C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admin seeks MC consent on 14 villages’ inclusion
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Chandigarh Administration today communicated to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to give its consent on the inclusion of another 14 villages in the civic body. The corporation has been asked to decide on the matter within three months.

Though the issue would be taken up at the next meeting of the corporation, the administration has the prerogative to “thrust” any responsibility on the civic body under the relevant provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act.

Sources said the move was the outcome of the issues discussed at the Home Ministry’s Advisory Council meeting held at Delhi last month. The administration had to reply on the action taken during the meeting.

After receiving the communication from the administration, the issue was discussed among the officers and the elected representatives. Though the final action would emerge after the general house meeting, sources said a survey would be carried out in the villages to ascertain the financial liability involved in the exercise. The corporation would ask for extra funds or demand that the villages be developed as model villages before being transferred to the corporation.

Apart from political mileage to the party in power, the reported move could directly benefit hundreds of illegally constructed dwelling units outside the lal dora of the UT villages. On being included within the MC limits, the administration would have greater control on managing the vacant lands outside the lal dora of the villages. Carrying out demolitions within the villages would also be possible for the administration. This would also mean end of the Panchayati Raj institutions.

The sources said on inclusion around 40,000 additional voters in the 14 villages would be eligible to cast their ballot in the municipal elections which were due in December 2006. The inclusion would necessitate the strengthening of the basic amenities.

The elected representatives and the officials in the corporation were opposed to the inclusion of the villages as it would badly affect the ongoing development works in the city and put additional burden on the civic body, confirmed the sources.

The sources said before holding the elections to the corporation, the exercise to delimit the wards would have to be undertaken. Since the election of the corporation were due in December 2006, the delimitation had to done before that.



Dhobighats set to become Laundromats
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
You will now have to finally say goodbye to hand- washed clothes by your dhobi, as the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) has taken a decision to replace the ‘wafadaar’ caretaker of your clothes with a modern mechanical washing. The only thing in common with the current practice will be that the ‘dhobi’ will still load the clothes into the machine and carry them back to you the same day. “Call it upgradation or modernisation, all dhobighats will be turn to Laundry Marts”, a senior MC Official said.

“This is bound to change the fate of the dhobi for the better. With this the city will join the league of cities across the world where Laundromats are commonplace. Envisaged by Municipal Commissioner, P.S Aujla, the Laundromats will provide a state-of-the- art public facility,” the official said.

This is not simply a modern dhobhighat. The washing and cleaning of clothes will be with utmost care and under hygienic conditions. These would not only conserve water, but also reduce the use of detergent.

Residents will also have the option to ask their dhobi not to use detergent and use ‘non-soap’ cleansers. “There are several non-soap cleansers available in the market for those who develop rash to soap and suds. These are particularly useful for people with skin allergies and small children who develop soap rashes,” the official said.

Besides other things, the introduction of Laundro-mats in the city will help reduce pollution by controlling discharge of soap water etc.

In Chandigarh, dhobhighats were set up in Sectors 7, 15 (two), 19,20,22,27 and 32 where clothes on the line or on the ground for drying is a common sight. But this will change soon.

Each existing dhobhighat will have a new structure with new plant and machinery.

The machines at these centres will be coin or card operated as it is done in western countries. Those to benefit from this development will be students, floating population, tourists, etc.

Dhobis too will be able to use machines with large capacities to improve their services by improving delivery time.

The centres will also provide facility for drying and pressing clothes.

A decision has been taken to provide these Laundromats at three places in Sector 7, 15 and 32. Based on the response and popularity ironing and other facilities would be added and more Laundromats will be opened.

The MC is also proposing to provide detergent and other material like bleach and softeners at these centres for those who do not wish to bring their own material.



Onions bring tears to common man
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The price of onions has sky-rocketed upsetting the budget of the common man. There has been a consistent rise in the price of onions from Maharashtra. The retail price today oscillated between Rs 25 and 30 per kg, a hike of nearly Rs 10 in the past three days.

Market sources indicated that with reports of shortage in the entire region, the price was likely to increase the next couple of days.

“The onions are literally making people cry with their soaring prices as the demand has increased manifold in the current festival season,” said Mr Ravi Khurana, a wholesale trader of Sector 26. “And there is every possibility of it going up further in the coming week, if fresh stocks from Nasik don’t hit the market”.

Another trader Ramesh Chand said. “People prefer to use red onions as they are more pungent and can be stored for longer periods than the local onions”.

Rajni, a housewife, said’ “Keeping in mind the exorbitant price, I have purchase only half a kg and would use it more sparingly.” School teacher Anita said: “The way the prices are going up, onions could well be a suitable Divali gift.”

Most people did not feel the pinch earlier due to Navratras but with the festive season, the budget of the household have already altered

“It is easy to buy paneer than onions,” says Ashish, a bank executive. Buying 5 kg of onion means dishing out anything between Rs 120 and Rs 125. But one can’t do without this basis ingredient in food particularly during the festival season.



Flesh trade via Net: racket busted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The crime branch of the Chandigarh Police today claimed to have busted a major flesh trade racket which was operating through the internet.

The in charge of the crime branch, Inspector Jagbir Singh, said the modus operandi of the gang was to book customers who called up a displayed mobile number on its website: www.indiasweethouse.net.

The service providers claimed that they could supply girls in any city. After opening the website, a team of the crime branch called up at the specific number and contacted one “Mr Cash”.

The pimp, who has been identified as Saurav Mittal, on being contacted by the police, said he was in Chandigarh and could provide the girl for Rs 25,000 a night. An advance of Rs 5000 was sought by the pimp.

Thereafter the pimp brought a 21-year-old girl to the Sector 17 plaza and handed over the girl to the police, who were posing as customers.

The police revealed that more details about the gang would be revealed on questioning the pimp and the girl. At least six mobiles and two SIM cards have been recovered from the Delhi-based pimp. The police is trying to figure out the main operators of the gang.



Ban on use of fire crackers after 10 p.m.
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Chandigarh Administration has banned the use of fire crackers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in connection with Divali. An order with regard to banning the use of fire crackers after 10 p.m. was passed by Mr R.K. Rao, Deputy Commissioner, here today.

The order says “during the Divali period, the noise pollution caused by bursting of fire crackers is likely to create annoyance and injury to the health of people. There is an urgent need to prevent the annoyance and injury by restricting the usage of crackers”.

The order which comes in force form tomorrow will remain till November 15. It has also been specified that the fire crackers were prohibited in the silence zones, which includes the area of 100m around hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places.

Meanwhile, there has been a mixed reaction to the orders. A section of the public appreciated the order, adding emphatically that the Administration should ensure the compliance of its orders of no crackers after 10 p.m. There is a bigger section of public which wants no time barriers for Divali celebrations.

The section of public opposed to the time limit of 10 p.m. is no less. It feels that while the order of 10 p.m. was justified for all days before or after the festival, on the day of the festival, the Administration should allow more relaxation.

Sumit Bahl, a student of Class XII, said “ the Administration should not stop the public from enjoying an occasion like Divali. Relatives and friends get together from far-off places in a large number of cases just for the festival. Lighting crackers in company of others was just a way of expressing solidarity. There was no justification in laying conditions on the celebrations of people”.

Anand Sharma, a student of Panjab University, said “the Administration has taken a timely action in banning the loud noise and polluting crackers. Loud noise and dirty air was no way of expressing joy. If people have so much of extra money, can’t they donate it to human causes like the recent earthquake in Kashmir”.



Garhwal Sabha meeting on Nov 13
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The general body meeting of the Garhwal Sabha, will be held on November 13 at 4 p.m. on its premises in Sector 29 A, to present the yearly report on income- expenditure incurred during the year 2003-2005 by the sabha.

A discussion on fixing the date for the sabha’s forthcoming elections will also be held, according to Mr Jaikrishna Naithani, general secretary of the sabha.

The members of the sabha are requested to deposit the membership fee for the year 2003/2005 with the cashier at the sabha office on or before November 12 till 9 pm, failing which they will not be able to participate in the general body meeting of the sabha.



Kidwai releases insurance scheme for journalists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Governor of Haryana, Dr A.R. Kidwai, released a group insurance scheme for 52 journalists of the National Capital Region, Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh at Haryana Raj Bhavan yesterday.

The Haryana Patarkar Mahasangh (HPM) has sponsored the above scheme for the welfare of decedents family members of the journalists if they met with any incident while reporting.

Dr Kidwai said the journalists were the fourth pillars of democracy, who played a vital role for creating awareness among the masses. The role of journalists acted as a bridge between the public and the government. He made a fervent appeal to the journalists to come forward for the welfare of the society with impartial journalism. He said the journalists were always at risk who reach to report over crisis situations so the life insurance of such journalists were compulsory.

Dr Kidwai honoured state president of the HPM Nafe Singh Saini, Hindustan Times reporter Balwan Singh Malik, NRI TV channel Bureau Chief Yashpal Sharma, among others, on the occasion.

On behalf of the HPM Bhupinder Singh Dahiya handed over a charter of demands to Dr Kidwai, who assured the mahasangh to forward the memorandum with his full recommendations to the government for a favourable consideration.

Earlier, B.S. Malik and other portfolio holders of the mahasangh welcomed the Governor.



UT gives additional power to corporation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Chandigarh Administration has shifted the function of registration of births and deaths from under its control to the Municipal Corporation. A notification in this regard has been issued, official sources said.

The corporation will also look after the pest control in the city. It has been entrusted with the function of constructing schools and hospitals under its purview. It is also expected to construct new libraries, gymnasiums and stadiums.

The corporation will play the role of identifying dangerous buildings. It will look after all roads except the national and the state highways and responsible for maintenance and construction of parking areas.

The corporation will be responsible for the removal of noxious vegetation. A new role also envisages preparation of plans for economic development and social justice, surveys of buildings and land, organisation and management of fairs and exhibitions, management of chemical or bacteriological laboratories for the examination or analysis of water, food and drugs for the detection of diseases and provision of relief to the destitute and disabled, besides others.

The notification also specifies the role of organisation and management of cottage industry under the corporation besides the construction and maintenance of warehouses, godowns, sheds and cattle biers.

The corporation has also been given a free hand in establishment and maintenance of hospitals, dispensaries and maternity and child care centres. It will also be responsible for organisation and management of farms and dairies for supply, distribution and processing of milk and milk products.

Urban planning lies in the court of the Administration. Development of new sectors and the development of vacant unplanned pockets of land within the municipal areas will continue to be done by the Engineering Department of the Administration. The development will include the construction of roads, landscaping, provision of sewerage, water supply, storm water and power supply.

The corporation has also been entrusted with the responsibility of naming and numbering of the streets and premises. It is expected to act according to the edict of the Capital Project for naming and numbering process.

The notification has also underlined the normal functions of the corporation, including construction and maintenance of works for supply of water, cremation grounds and drains. The corporation is responsible for maintenance of fire brigade equipment. It handles construction and maintenance of cattle ponds, regulation and abetment of offensive or dangerous trades, civic reception to persons of distinction and building and maintenance of residential quarters for the corporation employees, besides others.



Notification draws criticism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The notification regarding the transfer of certain powers to the Municipal Corporation by the Chandigarh Administration has come in for severe criticism from members of the corporation and political parties in the city.

Calling the notification a mere eyewash, Mr Chander Mukhi, a councillor, said: “The changes in the name of birth and death control and the pest control wings were a mere eyewash. Any department which is shifted to the MC corporation be given the full charge”.

He said: “The corporation does not have money to start big projects like setting up new schools and hospitals. In the scenario where the Administration was giving land to the private parties for setting up schools, the power meant little for the corporation”.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former Member of Parliament, said: “The situation of no actual power in the notification was a reflection on the Congress rule in the city. The Congress enjoyed power in Punjab, Haryana and even in the Centre, yet the bureaucracy managed to keep all actual power in its hands. In the first place it is the government in power which can take initiatives and initiate a change”.

At least half a dozen councillors have expressed their difference of opinion with the provisions in the notification. It is learnt that a formal press conference on the issue is likely to be organised to express their point of view later.

A Congress councillor said: “The Administration never let the political wing to get any special powers. Extreme caution in drafting of the notification, yielding no real power to the corporation, was a clear reflection on the lack of will in power being transferred to the elected leaders”.

A woman councillor said: “The corporation does not have a number of departments under its control as envisaged in the Constitution. Transport and licensing are just two examples which are under the control of the corporation in a number states. The corporation should be given more areas for revenue generation”.



Popularise Sanskrit, say writers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 21
Sanskrit has been described as an appropriate language for computer application as it is very systematic, rational and scientific language.

The Director, Haryana Higher Education Department, Mr Anil Kumar, who presided over a function to celebrate birthday of Maharishi Valmiki here yesterday, said Sanskrit was an important language and should be popularised. The function was organised by the Haryana Sanskrit Academy.

He said for developing a liking for any language it was not necessary to have a command over that language. Most of the speakers addressed the function in Sanskrit.

Dr Ramakant Angiras, former Chairman, Kalidas Peeth, Panjab University, Chandigarh, presided over the meeting. Dr R.D. Sharma, Director, Haryana Sanskrit Academy, spoke about the schemes and activities of the academy. Nearly, 100 writers of Sanskrit participated at the meeting.

Dr Shadhu Ram Shardha and Mr Vikram Kumar Viveke presented their papers on Maharishi Valmiki.

Other present on the occasion includes Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma, Director Haryana Sahitya Academy, Mr K.L. Zakir, Secretary, Haryana Urdu Academy, Dr Sansar Chand, litteratuer.



Employees’ delegation meets Adviser
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
A delegation of the Coordination Committee of Government and MC Employees and Workers today met the UT Adviser in connection with employees’ demands.

The Adviser apprised the delegation that its demand for the payment of bonus had already been taken up with the Central Government and a decision was likely to be taken before Divali.

The Adviser also informed the committee members that the salary of the daily wage and work-charged workers would be released before Divali like other employees.



Cong councillors ready to back MC chief on development
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 21
The Congress councillors who had moved the no-trust motion against their party member and Municipal Council president, Tarun Bhandari today said they were willing to support him on the issue of development.

These councillors said they were for the development of Panchkula and would not boycott the MC meetings. They would support any development works initiated by the MC president.

However, these councillors, who owe allegiance to Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan led by District Congress President, Mr R S Chauhan, said they would lodge a complaint against Mr Tarun Bhandari for indulging in anti-party activities by taking support of Indian National Lok Dal councillors to retain his position as president.

Interestingly, these councillors had themselves sought the support of nine INLD councillors in the MC to oust Mr Bhandari. After the INLD decided not to support the no-trust motion by abstaining from attending the meeting on October 19, councillor and Congress City President, Mr R.K. Kakkar had expressed his disappointment with the INLD, claiming hat it was only after the INLD councillors promised support that they had made the move for no-confidence motion. They retracted from their statements given earlier that they had sought support from INLD councillors.



Supplementing human effort in crime investigation
Sunil Kumar

Tracking down culprits in criminal cases and ensuring securities of the VIPs or the public at large is a taxing proposition for the police of any area. Although a number of scientific gazettes have been invented to assist investigating officials in their work, the centuries-old method of tracking down criminals using dogs has not lost its relevance. Dog squads still have an important role to play in the functioning of the police.

The dog squad of the Chandigarh Police, which is based at Sector 26 Police Lines, has seven canines. All of these are Labradors and age between 3 and 6 years. Two of these are trackers (used to track down criminals), while five are sniffers (used to detect hidden explosives, etc).

For every dog there is one trainer, who is responsible for the training and the upkeep of the animal assigned to him. The trainer accompanies the animal to the spot of crime. This is because he understands the nature of his dog and can make out from its activities what these hinted at.

According to Mr Narinder Singh, in charge of the squad, training a dog is a time consuming proposition and requires patience. "You have to go on repeating a training session so long as the dog does not become adept in that," he says. A pup should be at least nine-month old before you start training it, he adds. The sniffers have to undergo six-month training, while the trackers undergo training for nine months.

For the first three months, the training regime is same for both categories. During this period, they are disciplined to obey basic commands of the trainer. After three months, when a dog gets disciplined, it is trained to be a sniffer or a tracker. A sniffer's training includes smelling gunpowder and other explosives. Once trained, it can detect explosives with ease.

Trackers are trained to follow human scent. Their training starts with making them follow the traces of chicken soup deliberately spilled on the ground in a line. By the time their training is over, these can track down any person after they have been made to smell any article belonging to him.

Sniffers have a more busy daily schedule than trackers, says Mr Shingara Masih, another trainer. While trackers are taken to the spot of crime only when a new crime is reported in the area, sniffers are taken to the Punjab Raj Bhavan, the police headquarters, the Burail Jail and the airport every morning to make sure that these places are properly sanitised. These are also taken to the venues where functions are to be addressed by VIPs. Besides this, sniffers have to do additional duty of visiting the airport before any VIP's arrival or departure.

Besides Labradors, German Shepherd and Doberman make good sniffers and trackers, believes Mr Narinder Singh.

When asked what factors can affect the outcome of investigations using canines, he says trackers follow human scent and these need to be taken to the spot before the scent fades away. In summers, the scent fades away very quickly and for effective investigation a tracker needs to be taken to the spot within six hours of the commission of the crime. In winters, this duration can be up to even 12 hours. But in most of the cases, the police is informed about the commission of a crime much later than this. This delay generally makes the task of the squad very difficult, he adds.

Culprits' making use of vehicle for fleeing the spot is another factor that adversely affects the investigation. Dogs follow the scent smelling the ground, but if the criminal uses a vehicle to flee, he leaves no trace of scent on the ground from that point onwards, thus the trackers generally come to a halt at that place and fail to track the culprit, he says.

Moreover, in most cases of theft and murder, members of the affected family generally start moving around in the house and in their curiosity to ascertain details about the crime they displace things, thus making their own scent replace the scent of the culprits. This again makes the task of the dog squad difficult, he says. "It is always better if the family members do not touch things and move around in the house before the dog squad has visited the place," he says.



Homage paid to cops
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 21
The Chandigarh police today held a commemoration parade in memory of officers and men of the force, who laid down their lives while performing duties, at the Sector 17 police station.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Satish Chandra, who was the chief mourner, read out the names of 885 officers and jawans who laid down their lives in the cause of duty between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005. In the commemoration parade, contingents of the Chandigarh police, the Haryana police and the Punjab police participated and paid homage to the martyrs by reversing arms.

Mr Chandra lauded the sacrifices of the policemen and paid homage to the martyrs by laying wreaths on the memorial at the police station. Serving and retired officers of the police and paramilitary forces also paid homage to the martyrs.



Using technology to track criminals
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Even without hi-tech interceptors, mobile phones can ring in trouble.

In several cases, the Chandigarh Police managed to trace the culprits or gather clinching evidence against them with the help of mobile phone records. If the assertion is not ringing any bell, read on:

An accused in a blast case was reportedly nabbed by the police after the men in khaki went through the record of mobile phone conversations just prior to the explosion.

Though senior police officials refuse to comment on the issue, sources in the police headquarters say the cops basically identified the persons roaming in the vicinity of the blast site.

They, subsequently, zeroed in on the ones receiving frequent phone calls minutes before the explosion. After checking their antecedents, the police managed to get hold of the accused.

In another case, the cops nabbed two brothers on the allegations of stealing money belonging to a friend. The sources say that the friend, after withdrawing money from a bank, bumped into one of the brothers. They went to a fast food joint only to come out and discover stones, instead of money, in a bag kept on the car’s back seat.

The fact that the thief had replaced money with stones, instead of taking away the bag, indicated an inside job. After checking the conversation record, the police discovered that the friend accompanying the victim at the time of the theft was in constant touch with his brother. Interrogation revealed that the two, in connivance with each other, had grabbed the money for repaying debt.

In city resident Chandni Bansal’s suicide case, the police used the mobile conversation record to establish “relationship” between the prime accused and a colleague. The police later claimed that Chandni Bansal, who was to marry the prime accused, ended her life because of their relationship.

The police used technology to arrest the alleged killers of an Inspector with the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department. The accused were taken into custody after a friend of theirs called from the victim’s mobile a few days after the murder.

The sources assert that mobile phones are undoubtedly convenient, but can spell doom for the misusers. They add that the technology is so advanced that one can find out within minutes the location of a person at a particular time, besides the persons he was in touch with. In case of theft, the phone can be traced with the help of the IMEI number even if the sim card is disposed of.

On the pretext of crime detection, the Haryana Government is contemplating the acquisition of a telephone interception and monitoring system. Conversation on a GSM cellular network can be tracked and followed from a central control station, besides being recorded and retrieved, with the help of the device.

Justifying the reasons behind the move to purchase it, the sources say it is important to go in for the technology due to the widespread use of mobile phones by gangsters and miscreants for the commission of crime.

The sources, however, do not rule out the possibility of its misuse. They say that the device can be used for eavesdropping on politicians, bureaucrats and even journalists.

They add that the Indian Telegraph Act says clearly that the state government can intercept telephonic communication with prior permission of the Home Secretary on a case-to-case basis. The reason behind the tapping has to be assigned. But the procedure is seldom followed by the police in the states of Punjab and Haryana, the sources add.



Monitoring of CGHS working recommended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The committee of the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee, at its meeting held today under the chairmanship of Mr M.A. Bakshi, recommended the monitoring of the services provided by the CGHS on a monthly basis.

The committee also took up the issue of shortage of medicines, supply of expired medicines and non-availability of chemist within a radius of 3 km of the CHGS dispensary. The committee also recommended following holidays (2006) for the central government employees in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

Id-ul-Zhua/Bakrid (January 11), Republic Day (January 26), Muharram (February 9), Holi ( March 15), Ram Navami (April 6), Mahavir Jayanti (April 11), Id-e-Milad ( April 11), Good Friday ( April 14), Budha Purnima ( May 13), Independence Day ( August 15), Janamsathmi ( August 16), Gandhi Jayanti (October 2), Divali (October 21), Id-ul Fitr (October 25), birthday of Guru Nanak ( November 5). 



Bridge on highway to be repaired on Sunday
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Commuters from the city to Ambala and beyond on the Chandigarh-Ambala national highway will have to take a longer route via Rajpura or Barwala on Sunday. A vital bridge on the river Ghaggar near Bhankarpur is being closed for urgent repair.

It is learnt that the bridge, whose span had collapsed a few months ago, has to be repaired by fixing a carbon strip on the crack that had appeared on the span. The Punjab PWD (National Highways) says the repair work will be undertaken for Rs 3 lakh and will take 24 hours to be accomplished.

The 50-year-old structure on the Ghaggar was severely damaged after a span developed a crack. Though the crack was temporarily filled, and vehicular traffic was restored, the permanent repair is being undertaken now.

It may be noted that tenders for the four-laning of the Ambala — Zirakpur (National Highway 22 and about 35 km. in length) have already been allotted, and widening work on this highway will be undertaken. When the four-laning work begins, a new bridge will be built here.



LIC adopts park
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
On the occasion of its golden jubilee celebrations, LIC's Chandigarh Division has adopted the park in its residential colony in Sector 15-D here. Saplings of neem, peepal, bargad and shisham will be planted in the park.

Ms Anu Chatrath, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, inaugurated the park today by planting a sapling. Mr N.P. Chawla, Senior Divisional Manager, was also present. Ms Chatrath appreciated the gesture of LIC and promised all assistance.



Imparting special skills for special pupils
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Few educationists have managed to use information and communication technology skills (ICT) to the benefit of special pupils. Ms Vivien Lewis from UK is certainly one among them.

With 17 years of experience in the field of assistive technology that empowers children with special educational needs, she recently retired as the Head of the ICT Department at Blackfrairs Special School in the Staffordshire county of UK.

During the job and after that, her concern has been “enabling special pupils to access national curricula in a non-judgmental environment.” And what better way could be to achieve the goal than project computer as a friend of special children.

With a positive approach, Ms Lewis managed brilliant results in her special school at Staffordshire. At least 63 per cent of the 185 students with various disabilities attending the school went into the mainstream and even attended university.

“This became possible with the help of assistive technology which offers equipment and software sensitive to the needs of children with disabilities as severe as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, visual and hearing impairment, epilepsy and more,” the visiting expert said.

In Chandigarh as part of Dr B.N.S. Walia's special project related to the empowerment of special children through computers, Ms Lewis imparted her skills to the teachers of the region. Held at Prayaas in Sector 38, the workshop was unique with Ms Lewis talking about assistive technology and its use in the facilitation of learning among children with learning disabilities like dyslexia and autism.

For her demonstration, she relied on the software developed by UK companies. She said, “We have software called CRICK which addresses special needs of disabled children. It helps them access curricula and by using low-tech devices like symbols, text and speech to reinforce learning.”

The best part of the assistive technology is its success rate. Mr Lewis said, “The technology helps people from 17 to 60 years access the same level of work as their peers. Although best suited for children with disabilities, the software is equally beneficial for those with abilities. There is no discrimination in so far as structure is concerned.”

In Chandigarh, Ms Lewis is focusing on ICT solutions with special reference to dyslexia, which is very complex area. “The idea is to impart skills to teachers so that they can facilitate special children's integration into the mainstream. The process includes customising the computer for the child so that he can treat it as a friend, not a machine.”

For his part, Dr Walia, the man behind the project funded by the Hindu Cultural Centre, Liverpool, said, “We need more ventures like these. Although we have intelligence technology in India but we have not managed to implement it in the disabilities sector. We have made a humble start with help from assistive technology experts from UK. We plan to take the effort far.”



Why did mama leave us?
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Her agonised eyes narrate the woeful tale of rejection and desertion even before six-year-old Rani utters a single word. As she tries to speak, emotions overpower her. Breaking down, she questions: Why did mama leave us?

Rani is not the only one sobbing her heart out. Clinging to their father Rotash Kumar, her year younger sister Khusboo has been asking the same question ever since her mother Parveen Lata went away, along with her 12-year-old son Raju, after a “minor argument”.

Rotash, a small-time businessman, tries to console them; Patting their heads with slightly trembling hands, he lies, “Don’t you worry. I have just talked to your mother over the phone. She will soon be back”.

Even as he speaks, Rotash realises that his voice lacks conviction. Though he wishes that his predictions would come true, Rotash knows he is not all that lucky. For, it’s already been over three days since she left without a trace.

Pulling out a chair before collapsing into it, the colony number four resident says, “Every thing was absolutely fine till the moment she decided to leave us, along with our eldest son. Since then, it’s been sleepless nights for all of us”.

Going into the background of the matter, he says, “We had a minor argument on October 16, a day before she went. But till the moment she left us, Parveen Lata gave no indication of her intention to go away”.

He adds: “In fact, we all went to a fair organised in Sector 24. Ours was one happy family. We shopped around and even purchased slippers worth Rs 100 for her. After leaving the fair, I asked her to go back home with Raju, while I left for my shop.... There was no way for me to know that the two would not be home when I would return.”

Still shocked over the development, he says, “I opened the door to discover the newly-purchased slippers lying on the floor. Suspecting that something was wrong, I looked around for the place, only to find that they had disappeared. Though I have lodged a missing person’s report with the police, they have so far not been able to find her”.

Confirming the receipt of Rotash’s complaint, a senior officer says, “It is a case of domestic quarrel. The two, married for 12 years, had their differences. But there is nothing on record to show deep animosity between them. As such, we are sure she will soon return”. Till then, it is a long wait for the family. 



Stall removed illegally, says resident
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 21
A resident of Phase XI complained here today that a stall put up by her in connection with the Karva Chauth festival was illegally removed by Municipal Council employees in the presence of policemen.

Mrs Deepak Sharma said she had put up a stall for selling bangles. The council employees had approached her last evening and allegedly demanded Rs 5,000 from her for putting up the stall. She said that she gave them Rs 500 for which she was given a tehbazari receipt. They again came and demanded money today. When she refused to give the amount her stall was removed even when others in the area were carrying out their business. She alleged that a large number of bangles also got broken during the operation by council employees.

Mr Kesar Singh, council employees on duty in the area, however, said that Mrs Sharma had paid only tehbazari fee of Rs 500 for one day. As she refused to pay the fee for the second day, her stall was removed. Others stalls in the area were not touched as the owners had paid the required fee. He alleged that as Mrs Sharma started misbehaving with employees of his team he had to ask for police help. He denied that Rs 5,000 was demanded from Mrs Sharma.



Blind kids get canes

The Amway Opportunity Foundation (AOF) celebrated International White Cane Day. White canes were distributed among 200 visually challenged children at a function organised at the Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre for Blind /Disabled in Ludhiana on Thursday.

Mr Ajmar Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mrs Harmeet Kaur, Principal, Ramgarhia Girls College, were the chief guests. Amway distributors distributed white canes among visually challenged children

“This series of functions is a reiteration of the AOFs and indeed Amway’s commitment to the visually challenged children in India,” said Mr William Pinckney, Chairman, AOF. — OC



Two held for laptop thefts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 21
The police today claimed to have solved three cases of laptop thefts with the arrest of two city residents.

Giving details, Deputy Superintendent of Chandigarh Police (South), S.S. Randhawa said, acting on information, the police arrested 35-year-old Benson Massey of Sector 38 last night. He was trying to dispose of a stolen laptop when he was nabbed. The police recovered two stolen laptops from his possession. He added that the interrogation of Benson today led to the arrest of 25-year-old Romy, also a resident of Sector 38-D. One laptop was recovered from him.

The accused stole the laptops over a period of five months. Two of the laptops were stolen from the Sector 9-based branch of the ICICI bank in May and September, while the third one was stolen from the Sector 9-based showroom of Reliance company in September.

Three separate cases of thefts have been registered in the Sector 3 police station in this regard.

Elaborating on the modus operandi of the accused, the DSP said the accused would go to the offices, posing as trainees. Both these offices were conducting training-cum-refreshers courses for their employees from time to time. The accused would visit the office during the lunch hours when the course was suspended for a break, and take away an unattended laptop.

Giving profiles of the accused, the DSP said both accused studied up to matriculation and were unemployed. Benson Massey is married and has five children, while Romy married recently.



Pedestrian killed in Sector 22
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
A pedestrian was killed after a three-wheeler rammed into him near Aroma Hotel in Sector 22.

A spokesman of the Chandigarh Police said Atma Singh of Mohali’s Phase IX was rushed to the Sector 16 General Hospital after being hit by the three-wheeler. But the doctors could not save him.

Harassment case

Mamta of Sector 22 claimed that her husband Bikram Singh, his father and others, putting up in Panchkula, were harassing her to get more dowry. A case under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Dowry Protection Act was registered.

Cop booked

Nishan Singh, posted at the Sector 19 police station, was booked for criminal breach of trust on the allegations of not depositing the wireless set. It was issued to him for night patrolling in Sector 20. The set was discovered by a civilian and returned to the police.

Rs 1 lakh stolen

Parveen (35) reported that Rs 1 lakh had been taken away from his scooter’s glove compartment in Sector 44. He had withdrawn the money from a bank in Mohali earlier in the day.



Upset over suspension, man sets senior’s car on fire
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 21
Upset over his suspension, an operational manager of Bharat Petroleum went to the residence of his officer in Sector 44 and set his car on fire this evening here.

He fled the spot after committing the crime.

A case under Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered in this regard. Efforts are on to trace the suspect, said the police.

Giving the details, police sources said Territorial Manager of Bharat Petroleum M.N. Rao in his complaint alleged that Ramandeep Singh had come to his residence at around 5 pm.

He saw the accused throwing some burning cloth on his car. By the time he rushed to his car it was already on fire. He along with his family put out the flames. He alleged that his car was badly damaged.

Mr M.N. Rao added that Ramandeep has been placed under suspension for alleged misconduct.



16-yr-old youth commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 21
A 16-year-old youth, Ajay Kumar, believed to be mentally challenged, committed suicide by hanging himself at his house in Maheshpur village today. He was reportedly locked in the room by his parents, Raj Kumar and Luxmi, to stop him from running away. The parents had gone for some work, and when they came back tonight, they found him hanging. The police has initiated inquest proceedings.


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