C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Delhi blasts fail to dampen Divali spirit
Undiluted shopping frenzy chokes city roads
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Divali spirit has taken over the city with every activity leading towards the preparation for the festival of lights. The rush in the markets, traffic chaos on all roads and tremendous response to hundreds of sales in the city shows that the serial blasts in New Delhi have failed to dampen the Divali spirit. However, more and more people are making an appeal to have a quiet Divali, keeping in mind the tragic events in the recent past.

With India’s best observed festival just a day away, traffic on city roads has resulted in choking and blockades, turning the short city distances into nightmares. Everybody seems to be out on the roads for the last-minute shopping of candles, ‘mithai’, fruits and gifts. The “nakas” put up by the Chandigarh police on various roads as part of the security beef-up caused further delays.

According to shopkeepers in most city markets, the blast in Sarojni Nagar market in Delhi yesterday has not acted as a dampener. Despite being a Sunday, shops were opened earlier than usual in many city markets today and they remained open till late in the night. Almost every shopkeeper in the city has put up stalls outside the markets to pack gifts and display items that are in demand owing to the festival.

For a safe Divali, the Chandigarh Administration has taken several measures, including beefing up of security, round-the-clock police patrol, sniffer dogs going through baggage on the bus and railway station, frisking of suspicious persons, additional deployment of security personnel at crowded places and conducting of raids to pick up known bad characters. The prime focus of the security agencies was venues such as the “Divali melas” at various places in the city.

The Administration has issued strict warning against burning of crackers between 10 pm and 6 a m. Similar warnings have also been issued in adjoining Panchkula and Mohali.

Meanwhile, a large number of youngsters in the city are trying to persuade their family and friends to have a ‘cracker-free’ Divali. One of the message doing the rounds in the city reads, “Earthquake in Kashmir, floods in the south, blasts in Delhi have resulted in loss of thousands of lives, lets pay them a tribute by observing a cracker-less and simple Divali”.

The festival of lights is witnessing a dominant presence of Chinese crackers and fireworks. French and German glassware and French wines are among hot favourites as far are gifts are concerned. This year electronic items and electrical appliances are not on the top of gift lists of city residents. Sweets and dry fruit continue to be supplements to the gifts, according to city shopkeepers.



Flag marches held to instil confidence
Our Correspondent

A police team with a dog squad checks the luggage of passengers at the Sector 17 bus stand in Chandigarh on Sunday
A police team with a dog squad checks the luggage of passengers at the Sector 17 bus stand in Chandigarh on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, October 30
In the wake of yesterday’s serial bomb blasts in New Delhi, the Chandigarh police today carried out flag marches in the city and conducted search operations in sensitive areas and market places.

A senior police officer said the motive behind the flage marches was to instill confidence in the minds of the general public. He said the security had been beefed up in and around the crowded places, including shopping complexes, the railway station and two inter-state bus terminuses.

The police has set up special nakas and carried out raids in slums to verify the antecedents of dwellers.

The searches were carried out in the Sector 17 and Sector 43 bus stands. Buses coming from Jammu and Kashmir were specially checked.

Meanwhile, passengers faced a lot of incovenience at the hands of cops. Senior police officers claimed that the cops were polite with the passengers.

The flag marches were headed by all three DSPs in their respective areas in the evening.

The police rounded up 12 persons from areas falling under the Sector 26 police station. Besides, trucks coming to the city from other areas were also checked.

The police used the public address system to warn the residents in shopping complexes against picking up any abandoned or unidentified objects. 



Beant trial moves at snail’s pace
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The high-profile Beant Singh assassination trial has missed the October 31 “deadline” set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, forcing the undertrials to languish in jail for over nine years.

And with the Special CBI Judge yet to assume office, there is no chance of the early conclusion of one of the longest political trials in the country, which hit the headlines in January 1996.

The high court in one of the directives had reportedly directly the Additional Sessions Judge-cum-Special CBI Judge to hold a day-to-day hearing in the case and preferably conclude it by October 31, 2005.

However, the irregular hearings at the high-security Burail Jail, where the trial is in progress due to security reasons, has only delayed the trial.

The recent appointment of Mr Jagdeep Jain as the Special CBI Judge had kindled the hopes of the defence counsels and the families of the undertrials regarding the early conclusion of the trial.

The present Judge, Mr M.M. Sharma, is the fifth judicial officer to hear the case in the last nine years, which breaks continuity, adversely affecting the trial proceedings.

Meanwhile, Mr A.S. Chahal and Mr Arvind Thakur, defence counsels, said they were ready to provide the list of defence witnesses for the early completion of the trial. However, the CBI was taking a long time in the completion of its work, they alleged.

And most of the accused have no direct role in the August 31,1995, blast at the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat, which killed the former Chief Minister Beant Singh. A number of accused were only arrested for criminal conspiracy, they claimed.



Three of a family killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Ghanaur, October 30
Three members of a family, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed in an accident involving a truck and a scooter on the busy Shambhu-Ghanaur road this afternoon. All three died on the spot, while the truck driver sped away, said the police.

According to eyewitnesses, the accident occurred at around 2.45 p.m. when the rashly driven truck hit the scooter from rear. The scooter was dragged to a distance of about 15 feet off the road into the fields.

The deceased were identified as Kashmir (28), his elder brother Sukhdev Singh (31), and his eight-year-old son, Raman. The three were on their way back home to Hasanpur-Kaboolpur village.



E-ticketing catches fancy of train commuters
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service


  • No need to stand in long queue at railway reservation counters or pay extra money to agents
  • No need to carry the computer-generated ticket
  • The booking can be confirmed sitting at home
  • No need to pay money till ticket is confirmed and the status can been seen on the monitor of a computer screen at home

Chandigarh, October 30
The E-ticketing facility for booking tickets on the Shatabdi Express, between Chandigarh and Delhi, is fast catching the fancy of the rail users. Ever since the facility was launched eight months ago, around 45,000 tickets have been booked so far.

As part of an agreement between the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Intrex India Ltd, the facility enables booking tickets through Internet using the pre-paid Itz Cash cards as a payment mechanism of the IRCTC. From among the 21 mode of payment, the medium to book the ticket has moved to the seventh slot in terms of volume. Around 30 per cent of the booking are from the cities in the North, said Mr Yogesh Kotle, a spokesman for the service provider company.

In case of the online booking through credit cards, the service providers take at least 24 hours to deliver the ticket. But in this case, the ticket is in the hand of a passenger within seconds, said an officer of the Northern Railways.

Those availing the facility are not required to carry the regular paper ticket. All a passenger has to do is get a computer print out of the electronic reservation slip (ERS) and while boarding the train carry any one of the photo identity cards like voter Identity card, passport, PAN, driving licence, service identity card, and passport for NRI’s. The documents along with the ERS would constitute the authority to travel on the train, said an officer of the Northern Railways.

The spokesman said the Itz Cash was available at 5000 retail outlet. The door to door delivery can be done through helpline number 1600221600 or by SMS query on 7575 with message ‘ itzbuy’.



‘Teen patti’ stakes reach flashpoint
Ruchika M. Khanna
News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Forget the high- tea and brunch parties... the teen patti ( gambling) parties seem to have taken over the city. With Divali just two days away, the “real revelery” for some is only the high of playing their cards, literally!

For the past fortnight, the young and not-so-young, men, women and their teenaged children, are increasing their stakes each day, rather hour, as they head for their own ‘flash ‘ point on Divali day. Even novices get tempted to test their luck in this revelery; losing repeatedly ,too, fails to dampen the spirit. The festival shopping and -gift distribution frenzy being restricted from dawn to dusk, this teen -patti crowd, sheds its festival weariness, refreshing themselves as they try their luck each night.

Various variations of cards are played. black jack, lallu mein kala aur kallu mein lala, Drop your cards, banko, muflis, and of course, the all time favourite ... rummy. The tri- city folks are living it up, never mind that they are losing out on their nights’ sleep. While the Chandigarh Club have cards rooms and members throng there, the majority of people prefer to play at home along with their own group of friends.

The session, generally starts post dinner, with the host of the day offering an array of cocktails and mocktails, and of course, followed by cake and coffee. But as the game picks up and the adrenalin flows, the delicacies are all forgotten. Generally, two to three tables are laid out at these parties, each table for different stakes.

The rules of the game are generally the same in most circles. initial boot in the game is anything between Rs 10 to Rs 500, while the “blind moves” are generally allowed in two rounds for anything between Rs 100 to Rs 1,000. As the lady luck changes its favourites in each game, the players can win or lose thousands of rupees in one night, but old hands at the game insist that it is the fun part of the game that keeps them going. “It is just a part of the festival bonhomie. One likes to splurge during the festival season, and this is just a form of entertainment,” asserts a Sector 16 resident, who along with his wife and parents have been involved in the cards circuit for over seven years now. 



Customs department to target tax evaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
With a view to tightening its noose over all those who are violating the service tax rules and to check the increasing incidence of tax evasion, the Chandigarh Commissionerate of Customs and Central Excise has started taking stringent measures.

Senior officials in the department maintain that over 2,000 people in the city are not paying the service tax even as they come under its ambit. They have not even registered themselves with the department so far. Officials add even as till now all those entrepreneurs who have an annual turnover of Rs 4 lakh had been kept out of the tax net, but now even those who have an annual income of Rs 3 lakh or more will have to register themselves. This will help keep a check on the 2000-odd violators, besides others who are evading payment of service tax.

Fresh orders in this regard have already been issued by the department. Henceforth, it will be mandatory for entrepreneurs in the service sector to get themselves registered in the department, even if they do not fall in the tax net.

Sources in the department disclose that entrepreneurs dealing with service sector industry were always required to register themselves but those who were not paying any tax were not getting themselves registered as no limit for the same had been fixed. But after the fresh orders, all those entrepreneurs who have an annual turnover of Rs 3 lakh or more in the service which they are offering, he will have to get himself registered.

The Union Finance Ministry had exempted entrepreneurs having an annual turnover of Rs 4 lakh. But now, the Customs and Central Excise Department feels that incidence of tax evasion are on the rise as people in this sector are showing less volumes of business so as not to pay the tax. Majority of the small entrepreneurs in the service sector do not fall under the tax preview, nor do they have to get themselves registered. Hence, there is no other way to keep a check on them, a senior official said, while adding that new rules of the department will help monitor the defaulting companies in this industry.

As per the new orders, applicants who want to get themselves registered will be required to furnish their PAN number and proof of residence. However, for the benefit of the entrepreneurs, it is provided that even if they do not get their registration certificates within seven days of applying, they would be considered registered for all practical purposes.



Air Force holds first-ever copter aircrew competition
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
To check operational efficiency and promote professionalism and a spirit of competitiveness, the Indian Air Force organised the first-ever helicopter aircrew competition. Codenamed Exercise Chakraview, the four-day competition was conducted at the Sarsawa Air Force Station in Western Uttar Pradesh this week by the Western Air Command.

Eight helicopter units from the Western Air Command participated in the competition. According to a senior Air Force officer, the competition was held to check the operational preparedness and response of helicopter units during an emergency.

"It also gave helicopters a platform to review operational procedures, training methodology and absorb lessons learnt from past experiences," he added.

The competition was held in five categories - paradropping, low altitude land navigation, under-slung operations, search and rescue and hovering. The focus of the competition was deployment of helicopter units in counter-terrorist operations, aid to civil authorities during natural disasters and other small-time operations rather than the employment of firepower in war or warlike situations.

Consequent to this, only transport and utility helicopters, including the Cheetah, Chetak, Mi-17 and the Mi-17-V choppers were used, while attack machines were kept away. The newly-acquired indigenously manufactured Dhruv chopper also displayed its capabilities.

According to sources, the IAF's first Dhruv helicopter squadron has become operational in the Western Sector. The other two services as well as the Coast Guard and some civilian agencies have placed orders for various versions of the Dhruv. Manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, it is also being exported.

The competition assumes significance as helicopter units are playing an increasing role in operations other than war and deployment for aid to civil authorities. Most recently, choppers have been pressed for relief work following the train accident in Andhra Pradesh yesterday. Also is the increasing presence of IAF choppers in United Nations peace keeping operations abroad.

Besides this chopper units have rendered yeoman's service during the earthquake in Kashmir earlier this month, the Tsunami tragedy last year, helping civilian population in Jammu and Kashmir after unprecedented snow cut off land routes and also during floods. They are also regularly deployed for aerial surveillance on important occasions and during elections in sensitive operations.



Another tale of abandonment
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
It is strange how families can go on scripting tragedies. Only two days after The Tribune wrote about a 90-year deserted old man at a Mohali bus stop, another traumatic tale of abandonment has surfaced. The location this time is Jayanti Majri in Ropar district, the name of the discarded old man is Partap Singh. But unlike the 90-year-old Ram Chand who was abandoned at a bus stop, Partap Singh was left to die in the fields surrounding Pracheen Shiv Mandir in Jayanti Majri.

The incident occurred about two months ago when on a certain night, a speeding car halted near the fields in Jayanti Majri and raced past after throwing the old man out. The villagers rushed to attend to Partap Singh who had fainted by the time help arrived. It took a whole night to bring the haggard old man back to normal, but soon as he saw the light of the next day, he plunged into deep silence.Even after 60 days of wretched existence, Partap Singh has not been able to recall what happened on that fateful night.

Sucha Ram, priest of Pracheen Shiv Mandir which has given refuge to the deserted old man, told The Tribune today, “He remains lost in his thoughts and is not able to comprehend much. Sometimes I feel he cannot even hear properly. When you ask him where he lives, he makes weak utterances to the effect that he has two sons and two brothers. Although he makes desperate gestures to convey certain things, we are unable to understand those.

The man needs medical help and psychological support.”Managers of the temple trust have taken upon themselves the responsibility of Partap Singh, who is apparently a patient of acute dementia. An old age disease, dementia, in its extreme condition, can cause total memory loss reducing the victim to a vegetable. Partap Singh seems to be on the verge of total memory loss, or so it seems.

When we tried talking to the old man this evening, he had nothing to say, to start with. He simply stared into the stainless steel plate lying by his side. The plate had some leftover food and a half eaten apple which he rushed to consume. In the end, he uttered a few broken words which put together meant, “I have two sons and two brothers.”

He then pointed towards his rotting right foot, which was shabbily bandaged. Far away as the village dispensary is, it is difficult for villagers to get Partap Singh’s foot bandaged every day. No wonder the wound has gone from bad to worse.

For their part the villagers have tried their best to locate Partap Singh’s family. But they have not been able to make any headway because he is not in a position to list his sons’ names. He confirms he has two sons but he does not remember their names, nor does he appear conscious of his pitiable state.

Such a Ram, the priest, told us that Partap Singh loved having visitors over. That was his only link to normalcy. “Otherwise he appears quite out of touch with his reality,” he said.



Arthritis common among children: experts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
On the second day of the National Conference of Rheumatology chapter of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, the morning session was devoted to a common paediatric condition — chronic arthritis in children.

Many people have the misconception that arthritis is a condition seen only in children. But the misconception was cleared by Dr Ronaldo Cimaz who said the condition was common in children as well.

Dr Alberto Martinin spoke on the principles of management of juvenile arthritis. If managed appropriately, many of these children can hope to lead a normal life. There is a lot that can be done for the affected children. Dr Ross Petty from Canada highlighted the scope of a new set of therapeutic agents which have completely revolutionised the management of juvenile arthritis — the anti-TNF agents.

These agents are very effective in this regard and can act as disease modifying agents. Both these drugs are now available in India but the cost is prohibitive. It is possible that these drugs would soon become the drugs of choice in children with juvenile chronic arthritis who do not respond to the first line agents.

The second session was devoted to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which is an uncommon rheumatological condition but can have devastating sequelae. It can present in many different ways and the diagnosis can be missed altogether if the physician is not careful. SLE can be rapidly fatal if the diagnosis gets delayed. Treatment of SLE is complicated but there is a lot that can now be done for these patients.

A number of new imunosuppressive agents like mycophenolate mofetil and cyclosporin have greatly improved the long term prognosis and has also decreased the morbidity associated with the therapy. Dr Balu Athreya (USA) spoke on the treatment options available to the clinician while Dr Sanjeev Gulati (Lucknow) focused on the kidney problems associated with childhood SLE.

Muscle weakness can be another presentation of rheumatological disorders. Dr Ross Petty (Canada) gave a talk on juvenile drmatomyositis. This is an uncommon condition is paediatrics but is very gratifying to treat because the results are so good. However, like many other rheumatological disorders, if there is any delay in diagnosis the long term sequelae can be devastating.

The evening session was devoted to issues in clinical rheumatology. It included talks by Dr Nandini Moorthy (USA), Dr T.P. Yadav (Delhi) and Dr Liza Rajasekhar (Hyderabad).



Police “attempt” to raid shop selling crackers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 30
The local authorities and owners of a shop selling crackers are at loggerheads after the police tried to raid the store last evening.
While the police claimed that the shop-keeper did not have a licence to sell the crackers, the latter alleged that the policemen were asking for freebies. A team of special staff of the police, led by ASI Surjit Singh, had raided the shop in Sector 16 yesterday. The police claimed that a truck carrying unauthorised crackers was parked near the shop.

“Some residents said that the fire crackers were being lifted from the truck and stored in the shop. The residents complained that it was illegal to store such a large quantity of crackers near a residential complex and a petrol pump. When the police went there to check his licence, he got abusive, which led to an altercation. He did not have licence for retail selling, though he had a licence for bulk storage, but not here, rather in Mauli Jagran,” said a senior police official. He alleged that the shop-keeper used his influence and they were asked to withdraw from there.

The shopkeeper, however, alleged that the police gave him a list of all officials in the district for whom they wanted free crackers. “When I refused to oblige, they created the entire story,” he said.



CSIO, Wadia institute to focus on quake strategy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) here and the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, will join hands to develop strategic methodology for real time location of earthquake epicentres and dissemination of the information to authorities concerned.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard by the two institutions on the occasion of the CSIO’s 47th foundation Day here today. Another MoU was signed between the CSIO and I—Logicon Control and Automation Private Limited, a Bangalore-based firm, to develop energy management systems.

Delivering the foundation day lecture, Prof B R Arora, Director of the Wadia Institute, said natural disasters like earthquakes, landslides and cloudbursts cannot be predicted, but scientific and technological advances have made it possible to reduce the risk of disasters through planned, systematic and sustained efforts.

He said that no single parameter can be considered diagnostic for the prediction of earthquakes. In certain earthquakes precursorary changes in seismic velocity, ground water fluctuations, etc. have been reported from different siesmogenic belts of the world, Professor Arora added.

Earlier, highlighting the activities and achievements of the CSIO, its Director, Dr Pawan Kapoor said the past year has been a success and business development activities received a boost. The major activity in this regard, he added, was signing a MoU with the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation, Jaipur, for establishing agro testing laboratories. 



Journalists give representation against police
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 30
In a representation against the Punjab police for beating up Zee News Reporter, Satender Chauhan, members of the Electronic Media Association Chandigarh, have demanded action against the policeman responsible for the crime.

The representation addressed to Mr S.P. Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, stated that the journalists were feeling genuinely disgusted at the attitude and behaviour meted out to one of the colleague from electronic media community.

Mr Satender Chauhan, Reporter for Zee News, posted at Chandigarh, was mercilessly beaten up by nearly 12 personnel of the Punjab police led by an Assistant Sub- Inspector outside the PCA stadium on the evening of October 28. Chauhan received injuries and was to be rushed to Phase VI Civil Hospital. A DDR has also been registered in Phase VIII police station (No.1157). Immediately after the incident, the police managed to remove the guilty personnel from the spot and several police personnel present at the spot removed their name plates. “We feel this is blatant highhandedness on part of the guilty police officials who could not be identified due to absence of name plates on their uniform,” stated the representation.

“Further the incident comes close on the heels of a similar incident in which Mr Rahul Goel, a reporter from JAIN TV was beaten up on October 8 in Ropar district. This is a second consecutive incident in less than a month involving the Punjab police officials. We demand strictest and exemplary action against the guilty cops who are bringing a bad name to the entire police force by sheer display of their brutality in full public view.”

The association has demanded registration of case against the guilty policemen and their supervisory officers.



Sain Bhakt Sabha’s function

Chandigarh, October 30
The Mandir Baba Sain Sabha, near Dhillon Complex, Mani Majra, here will celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Shri Sain Bhakt in a big way on November 3. It will hold a havan in the morning and bhandara in the afternoon. — TNS



Three motor cycles stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 24
Three motor cycles were reportedly stolen from the city and one person was arrested on charges of stealing a bicycle. In another incident, one person was arrested for carrying 24 bottles of liquor illegally.

Mr Rinchen Ngodvp has lodged a complaint that his Hero Honda CBZ motor cycle was stolen from Sector 15 on Friday. In another case, Mr Davinder Singh of Naya Gaon reported that his motor cycle was stolen from Industrial Area on Saturday. Similarly, Mr Hans Raj Sharma of Sector 47-A reported that his motor cycle was stolen from his residence on Friday. Three cases of theft were registered.

The police arrested Raj Kumar of Mubarkpur village on the charges of stealing a bicycle on Saturday.

Pyare Lal of Mohali alleged that Raj Kumar had stolen his bicycle from Sector 26 during the day time. Acting on the complaint, the police arrested the accused from the Sector 26 Grain Market. The police recovered the bicycle.

Pardeep Kumar of Mukatsar district was arrested for carrying liquor illegally. As many as 24 bottles of whisky seized from him. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.

Purse snatched: In yet another snatching case, miscreants made way with a purse snatched from a woman in Sector 15 this evening here.

The sources in the police said Tejinder Kaur of Sector 15 was coming from Sector 17 after shopping in a rickshaw along with her son. As soon as the rickshaw reached near her residence, two scooterists coming from the rear snatched her purse. She raised an alarm but in vain. The purse was reportedly containing Rs 2,000 and some documents.

A case has been registered in this regard. The police has set up nakas in various parts of the city and near market places in wake of the Delhi bomb blasts. The police has claimed to intensify security in the city since last evening.



House burgled
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 30
Thieves reportedly decamped with Rs 20,000 and jewellery valuing approximately Rs 50,000 from a house in Panchsheel Enclave in Zirakpur, near here.
Mr Pratap Singh, a retired Air Force officer told Chandigarh Tribune that he had gone with his family to Delhi for three days. On his arrival today he found his house ransacked. He said the front door of the house was locked, but when he entered his house he found the things scattered all over.



Housewives tempted by Divali ‘dhamaka’
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The festive mood has finally caught on with just one day to go for Divali and the number of people thronging markets has gren by leaps and bounds, both in the city and the surrounding areas. There is not even an inch of space to walk, let alone for parking cars and scooters. What adds to the shopping mania are the various sales and discounts being offered by shops at this time of the year, besides the colourful melas.

Busy making last minute purchases, including buying gifts for nears and dear, people are now turning their attention to the local markets in their neighbourhood. Shops have been decorated with fancy lights. Open spaces, particularly in Sectors 15, 17, 19, 22 and 37 are occupied by stalls displaying special Divali wares — from candles, diyas , idols of god and goddesses, Divali sweets in the shape of toys. Floating candles seem to be the `in-thing’ for shoppers this year. The ongoing Divali melas in Sectors 17 and 34 also drew huge crowds during the past few days, particularly the weekends as families were out to have fun to cash on the festive spirit.

Household goods are in great demand as housewives cannot resist the mouth-watering marketing bonanzas and mega “Divali dhamakas” by held out consumer durable and home appliances companies. “I am all for doing up my house this Divali and picking up the latest in consumer goods. It is better to spend on one’s on house than get into the ritual of gifting,” says Mrs Anita Verma, a housewife.

Most other shoppers maintain that there is no better time than Divali to invest in buying consumer durables life latest colour televisions, DVDs, microwave ovens, refrigerators and washing machines. “I bought a microwave and got a whole lot of gifts, including a vacuum cleaner and a heat convector worth Rs 4,000 free with it. “I think it is a worthy bargain,” said Mr Amit Nirula, a bank executive.

The rehri markets in Sectors 15, 19 and 22 are attracting large crowds because of the variety they offer. Some of the shopkeepers have displayed their products in the corridors outside their shops to attract customers strolling in the area. Today, being Dhanteras, shopping buffs made bulk purchases, particularly at the crockery-stores in Sector 18 and 19.

But the going is not easy for most shoppers as they struggle to find a proper parking place. Traffic jams in Sector 22 and outside the Divali mela in Sector 34 have become a routine feature and people can barely find place to walk. The cops, instead of helping the shoppers, are all out to make money by challaning people unnecessarily. “I am repenting the decision of coming here. I had to take several rounds before I could finally park my car,” said Mr Rohit .

Shopkeepers in Sector 22 were a harried lot as cops were allowing vendors to sit in the open spaces outside the big shops to sell their wares and were allegedly charging them anything between Rs 500 to Rs 3000. This, too is adding to the chaos in the markets, said Mr R.K Verma, a shopkeeper in Sector 22, while adding that the police was not paying any heed to these complaints.

“Those in the markets were no better as they had harrowing time jostling their way into the shops”. I just had two hours for shopping but most of it was wasted in walking through the crowds. And I had to finally leave before completing the work, said Shashi Gupta, a government employee.

Residents of Mohali flocked the township markets with gift stalls being a major hit. Most rehri markets became traffic bottlenecks towards the evening. Sweetshops had major rush as people came to book their orders for Divali. While sales of dry fruits were reported low due to high costs, people are more for gifting juice packs and snacks this Divali.

In Panchkula, residents failed to let their festival spirits dampen, inspite of the traffic chaos in Sectors 7, 9 and 11 markets, and serpentine queues for reaching Chandigarh. With the stalls selling crackers, on sites identified by the district administration, cameup, a lot of rush was witnessed near these stalls. At Labour Chowk, and the Sector 11/ 15 roundabout, a number of squatters selling earthern diyas, temples and sugar sweets (khilonas), were doing brisk business.



India to help Mauritius monitor its EEZ
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
India will assist Mauritius in comprehensive monitoring of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the twin-island nation, Mauritius Prime Minister Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam said here today.

Dr Ramgoolam told journalists in an informal chat that Mauritius would be sourcing surveillance equipment from Bharat Electronics in this regard.

Mauritius has close links with India and the Mauritius Navy (the national Coast Guard) was established with Indian assistance with the gifting of the INS Amar in 1974.

In 2001, Mauritius was provided with an interceptor patrol boat, the INS Observer. Hindustan Aeronautics delivered a Dornier DO-228 maritime surveillance aircraft in April last year.

An MoU on cooperation in hydrography, which was finalised during a visit of senior Indian Naval hydrographers to Mauritius in August this year, was signed during this visit.

Noting that Mauritius had not been “aggressive enough” in promoting tourism earlier, he said he had more than doubled the tourism budget to correct this.

To reduce the nation’s dependence on sugar exports, he said they had already diversified into areas like textiles. The bulk of Indian exports to Mauritius is yarn for the textile sector. Mauritius sugar exports go mainly to the European Union, and prices are expected to “drop by 39 per cent” once sugar price reform gets underway there, he said.

Promoting information technology and business process outsourcing (BPOs) were other thrust areas, he added. Expressing his sorrow over the New Delhi bomb blasts, he said Diwali celebrations would be muted. Mr Ramgoolam was transiting the city on return from a holiday in Shimla.


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