C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Two students of SD College killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Mr Parveen Verma and Mr Kirpal Singh Bedi, fathers of Vikas Verma and Gurpreet Singh, who were killed in a road accident in Panchkula.
Mr Parveen Verma and Mr Kirpal Singh Bedi, fathers of Vikas Verma and Gurpreet Singh, who were killed in a road accident in Panchkula. — A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, November 19
Two youths were killed and four injured seriously when the car they were travelling in was crushed by a Maxx Pik-Up and a truck on the Panchkula-Zirakpur highway at around 2 am today.

The victims were returning home after attending the wedding of a friend’s sister when the accident took place near Sector 2. The wedding was at a resort in Zirakpur. Though all victims belonged to Chandigarh and Mohali, they took the route via Panchkula because there was a traffic jam on the Zirakpur-Chandigarh route.

Police sources said the car was first hit on the side by the vehicle and as the car lost balance, it hit a truck coming from the other side. The car then overturned, twice. The truck sped away while the driver of the pick-up ran away, leaving the vehicle behind.

Vikas Verma (21), owner and driver of the car, and Gurpreet Singh, who was sitting behind the driver’s seat died on the spot. Four other youths — Naginder Singh, Indraveer, Shiv Ram and Mukesh Sharma — were seriously injured. All victims are BA (I) students of SD College, Chandigarh.

Some passers-by informed the police and a PCR vehicle rushed the victims to the General Hospital, Sector 6, where Vikas and Gurpreet were declared brought dead. The other four were rushed to the PGI, because of their critical condition.

The police then informed the families of the victims and Gurpreet Singh’s father, Mr Kirpal Singh, and Vikas’s father, Mr Praveen Verma, came to the hospital.

Mr Praveen Verma said he along with his wife and Vikas were all set to migrate to the USA. “Our passports and visas came back from Delhi only last evening. Vikas was overjoyed, and we were to leave shortly.

But fate had other plans for us,” he said, breaking down.

Gurpreet’s parents are government employees and both are physically challenged. He left home early for his friend’s sister’s wedding, saying that he had to help out with the arrangements. “We never knew that he would never come back,” said Mr Kirpal Singh father of Gurpreet.

The police has registered a case.



UT begins work on conservation plan
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Chandigarh Administration has initiated work on the conservation of the city’s architecture. The name of the city has been sent to the Cultural Affairs Ministry for inclusion in the list of cities from India as World Heritage projects of UNESCO. The move has received a shot in the arm with a proposal to collaborate with a World Heritage Conservation Society.

Mr Geoff Rich, holder of the prestigious Winston Churchill fellowship for 2005, will be holding discussions with leading architecture societies in England and responding to the UT shortly. The development follows an interaction he had with Mr S.K. Sandhu, Finance Secretary, who had expressed interest in seeking guidance from leading international societies in conservation, including the 20th Century Society and DOCOMOMO International Conservation Society.

Talking to the Tribune here today, Mr Sandhu confirmed the development and said he would be taking up the matter with Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), the UT Administrator, on Monday before the next plan of action was chalked out. He said: “Conservation of the city is a multi-dimensional subject and will need contribution from different sections of academia and the Administration”.

Mr Rich, engaged with Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects, London, said: “One underlining feature of the conservation policy was planners giving a legislative touch to the proposal. The essence of any plan for future is a clear chart of action for the preservation of its heritage”.

A special mention in the direction of conservation plans of the city needs to be made of the work being done by Prof Kiran Joshi of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, who has worked a great deal on the conservation of the heritage of the city. The team has worked extensively on the City Master Plan, condition and future of old buildings and a list of inventory of Le Corbusier’s building plans and furniture.

As a part of the Churchill scholarship, Mr Rich would be visiting USA and certain countries of Europe, besides India. He said Chandigarh was a unique city of modern times, however, it needed to be geared up to handle the increasing population pressure.

Mr Sandhu said he would be able to give details of the project after formal discussions at the higher level. “We are, however, conscious of the growing human pressure on the city. With coming up of the Information Technology Park, the city needs to be prepared for a bigger rush. There is need for a multi-disciplinary approach to the issue of conservation.”



Car dealer’s son kidnapped for ransom?
Saurbh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The son of a city-based car dealer was reportedly kidnapped by a gang of outlaws while he was getting his vehicle refuelled at a filling station in Chandigarh late last night. The victim was reportedly taken by surprise as the abductors took him, along with the vehicle. The police is neither confirming, nor denying the information.

As per the available information, one of the kidnappers called up the boy’s family from abroad and asked them to neither approach the police, nor the media. The caller assured the family that the boy would not be harmed if the ransom money was handed over to their men in Chandigarh.

Though kidnappings and abductions are not uncommon in this part of the region, this is, perhaps, the first time that the abductors have called up from a foreign land, indicating the involvement of an international gang.

“It only means that the abductors are playing smart and safe,” commented a city-based lawyer. “It would be almost impossible for the Chandigarh police to initiate action against them if they are masterminding the entire operation from across the seven seas”.

The lawyer added that in all probability the kidnappers would demand the transfer of money to an account in some foreign bank, or assure its transaction through the hawala channel. “This may very well be the beginning of a new and disturbing trend,” he added.

A senior officer of the Chandigarh police, when contacted, point-blank refused to comment on the abduction issue. The officer, however, admitted that rumours about the alleged kidnapping were rife.



13-yr-old leaves home to become ‘don’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Dazzled by the glamour of the tinsel world, a city boy has left his home to become a “don” in movies.

When 13-year-old Dinesh Godara packed his schoolbag before leaving his house for the institute on November 11, little did his parents know that he will not return that afternoon. They only realised it later that Dinesh had, in all probability, left for Bollywood to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

“We kept on waiting for him in the afternoon,” his father Mahender Singh of sector 39 says in a voice chocked with emotion, but when he failed to turn up, we started looking for him.

“We found his books scattered on the garage floor.... A search of his wardrobe revealed that a dress was missing, along with Rs 2,400. Putting two and two together, we realised that he had replaced his books with clothes in the morning”.

Breaking down, he recalls: “He always wanted to make it big in the film industry. Reposing on the sofa in front of the television set, he would often air his desire of earning huge money after acting as a “don” in the movies. I remember him saying that he had the brains and the looks to become a “don”. The right kind of opportunity was all that was required.

“At that time, we did not take him seriously for any 13-year-old would say such things.... I wish we had paid a little more attention,” he says.

Working in the Haryana secretariat, his father says that Dinesh had it planned to the last detail. “He even went to school the previous afternoon and submitted a leave application after getting it signed from someone”, he says, adding that the police had been informed. Though it had registered a missing person’s report, it had not been able to trace him so far.

A senior police officer said efforts were on to trace the boy. A message had been forwarded and the police manning bus stands and railway stations had been informed. Its counterparts in other cities had been informed. “In all probability, he will return after the money is exhausted”, he added.



Special courts to expedite power theft cases
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Governments of Punjab and Haryana are working towards establishing special courts "for a speedy trial of power theft cases".

According to information, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has been informed by the two states about their plan to designate some courts in the districts as special courts for the purpose of dealing with cases of electricity theft.

Section 153 of the Electricity Act, 2003, provides for the constitution of special courts for the speedy trial of offences referred to in Sections 135-139. The two governments have decided that till full-time special courts are not functional, the courts of additional district and sessions judges should be designated as special courts to deal with such cases.

Sources say that the high court will take a final decision in this regard soon.

While Punjab has sought the court's nod to designate the courts of Additional District and Sessions Judges at Patiala, Ludhiana and Amritsar as special courts, Haryana has suggested that, to start with, two additional district and sessions judges could be designated special judges to try power theft cases two days every week.

Sources say that the request made by the Government of Haryana was referred to the Rules Committee by the Full Court of the high court. Similarly, the request of the Punjab Government is pending with the Rules Committee of the high court.

"The setting up of these courts is an obligation of the state government as per the Act. We are already behind schedule," said a Punjab Government officer associated with the process.

He disclosed that when these special courts became a reality, power theft cases would invite speedy trial. "These courts will act as a deterring factor to people who indulge in power theft," said the officer.



Pak Rangers leave with loads of love
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
As the Pakistan Rangers’ delegation left Chandigarh for home, they took along with them memories and experiences of Indian hospitality they are not likely to forget in a hurry.

From the melodies of the famed Wadali brothers to a trip to Shimla to shopping spree, the BSF spared no effort to ensure that the Pakistani guests were well looked after.

As the Pak men got busy across conference tables, their wives, escorted by BSF personnel and armed with shopping lists, went around the markets in Sector 11, 17 and 22. The Pakistani delegation comprised 16 officers and some of them were accompanied by their wives.

Understandably, clothes and jewellery were on top of their lists. They bought designer outfits, embroidered suits, georgette fabrics and bindis. Some also preferred to buy saris.

One of the visiting ladies was overheard saying, Indian dresses never failed to attract Pakistani women. Many had looked forward to their India visit simply because there was so much to buy here.

They also picked up artifacts, decoration pieces and Indian spices to be taken back home. Some of the ladies had visited the city earlier also and were able to guide others.

A day-long excursion to Shimla was also organised for them. They were flown in by special BSF helicopters. Not every member however went up on the hills and, instead preferred to stay back and shop.

The trip was organised after the Pakistani delegation had hinted during the last conference that they desired to visit the former Raj capital. Last time, they were taken to Agra and Ajmer.

Perhaps, the most memorable part of their visit was a musical evening with the Wadali brothers. The function was organised by the BSF at the serene Yadvindra Gardens in Pinjore, where senior BSF officers, their wives and some select civilian invitees were present. A speech was also made in honour of the guests by a senior BSF officer.

A reception was also hosted for them by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh at the Punjab Bhavan here.



BSF, Rangers to check crime
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers today resolved to share intelligence and enhance coordination and joint patrolling along the International Border to check trans-border smuggling and crime.

Addressing a joint press conference at the end of the four-day BSF-Rangers' biannual conference here, the Additional Director-General (West), Mr N. P. S. Aulakh, said the two sides had also decided to enhance contact at the field commanders' level and resolve minor issues on the spot. "We have fine-tuned existing procedures to ensure that there is a coordinated working relationship between the two sides," Mr Aulakh said.

The Director-General of Pakistan Rangers (Sindh), Major-Gen Javed Zia, who was heading the Ranger delegation as well as officers on both sides who had taken part in the conference were present on the occasion. This is the fourth conference since the peace process was initiated in March, 2004.

The issues discussed included illegal and inadvertent border crossings, narcotics trafficking, trans-border smuggling and crime, joint patrolling and maintenance of border pillars. Both delegations also had officials from their respective survey, public works and anti-narcotic departments.

"We took stock of the situation on the Indo-Pak border and worked to build mutual trust and understanding and dispassionately analyze cross-border problems to evolve a workable solution for ensuring peace and tranquility on the border," Mr Aulakh said.

The two forces also resolved to take into account each others' objections on certain defence constructions along the International Border. Demolitions, if any, on either side would be worked out at the level of sector commanders. Stating that the talks were held in a very amicable atmosphere with a positive approach, General Zia said this reflected the effect of the confidence-building measures initiated by the two governments.

Referring to people-to-people contact on the border, General Zia said, "There is now openness. Misgivings have ended, tension has reduced and the level of confidence has increased."

Terming cross-border smuggling as a "vicious circle", General Zia claimed that Pakistan had made a sincere and comprehensive effort to check narcotics smuggling. He added that "contentious" issues between the two countries were being worked out at the government level and this conference was restricted to discuss functional issues concerning the two forces only.

Both sides also agreed to speed up the process of handing over inadvertent border crossers as well as fishermen who strayed into each other's territorial waters. A joint statement issued here said that both sides assured each other of extending full cooperation and help in amicably and promptly sorting out all such issues at the field commander level so that civilian population on either side felt secure and their problems were settled promptly.



Pact on 4-laning of Ambala-UT section signed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has signed a concession agreement for four-laning the Ambala-Chandigarh section of the national highways 21 and 22.

The agreement for 4-laning of the 35.096 km high-traffic density corridor of Ambala-Chandigarh section between the NHAI and GMR Ambala Chandigarh Expressway Pvt. Ltd was signed on Wednesday.

The 5.735 to km to 39.960 km stretch on NH-22 and zero to 0.871-km segment on NH-21 is expected to be completed in 30 months at a cost of Rs 298 crore on the built-operate-transfer(BOT) basis.

The agreement involves the highest negative grant so far received by the NHAI under the NHDP-Phase III-A, which means that the Ambala Chandigarh Expressway Pvt. Ltd., would pay the NHAI a grant of Rs 105.858 crore during a concession period of 20 year.

At presently, the Ambala Chandigarh Section has two lanes. On completion, this 36-km stretch would be a 4-laned road with paved shoulders. In addition, the highway would have nearly 21 km of service roads on either side in towns and villages through which the 4-lane highway would pass. These include Dhulkot, Sultanpur, Lalru, Dappar, Sakhpur, Madhopur and Sadopur.

Another salient feature of this section is that in addition to four major bridges, there will be two flyovers or grade separators at Baldevnagar and Zirakpur. The widened and strengthened road would have wayside amenities in the form of two lay-bys, one on Haryana-Punjab Border and other at Sadopur, and 16 bus bays.

Under NHDP-Phase III A, 15 projects worth Rs 4,520 crores covering a length of 929 km have been awarded so far.



Enthusiasm marks ISKCON yatra
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, November 19
A large number of devotees poured in from various parts of India and abroad on the first day of the Lord Jagannath rath yatra in Chandigarh today. The local chapter of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) organised a Lord Jagannath rath yatra in Chandigarh and Panchkula with enthusiasm and devotion in which thousands of ISKCON devotees from India and abroad participated. The local unit of ISKCON holds rath yatra with the Vrindavan festival, towards the end of the month of Kartika.

Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Devi Subhadra arrived on the rath in Sector 22 at 12 noon. Aarti was performed by citizens and dignitaries of the ‘City Beautiful’.

Earlier, the yatra started at 1 pm. from Piccadily Hotel, Sector 22. A number of sanyasis started sweeping the road with golden brooms while other devotees started pulling the chariot carrying the deities and Srila Prabhupada - the founder acharya of ISKCON. Local people who had turned out in a large number, also joined the devotees in pulling the chariot and in chanting and dancing before the rath. The steel rath with telescopic multi layer canopy to adjust the height had been tastefully decorated.

While a large number of devotees were pulling the chariot, another group of devotees was busy in sankirtan and dancing to the tune of Mridanga and kartal before the chariot. Girls dressed in pristine white sparkled many volunteers of ISKCON were seen distributing small packets of prasad. The rath yatra passed through Sectors 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and culminated at Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36-B, Chandigarh at 7 p.m. Food was distributed among those present in the evening after the conclusion of the yatra. Kumari Selja, Union Minister of State for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation was the chief guest at the inaugural fuction. Mr Venod Sharma, Excise Minister, Haryana, was the guest of honour.

On November 20, the yatra will begin at 12 noon from NAC market, Manimajra and pass through Sector 7, 7-8, 8-17, 9-16, 10 and 10-15 before culminating at Shiv Mandir, Sector 9, Panchkula at 7 p.m, followed by Krishna prasadam.



Brahmakumaris hold procession
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 19
As part of the World Peace Festival, the local unit of the Prajapita Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyala, Sector 33, today organised a big procession which passed through various parts of the city. This was held on eve of festival to be held on November 20 at mela ground, Sector 34 from 12 noon to 4 pm. In this national festival, thousands of people are expected to attend. According to Brahma Kumari Achal, zonal chief, Dadiji will bless the people.



CFSL scientist gets award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Dr Sanjeev, a scientist at the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL), Sector 36, has been awarded the prestigious Union Home Minister’s Award for Forensic Sciences for his contribution in the field of `Forensic Biological Science’.

In the absence of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Dr Sanjeev received the award from Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh at the 17th All-India Forensic Conference held at Raipur. The award, regarded as the highest government honour in the ever evolving field of forensic sciences is presented in four categories, including physical, chemical, biological and documents science.

Dr Sanjiv, who also heads the department and is an expert in computerised facial reconstruction and super imposition, said he owed the award to the CFSL for its facilities and Dr RS Verma, for his guidance. He added that the importance of forensic sciences was increasing exponentially and he would try to help the society with his learning.



NAC at Nayagaon soon, assures Kang
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 19
The Punjab Government is taking steps to set up NAC at Nayagaon village, bordering Chandigarh. This assurance was given by Punjab Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Dairy Development and Tourism Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang to people at Nayagaon yesterday. He was here to attend a meeting to discuss and review the progress of development works in Morinda Assembly constituency and to listen to public grievances.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S. Grewal, ADC (Development), Mr Parkash Singh, SDM, Kharar, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, SDM, Ropar, Mr J.C. Sabharwal, DTO, Mr Rajiv Gupta, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Mr Lakhmir Singh and district officers of different departments were present at the meeting.

Mr Kang said the Finance Minister, Punjab, had assured a grant of Rs 50 crore for development of infrastructure here after NAC comes into being.



Discrimination against SCs: most complaints from AP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Maximum complaints pertaining to discrimination against Scheduled Castes are being received from Andhra Pradesh, according to Mr Suraj Bhan, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes. He was in the city today to preside over the valedictory function of a refresher programme, organised by the Punjab and Sind Bank for its promotee officers of SC/ST cadre.

He said at present the Commission was receiving as many as 100 complaints daily, mostly regarding grievances of government employees and the discrimination meted out to them at the time of transfers and promotions. Talking about the steps that were being taken to streamline the functioning of the Commission, he said the state governments had been directed to submit the action taken report on an affadavit within a month of the recommendation made by the Commission.

Mr Bhan said while the state governments had been put on an alert, the Commission would also be doing regular follow-ups at their own end. As many as 45,000 complaints were received from across the country last year.

During his visit, he addressed 40 -odd promotee officers who were imparted training at the bank’s training college following their promotions to the officer cadre. He lauded the efforts of the bank in planning the careers of SC/ST employees by providing them the required training and know-how. He called upon the officers to give good performance by meeting the set targets in their new assigments and live up to the expectations of the organisation. The CMD of the bank, Mr R.P Singh, said all SC/ST employees who were eligible for promotion had been promoted. The freshly trained officers of scale- I will be given their new place of postings shortly. 



Cops pick up two women, 3 girls from Sohana
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 19
Two women and three girls were allegedly picked up illegally from Sohana by personnel suspected to be from the Ropar district police early this morning.

It is reported that the women belong to the family of the in laws of Pritpal Singh, who is wanted by the police in connection with a case of murder registered at Ropar. Two of the girls, Ravneet and Sukhmani, were reported to be the daughters of Pritpal Singh and were staying with their grandmother.

Although the Sohana police said it had no information about the incident, neighbours said the personnel, who were reportedly in uniform, arrived in two Gypsy vehicles at the house of the in-laws of Pritpal Singh around 5.30 a.m. There was no male member of the family in the house. The personnel allegedly bundled the two women and three girls into the vehicles and drove off.

Neighbours gathered after the women raised the alarm, but the police acted swiftly and left.

Villagers identified one woman as Ms Mohinder Kaur (70) and the other as her daughter, Ms Sukhwant Kaur. They said the police had come to Ms Mohinder Kaur’s house earlier too. She had urged the police not to harass members of the family, who had nothing to do with the murder case.

One of the girls, Damini, who was a daughter of a neighbour, and the youngest girl in the family, Sukhmani (8) were let off later in the day. Damini and Ravneet were clsssmates and the former had stayed in house for the night to study.

The SHO (Sadar), Ropar, Mr Birinder Singh, said Karnail Singh of Morinda had died after consuming a poisonous substance. In his dying declaration he had accused Pritpal Singh of having given him poison. He denied that the Ropar police had picked up anyone in connection with the case from Sohana.



Man dies in accident
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 19
A 27-year-old man was killed and his daughter was injured when their scooter (HR-03C-0365) was hit by a truck near Ramgarh today. The man, Shiv Kumar, was coming back with his four-year-old daughter, after having dropped his wife and son at Ramgarh. The police rushed the victims to hospital, where Shiv Kumar was declared brought dead.

Arrested: The Pinjore police arrested Jarnail Singh last night and recovered 13 kg of poppy husk from him. He was caught by the police at a naka, when he was ferrying the poppy husk in his truck.

Thief arrested: The Panchkula police arrested a person, Rakesh Kumar, on the charge of theft. He was produced in a local court and later remanded to police custody.


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