C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City hospitals receive over 100 burn injury cases
“Blinded” by crackers, some blame it on alcohol
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
It was a festival of darkness for so many revellers as harmless celebrations turned into major disasters on the Divali night. In all, over 100 patients from all over the region were wheeled into different city hospitals and private nursing homes with burn and eye injuries.

At least three of them, including a minor, lost one eye completely. The sources in the UT Health Department said a substantial number of victims were passers-by, caught unawares. They added that alcohol had a direct or indirect role to play in a majority of the mishaps.

Most of the victims were simply unwilling to talk about the incident that completely changed their life, for the worse. Agony and regret was loud and clear in the voice of the victims who chose to narrate the painful tale.

Among them was nine-year-old Lakhwinder of Pinjore. “After a bomb failed to explode for “several long” seconds, I went forward to reignite it, without realising that the wick was still burning. Even before I could react, the cracker bursted and blinded me,” he said.

Lakhwinder was in acute pain when he was rushed to a doctor at around 11.55 pm on Tuesday night. “One look was enough to tell us that the transparent cornea had turned white because of heat, deposition of explosive material and chemical reaction,” said ophthalmologist Dr Rajan Chugh. “A two-hour long operation was performed.... Fortunately, he is expected to recover in another two or three weeks”.

A farmer in a neighbouring village, admitted to the Sector 16 hospital, had no one but himself to blame for the mishap. “After gulping four drinks, I gave in to the temptation of launching a rocket even though I am scared of them. It, however, exploded at the launch pad, causing serious hand injuries.” Still unaware of the disastrous consequence of the incident, he mildly uttered, “I think I should have been more careful”.

He was not alone. One more person on the condition of anonymity said: “Since childhood, I too have been scared of rockets. But after having a couple of drinks, ‘I gained confidence’ and ignited the rocket’s wick. But my reflexes did not support me. I could not get away on time and the rocket exploded on my face”.

In case of six-year-old Abishek, the cracker simply exploded in his hand. Even though his father was warning him, Abishek did not listen, resulting in the disaster.

A city resident had a different story to narrate. Surinder was seeing off a guest in the verandah of his house when a rocket exploded in his face. It resulted in the bifurcation of 30-year-old victim’s upper eyelid.

Another city resident had to pay heavily for the negligence of others. “I was sitting on the stairs, admiring the rockets illuminating the night sky when a cracker ignited by my sozzled-up neighbour landed in my house, resulting in eye injury,” she cried.

Though a majority of doctors were unwilling to comment on the accidents, a senior professor said, “Actually, some people feel they just cannot celebrate the occasion without having drinks. They do not realise that heavy consumption of alcohol slows down their reflexes and makes them more daring, resulting in mishaps. In all such cases, no one except the victims are to be blamed”.

Giving details, the sources added that as many as 49 patients were admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital, seven of them with eye injuries. The situation was hardly better in the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital. Twenty-three patients were rushed to the GMCH, nine of them with eye injuries. At the PGI, 24 patients were admitted with eye injuries. At least four were treated by private doctors.



25 receive burn injuries
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
The festival of lights was celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm here yesterday.

Festivity was in the air since morning as people went about distributing gifts and goodies and extending Divali greetings. The markets in Sectors 7, 9, 10 , 15 and 11 and also in Sector 7, 8, 17 and Sector 11/15 roundabout, saw traffic snarls.

Inspite of demonstrations against burning of crackers, the crackers sale was reportedly at its peak. At least 100 cracker stalls had been allowed by the district administration in Sectors 5, 14 and 16. Even as the cracker prices had swelled many times as compared to last year, no one seemed to complain.

In fact, the open grounds in Sector 14, where nearly 80 cracker stalls had been set up, a mad rush was witnessed since 4 pm. As dusk approached, the din of crackers filled the air. As the night set in, people came out of their houses and burst crackers. Though no new variety of crackers was available, maximum sale, said the traders, was of rockets, the 10,000 piece ladi, bombs and variations of anar. A number of crackers, otherwise banned by the administration (hawaiis and rockets), were also available.

But Divali was not without its share of troubles. As many as 25 people were brought to General Hospital, Sector 6, with minor burn injuries. All of them, including a number of children, were discharged after being given minor treatment.

As many as three fire incidents were also reported in the district yesterday. Incidentally, all fires were caused by wayward rockets spot. A minor fire broke out in Diamond Furniture Store, Baltana, when a cracker landed there. Fire tenders from Panchkula were rushed to the spot and the fire was brought under control. Minor fire incidents were also reported in Industrial Area, Phase I (when a cracker landed on the tin shed roof of a factory) and in bushes in Sector 8, but timely action by the fire men and residents helped avoid a tragedy.



Burn injury cases received at hospitals
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
A few cases of minor burn injuries were received at hospitals in the town in connection with the festival of Divali. In majority of the cases, victims had sustained burn injuries on their right hand.

The Civil Hospital received only two cases with burn injuries and both of them were residents of Palsora village. While eight-year-old Jatin went to the hospital last night with minor burn injuries, Ravinder (10) approached the hospital today with burn injuries on his right hand.

According to information gathered from Cheema Medical Complex, Phase IV, eight persons including children, arrived at the hospital for first aid in connection with Divali related incidents. An eight-year-old Suraj had sustained a hip joint fracture when he fell down after trying to save himself from a cracker. While Kishore of Palsora and Pushpinder of Phase IV suffered burn injuries on their right hands, Shashikala from Nehru Colony got an asthmatic attack due to heavy pollution in the atmosphere. In another case, a five-year-old Sajjal suffered from irritation in her eyes after her eyebrows got burnt while playing with crackers. Sikanderjit Singh, a resident of Sector 34, Chandigarh, and Satinder Singh from Phase II also sustained burn injuries on their hands.

In another case a Sohana resident, Supreet, went to an eye hospital located at Sohana after he suffered an injury in the eye.



Over 3 crore SMS messages this Divali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
If the claims of various cellular operators is to be believed people in this region have sent and received at least 3 crore SMS messages this Divali. Greetings cards are a passe and its SMS all the way now.

Spice Telecom, the oldest cellular operator in Punjab, tops the chart this year with claims of having sent a record number of 1.2 crore messages. “This is the highest ever Spice has done and it is more than the messages sent on New Year, which is always the maximum,” said Mr Mukul Khanna, General Manager ( Marketing). The network handling of the SMS were upgraded this time to handle the additional load and a number of servers were added to avoid choking on the network, he added. Even new schemes and packs like getting 2000 SMS free on a small pack of Rs 20 added to the number of people exchanging greetings on Divali this year.

Unlike in the past, people received the SMS on time and hardly any delays were reported. But few subscribers who went in for new connections on October 31 had to face some delay in getting their sim cards activated in time, thereby making it difficult for them to sms their near and dear ones.

Air Tel, which has a largest subscriber base of 14 .40 lakh in Punjab also sent 77.3 lakh SMS on the Divali day alone. BSNL, with a customer base of nearly 10 lakh, claims to have sent 3.5 lakh messages.

While Hutch has sent 4.75 lakh messages, Tata Telecom sent approximately 4 lakh messages. Connect, which has a subscriber base of only 20,000, sent just about a lakh messages.

Besides, the usual festive greetings few people sent thought-provoking messages as an aftermath of the Delhi blasts and other natural calamities like the J ammu and Kashmir earthquake, which led to loss of lives across the country. One such message doing the rounds was “Let us spare a few moments for those whose homes would be bereft of light this Divali because someone chose to blow apart their world. May God bless the creatures of dark with light, and a terror-free world to all on Divali.”



20 incidents of fire in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Twenty incidents of fire were reported from the city on the Divali night in which one major fire in an office in Sector 20 gutted computer equipment reportedly worth lakhs. This fire, probably caused due to a short circuit, broke out on the first floor office of Sterline Finmann Pvt Ltd and Stockshare Dealers and Brokers at 3:40 am.

Computers, air conditioners, fax machines and a television set were among the things that perished in the fire.

It could be brought under control only after over an hour in the operation supervised by Mr S.K. Gosain. Four fire tenders, one water boozer and the recently-acquired TTL were pressed into service to bring the fire under control.



Black Divali observed by farmers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 2
Members of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee (Periphery Area) observed black Divali yesterday. Committee members, comprising farmers of the area, have been on a chain fast since the past 533 days, protesting against the acquisition of their land by Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The farmers wore black badges as mark of their protest on Divali. The leaders reiterated the demand that they should be given a share in the urban development done by PUDA on land acquired by it for the purpose.



Ban on crackers goes up in smoke
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Besides ban on the bursting of sound emitting crackers between 10 pm and 6 am, the Supreme Court of India, in an order pronounced on July 18, had directed that every manufacturer would mention the details of the chemical contents of crackers on each box.

The Apex Court had also directed that crackers shall not be used at any time in the silence zones. The directions were issued for controlling noise pollution due to the bursting of fire crackers and from other noise producing sources.

Chandigarh, November 2
In complete violation of the apex court’s directions, the deafening din of bursting crackers filled the air even after 10 pm on Divali night. As the residents took to the streets clutching ash cans and rockets, the authorities concerned apparently did little to proceed against them.

Though the Supreme Court had categorically directed a complete ban on the bursting of sound emitting fire crackers between 10 pm and 6 am, the residents continued to create ruckus till well past midnight.

A senior officer associated with the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee agreed that the ban went up in smoke largely due to the failure of the authorities concerned to enforce the same. He added that certain concerned residents continued to call up the police and other law enforcement agencies, ‘‘but no one paid any heed’’.

The high prices of fireworks were no dampener as enthusiastic revelers all over the city came out of their houses as soon as the sun disappeared on Tuesday. As Divali spirit took hold of them, they shrieked with excitement.

Long lectures and rallies on safety, besides campaigns by the UT Fire Department, were the last things on the minds of the residents who inserted rocket after rocket into glass bottles placed casually in the middle of the road.

Little wonder then that by about 8 pm the entire night sky was illuminated with thousands of falling stars in bright red, fluorescent green, electrifying blue, funky yellow and alluring silver hues. This was not all, yellow sparks fell in all directions as aimlessly zipping rockets exploded mid-air. Chinese crackers were the hot favourites this Divali.

The shopping for crackers started a little late in 2005. Till about four days prior to the festival, hardly any stalls selling fireworks could be seen in several markets in the city. Then suddenly on Sunday cracker stalls came up throughout the city.

The decorations were also different this year. “Very few residents illuminated their houses with candles this time,” said electrician Dheeraj. ‘‘The reason was not very hard to find as blinking lights, imported all the way from China, were available for as less as Rs 25’’, he said, adding that most residents took professional help for decorating their houses. ‘‘You may find it hard to believe, but some of the residents shelled out as much as Rs 20,000 for getting their houses decorated with lights.’’



Photograph of girl morphed to extort Rs 60,000, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
Four youngsters allegedly threatened to float on the Internet the morphed photograph of a girl living in their neighbourhood in case Rs 60,000 were not handed over to them. Taking a serious note of a complaint in this regard, the local police today arrested two of the accused, including a minor. However, the other two are still at large.

Sources in the local police said a case of theft, display of pornographic material, extortion, and criminal conspiracy under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code had been registered against the four accused.

The minor boy was arrested from his residence in Sector 47-C this morning. His interrogation led to the arrest of another accused Neeraj. They were produced before a local court today which sent the minor boy to the juvenile home, while Neeraj was sent into police remand till November 4. Police teams have been sent to Muzafarnagar to nab the other two accused in the case.

Giving details of the case, the Deputy Superintendent of Chandigarh Police (South), Mr KIP Singh, said on October 31 the father of the victim girl, a resident of Sector 47-C, reported the matter at the Sector 31 police station. He alleged that a minor boy in his neighbourhood had stolen a passport size photograph of his 23-year-old daughter from his residence and in connivance with other boys had morphed her face on a nude image.

The DSP while giving details of the compliant said the minor boy had handed over the picture of the girl to 23-year-old Neeraj. An auto-mechanic by profession, Neeraj, a resident of Sector 45-C, hatched a conspiracy with his cousin Balinder and his friend Joseph, to blackmail the girl. Balinder and Joseph, both hailing from Muzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, were taking training in computer hardware and mobile repairs in Faridabad in Haryana. They scanned the photograph of the victim, downloaded some nude images from the Internet and fixed the face of victim over the nude images.

It was alleged that the print outs of the images of the girl were then sent to the minor boy living in her neighbourhood to blackmail her. The boy showed the pictures to the girl to blackmail her. The girl handed over the images to her mother who reportedly tore the pictures. After some time they received a phone call from Balinder and Joseph, who demanded Rs 60, 000 from them and threatened to display the images on the Internet and SMS them on mobile phones if they failed to meet say the money.

The police has recovered the passport size photograph of the victim from the accused and the pieces of the torn morphed images.



Triumph of human spirit over adversity
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
Fifteen year old Sunil Kumar can teach many a lesson in resilience and what one can achieve by sheer determination and will power. Abandoned by his parents after both his arms were amputated from the shoulders, he has bounced back by achieving the impossible — winning prizes in state- level and district- level painting competitions.

Sunil uses his toes to come up with beautiful landscapes and exquisite floral patterns. Holding the pencil and crayons in his toes, he strains his legs to bring life and colour into paper within no time. He recently won the first prize in a painting contest organised by Bal Bhawan, Panchkula, and had won the first prize in a state-level painting contest for specially abled children last year. In fact, the bright and beautiful greeting cards he has painted for Divali this year, adorn the walls of his school, Saket School, Chandimandir.

A student of Class VIII, Sunil is a rare example of triumph of human spirit over adversity. Despite his disability, he can operate a computer; make mechanical devices like electrical extension boards; is a good carrom and centre forward football player. He plays the latest tunes on the synthesizer; and also has a beautiful handwriting. His teachers say he is a good student, and can write as fast as his classmates.

“I believed in Survival of the fittest. So I decided to tide over my disability, and become self-reliant. After my accident, and my parents having deserted me, I was angry with life. I would refuse to learn anything, and would wallow in self-pity - till the time the realisation struck that one has to live life to its full.

With emotional support and help by Ms Sonika, my teacher here, I learnt to use my toes to write, paint, eat and even operate the computer,” he says.

Sunil was only five when he was electrocuted at his house in Uttar Pradesh.

Though Sunil refuses to discuss about his family, the official record at the school mentions that he was brought to the PGI, Chandigarh, for treatment.

The doctors had to amputate his arms and a small portion of his shoulders. Since a part of his shoulders was also amputated, he cannot even get artificial limbs. After his operation, his parents vanished from the PGI, apparently not willing to take on the responsibility of a disabled child. The hospital authorities then contacted the Haryana Saket Council, who brought him to the school.

Dr J.S. Bhatia, Director of the Saket Hospital, expresses his bewilderment, as he narrates how Sunil shaped a piece of wood into an extension board, fitted switches and sockets on it, and then fixed it on the wall. “For some time now, he has been telling his teachers that he wants to be a mechanical engineer.

Given his determination to succeed and make a mark for himself, we are sure that he will reach for the stars,” he says.



Fire in Kabadi Market
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
A fire cracker which strayed into Kabadi Market of Sector 55 resulted in a major fire this evening. The heaps of scrap including plastic, wood, paper and cardboard lying in the open “helped” the fire to spread in all directions.

However, a major tragedy was averted after firemen managed to put out the flames heading towards four trucks loaded with scrap. The trucks were parked along the road leading to the market. Today being Vishvakarma day, the trucks laden with cardboard had not been unloaded.

The Station Fire Officer of Sector 38 fire station, Mr M.L. Sharma, who reached the spot immediately after information first came in at 8:55 pm, said that it could have been a bigger disaster had the flames managed to devour the four loaded trucks and tanks filled with diesel.

While one fire tender was used to put out flames from the entry point, the other fire tender ensured that the trucks were well out of the reach of the flames. In all, four fire tenders and a water boozer were pressed into service before the fire could be brought under control.

While it took over half-an-hour to put out the flames, the thick smoke from burning of cardboard and plastic made it difficult for the firemen to detect the fire. It took nearly two hours for the firemen to check the smouldering flames even as the stench of burnt scrap filled the air.

Immediately after the fire was put out, the scrapdealers swung into action in an effort to establish the loss and survey the extent of damage which is yet to be ascertained.



5 fire incidents reported in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 2
Goods worth thousands were destroyed in five fire incidents that took place in the township on Divali night. All these incidents were caused by burning rocket crackers. The fire brigade remained busy throughout the night.

According to information provided by the fire office, the first incident was reported at 7.45 pm when a shopkeeper in Phase VII reported that wood lying on his shop’s rooftop had caught fire. A burning rocket had landed amidst dry wood gathered on the rooftop. It immediately caught fire. A fire engine was rushed to the spot and the fire was brought under control.

Two rooms in a house in Phase IV caught fire at about 8 pm. “I and my brother had just started dinner when we heard a cracking sound from the pooja room upstairs. We asked the servant to check and he came back running saying that the room was on fire. We raised the alarm and neighbours rushed to help. The fire was controlled and we managed to limit it to a single room. The fire started from a plastic water cooler that was kept outside a room on the ground floor,” said Ms Sarabjit Kaur, the owner of the house.

Haystacks lying out in fields at Sante Majra village caught fire when a spark landed in the fields. Fire engines were called to control the fire. Similarly, dry grass caught fire behind the fire brigade office in Phase I due to crackers.

At Lambian village a junkyard caught fire. According to the fire officer, a burning rocket had landed in the junkyard behind a shop. Most of the scrap was burnt. Another minor fire was reported from Phase 10.



Fire at industrial unit
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
In a fire that broke at a furniture manufacturing unit in Industrial Area here late tonight goods worth lakhs of rupees were suspected to be reduced to ashes.

The fire broke at Aarkay Furnishers, Phase II, Industrial Area. Five fire engines have been pressed into service, a police officer, who was present at the spot, said.

Flames could be seen from a distance of a kilometer. Even after one hour the fire men could not control the fire.

No one was inside the unit. A passer-by, Mr Amrik Singh, who owns an industrial unit in the same area, first noticed the flames at the unit. He reported the incident to the police.

The police could not trace the owner of the unit till the filing of the report. The fire did not spread to other units.

Mr Balkar Singh, a police officer, said the cause of the fire was not known as yet.



Villagers block traffic, seek action against killers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
Angry residents of Hangola village blocked the Panchkula-Naraingarh national highway for over three hours yesterday, by placing the bodies of Ajmer Singh and Nirmal Singh, who were killed in a land dispute on Monday, on the highway.

Led by the village Sarpanch, Angrejo Devi and her husband, Hukum Chand, the villagers demanded that the alleged suspects Kashmir Singh and Sadh Singh should be arrested at the earliest. They alleged that the suspects were the brothers of former minister, Balbir Saini, and thus the authorities were trying to shield them. They said that they would not consign the body to flames until an action was taken against the suspects.

Ajmer Singh and Nirmal Singh, cousins, were shot dead and two other villagers Gurnam Singh and Gurmeet Singh, were injured, when “illegal” lessees of the village shamlat land, fired indiscriminately at the villagers, who were on their way to the fields. The villagers alleged that the suspect took the step in order to teach the villagers a lesson for trying to get the 173 acres of disputed land vacated. The victims were on their way to the fields when Kashmir Singh and Sadh Singh, along with six others began firing at them. One of the suspect, Sappal was arrested by the police, but the others managed to flee.

The villagers began their blockade around 9 am yesterday. The SDM, Panchkula, Mr Virender Dahiya, was rushed to the spot. He tried to placate the villagers, but to no avail. It was around noon that the Director-General of Police, Haryana, Mr Nirmal Singh, himself went to the spot and assured the villagers that all action would be taken to nab the accused that the blockade was finally lifted.

The bodies were later consigned to the flames, and the villagers bid them a tearful adieu.



Vishwakarma Day celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
Vishwakarma Day was celebrated with great devotion at various places in the city and nearby areas. Employees of the The Tribune Group of publication assembled in the morning and performed pooja which was followed by distribution of parsadam.

In Sector 30-B, the Gurdwara Vishwakarma Sabha celebrated the day with enthusiasm. More than, 2000 persons also partook langar on the occasion. The programme began at 8.30 am and continued for more than seven hours that included satsang and discourse on the life of Vishwakarma ji. The Ramgarhia Sabha, Sector 27, also celebrated the day with great fervour. At various other places, the day was celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Panchkula: The Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Chander Mohan, called upon the people to imbibe the quality of great architect, technologist and scientist Lord Vishwakarma so that country could ushered in a new era of prosperity.

He was addressing a gathering on the occasion of Lord Vishwakarma Divas, celebrated by the Jangid Brahmin Sabha of Panchkula, Chandigarh and Mohali, at Sector 20 here today.

While extending his greetings, Mr Chander Mohan said the divas was celebrated all over the country and it was the only deity whose worship was done thrice a year. He said the main criteria of progress and prosperity of a country was technical knowledge and advancement in science and education. He exhorted the people to follow the cherished principles of Lord Vishwakarma so that poverty and hunger could be eliminated from the society.

The Deputy Prime Minister also gave prizes to students, who had excelled in various fields, including sports, education and quiz. The students who got prizes included Jalaj Sharma, Pooja Savera, Mohini, Keshav, Samma, Om Parkash, Arun Kumar, Surinder Singh, Sandeep Kumar, Vandana, Poonam and Ankit. He also announced a grant of Rs 7 lakh to the sabha for the construction of a bhavan in Panchkula.

Earlier, while unfurling the flag of the sabha, Mr Anand Prakash Jangid from Sirsa said Lord Vishwakarma was the inspiration behind creation of a number of places including Dwarikapuri, Amaravati and Sri Lanka. The president of the Sabha, Mr Ramphal Jangid, and the founder president, Mr Balbir Jangid, also spoke on the occasion.



Item numbers on Vishwakarma Day!
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
It was a unique way to celebrate Vishwakarma Day. Dancers in suggestively cut suits jived to the latest Bollywood numbers “Kajara Re...” and “ Aashiq Banaya ...” as they “remembered” Lord Vishwakarma.

Complete with the “jhatkas” and “matkas” close to Bollywood style, these orchestra dancers regaled the adience with one item number after another. Though the organisers - Labour Nirman Sangh - said that this was a cultural show organised after the Vishwakarma pooja, but it was apparently alien to the ideals preached and practised by Lord Vishwakarma.

Other than these item numbers, it was also the vulgar jokes that had the labour force asking for more. The labourers had perched themselves atop the trees in order to get a better view of the programme.

Meanwhile, the sangh has demanded that the temporary labour chowk of Sector 16 should be given permanent status of labour chowk. The members resolved to request the Deputy Commissioner to shift the wine shop to a new location in order to ensure that the labourers do not fall to this vice.

Vishwakarma puja was performed by the President of the Union, Mr Jagdish Kashyap, and other members of the Union. A langar was also organised.

The union members demanded that rain basera and toilets should be constructed for labourers at Labour Chowk. They also decided to hand over a memorandum of demands to the Deputy Commissioner, which also include the issuing of ration cards on the pattern of brick kiln labourers so that they can get the rations at subsidised rates. They also demanded that electric meters be installed at their houses to avoid power theft.



Recommendations of A.V.Singh panel report implemented
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The much-awaited implementation of the A.V. Singh Committee recommendations for Army doctors has finally come through. The implementation of the report will ensure faster promotions for officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC), the Army Dental Corps (ADC) and the Remount and Veterinary Corps.

The extension of benefits under the A.V. Singh Committee to officers in the medical fraternity come almost a year after they were implemented for other arms and services.

A communiqué in this regard was received here from Army Headquarters today, sources said. With the new orders coming into effect, officers in the aforementioned three corps would become eligible to pick up the rank of major with four years' of service, lieutenant colonel with 11 years' and colonel with 24 years' of service. Being a technical cadre, doctors get promoted two years earlier than officers in some other arms and service like the infantry, armoured, artillery, the ASC and Ordnance.

Besides financial benefits commensurate with faster promotions, it also means an extension of two years' in service. Earlier, those who failed to make the grade used to retire in the time-scale rank of lieutenant colonel at the age of 56 years. Under the new scheme, time-scale promotions would be up to the rank of colonel, where the retirement age is 58 years.

The implementation of the recommendations will benefit about 500 doctors in the services. Six AMC officers and two ADC officers posted in Chandimandir have already picked up their next rank.

While the implementation has been widely welcomed, the 11-month delay has resulted in a number of AMC, ADC and RVC officer retiring from service since its implementation for other arms and services was announced in December last.

The Ministry of Defence jolted into action after an officer facing retirement moved the Delhi High Court over the delay. The court had directed that the Defence Ministry decide the matter by November 30, 2005.



Ex-servicemen’s hostel provides cheap, comfortable stay
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Nestled in the green environs of Chandimandir Military Station, ex-servicemen's hostel provides much needed and economical accommodation to attendants and relatives of patients undergoing in-door treatment at the Command Hospital here.

Authorities at the hospital were continually receiving requests from attendants for accommodation. Most were ex-servicemen coming from far-off places. Only a limited accommodation meant primarily for attendants of patients on the dangerously ill list was available on the hospital premises.

"Earlier attendants used to avail facilities provided by the Punjab or Haryana Red Cross or even stay at some gurdwara, but these were too far off from the hospital and commuting was inconvenient," Col Subhash Chander (retd), Director of the Ex-servicemen's Helpline at the hospital said. Hence it was decided to set up a hostel in the hospital's vicinity and it was inaugurated in December, 2003.

Perhaps the only hostel of its kind in the region, its occupancy rate is stated to be 85--90 per cent. At times it is fully occupied. It is within walking distance from the hospital.

Premises were made available by Station Headquarters, Chandiamndir, and a locally based unit has been tasked with running it. An ex-serviceman has been hired and the unit concerned details an NCO to manage the hostel's daily affairs.

The hostel has four rooms with four beds each for single male attendants and four rooms with two beds each for family accommodation. Each room has an attached toilet. The charges are Rs 15 per day for a JCO and Rs 10 for an NCO.The rooms are well maintained and fully furnished. Bedding, sheets, quilts and water camper etc are all provided and every guest can avail a steel cupboard to keeping his belongings.

Though utensils and glasses are provided in family accommodation, the guests have to arrange their own meals. Only tea is provided twice a day. "Attendants can have meals at a civilian canteen located within the hospital, where in any case, they spend most of their time," Colonel Chander said. "

The hostel is meant for giving them an economic and comfortable place to rest or retire," he added.

While the need of JCO and NCOs availing treatment in the Command Hospital has been redressed, officers say that there is a void as far as officers are concerned. "No such place is available for families or attendants of officers. Arrangement for accommodation in officers' mess is not always possible and commuting too can be inconvenient," an officer said.

The Ex-Servicemen's Contributory Health Scheme, which has empanelled a number of civilian hospitals at various places for in-house treatment has helped to offset this problem to some extent.



Fauji Beat
The ‘Saviour of Naushera’

HAVING wrested Jhangar from India in December, 1947, the enemy laid seize to Naushera. It was then that 50 Para Brigade, commanded by Brig Mohammad Usman, was moved in to flush out the enemy from Naushera. For, had Naushera fallen to the enemy, a big chunk of the Jammu region would have been cut off from the country. It was against heavy odds that the Pakistani forces were defeated and thrown out from Naushera in February, 1948. For his deft handling and saving Naushera, Brig Usman earned the titles of the “Hero of Naushera“ as well as the “Saviour of Naushera”.

Thereafter, 50 Para Brigade took part in the recapturing of Jhangar along with 19 Infantry Brigade. And it was 2 Para that led the attack on Jhangar, resulting in its recapture on March 19, 1948. For its gallant actions, the unit was awarded two Mahavir Chakras and four Vir Chakras. It was also awarded the battle honours of Jhangar and Naushera.

After that, 50 Para Brigade continued to hold Jhangar against further enemy attacks. Unfortunately, an enemy shell killed Brig Usman on July 3, 1948, in Jhangar. He was awarded Mahavir Chakra (posthumously).

Woes of war widows

The Punjab Government vide its letter No 2 (408)/12541/G-5 of June 16, 1971, had undertaken to allot 10 acres to the widows/orphaned children of soldiers or parents of unmarried soldiers who were killed in the wars against Pakistan and China. The provisions of this letter for the submission of applications were extended up to September 15, 1974.

Of the 800 such widows, 229 were not allotted land and their cases came to light only in 1987. Most of them being uneducated, did not know about this provision. After this point was repeatedly discussed in the Rajya Sainik Board meetings, the Director Sainik Welfare, Punjab, submitted district-wide list of the widows to the Secretary, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, in May 1996.

An ex-servicemen’s delegation had approached the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in mid-2002, that several widows of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars had not got land or any monetary compensation because they had not applied for it within the specified period. Expressing surprise at this, Capt Amarinder Singh directed the Secretary Sainik Welfare, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, to amend the rules by stipulating a cut-off date for the submission of applications for this compensation.

We still find some widows of those wars who have not got any compensation so far. Besides, there were 23 such widows who were still fighting court cases for the possession of land in 2003. Most of them are still doing so. Who will help them?

Is ECHS flagging?

Reports are pouring in from Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) members from all over the region that their polyclinics are not supplying them medicines. They have no option, they say, but to purchase medicines from the market. “We were lured into this scheme by assuring us that we will be treated for all diseases and provided free medicines if we became members of it. We have been betrayed by the military authorities,” they further say.

The Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir, and most other military hospitals tell the officers in charge of polyclinics that the funds have exhausted and until more funds are allotted to them, they will not be able to purchase medicines.

The question is why future planning was not done for the procurement of funds. And those who are at fault should be taken to task.

In case the government is unable to provide funds for the scheme, then it should be closed down and the contribution fee paid by the members should be refunded to them with interest. This will, of course, invite a plethora of court cases. If the scheme is to be run in the letter and spirit in which it was started in 2003, then it should be run with full financial support to meet the medical requirements of the members.




Malayalee Samajam celebrate Kerala Piravi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 2
Members of the Malayalee Samajam, Mohali, celebrated Kerala Piravi (50th anniversary of formation of Kerala) and Divali yesterday in a unique way. The day was spent with inmates of orphanage at Mother Teresa Home, Sector 23, Chandigarh. Members distributed clothes, sweets, fruits among children and also shared a meal with them as a part of the charitable services (Navajeevan Charity) of the samajam.

Ms Susan Koshy, social worker and wife of Haryana’s a former DGP (Vigilance), Mr K. Koshy, led the samajam members to greet the inmates and celebrate the festival of lights with them. She also cut a cake on the 50th anniversary of Kerala.

Mr Benny Thomas, president of samajam, said: “With a strong membership base in Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula, all other Keralite organisations and Malayalee fraternity in and around Mohali subscribe to our common mission of setting up of a Kerala bhavan in Mohali and form part of the Malayalee Samajam Mohali.”



Cops save man from drowning in Sukhna
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
Vigilant cops rescued a man from drowning at the Sukhna Lake this morning after he jumped into the lake to end his life.

Rajesh Patiyal (32) of Kishangarh village told the police that he was depressed due to over-expenditure on the Divali festival.

He said he was disheartened as he failed to make both ends meet. Facing financial constraints, he decided to end his life.

Sources at the Sukhna Lake police post said Rajesh jumped into the lake at around 10.15 am from the observatory tower.

Constable Sanjeev Masih, posted at the tower, saw him climbing over the wall of the passage leading to the observatory tower.

The cop shouted to prevent him from taking the step, but he did not pay heed and jumped.

Constable Sanjeev immediately flashed a message and called for help.

He along with his colleague pulled out the victim from the water. They gave first-aid to Rajesh.

The rescued man works as a private car driver in Panchkula and lives with his wife and a two-year-old son.

A case of attempt to suicide under Section 309 of the IPC has been registered against him. He was later released on bail.



Relief material sent for quake-hit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Childline, a helpline for children in need and operating from 67 cities of the country, with the help of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) has sent relief material for the quake-hit people of Kashmir.

Colonel Ravi Bedi, secretary, Chandigarh Childline Nodal Organisation, gave 3950 blankets, 2.5 tons of milk powder and a large quantity of woollen pullovers and jackets for the children affected by the quake in the J&K areas.

These reached Srinagar today.

The items donated to Childline by the HDFC were received on behalf of the AWWA by Colonel H.K. Ahluwalia, Commander ‘N’ Area.

These will be distributed directly to the affected children under the aegis of Ms SS Dhillon, president, AWWA, Srinagar, in the remote areas of Uri and Tangdhar.



Id namaz timings
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
On the occasion of the forthcoming Id-ul-Fitr, namaz will be recited as per the following schedule. This was stated by Moulana Mohammad Ajmal Khan, Imam, Jama Masjid, Sector 20.

According to sources, the moon is likely to be seen on Thursday and the Id namaz will be recited on Friday, otherwise on Saturday.

The schedule is: Jama Masjid, Sector 20 — 9.15 am, Norrani Masjid, Sector 26 — 9.30 am, Idgah, Manimajra — 9.45am, Manimajra Town — 9.30 am, Idgah, Burail, Sector 45 — 9.15 am, Madina Masjid, Sector 41 — 9.30 am, Masjid Panchkula, Sector 21 — 9.30 am, Masjid, Dhanas — 9 am, Madrasa Maloya Colony — 9.15 am, Masjid Maloya Colony — 9.30 am, Mohali Phase XI — 9.30 am, Sabri Masjid Burail — 9 am, Idgah Mohali — 9 am and Matour Mohali — 9.15 am.



Monkey menace proves fatal for cop
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
A CRPF Head Constable was killed and his friend was seriously injured when their scooter skidded, while trying to avoid running over some monkeys that strayed on the road.

The incident took place on the Mallah road yesterday, when Head Constable Balu Ram and Prakash Chand (HR-49 A-4382) were going on a scooter. Balu Ram was driving, when he saw some monkeys suddenly jump on the road from the nearby forests.

He turned around his scooter, which skidded and the two fell down. Both sustained head injuries and were rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh, where Balu Ram died today. Prakash Chand is stated to be stable.



CTU receives low-floored buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The first lot of 20 low-floored buses were received by the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) here today. The supply is part of the order of 100-odd buses to be supplied by the Tata-HML, reliable sources said.

The buses are required to be first passed by the State Transport Authority before their routes are finalised. The process is likely to be completed on the coming Monday.



Mandir sevadar rapes 4-yr-old
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
A four-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a sevadar of a mandir in Matour village here yesterday.

According to Mr Gurcharan Singh, SHO of the central police station, the child was playing in a street in yesterday afternoon when the suspect, Avtar Singh, alias Giani, (20) took her into the mandir in the presence of other children. It is alleged that he raped the child in the mandir. The crime came to the notice of residents of the area when they heard a child crying inside the mandir. When they entered the building, the suspect ran away from the scene of crime. He was, however, later arrested by the police from Balongi village.

The child was taken to the Civil Hospital for a medical examination.

The SHO further said that the suspect used to stay on the temple premises. According to the SHO, the suspect had admitted before the police that he had committed the crime. The SHO said earlier also complaints against him had been received from residents of the village.

The police has registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC in this regard.



2 cars stolen, chain snatched
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
Ms Tripti Gupta of Sector 23 lodged a complaint with the police that a man ran away after snatching her gold chain at 11 am. She told the police that she was sauntering near a park when the incident took place. She raised an alarm, but in vain as the miscreant escaped. A case has been registered.

Cars stolen

Mr Sandeep Sharma of Sector 47 reported to the police that his Maruti car (CHF-0071) was stolen from Sector 19 on Tuesday. In another incident, Ms Neena Singh of Sector 12-A, Panchkula, filed a complaint to the police alleging that her Maruti car (HR-03-F-6972) was stolen from market area in Sector 22-D on Monday. Two cases of thefts have been registered.

Shop burgled

Mr Sanjiv Puri of Sector 35-D reported to the police that three mobile phones, some cloth and Rs 5,000 were stolen from his shop in Sector 22 on Sunday night. He told the police that the thieves gained entry by breaking open the grill fixed at the exhaust fan hole. A case has been registered.

3 booked

The police booked three persons of Kishangarh village for allegedly outraging the modesty of a woman of the same village on Tuesday night. All accused are at large.

The victim told the police that Sodhi of Kishangarh village along with two-three persons forcibly entered her residence in an inebriated condition. The accused, in an attempt to outrage her modesty, attacked her, resulting in minor injuries to her. Her husband was at home at the time and he, too, came under attack. A case has been registered.



Two held for vehicle thefts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 2
The police has arrested two persons from different parts of the city and claimed to have recovered four stolen vehicles, including a car, from their possession.

The Station House Officer (SHO) of the Sector 34 police station Ajaib Singh Somal said a police team patrolling in the Sector 34 area saw a man moving under suspicious circumstances near the Terrace Garden last evening. On seeing the police, the man tried to give a slip to the cops and sped on his motor cycle. The alert cops later intercepted him.

The SHO said during preliminary questioning, the man identified himself as Raju, a native of Nepal. He told the police that the Bajaj Pulsar (PB-07-N-2939) he was riding was stolen from the parking area in the Sector 34 market complex on October 29. His interrogation led to the recovery of a scooter (CH-01-Y-0144) stolen from the market area of Sector 34 and a motor cycle (CH-03-J-9664) stolen from near Colony Number 5.

Raju was working at a dhaba earlier. Police sources said he was an alcoholic and committed thefts after drinking.

He was produced before a local court today and remanded to one-day police custody.

In another incident, the police has taken a car driver into custody on the allegations of stealing a car of his employer.

Giving details, the SHO of the Sector 39 police station said Pradeep Dogra of Hamirpur district in Himachal Pradesh was arrested from Sector 39 along with the stolen Indica car.

During interrogation, the accused told the police that he had stolen the car early last month.

The car owner, Mr Manjeet Singh, of Sector 40 reported the incident to the police. Manjeet Singh told the police that Pradeep was talking about leaving the job before his disappearance. Pradeep told the police that he had stolen the car to show off in a marriage in his native place.

A local court has sent him to two-day police remand.



2 killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
Two persons were killed when their motor cycle was hit by a truck on the Tangri bridge, near Raipur Rani, yesterday. The victims, Nirmal Singh, 40, and his colleague’s wife, Mahinder Kaur, 50, were on their way to buy a buffalo on the Divali day, when the accident took place.

Mahinder Kaur of Raipur Rani wanted to buy a new buffalo and Nirmal Singh offered to take her to a nearby village to strike a deal yesterday. The truck (HR-64- 2739) was reportedly going at a high speed and hit the motor cycle.


Miscreants decamped with cash and goods worth thousands of rupees from the house of former District Primary Education Officer, Mrs Rita Sharma, in Sector 4 today.



Air Deccan to introduce Delhi-Srinagar flight
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Air Deccan, one of India’s low cost airlines, after linking the national capital with some of the prominent northern cities like Jaipur, Amritsar , Dehradun and Lucknow, is all set to provide better connectivity by starting direct flights to certain other tourist destinations and big towns in this part of the country. As part of its expansion plans, the Bangalore-based airline will also be launching some new flights in the North, North-West and the North-East.

Mr John Kuruvilla, Chief Revenue Officer of the Airline, told TNS from Bangalore that Air Deccan, would be launching its flights to Indore, Kanpur, Srinagar and Pune. The Delhi-Indore flight via Gwalior would start operating within the next 10 days.

The afternoon flight, which takes off from Delhi at 2.30 pm or 3 pm, would take 50 minutes till Gwalior and 1 hour 20 minutes till Indore .

Keeping in view the onset of winters and the disturbances in the schedule caused by poor visibility due to fog and smog, the airlines has extended its afternoon Delhi-Lucknow flight till Kanpur. “If due to bad weather the flight cannot land at Kanpur, it will land at Lucknow and passengers can even travel further by road in case of an emergency,” said Mr Kuruvilla.

Even otherwise Kanpur, being an Air Force airport, there is no permission for night landing or landing on Saturdays/Sundays and other holidays , the passage through Lucknow will be a boon for travellers on this route. Besides this, the second direct flight between Delhi and Lucknow in the late evening will also start within the next few days, he added.

Since, the valley is now opening up, Air Deccan will also be introducing a direct flight to Srinagar from Delhi on December 6 to facilitate tourists to visit this “paradise on earth”. This flight, he said, was likely to draw huge crowds as the valley has tremendous tourist potential even today.

The duration of this flight, which will take about 1 hour 25 minutes will start around 9 am. Another flight connecting Delhi with Pune will also start later this month.

All these flights would use a 48-seater aircraft and operate from New Delhi. The Airline, which has a vision of ‘empowering every Indian to fly’ will be offering special packages for linking these places with Delhi so as to give numerous tourists a cost-effective travelling option unlike any other in the aviation sector,’’ said Managing Director, Capt G.R Gopinath, while adding that the fares would be 40 per cent cheaper than the other airlines operating on this route.

Air Deccan which plans to fly to all unconnected places, will also be launching four new direct flights from Calcutta to provide better connectivity with the North-East.

These are Calcutta- Rajamundri; Calcutta- Agartala, Calcutta-Silchar and Cacutta-Patna and will be launched by the end of this month. Return flights to fly passengers back the same day will also be made available.

Mr Kuruvilla said a survey was being carried out to evaluate the opportunities that existed in other parts of the country.

In the South, two new flights will be started between Chennai and Puttaparthi (Prasanthi Nilayam airport) and Hyderabad to Puttaparthi to facilitate the Sai Baba devotees to visit his ashram located there.

Earlier, passengers only had the option of boarding an Indian Airlines flight (Mumbai-Bangalore via Puttaparthi) to reach their destination, but it would be much easier and cheaper now .

The fares on these routes and the timings would be finalised this week, said Mr Kuruvilla. It will be in the price range of Rs 500 and Rs 5,000.


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