family friends visited the lake and while walking there, Gurbir had said that lake is good option for committing suicide. The couple had a son and a daughter who are settled abroad.

About the other incident, the sources at the lake police post said Mr Gian Chand, a resident of Sector 21, came to the lake along with his 14-year-old son and wife early this morning.

They were reportedly feeding fishes in the lake from the staircases. At around 7.45 am, his son Sahil slipped into the water while getting up. On seeing his son drowning, Mr Gian Chand in an effort to save his son jumped after him. Finding both of them droning, his wife Ms Shanta raised the alarm and some Punjab police cops who had come for training at the lake rushed to her help.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |