C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Punter places bets from media box
PCA cancels press card, lets him off
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 12
The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) officials had to face embarrassment today when they had to cancel the accreditation of a “journalist” who was found indulging in online betting during the ongoing India-England Test match while seated in the media box.

The 21-year-old British-man of Indian origin had been allegedly indulging in betting and it was only after a story appeared in a section of the media today that the PCA took the action.

The PCA officials, however, could not explain why they did not hand the man over to the police and just let him walk away from the stadium after cancelling his pass.

Joint Secretary of the BCCI and Secretary of the PCA M.P. Pandove later admitted: “We should have handed him over to the police.”

He added that allowing him in was a mistake on the part of the PCA.

As per the sources, the punter, posing as freelance journalist, had a valid media accredited pass issued by the PCA and had been indulging in gambling sitting in the media box for the past three days on a website.

However, he was forced to surrender the pass and thrown out of the stadium by PCA officials after some journalists complained of his illegal activities.

“From the very first day, the suspect had been placing bets on an online gambling site through a laptop. His unusual working pattern raised the eyebrows,” said a journalist.

It’s really surprising how the alleged punter got the pass after hoodwinking the strict process of issuing the passes.

He got the pass claiming to be an “Independent Journalist”.

Usually, journalists authorised by their institutions have to submit forms to get the accreditation.

Surprisingly, the PCA authorities were unable to show any valid authorisation letter or other papers that the punter might have used to get his press pass.

When asked about the documents, treasurer of the PCA and media in-charge G.S. Walia said: “We issued him the accreditation just minutes before the start of the match after seeing his identity card. The fellow had landed at the PCA just before the start of the match and told us that he was a freelance journalist based in the UK.”

He, however, admitted that they were at fault and issuing him accreditation without verifying his credentials was a case of negligence and oversight.

When contacted, Superintendent Police Varinder Singh, on duty inside the stadium, said the PCA authorities had not even bothered to inform them about the incident.

“Why was the man not handed over to us for further action?” he questioned.



Fans rush to PCA stadium as ticket prices fall
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 12
After the decision of the Punjab Cricket Association to reduce the prices of the General Block and VIP Block tickets, today witnessed a heavy rush at the stands of the stadium on the fourth day of ongoing India-England Test match on at PCA Stadium, here. The decision on reduction combined with the weekend rush had the stands pretty full today.

Earlier, owing to the pressure of thin attendance and with the rain playing spoilsport, the PCA had decided to reduce the prices of the tickets of general as well as VIP stands for the remaining two days. The general block ticket and the VIP block ticket, which were priced at Rs 200 and Rs 1500, respectively, were reduced to Rs 50 and Rs 300, in that order. Moreover, the arrangements to get both days’ ticket were also made.

Owing to price reduction people from all walks of life came in large numbers to the stadium to enjoy the match, which, till today, wore a deserted look. One reason could have been the exorbitant prices of the tickets compared to the last Indo-Pak Test series held in March last.

“I am a middle-class man and I cannot afford to spend Rs 200 per head for my family of five. So I went on making excuses to my children when they insisted on watching Rahul Dravid playing here. But when I came to know that the general block prices have come down, I decided to take my family to the stadium to watch the action live,” said Ram Khilawan, a Junior Division Clerk with Department of Punjab.

The cricket fever was so intense that even during the lunch break, many cricket fans mostly the English fans, started playing ‘street cricket’ just at the back of the stadium. “Actually, we cannot afford to have a break in between and just to enthuse the charm of the game we decided to play. We are imitating as the cricket stars like I am impersonating as Andrew Flintoff and the man standing just at the back of wicket is none other than striker Dhoni”, laughed Paul Michael, an English fan who has come all the way with a group of 10 fans to watch the series.

The children were spotted carrying their country flags and cheering their cricket heroes to their loudest best. But those who are taking the Class X and XII board exams said that these cricket matches were a major distraction for the students, who should ideally be concentrating on studies. “I have completed my studies late at night during the previous night only, so as to watch the real action live today morning. Moreover, this has worked wonders as it has refreshed me for my midnight study session,” said Vishal Sharma.

“It is a marvellous way to spend the weekend and that too quite cheap. The decision to reduce the prices of the tickets by the PCA is a welcome step and all kudos to the authorities for their gesture”, said Manohar Lal, a mechanic.

“My dream to see Kumble live in action was fulfilled and that too in the VIP Block. I am thankful to the PCA authorities for their decision to reduce the prices of tickets,” said Amit, a Class X student and an upcoming player.



Man, parents booked for dowry death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 12
The Chandigarh Police today arrested the husband of a 20-year-old woman, who reportedly died after consuming some poisonous substance on February 25 in the PGI, along with his parents on the charges of dowry death and criminal conspiracy.

The police said the victim’s mother alleged that her daughter was subjected to harassment for not bringing motor cycle in dowry.

The couple had married around eight months ago.

SHO of Sector 3 police station Insp Balhar Singh said the case had been registered under Sections 304-B and 120-B, IPC, against victim’s husband Deepak Tiwari, his father Mata Prashad and mother Vijya Devi, all residents of Sector 10, on the basis of a complaint filed by victim’s mother Shanti Devi, who hails from Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh.

The police said Deepak Tiwari was unemployed and had earlier worked with a software company in Panchkula. Mata Prashad was a peon at the Haryana Civil Secretariat.

Giving details of the incident, the SHO said the victim, Neelu, had been admitted to the PGI in a critical condition by her in-laws on February 23.

They reportedly told the police that Neelu had “mistakenly” consumed some poisonous substance for medicine.

The SHO further added that the police had called the magistrate to record the statement of Neelu.

In her statement, Neelu maintained that she took the poisonous substance mistaking it for some medicine to cure stomachache.

On February 25, Neelu died in the PGI. Following this, the police informed her mother about the death.

Shanti Devi lodged a fresh complaint with the police alleging that Neelu was harassed by her in-laws for bring motor cycle in dowry.

The police said Shanti Devi lodged a complaint on February 28 and on March 1 the post-mortem examination was carried out.

When asked about the delay in the registration of the case, the SHO maintained that the police was verifying the complaint as the victim and her mother had given conflicting statements.

He said the case had been registered following directions of senior officers after taking a legal opinion in this regard.



Triple murder: Cop, Home Guard jawan held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 12
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab police today arrested a constable and a Home Guard jawan of the Chandigarh Police and booked four other persons on charges of harbouring and facilitating the escape of three suspects of the February 16, Takipur triple-murder case. The car used by the accused to flee was also recovered.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kharar, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu said Constable Jasbir Singh and his brother Naveen, a Home Guard jawan of Chandigarh, were arrested this afternoon from T-Point near Majri village .

The police set up a naka and found them travelling in the car they had helped the accused to flee.

The SIT has found the involvement of six persons ,including the two Chandigarh Police cops in harbouring and facilitating the escape of the suspects. The accused had forged number plates of their vehicles . A case of under Section 212, 216, 465, 468 and 472 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered .

The police said besides the cops, the other accused booked were Nirmal Singh of Parol village, Satpal and his father Daya Nand of Rohana village in Sonepat district and Bhupinder Singh of Sugghar village near Sohana. The sources added that besides harbouring the accused had also provided financial assistant to the murder suspects from being arrested by SIT.

It may be recalled that the three brothers, Ravinder Singh and Balwinder Singh and Kulwant Singh were shot dead allegedly by Jagjit Singh ,alias Jiti, Baljit Singh. While Jagjit Singh, Baljit Singh and Baldeep Kaur - wife of Jagjit Singh were arrested, three more persons, Ranjit Singh, Devinder Singh and Ranjeet Kaur, mother of the two arrested persons, are wanted.



Spring Fest draws huge crowds
Tribune News Service

Students of Jainender Public School perform a Rajasthani dance.
Students of Jainender Public School perform a Rajasthani dance.
Students of Satluj Public School perform a patriotic dance.
Students of Satluj Public School perform a patriotic dance.

Panchkula, March 12
The 20th Spring Fest organised by HUDA here turned out to be quite a success, with crowds from all over the region thronging here.

Though the incessant rain had spoiled the inaugural day of the festival yesterday, the weather god decided to make up, with the day being bright and sunny and residents coming out in large numbers to enjoy the spring at the Town Park.

The “gatka” performers and baazigars mesmerised the crowds with their intrepid acts.

Business stalls set up by HUDA, too, did a brisk business today.

Speaking during the prize distribution function today, the Financial Commissioner, Town and Country Planning, Ms Shakuntala Jakhu, said the town would be made one of the most beautiful places in the world.

She was accompanied by her husband, Mr Raminder Jakhu, Financial Commissioner, Transport.

Ms Jakhu appreciated the various cultural performances and martial arts, as well as flower show.

The Chief Administrator, HUDA, Mr S.S. Dhillon, was also present on the occasion.

The Administrator, HUDA, Ms Neelam P. Kasni, told the TNS that around 3000 entries had been received for the various competitions organised there.

“People from Chandigarh, parts of Punjab and Haryana had come to participate in the festival,” she added.

The results of various competitions are:

Healthy baby show: 6 months to 1 year (boys): first — Adit Luthra; and second — Garv Kataria.

6 months to 1 year (girls): first — Manya Bansal; and second — Charu Sharma.

One and a half years to 3 years (boys): first — Shourya; and second— Larshya Bansal and Krish Chawla

Girls: first — Khushi Malhotra; second — Vasudha Arora and Unnati Malhotra.

3 to 4 years (boys): first — Mayank Bhatnagar; second — Kartik Walia

Girls: first — Raisel Nanda; and Second — Sargam Verma and Dhirte Dhall.

Solo dance: below 10 years: first — Kalambi; second — Ashmita Singh and Tushar Gupta.

10 years and above: first — Kanchan; and second — Angel and Shruti, and Animesh and Deepanshi.

Mono-acting competition: junior category: first — Loveleen Luthra; second — Kartikey Gupta and Ankita.

Senior category: first — Jyoti; second — Prabal and Sakshi.

Kite-flying completion: group A: first — Deepak Pal and Jai; second — Lalit and Avnish.

Group B: first — Saurabh and Sahil; second — Gifty and Sunit.



Indo-US nuclear deal a win-win situation for both: Ashwani Kumar
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The Union Minister of State for Industry, Mr Ashwani Kumar, today said the recent nuclear deal between India and USA was a win-win deal for both the countries. He also expressed the hope that the US President, Mr George W. Bush, would be able to convince the US Congress to ratify the pact.

Talking exclusively to The Tribune, Mr Ashwani Kumar, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, who was made the minister in the recent reshuffle in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, also maintained that through the deal, India would be able to add about 40,000 MW of energy in the coming years.

Asked since the deal has been signed, did he think if its critics, particularly the Left parties, are wrong in criticising it, the Union minister said the important thing was that the Prime Minister and the UPA leadership remained firm in ensuring that India's nuclear deterrence capabilities were retained even as they successfully negotiated the remaining components of the deal.

"The energy that we would be able to produce because of this deal would have an exponential economic spin-off for the country. I would therefore urge the critics of the deal to view it in an overall national and international context. Judging in the totality of the circumstances, the Manmohan Singh government should get 10 out of 10 for the deal," he asserted.

Incidentally, Mr Ashwani Kumar was among the few individuals involved in Track-II initiatives, which culminated in the nuclear deal. He held extensive interactions with the political establishments and members of powerful US think-tanks in the past few months to prepare the ground for the visit of US President Bush to India.

Asked about these initiatives, Mr Ashwani Kumar said he visited the US as part of the CII-Aspen initiative late last year. Among others, he held discussions with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Senator Leugar, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, Prof Jeo Nye, former US Under-Secretary for Defence in the Clinton administration etc.

"We impressed upon them the importance of the deal for both the countries. This is an historic deal for both India and the US for the fact that it reverses the history of our relations from estrangement to engagement and, now, to an embrace. This will lay the foundation of our energy security needs and attract US investors to India on a large scale," he asserted.

When questioned about his vision for his own ministry, Mr Ashwani Kumar increasing the competitiveness of India's manufacturing and productive sectors would be his main agenda.

"The manufacturing sector, which is currently growing at 9 per cent, must grow by atleast 12 per cent. Only if the industry and manufacturing sectors grow further can we have more employment in the hinterland. Job creation is the foremost target of the UPA leadership and, therefore, my biggest challenge is to ensure industrial growth throughout the country so that massive avenues are created," he added.

Asked for his take on the ongoing controversy over the proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Amritsar, Mr Ashwani Kumar strongly denied any move to derail the project.

"All that we are asking is to be provided suitable land or the requisite size at an economical price. After all, you can't expect the companies in the SEZ to do so for charity. The project has to be viable for them in the long run," he observed.

With less than a year left before the Congress faces the electorate in Punjab again, Mr Ashwani Kumar is optimistic that his party would return to power in the state on the "strength of its policies and performance".

"We will need to put our best foot forward and also strengthen our organisational base in the state. But, under the leadership of Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Congress is committed to vindicate the trust reposed in us by the people," he claimed.



Rain will benefit crops, say experts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Moderate to heavy rain in various parts of this region will prove beneficial to farmers. This is what farm experts claim. Though rain was reported in the past 48 hours from all parts of the region, yesterday it was confined to Chandigarh and the surrounding areas such as Patiala, Ambala, Morinda, Ropar and the hilly region of Himachal Pradesh.

Reports of heavy rain were received from the Ambala area. Driving on the Ambala-Dera Bassi National Highway became difficult due to heavy rain this evening. Otherwise most parts of the Malwa region remained dry today. Reports received from the Ludhiana, Muktsar, Faridkot, Mansa and Bathinda areas indicated light rain at certain places.

The rain has put a check on the growing demand for power in the region. “ There has been a steep fall in the demand for power because of the rain during the past two days”, said a senior officer of the Punjab State Electricity Board. “Before the rain, the demand had been increasing fast.”

Agriculture experts say the rain will prove beneficial to all rabi crops. It has helped lower the rising temperature which is not considered good for the wheat crop. February remained dry. The unprecedented rise in the temperature in February had an adverse effect on the wheat crop.

Asked about the spell of wet weather, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said “it will certainly prove a tonic for the wheat crop which had experienced high temperatures in February when it was at a crucial stage of its growth”. He said the rain would benefit late-sown wheat and other crops in the rainfed areas.

He said he visited various places, including the Samrala, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Mansa areas, today. There was no report of damage to the wheat crop. In some fields, the wheat crop had been flattened by low-velocity winds. However, the crop in such fields would recover in the next one week because no damage had been done to the plants.

Punjab has fixed a target to produce 146.25 lakh tonnes of wheat this year from 43.30 lakh hectares under the crop. “If there is no major squall and hailstorm in the days to come, we will certainly achieve this target”, Mr Sidhu asserts. “ Before this rain, we were a bit apprehensive because of the sudden rise in the temperature”, Mr Sidhu said.



Royal British Legion honours Indian World War veteran
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
At the age of 90, Honorary Flight Lieutenant, Pritam Singh Minhas is rewriting history. A member of Branch 10 of the Royal Canadian Legion with 38 years of continuous service in The Royal Air Force, The Royal Indian Air Force and The Indian Air Force, he joined the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires in 1976 and later became the first Indian to receive a medal for long service.

He attended the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II recently, where the Royal British Legion, in association with the Ministry of Defence, honoured him as a World War II veteran.

Pritam Singh has been campaigning for greater public recognition of India’s role. “Its about time that we put information into our text books and children’s history books so that our contribution is also recognised and rewarded,’’ he added.

Fighting a feeling of nostalgia, Pritam Singh, who has visited several schools in Canada and has shared his experiences with students there, so that they grow up to acknowledge their sacrifice , now wants to take up a similar initiative in Chandigarh as well. “In India we fail to acquaint our children about such issues and take the freedom for granted,’’ said Pritam Singh.

Proudly sporting the Veterans Badge awarded to him by The Royal British Legion, which is UK’s leading charity, providing financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served and are currently serving, Pritam Singh said that the Second World War consumed the best of a generation and hence people like him should take the ownership of the history and make it more widely available.



When docs had all the fun
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Colours of fashion drenched PGIMER's Bhargava Auditorium as jazzy music drowned the week-long fatigue of doctors who set the ramp on fire at the annual festivities of resident doctors, titled ‘Springfest 2006’, here today.

Sashaying down the specially created ramp in a show choreographed by Dr Shakeel Ahmed of the Department of Oral Surgery, the doctors and paramedical staff put their best foot forward amidst cat calls and an applause from the audience.

Seven men and seven women participants, drawn from the resident doctors and members of paramedical staff, participated in the fashion show which saw an ethnic and a casual wear round.

This was followed by a fashion show by professionals which saw local and Delhi-based models take to the ramp in clothes designed by city designer Jaspreet.

Comprising seven rounds, this show included a round of shimmery wear, beach wear, sarees and hot pants among others.

Two item numbers by Mumbai-based models added zing to the already electrifying fashion shows. "Deedar de" and "Zinda" had the resident doctors cheering and clapping.

They enjoyed every bit of the show with their minds open only to unadulterated fun and stethoscopes and patients were forgotten for a while.

Earlier, the resident doctors participated in the talent hunt contest of "Mr and Miss Springfest 2006". This item included four rounds to judge the personality, attitude and talent of the participants.

The title of Mr Springfest went to Dr Shaan while Dr Nidhi Bhatnagar was crowned Miss Springfest. 



Govt harassing ’84 riot victims: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for putting an end to the humiliation and harassment of the ’84 riot victims at the hands of the Punjab Government.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr Badal demanded that all red card holders who have applied, must be given compensation immediately as announced by the Union Government on the recommendations of the Shankaran Committee. He also demanded that to enable other red card holders to apply, the date for filing claims be extended. In addition, guidelines must be issued for non-red card holders. In their case, in place of red cards some other genuine documents should be accepted.

Mr Badal said the Punjab Government was creating hurdles in the release of compensation to the red card holders. Alleging bias in the working of the Punjab Government, Mr Badal said, “On one hand the state government is delaying compensation as announced by the Union Government on the recommendations of the Shankaran Committee and on the other it has taken a Cabinet decision to withdraw all facilities which were provided by the previous SAD-BJP government.

The Congress government has filed an affidavit in the Punjab & Haryana High Court in this regard.”

Mr Badal termed this action as malafide and politically motivated.



Land allotment to school: residents meet to Bansal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
A delegation of Sector 21 residents today met Mr Pawan Bansal, Union Minister of State for Finance, and apprised him about the ‘unjustified’ action of the Chandigarh Administration in floating an advertisement for the allotment of one acre of land in an open ground in Sector 21-A for a primary school.

The delegation impressed upon the minister that this Administration was completely ignoring the needs and interests of the sector as after this allotment there would be no other open space left in the sector for religious and social functions. The area has now been developed as a park by the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh.

There were already three high and senior secondary schools in the highly-populated area, which was adjoining the bird sanctuary. The start of a new school in the area would disturb the ecological balance of the locality, the delegation alleged.



Residents stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
A dharna under the banner of the Chandigarh District Council Communist Party of India was organised to protest against the Chandigarh Administration's move to acquire the land of Deep Complex.

The protesters were addressed by Mr DD Sharma, Secretary, CPI, HS Gambhir, president of AITUC, Raghubir Singh Sandhu, from Chandigarh Trade Union Council, Ms Mohinder Samber, general secretary, Punjab Istri Sabha.

They criticised the administration for acquiring the land and sending notices for demolishing houses constructed by the Deep Complex residents. They maintained that land being auctioned was beyond the purchasing capacity of the residents.

The speakers claimed that the Administration had taken registration fee and made a conveyance deed in favour of the owners of land. The CPI demanded withdrawal of notices sent to residents of Deep Complex and that all the houses should be regularised with civic facilities.



Man held for intimidating woman
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 12
The local police arrested a Sector-37 resident for allegedly threatening a woman, a tenant of his wife, in Mani Majra last night. The accused had been living separately following a marital dispute, the police added.

According to the police, Navdeep Gupta, a resident of Sector 37, was arrested for trespassing and criminal intimidation under Sections 452, 427, 323 and 506, IPC.

Anupal alleged that Navdeep had come to meet his wife on Saturday night, but could not find her there as she had gone to her parent’s house. Enraged at this, Navdeep began to break the windowpanes of the house to which Anupal came out and objected.

Anupal told the police that her pleas fell on deaf ears as she was alone at the house.

Navdeep allegedly started hurling abuses at her and also threatened her. Finding herself unable to control the situation, Anupal called the police and reported the incident. The police took the accused and registered a case on the basis of a complaint filed by her.

Navdeep was today produced before a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody.



One held for bootlegging
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 12
The police has arrested a Kumhar Colony resident for allegedly carrying 27 bottles of country liquor.

Giving details of the seizure of illegal liquor, the sources in the Sector 11 police station said Burchi, a resident of Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, was arrested from the road separating Sector 14 and 25 while carrying 27 bottles of country made liquor on Saturday.

A case under the Excise Act has been registered in this regard.


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