C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


 

Blow to liquor cartel; Admin allots vends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Testing new grounds in the lucrative liquor trade, the Chandigarh Administration “broke” the monopoly of the liquor cartel which has been “dictating” the prices of liquor in the current financial year.

This means the prices of various brands of liquor would fall by 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Breaking away from the traditional method of auctioning liquor vends, the Administration today managed to allot around 60 per cent of the total vends, both of IMFL and country liquor, thereby netting a around Rs 40 crore.

Comparative figures of the revenue earned through auction from 1993-94 to 2005-06
Year  Rs in cr

2005-06

83.09

2004-05

73.77

2003-04

67.17

2002-03

63.30

2001-02

59.22

2000-01

58.68

1999-2000

54.34

1998-99

51.24

1997-98

54.58

1996-97

44.99

1995-96

37.07

1994-95

35.16

1993-94

30.22

The exact amount would be known by tomorrow as the successful applicants are required to deposit the licence fee within 24 hours of allotment, said Mr I.S. Sandhu, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, who was the presided over the draw of lots.

For the remaining liquor vends which attracted no application, the Administration has decided to invite fresh applications and hold the second draw of lots by March 21.

Despite the fair process of allotment, the syndicate backed by liquor baron Ponty Chadha still managed to get at least 35 per cent of the vends.

It appeared that in some cases, luck was on their side. For the liquor vend in Colony No 5, there were 31 applications and still members of the syndicate were successful. Mr Inderpreet Singh Chadha, who represented the Chadha Group of Companies, told the Tribune that members of their syndicate had applied through 24 companies. “We have managed to get a major share of the liquor vends in the rural areas as there were fewer applications. The new policy is full of errors and will cause revenue loss to the state exchequer”, he added.

Mr Naresh Garg, who was allotted a liquor vend each in Sectors 37 and 45, said the new system would enable new and small players to enter the business.

Mr Rajesh Kalia of Cold Rib Steel Pvt Ltd, Mandi Gobindgarh, said the Administration should have preferred local people.

A new player on the city’s liquor scene, Dhillon Kool Drinks, managed to get a vend along the Madhya Marg in Sector 8.

UT’s worry far from over

The rejoicing over the “breaking” of the monopoly by a liquor cartel might be shortlived if the relief offered to liquor contractors and Bacchus lovers by Haryana is taken into account. In wake of the approaching general Assembly elections, Punjab is also expected to follow populist measures.

Sources in the Administration said the aim was to ensure that the landing price of different brands of liquor in the city remained on a par with the prices in Punjab and Haryana.

The Administration hopes that it will earn around Rs 100 crore by the end of this year through increased volumes and more excise fee but to check smuggling, the excise duty and VAT would have to be lowered.

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Policy flawed, says Inderpreet Chadha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Director of Chadha Group, Mr Inderpreet Singh Chadha, who represented the liquor syndicate which has been ruling the city’s liquor scene in the current financial year, was not happy with the draw of lots today.

Mr Chadha, who is the brother-in-law of liquor baron Ponty Chadha, said the UT excise policy was of flawed and would result in revenue loss to the state. The Administration was encouraging consumption of liquor by increasing the vends and thus expecting more consumption of liquor. He claimed that by reducing the excise and VAT, the Administration would further lose revenue.

Others of the syndicate present at the draw were Mr A.S. Dhillon, MLA from Sangrur, Mr Manjinder Singh, Mr Pawan Singla and Mr A. Wadia. 

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ASI caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 8
The CBI sleuths today caught another assistant sub-inspector (ASI) posted at the Sector 31 police station while accepting Rs 3,000 as bribe.

The sources in the CBI said ASI Kaka Singh Dhillon was nabbed by the sleuths from the compound of the Sector 31 police station this morning. The raid was conducted after a complaint was filed by Karam Singh, a Mumbai resident, that the ASI had demanded Rs 5,000 or threatened implication in a case.

The sleuths handed over marked currency notes to the ASI near the gate of the police station. The ASI accepted the money and after realising the fact that he was caught by the CBI tried to throw the money, but was stopped from doing so by officials in the presence of an independent witness.

Mr Karam Singh, the complainant, told mediapersons that he was involved in a dispute at Faidan village some time ago. The police had booked both parties in the case. He alleged that the ASI had been demanding money to avoid harassment. He added that he had already paid Rs 5,000 to the ASI, but the latter demanded more money following which he reported the matter to the police.

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Rs 300-crore bonanza for Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 8
The Punjab Government has set aside more than Rs 300 crore for the development of Mohali. Various development agencies of the state have been allocated specific amounts for undertaking various activities in the proposed new district. This was announced by the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, during a press conference here today.

While Rs 100 crore would be used by the Punjab Mandi Board for setting up a state-of-the-art fruit, vegetable and flower market in phase 11, Rs 200 crore would be distributed among PUDA, PSIEC and the municipal council to carry out development.

Money would also be allocated for the development of villages falling within the new district whose land had been acquired by the Punjab Government.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said Rs 50 crore had been allocated for the development of Mohali as a super-economic corridor. A sum of Rs 25 crore would be spent on providing sewerage facilities and another Rs 60 crore would be spent on Phase V of the Kajauli water works. He said Rs 50 crore had been set aside for the construction of an ultra-modern bus stand.

At least Rs 2.5 crore had been allocated for the relocation of jhuggis and Rs 7.2 crore would be spent on the repair of roads and construction of new ones. A sum of Rs 1.5 crore had been earmarked for the completion of the spinal injuries centre and another Rs 4 crore for the development of villages in the district.

He pointed out that with the commissioning of the 220 KV power grid in Mohali, the city and its nearby areas would be power cut-free zones. He said Rs 25 crore would be spent on the upgradation of the Civil Hospital and Government College Mohali.

The process for the formation of the district had been started. “District officers are being appointed and land revenue records, pension records etc are being sorted out in Patiala and Ropar. The district would be formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on April 14,” he added.

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Punjab, Haryana protest to Centre
Sale of illegal Bt cotton seed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra have joined hands to stop the sale of illegal Bt cotton seed as also the sale of spurious Bt cotton seed from Gujarat.

The issue of the sale of such seed came up at a meeting called by the Union Ministry of Agriculture in Delhi this morning. All the three states requested the Union Agriculture Secretary, Ms Radha Singh, to direct the Gujarat authorities to stop the sale of spurious and illegal seed of Bt cotton. Sources said that the Director, Agriculture, Gujarat, who was also present at the meeting, was told by the Secretary to deal strictly with elements engaged in the sale of spurious and illegal Bt cotton seed to their agents in Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra.

Ms Radha Singh had convened the meeting to discuss various issues related to Bt cotton. There is a big market of spurious and illegal Bt cotton seed in Punjab and Haryana as it is made available at a relatively low price to farmers by those engaged in this business. There are certain agents based in Rama Mandi and Maur Mandi in Punjab and Sirsa and Fatehbad in Haryana who are engaged in the sale of spurious and illegal seed, say senior officers of the Agricultural Departments of both states.

Today, officials of the Punjab Agriculture Department and a police party seized huge stock of illegal seed of Bt cotton at Rama Mandi in Bathinda district. The illegal and spurious seed is procured at a rate varying between Rs 250 and Rs 500 per packet weighing 450 gram by agents in Punjab and Haryana. They further sell it in the cotton belt of both states for Rs 900 per packet. One packet of 450 gram is enough for sowing cotton in one acre.

However, the Bt cotton seed through legal channel is made available at Rs 1,650 per packet.

Asked about checking the sale of illegal and spurious seed in Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, said that flying squads had been set up to check the sale of such seed.

All District Chief Agriculture Officers in the cotton belt had been told that they would be responsible in case report of illegal seed was received from any part of the cotton belt in Punjab area. Last year, as many as 12 cases regarding the sale of illegal seed were registered and huge stock of seed were seized.

Meanwhile, Punjab and Haryana Governments have put up pressure on the companies engaged in the sale of Bt cotton through legal channel to reduce its price. Both governments are insisting that the rate of Bt seed should be brought down to Rs 900 per packet.

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Tribune employees donate blood
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Lauding the efforts of The Tribune Employees Union for being active supporters of the voluntary blood donation movement, Dr Saudamini Bambah, one of the luminaries of the blood donation movement in the city, said that 60 per cent of the blood in the city came from voluntary donation.

Speaking after inaugurating a blood donation camp held to mark International Women's Day at The Tribune premises, here today, she added, ‘‘There is a blood donation camp held in the city every day. However, 40 per cent still comes from replacement donors. We need to take voluntary donations up to 100 per cent.’’

Dr Bambah stated that there was a need to create awareness about Thalassaemia and that the PGI had agreed to conduct a test for the same at a nominal cost. ‘‘We match horoscopes of a couple before marriage. We should match blood as well to ensure it doesn’t end up in the birth of a Thalassaemic child since a Thalassaemic minor couple will have a Thalassaemic major child needing blood transfusion all through his life,’’ she explained.

As many as 100 Tribune employees, including 15 women, donated blood at the camp conducted by Dr Ravneet Kaur and Dr Paramjit kaur of the Department of Immunohaemotology and Blood Transfusion, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

The Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Mr H.K. Dua, emphasised, ‘‘This is one of the constructive things the union is doing. Since 40 per cent blood still comes through replacements, that's where the role of the Union comes in. They must go out and hold camps at selected places. This will further strengthen the blood donation movement.’’

The General Manager, Mr Sanjay Hazari, maintained, "Blood is a source of life. I am glad we are doing our bit for the cause of voluntary donation. The union should organise workshops to educate people on the various aspects of health and the blood donation movement.’’

The President of the Union, Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu, said that by holding the camp on International Women's Day the Union had expressed its solidarity with the cause of women who were still being discriminated against in various fields.

Others who visited the camp included Mr O.P. Arora, Additional General Manager, Mr Naresh Kaushal, Editor, Dainik Tribune, and Mr Shingara Singh Bhullar, Editor, Punjabi Tribune.

Those who have donated blood over 15 times included Mr Rajan Raikhy (36), Mr S.S. Pathania and Mr Raj Kumar Sharma (32), Mr Ashok Kumar (30), Mr Raj Kumar (28), Mr Surinder Singh (25), Mr Sukhwinder Singh (22), Mr Gurmukh Singh, Mr Bhajan Singh and Mr Vijay Saini (20), Mr Varinder Singh (17), Mr Subhash Chand Chauhan and Mr Rajesh Gupta (15). 

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2 Corps poised for operations in plains
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ambala, March 8
About 35 years after it was raised, the Army's most powerful strike formation, 2 Corps, is poised for a re-orientation of its operational role. From its earlier focus on launching offensives in the desert, it would now be concentrating on operations in the plains.

In the Indo-Pak context, operations in the plains and the deserts are significantly different in terms of tactics, logistics and obstacles. While the desert offers an open area, operations in the plains are characterised by a series of natural and man-made obstacles like canals, rivers, ditch-cum-bunds and minefields, as well as operations in semi-urban and urban areas.

Captain injured in blast

An army captain was injured in a blast during a training exercise at the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan today. According to sources, the officer has lost the thumb and index finger of his right hand. The exact reason for the blast could not be ascertained.

To validate its operational concepts and doctrine n the backdrop of its changed role, a massive exercise is scheduled to begin next month. The exercise, according to sources, would be held over a vast area encompassing tracts of Punjab as well as Rajasthan.

This is for the sixth time in its history that the corps is being mobilised for field exercises. Officers said almost all units of 2 Corps would be involved in the exercise. Units have already stated to move to their designated areas. It is almost after a decade that 2 corps is holding an exercise of this level.

The corps, often referred to the army's sword arm, was raised during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and its headquarters was initially located in the East sector. However, following a threat of a Pakistani strike along the Fazilka-Anupgarh axis just a couple of days before Pakistan surrendered, the headquarters was moved to Punjab. Several formations already deployed in that area were brought under its command and since then 2 Corps has primarily focused on offensives in the desert.

"Ostensibly, 2 Corps' responsibility is now operations in plains, but it does not limit its deployment elsewhere. Being a strike corps, it can be moved anywhere anytime depending on operational requirements," an officer remarked. "The fact that the exercise is spread over plains and the deserts indicates this," he added.

The change in the role emanates from the restructuring of the command structure the Army putting in place its new "Cold Start" doctrine in the post-Operation Parakram era. The formation of the south west command and the raising of 9 Corps mandated the redefinition of the Army's order of battle and consequent changes in areas of responsibility.

With South Western Command assuming responsibility for operations in part of southern frontier, the Southern Command is increasing focus on maritime and amphibious operations. The command is now understood to be raising three amphibious brigades for the purpose.

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Book on Sikh Light Infantry released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
To present a pictorial exposition of its history the Sikh Light Infantry (LI) has bought out a glossy coffee table book. Titled "Soldering with Faith" the book aims to provide a succinct picture of what the Sikh LI was, is and looks to be in the years ahead.

The book was released by the Vice- Chief of Army Staff, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, in New Delhi a few days ago. The Vice-Chief is Colonel Commandant of the Bombay Sappers, which has a historic association with the Sikh LI as the regiment traces its origin to the Royal Sikh Pioneers, which were part of the sappers during the 19th century.

Published by the Sikh LI Regimental Centre at Fatehgarh, the book has been edited by Col Harjeet Singh (retd), a regimental officer settled in Chandigarh. According to the editor's note, the book is not a history of the Sikh Light Infantry per se, but an exposition of the regiment in all its facets in peace and war.

The 10-chapter, 200-page book is illustrated with colour as well as monochrome pictures, maps portraits and illustrations, many of which are of historical significance.

Starting off with elucidating upon the spirit of the Sikh LI and its troopers comprising Mazbi and Ramdasia Sikhs, the book traces out the origins of the regiment and details its martial heritage beginning with the capture of Peking during the Chinese campaign in 1860.

Separate chapters, accompanied with pictures, are devoted to campaigns and operations in which the Sikh LI participated as well as to its heroes decorated for gallantry on the battlefield. The book describes in detail, the symbols of the regiment, including the flag, the Colours, crest, motto, the regimental march, uniform and accruements. Regimental institutions, welfare activities, trophies and awards and significant events also find a mention in the book.

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Dr Mishra’s latest book acclaimed
S.D. Sharma

The National Human Rights Commission has selected Dr R.C. Mishra’s, latest book “Manavadhikar Sanrakshan” on conservation of human rights with special reference to the protection of rights of criminals’. In this connection Dr Mishra was honoured at a function at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, by Commission chairman A.R. Savant.

He complimented Dr Mishra for writing this book in Hindi, which is the first of its kind, besides his contribution of 19 books on diverse academic subjects.

A 1989 batch IPS officer, Dr Mishra, presently the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Haryana, is holding a doctorate in environmental science from the University of Allahabad with a galaxy of awards and scholarships.

Dedicated to the social and environmental causes Dr Mishra feels if the ecological balance is not maintained which is under threat from the deforestation, and pollution is not checked the results will be disastrous for the humanity as a whole.

His literary and poetic passion brimmed to recognition way back in 1989 but he was realistic in approach and action. He has a number of books on ecology. His books on “Security in South Asia, Crime Trends and Criminal Justice, Cyber Crime, Terrorism — Implications of Tactics and Technology, Bio Terrorism, Human Rights and Policing and Women in India had been well acclaimed.

Rightfully awarded a “President’s Medal” on Golden Jubilee, Human Rights Millennium award by UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and the Ministry of Home Affairs ‘Gobind Vallabh Pant Award he strikes a balance between his profession and passion. On the rising crime and indiscipline among youth he maintains that we must imbibe the old ethical values and inculcate the ideal principles in the youth. We must not abandon the joint family system which provides social security and mutual love among family members. The youth falling prey to the western culture is a growing concern, feels Dr Mishra which is casting its shadows on the society.

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No threat to Mulayam Govt: Ajit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The President of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Mr Ajit Singh, said here yesterday that there was no immediate threat to the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government in Uttar Pradesh after the Allahabad High Court’s ruling setting aside the split in the BSP 40 rebel MLAs of which support the government.

Talking to newsmen Mr Ajit Singh said Mr Yadav had proved his majority on the floor of the House. However, he added that like all other parties, his party was also concerned over the “big event” and he would soon convene a meeting to discuss it.

The High Court had referred the issue of disqualification of the rebel BSP MLAs back to the Assembly Speaker.

‘’All our MLAs and senior leaders will attend the meeting to devise an appropriate strategy,’’ the former Union Minister said.

Asked whether he was still hopeful on his induction in the UPA government, Mr Ajit Singh said the question was no longer relevant. ‘’I have been asked that question for the last one and a half years.’’ Asked if the RLD was thinking of any realignment before the Assembly elections due next year, he said the elections were still a year away.

Mr Ajit Singh said after the forthcoming Assembly elections in a number of states, the third front might be formed. He said the main hurdle in the formation of the third front was that several parties were pre-occupied with local issues.

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Standing up for women’s rights
Tribune News Service

Members of the Nari Jagriti Manch raise slogans on the occasion of the International Women’s Day in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Wednesday.
Members of the Nari Jagriti Manch raise slogans on the occasion of the International Women’s Day in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh/Mohali/Kharar, March 8
‘Save her today she will save your tomorrow’

‘Heroes of the generation: He-man; Super-man; Wo-man’

Panjab University students lend words to their feelings on International Women’s Day pouring it all out on a colourful collage at the Students’ Centre today.

Organised by members of Dayitva, a social organisation of students of various universities of the north, the “expression drive” started with messages for Jessica Lal. “Jessica Lal needs a Rang de Basanti” said one. “Kiran Bedi, Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla, Barkha Dutt: It’s all about women empowerment. The world luk out for us! Indian women are here to stay” read another.

Nadeem and Faisal from Superior University, Pakistan, wrote: “No nation can progress until and unless it gives women proper and respectful place in society.”

The president of the organisation, Gaurav Sharma, said a woman’s status was equivalent to earth.

Play on women’s issues

Students of Rayat and Bahra College of Education participated in various competitions to mark the day. A debate and poetry recitation competition was held on “Daughter should have right in parental property”. Students also staged a one-act play on women’s issues. The Principal, Dr Indu Rihani, gave her views on the importance of the day. The function was presided over by Ms Bindu Bahl.

Medical camp

An all-woman medical team from Fortis Hospital organised a camp at Bal Bhavan, Mohali, for women. More than 100 women from Mohali and the adjoining areas participated. For most of these women, it was an opportunity to meet and discuss their medical problems with the women doctors.

Organised with the support of the Punjab Social Security and Women and Child Development Cell, the camp offered free consultation for gynaecology and internal medicine and check-up for BP, blood sugar, ECG.

Women achievers felicitated

“Uth meri jaan mere saath hi chalna hai tujhe…” was the flavour at Government College (Sector 11) today. A programme was organised by the Department of Physical Education and Department of Punjabi in collaboration with the women’s cell of the college. Ms Nirmal Milkha Singh was the chief guest. “Without adequate empowerment of women, no society can hope to progress,” the Principal, Mr Pahlad Aggarwal, said.

Women achievers from different fields were felicitated at the function. Ms Oshima Raikhy, Ms J.K.Grewal, Dr Surjit Kaur and Ms Surinder Kaur were honoured for their involvement in social work. Dr Prema Saini, Dr Maninder Dhillon and Dr Sumati Kanwar were honoured for their contribution to sports.

Dr Upinder Mehra, Principal, GCG-11, Dr Inderjit Kaur (GCG-42), Shashi Bala Jain, Principal, Dev Samaj College for Women, were felicitated for their work in the field of education and administration while Punam Sumeet Singh was honoured for her courage in journalism.

The felicitations were followed by recitations by poets Jasbir Kaur, Malkiet Basra, Suridder Ateh Singh and others.

Paper-reading contest

NSS units and women’s cell of Government College, Sector 46, organised a paper-reading contest. Renu Jaswal got the first prize while Ruchi was second and Meena third. The Principal, Dr A.N. Garg, highlighted the historical significance of the day. Ms Hem Nagpal, in charge of the women’s cell, spoke on how to generate an awakening about women’s rights while Ms Harinder Kaur, in charge of the NSS, spoke on the UN Declaration on International Women’s Decade.

Exhibition held

Students of Government College of Education, Sector 20, read papers on various topics related to women empowerment. An exhibition by the Home Science Department was also held. Dr Beantjit Kaur, Principal, stressed on the need to promote equality in society. Those who won the contest include Gurpreet Kaur and Pardeep Kaur.

Showcasing talent

Students of Chandigarh College of Education, Landran, participated in various competitions. Mr Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chairman, and Mr Rashpal Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary of the college, inaugurated an exhibition which showcased the talent of women.

Students involved the women of Landran village and enlightened them about the role of women in the industrialised world.

Get-together at milk plant

The women staff of Verka Milk Plant, Mohali, organised a get-together. Mr Balwinder Singh, General Manager of the plant, said the milk plant was promoting the participation of women in the milkshed area where 77 women societies were working with the plant.

Poster-making competition

A poster-making competition was organised by the New Era ITC, Kharar. Principal Jaswinder Kaur said 20 students of the centre participated. Among those who won include Satinder Kaur, Davinder Kaur and Mandeep Kaur.

Students of New Era ITC participate in a poster-making competition in Kharar.

“Be self-reliant”

The wife of the UT Administrator, Ms Jean Rodrigues, urged women to become self-reliant and be aware of their social and legal rights. Addressing a gathering at a function organised by the UT Social Welfare Department at Bal Bhavan, she said the Administration was committed towards the cause of women empowerment. Ms Amar Kulwant Singh, member of the State Legal Services Authority, apprised the gathering about the benefits of Lok Adalats. Dr Raman Nijhawan, SMO, General Hospital Sector 16, Chandigarh, spoke about the prevention of female foeticide and Ms Sonia Trikha, Project Director, State AIDS Control Society, also spoke.

Cultural programme

A cultural event was organised at Satluj Public School. The function was presided over by the school administration officer, Ms J.K. Serai. A declamation contest was held for teachers who spoke on a variety of issues. Principal Krit Serai said 95 per cent of the work force in the school was female and 60 per cent of the students were girls.

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Calendar on Surajkund mela launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
A riot of colours, a peep into the myriad cultures and ethos of the country, revelry at a traditional fair... the Surajkund Crafts Mela calendar, launched by the Haryana Tourism, showcases the diversity of incredible India.

From the robust Punjabi folk dances to the gusty tribal rhythms; the multi- hued Rajasthani culture through their hand printed handlooms and Kalbelia , to the peek-a boo offered by the artist’s camera on performers, through a small window — the calendar is indeed a collectors item. The photo artists hired by Haryana Tourism have attempted to capture the quintessential shades of the 20th Surajkund Crafts Mela, which was held from February 1 to 15.

The 12-page calendar also displays pictures of Ganapati, Krishna and his divine dance, Maratha machismo and the handicrafts from Chhattisgarh. Since Maharashtra was the theme state in this year’s Surajkund Mela, the calendar captures the dynamic culture of the state through its vibrant dances and bright costumes.

A photo exhibition organised on this occasion at Hotel Taj today showed the other aspects of Indian culture like the kathakali and Odissi dancers in their conventional make- up and a shift to modern India through snapshots of a fashion show. The heritages of handlooms and dance troupes in the act, from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Burma, have also been beautifully captured.

Mr Vijai Vardhan, Director, Haryana Tourism, said that a Gurgaon-based freelance artist, Mr Atul Sharma, had been assigned the job to capture the beauty and varied traditions of the country in his frames. “Post launch of the calendar, this will be showcased in the Indian stall at Berlin tourist mart. We also propose to document all 20 years of the mela and come out with a coffee table book on this cultural extravaganza,” he added. The calendar was formally launched by the Minister of State for Tourism, Ms Kiran Choudhary. The who’s who of the creative circles and the bureaucratic circles in the city were present at the launch ceremony. 

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Rape ‘victim’ backtracks statement; says she eloped
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 8
Denying allegations of rape and kidnapping by Neha, a 21-year-old girl, against a neighbour Pankaj, his mother and two other persons, the police today found out that the girl had instead eloped with him, and not kidnapped by the accused as was mentioned in a complaint lodged by her father.

Neha was recovered today by the Chandigarh Police, along with her boyfriend Pankaj, from near Kharar this evening. She stated before the police that she had not been kidnapped and nobody had caused any harm to her. Instead she had gone away willingly with Pankaj.

She submitted that she had gone to Batala on February 28 and after staying there overnight, she returned to Chandigarh. She also admitted that earlier she had given a wrong statement claiming she was kidnapped, only understress.

She stated that on March 6, she went to college, along with her father, who went then to his office after dropping her at the college. There she came to know about the stories being published in newspaper. She then immediately decided to leave the city for Ambala, from where she called Pankaj and after that they both went to Batala.

The SHO of Sector 36 police station, Inspector Ishwar Singh Mann, said the police had collected “enough evidence” in this regard, including mobile call details exchanged between the girl and the boy in the past three days. The police had also recorded the statement of the neighbours of Pankaj in Batala, his native city, who told the police that they had seen Pankaj with the girl on February 28 and also on Monday afternoon.

Following the information a police team was despatched to Batala late last night to trace the couple, but by the time the police reached the locality Pankaj managed to flee with the girl as he had got wind of the police arrival.

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Kumhars seek RS nomination
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, March 8
The Haryana Kumhar Samaj has lamented that the affluent leadership in the government hardly cares for the Backward Classes, especially the Kumhars, who are 8 per cent of the population.

Talking to the mediapersons at a press conference held at Hotel Jatayu, here office-bearers of the Haryana Kumhar Parishad sought proper representation by demanding nomination to the Rajya Sabha for a member from their community.

Mr Diwan Singh Bhatiwal, president of the Haryana Kumhar Sabha, and Mr Ashok Verma, convener of the parishad and former chairman of the Haryana Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, said the Congress had never given due representation to the members of their samaj.

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Free plumbing course
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
A six-month free plumbing training course started by Rotary Club of Chandigarh Midtown concluded today. Under privileged and unemployed young boys of Khuda Ali Sher village and surrounding areas, who completed the course, were awarded certificates and tool kits by Mr Jeevan Aggraval, CEO, AAR AAR Castings.

Mr RK Luther, Director Vocational Services said besides theory classes practical training was also given to the students. Five boys have also been offered placement at Diplast and JAL.

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Cop held with 1.4 kg of poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 8
The Chandigarh Police today arrested a Punjab Police constable on the charge of carrying 1.4 kg of poppy husk.

Giving details about the seizure of poppy husk, sources in the Sector 3 police station said Vikramjit Singh, a constable of Punjab Armed Police’s (PAP) 82 Battalion posted behind the Punjab Civil Secretariat, was arrested along with 1.4 kg. The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), PAP 75 Battalion, reported the matter to the local police after nabbing the accused.

The DSP told the police that he had information that Vikramjit was involved in the smuggling of poppy husk.

Booked for graft

The local police on Wednesday booked an official of the Punjab and Sind Bank, Sector 34, here on the allegation of breach of trust following a complaint made by the Chief Manager of the bank.

The police said Mr H.S. Makkar, Chief Manager of the bank, reported to the police that Ravi Karan, officials of the bank, who is now posted at Hedon branch of the bank in Ludhiana district, had committed misappropriation of Rs 1.15 lakh in 2004.

A case has been registered.

Scooter stolen

Mr Prem Chand of Sector 43 here lodged a complaint with the police saying that his scooter (CH-01-M-0710) was stolen from Sector 22 on Tuesday. A case of theft has been registered in this regard.

Gambling

The local police arrested Pradeep Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Sanjay Arora and Ashok Kumar of Mani Majra from near the Community Centre in Mani Majra on Tuesday for gambling at a public place. The police seized some cash from them. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered in this regard.

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Banks directed to strengthen security arrangements
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
With the National Consumer Commission recently noting that a security lapse in a bank qualifies to be a deficiency in service, the Indian Banking Association has now issued directions to all bank branches for strengthening their security arrangements.

The noting by the National Consumer Commission came after a bank customer approached the commission, stating since his money was snatched away inside the bank premises of a nationalised bank, it is tantamount to deficiency of service. The commission had directed the bank to make good the snatched amount to the customer, along with interest and compensation.

The instructions for strengthening the security have now been issued for primarily safeguarding the bank's interest, without adversely affecting customer service. Branch managers have been asked not to use the security staff for any other duty, except security, and for providing mobile phones to the security personnel.

They have also been asked to keep a check on their subordinates — bad habits and very high standard of living, beyond their means could be an indication for managers to get alert about their staff. The branch managers have also been instructed to check the alarm system daily, and ensure its proper functioning.

In case of currency chest branches, regional managers and security officers have been asked to conduct surprise visits during banking hours, and odd hours to ensure implementation of security instruction. Instructions have also been given regarding positioning of security guards, so as to ensure that they are able to do a proper surveillance of the entire premises of the bank.

Bank officers have also been asked not to carry cash alone, on foot, two wheelers or hired taxies / vehicles. Currency chest banks have been asked to install steel barricades; and, for segregating the currency chest area from the branch hall.

In case of new bank branches to be opened, it has been decided that location be chosen keeping in mind the proximity to police station and functional communication system. Banks have also been asked to consult the police before choosing a location.

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