C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


It’s gachak, rewri all around
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
It comes as a first indicator of the winter chill beginning to thaw. Lohri is the time when people enjoy a chilly winter night in the warmth of a bonfire and shopkeepers make the most of it by doing brisk business.

While the city readies to warm tomorrow’s night with a Lohri fire, markets are all decked up to lure shoppers.

Lohri is based on the solar year. For the religiously inclined, it is held to worship fire while geographically, it’s that time of the year when the earth starts its journey towards sun along its elliptical orbit, heralding the outset of spring. This transition is celebrated as Lohri in northern India, Makara Sankranti in the central part of the country and as Pongal-Sankranti in South India.

The day is celebrated as Ganga-Sagara in West Bengal. According to a belief, the Hindus purge their sins by bathing in the Ganga. A fair is also held on Sagara Island, 64 km from Diamond harbour, where the Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal.

Heaps of groundnut and packets of “gachak” and “rewri” — they dot every sector market, adorn shelves of big shops and lie piled up in roadside tents.

On the eve of Lohri, city residents today made a beeline for these Lohri specialities, a must-have while sitting around bonfires.

It’s variety galore that rules the shelves when it comes to sweets. Though “gachak” and “rewri” remain unchanged in their basic essence and ingredients, it’s a dash of flavour here and a pinch of flavour there that has brought about a choice revolution.

And, interestingly, it’s all coming from different quarters of the region, each a speciality.

Starting from Rs 35 a kg with a roadside vendor, the superior groundnut variety is available for up to Rs 50 a kg. The sweets, “gachak” and “rewri” in jaggery and sugar, too, are available from Rs 25 per 400 gm, going up to Rs 40 for the same quantity.

The Rajasthani “moogphala”, nearly double the size of the common groundnut, available at Peshawari’s, Sector 19, is priced at Rs 30 per 400 gm.

Then, there’s Meerut’s “rewri” made in desi ghee in cardamom flavour, a “khasta kaju” roll stuffed with dry fruit, Rohtak’s famous “gachak” in pista and cardamom flavour and a “patti” (flat “gachak”) that simply melts in the mouth.

Patiala’s khasta gur gachak, special groundnut “patti” and “marror, gachak” in the shape of a knot are all available at high-end shops in the city.

Dry fruit “chikki” of Lonavla and Mumbai, desi ghee “khasta chikki”, Agra’s dry fruit stuffed “gachak” in small slices with chocolate, mango, cardamom and coconut flavours are available for people looking at celebrating Lohri with a difference.

While all these specialities have added an absolutely new flavour to the celebrations, the traditional variety of “gachak” and “rewri” are selling like hot cakes. The Sector 22 market in particular has been doing brisk business and attracting a lot of customers.

“Though the cold wave has given way to bright sunshine during the day and temperature has risen, it has had a little bearing on the sales this season, which have been reasonably good. However, the way the month kicked off on a chilly note, we were expecting a lot more business than now,” a shopkeeper said.

The grain market in Sector 26, too, had loads of specialities. Heaps of groundnut, “rewri” and “gachak” occupied every vacant place, though business picked up around afternoon only.

In Sector 20, a whole market of goodies had mushroomed by noon while Lohri fare seemed to have taken over all of the Sector 34 market.



Lohri greetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), extending greetings and good wishes on Lohri, called upon people to launch a crusade against female foeticide and generate awareness for the empowerment of the girl child.



Constable’s widow moves High Court
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, January 12
Accusing the Chandigarh Police of shielding those behind the death of Constable Manmohan Singh whose body was found lying in the Police Headquarters on September 3, the victim’s family has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek justice.

Demanding a CBI probe into the matter, the family alleged that even though they had taken up the issue with senior police officers and had named certain members of the CIA staff, who were harassing Manmohan Singh, the police failed to proceed against them.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Ms Paramjit Kaur, widow of Manmohan Singh, and his sister Bhupinder Kaur said, “We have approached the top brass as well as lower-level officers of the Chandigarh Police, but our pleas failed to move them. Fed up with the callous attitude of the local police, we moved the high court to seek justice.”

Ms Bhupinder Kaur came from Canada after the death of her brother and has vowed not to go back till the family gets justice and the guilty are brought to book.

She alleged that the police was trying to hush up the matter in an effort to apparently shield its officers. Adding to this, Ms Paramjit Kaur said Manmohan Singh received two calls on his mobile phone at 12.13 pm and 12.15 pm. She has learnt that Manmohan got disturbed after receiving the calls, but the cops were apparently unwilling to trace the source of the calls from the CIA.

Ms Paramjit Kaur insisted that the nature of injuries found on the body suggested that her husband did not fall from the top floor of the Police Headquarters, as it was alleged. She maintained that after falling from such a height, the body of her husband would have burst with the impact of the fall. On the other hand he broke the thigh bone of his right leg. She alleged that the police was avoiding going into details.

Ms Paramjit Kaur alleged there was a threat to the lives of her children and family from those involved in the matter. She said she lived alone with her aged father-in-law and two children.

She told Chandigarh Tribune that they had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek justice apprehending that it was not a suicide but a murder case. She demanded a CBI probe into the matter. She said they had sought action against a Sub-Inspector of the Chandigarh Police, besides four other police officers.

The Station House Officer of the Sector 3 police station said the matter was under investigation and denied the allegation of the police acting in a biased manner. He added that the post-mortem report had been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and the report was awaited. He added that the viscera report was also awaited and the police had sent a reminder recently to the department concerned. 



Centre assures Rodrigues on early SEZ letter
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Chandigarh Administration has sought immediate intervention of the Union Government asking it to direct the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to ‘issue a letter acknowledging the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ)” as is required under the Customs Act after the notification of a SEZ status by the Ministry of Commerce (MoC). Union Territory Administrator, Gen. S.F. Rodrigues (retd), it is learnt, has been assured that the said letter pertaining to the Chandigarh IT SEZ would be issued by the MoF soon.

General Rodrigues, according to senior UT officials, took up the matter with the Union Government and appraised it about the difficulties being faced by IT companies wishing to start operations in the city’s IT Park inaugurated by Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh last year.

“We are hoping that the MoF will release the letter for custom duty exemption for the Chandigarh Technology Park, SEZ sometime next week”, an official said.

He said the notification declaring RGCTP was done in September last year and it was later announced in Parliament and by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during the inauguration ceremony of the technology park.

But the letter that enables companies to seek custom duty benefits etc has not been issued by the MoF for want of “a uniform policy on SEZs across the country. MoF officials have proposed to the Union Government to form a policy that is applicable to all such economic zones across the nation”.

It may be mentioned that information technology giant, Infosys, has come out openly, complaining about the losses the company is suffering on account of delay in starting operations at the RGCTP due to delay in issuing of this letter that will enable to save import duties worth crores.

Infosys says it has recruited personnel for their Chandigarh venture, almost completed the building, but is waiting to import equipment at confessional rates after the IT hub here is notified as a SEZ.

The company had initially proposed to start work in November last year, but is now hoping to commence work in Chandigarh sometimes in April, 2006.

The company has been allotted 20 acres of land in the technology park, where it proposes to employ 1000 people immediately and go up to 3500 later.

Till the centre at the technology park becomes operational, Infosys has announced that it will continue to work out of Mohali.

The Union Government had approved the SEZ status for the RGCTP in September last year, immediately after which the park was inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

But the letter announcing the notification and spelling out the concessions that follow has been pending with the Ministry of Finance, the Department of Revenue and is required to be cleared under the Customs Act as envisaged in the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 passed by Parliament in May last year. The Act aims at establishment, development and management of the Special Economic Zones for the promotion of exports.

Chandigarh received the first SEZ to be set up in the IT sector in the country after the enactment of the Special Economic Zones Bill, 2005 last year.



Lucky draw: contractor to get car
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Business Promotion Council (BPC) today asked the original claimant of the Tata Indigo car, which was announced as a lucky prize in the Sector 17 Shop Fest-2005, to take its delivery after furnishing the necessary documents.

After holding a meeting the members of the BPC today announced the decision. Mr Neeraj of Sindhi Sweets, who is a member of the BPC’s governing council, said as per the terms and conditions of the contest the prize would be given to the holder of the coupon.

The decision comes following the original claimant, Mr Devinder Singh, who is a parking contractor of the area, complaining to the SSP, Chandigarh, that the delivery of the vehicle was not being given by the BPC, allegedly at the behest of a Sub-Inspector of the Chandigarh Police.

Mr Neeraj stated that the vehicle could not be delivered as two claimants could not reach a compromise on the issue. The information about the decision has also been conveyed to the Sub-Inspector.

Even as the BPC today claimed to have solved the controversy over the genuine claimant of the car, inquiries reveal that a controversy was waiting to happen due to certain flaws in the conduct of draw.

As per the agreement between the shopkeepers and the BPC, unsold coupons were to be retuned to the BPC but this was not done. The shopkeeper concerned was free to dispose of the coupons in the manner he wanted. There was no check on the shopkeepers so that they do not give complimentary coupons.

It may be mentioned that yesterday’s controversy was the outcome of a shopkeeper giving complimentary coupons to the SI. The booklet containing the series of the coupon had been issued in the name of Kapsons, the contractor had alleged in his complaint

Besides, the BPC or the participating shopkeepers did not ensure that the entire details like cash memo number and date and particulars of sale were mentioned on the coupon and the cash memo issued to a customer.

Mr Surinder Bhardwaj, president of the All-India Consumer Protection Council, said it was a serious issue and amounted to unfair trade practices. He said he was a inquiring into the matter and would take up the issue with the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.



Phones were never tapped: Telecom Dept
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 12
The Chandigarh Police got a shot in the arm today with the Chandigarh Telecommunication Department saying that the six telephone numbers alleged to be tapped by the local police were never put under surveillance. The Chandigarh Police had earlier termed the letter as “forged” and had registered a case of forgery and criminal conspiracy in this connection.

Confirming the development, sources in the Crime Branch said the Telecommunication Department had in a letter made it clear that they had never put the six telephone numbers under observation. Earlier also the department had made it clear to the local police that the letter was not issued by it or by any of its branch.

It may be recalled that according to the letter the Telecom Department had sought Rs 13,000 from the local police for tapping telephones of Mr M.M.S. Bedi, a Sessions Judge, Mr Tejwinder Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, Mr Arvind Thakur, general secretary and Mr Navkiran Singh and Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan.



Bar Council chief condemns use of fake letter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, Chairman, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, today strongly condemned the alleged use of a fake letter of the Telecom Department in an attempt to implicate “some big people” in a case of phone tapping of some judicial officers and lawyers.

Urging the Chandigarh Police to hold a probe into the alleged involvement of some lawyers in the attempt, Mr Dhanda said the UT Administration must take immediate steps to ensure that such disturbing trends were checked.

“When names of lawyers appear in such a way, it is all the more disturbing and tends to lower the image of the Bar and gives the opportunity to others to point fingers at the lawyer community,” a statement quoting by Mr Dhanda said.



Grandson remembers memorable moments with the Mahatma
Payal Pruthi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
A great person possesses an inimitable something that's hard to define but easy to recognise, a quality that in many ways is larger than life.

Humbled by the very fact of being Mahatma Gandhi's grandson to being equally proud of this status, Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi at the age of 72, is still in awe of the person whom the world called `Bapu'.

On his maiden visit to Chandigarh, Arun Gandhi, the man anchoring our past with the present, fondly remembered Mahatma Gandhi as a loving and caring grandfather with whom were spent some of the most memorable moments of his life. With a calm and composure to reckon with, the grandson with little difficulty shared the fact how despite his repeated efforts to ensure that the letters written by Mahatma Gandhi to his father Manilal Gandhi should remain with India, the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, had just one line to write to him `We are not interested in your project''.

Resultantly the letters were sold at an auction abroad and $56,000 were fetched to start the MK Gandhi Institute for Non-violence.

Tiding over indifferent attitudes in Bapu's own country, Arun Gandhi very frequently and unmistakingly quoted his grandfather on this. ``The people of India will accept my philosophy only when it comes in a western packaging,'' said Arun Gandhi as he quoted his grandfather. While the respect for this great man is tremendous in the US with over 200 universities having a Gandhian programme, back in India the need for such institutions remains, opined the grandson.

On being questioned about his grandmother Kasturba Gandhi and the book authored by him on her, the grandson despite being turned down by the publishers in India was determined to get it published and eventually succeeded in doing so again in a foreign country. ``Lot had been said and written about Mahatma Gandhi but I wanted to write about Kasturba and was able to do so only through interviewing people,'' shared Arun Gandhi. The book was , however, later printed by two publishers in India.

While the grandson continues with his tours and lectures on non-violence, ask him on whether he has ever been in contradiction with any of the Gandhian philosophy and the man little broodingly tells that a particular philosophy has to be vibrant, living and should continuously evolve and this is where his efforts to evolve Bapu's philosophies come into play so that they don't turn into dogma.

Hopeful of the fact that grassroots level work is being done as far as Gandhian philosophy is concerned, the grandson who by abiding by the Bapu's request to stay away from politics just wished with folded hands that one must become the change he/she wishes to see in the world.



It’s kinnow everywhere
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 12
It is boom time for the kinnow sellers along the Zirakpur-Ambala and the Zirakpur-Kalka highways.

A bumper crop in the Abohar-Fazilka area, popularly known as the “kinnow bowl” of Punjab, has brought smiles on the faces of the kinnow sellers along both highways. In fact, the bumper crop, coupled with bright sunshine these days has given a fillip to the business, informed Somnath, a kinnow seller.

For the kinnow sellers, a majority of which hail from the nearby villages, it is part-time business with the season extending from December to April every year.

With thousands of cars and the two-wheelers passing through these highways daily, they have a varied clientele. The rates are negotiable between Rs 70 to Rs 80 per 5 kg. However, on bulk supplies the rates could be negotiated the maximum, confided a kinnow seller, who has been in the trade for over 15 years now.

And a majority of them have installed machines for extracting juice, which seem to be a favourite with passersby.



Noisy scenes at MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, January 12
The much-awaited meeting of the local municipal committee held under the chairmanship of Mr Tarun Bhandari, president, commenced on a discordant note. As the seven-point agenda listed for seeking approval of House came in for discussion, many councillors, rising above party affiliations, demanded completion of projects duly approved by the House.

As many 25 councillors attended the meeting.

Mr Randhir Badhran (Congress) and Mr Randhir Malik (INLD), lamenting the inefficient working of the committee, supported the appointment of an administrator. Mr R.K. Kakkar (Congress), Mr V.K. Sood and Mr C.B. Goel (BJP), Mr V.K. Kapoor and Mr Pawan Mittal, along with other members, aired their views.

Meanwhile, Mr Ravi Rawal, secretary, Haryana state Congress Committee, claimed that since the president had lost majority in the House, he had no right to continue in office. Mr Ravi claimed the unconditional support of 20 councillors.



Foundation day celebrated

Chandigarh, January 12
The Chandigarh Management Association (CMA) is celebrating its 39th Foundation Day on Saturday at the CII Convention Centre, Sector 31, Chandigarh. The theme is “Ethics in Business”. The event has been sponsored by Airtel.

Dr A.R. Kidwai, Governor, Haryana, will be the chief guest. Mr A.J. Philip, Senior Editor, The Tribune, will deliver the keynote address on “Media and Business Ethics”.

Mr B.M. Gulati, president, Chandigarh Management Association, said the CMA was affiliated to the All-India Management Association. — TNS



Plan to shift Kumhar Colony residents to new sites
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
A drive to shift occupants of Kumhar and Janta Colony, Sector 25, to an adjoining site is on the cards. The land is being evacuated for the proposed dental college of Panjab University.

The Administration has decided to speed up the process of evacuating the jhugggi dwellers following pressure from the university authorities. Around 20 acres would be got vacated, said sources in the Administration.

Most of the slum dwellers would be shifted to the rehabilitation colony adjoining the existing site. For skilled workers, alternative sites at the craft centre in Maloya have been proposed.

To work out the strategy, a meeting of the officials of Municipal Corporation and the Estate Office was today chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.K.Rao. The drive would be carried out in a phased manner.

The sources said initially 1200 EWS plots had been earmarked for the jhuggi dwellers, but later it was increased to 3,000. There were few takers as the condition of being a resident of the city prior to 1996 was a major hindrance.

The sources did not rule out the possibility of relaxation in the condition.



IT consultant Rikhy dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Mr Surjit Singh Rikhy (72), a noted income tax consultant, died here today following a prolonged illness.

Mr Rikhy was a partner of Mr Chaman Lal Sharma, a former president of the Chandigarh Club. The cremation will take place tomorrow at 1 pm at the Sector 25 cremation ground.



One held for using fake bank draft
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 12
The police arrested a Ropar resident on the allegations of duping a Kanpur-based bank by producing a fake bank draft. In a separate incident, a Kajheri resident was arrested on the charges of carrying 500 gm of ganja. Elsewhere, four persons were taken in custody for consuming liquor at a public place and one was held for indulging in gambling.

Mr Rajesh Khosla of Sector 16 lodged a complaint against Shiv Kumar of Banshia village in Ropar district alleging that the accused, along with Surinder Kumar and Anshu Rani, had withdrawn Rs 20,000 from Bank of Baroda in Kanpur by preparing a fake bank draft from Chandigarh.

The police has registered a case of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy and arrested the accused.

Ganja seized
The Crime Branch of the UT Police arrested Monto Singh of Kajheri village from near Sector 22 for allegedly carrying 500 gm of ganja on Wednesday. A case under Section 20 of the NDPS Act has been registered.

Five arrested
The police arrested Sukhwinder Singh, Dinesh Kumar, Gawa, Rakesh Kumar and Anil Kumar from Sector 26 market on Wednesday for allegedly consuming liquor at a public place. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.

Gambler held
The police has arrested Raj Kumar of Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, for gambling at a public place. The police recovered Rs 410 from his possession. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered.



Eve-teasers face police wrath
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 12
Some youngsters who indulged in eve-teasing had to face police wrath in Phase III B 1 here today.

It is alleged that a few youngsters were beaten up while others were threatened by police personnel who visited the area near Government Senior Secondary School.

It is reported that a girl of the school was being harassed by a youngster over the past three days.

The girl made a complaint to the police personnel who happened to be there at that time. The boy was allegedly rounded up and later beaten up.


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