C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


 

House collapse leaves 3 of family dead
Tribune News Service

fire brigade personnel and Bapu Dham residents try to retrieve the body of Shabnam, a Kashmiri migrant who, along with two members of her family, was buried alive in the house collapse.
fire brigade personnel and Bapu Dham residents try to retrieve the body of Shabnam, a Kashmiri migrant who, along with two members of her family, was buried alive in the house collapse. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, May 6
Three members of a Kashmiri migrant family were buried alive in a house collapse in Bapu Dham at about 1.30 this morning. The victims, including an eight-year-old boy, were sleeping on the floor in a one-room tenement when a deafening blast brought down the structure.

Though the reason of the blast has not been ascertained, officials said the structurally weak walls of the house caved in due to low load-bearing capacity and it resulted in the collapse.

Two other members of the family, who were sleeping in a verandah outside the room escaped with minor injuries. As a result of the collapse, the roof and floor of the second-floor house No. 704/20) caved in killing Habibullah, his wife Sabnam and their grandson Imran. The son and daughter-in-law of Habibullah were lucky as they were sleeping outside.

The post-mortem of the victims revealed that they died of asphyxia. No sign of any injury due to a blast was found on their bodies, said police officials. Due to the collapse of the structure, several houses in the vicinity developed cracks. The adjoining wall of House No. 704/16 was badly damaged due to the blast. Mr Lakwinder, who lives in the house, said the blast badly damaged their common wall. Officials of the district administration said unauthorised construction in the one-room tenements had made the structures weak.

Though forensic experts, in their preliminary observation, have ruled out the blast due to an explosive substance, residents of the area are apprehensive about their version. A team of officials of the Engineering Department after inspecting the site said the structure was unsafe due to unauthorised construction. The room in which the victims died was unauthorised and the load-bearing pillars of the roof had been removed, making the structure weak, said the Chief Engineer, Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, who inspected the site.

As the day dawned, the occupants of the surrounding houses were evacuated and the area sealed. Narinder Singh, who lives in house No. 704/12, said for many hours the dust of the debris made visibility poor and failure of electricity further complicated the process of retrieving the bodies. Residents and firemen physically removed the debris with the help of torches to reach the bodies.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.K. Rao, who visited the spot, said a compensation of Rs 50,000 had been announced for the victim’s family from the district relief fund. He said instead of supporting the cause of residents who raised illegal construction, public representatives should come forward in larger public interest and dissuade such persons.

Tragedy was waiting to happen

After three persons died in the house collapse, the Administration today woke up to the reality of haphazard and unauthorised construction in the area. Thanks to the support of political leaders, no action in the past has been taken to prevent such tragedies. On inspecting the area, officials of the Engineering Department found that to make space for living, the load-bearing walls between the kitchen and the room had been unauthorisedly removed by the allottee. The-storeyed one-room tenements were constructed in 1977-78 under a rehabilitation scheme for slum-dwellers.

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Cops lay hands on salesman’s phone details
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
While the Chandigarh Police is yet to achieve any breakthrough in the case of theft of expensive clothes from an exclusive ladies garment shop, allegedly involving a salesman and the wife of a local Congress leader, exchange of frequent and long-duration calls between two mobile numbers have come to light.

Investigations by Chandigarh Tribune reveal that the salesman, Raju, was making and receiving calls from mobile number 98151-91200. Before being arrested, Raju called up from his pre-paid number 98728-90039 which was issued from a town in Punjab.

The Sector 17 police has arrested Raju for allegedly stealing clothes from the showroom, Sweet Girls Station, Sector 17-C. He was arrested on April 18, when a night watchman of the market, Nand Kumar, saw Raju opening the shop and handing over clothes to two women, who had allegedly come in a Skoda.

Yesterday, the salesman while talking to Chandigarh Tribune had admitted that he remained in touch with the woman on her Airtel mobile number from his mobile 98728-90039. Sources reveal that the stolen clothes exchanged hands in the wee hours at least on April 11 and 17. There was communication between two numbers during the opening hours of the shop on April 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

The police is learnt to have procured the details of the phone calls made and received by the salesman and the woman.

Corroborating the version of Raju, who had yesterday told Chandigarh Tribune that the clothes were selected during the opening hours of the shop, scrutiny of the call details reveal that on April 10, a call was received on mobile No. 98151-91200 from mobile No. 98728-90039 at 7.50 pm for 41 seconds. Then on April 11, an incoming call was received and then outgoing call was made from 98151-91200 at 5.34 am (eight seconds) and then at 5.42 am (nine seconds). On April 13, a call was received on Raju’s mobile number from the other Airtel number and the call lasted 214 seconds.

The salesman had also made some calls to other numbers like 98728-41895. Then on April 15, calls were exchanged between the two numbers at 10.33 pm (19 seconds) and April 16 at 9.33 pm (17 seconds).

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High tension wires hold up IT park work
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Work on phase II of Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park has been held up these days as no immediate alternative has been found for relocating a huge span of high tension wires running through its territory.

The high tension wires of 220 MW capacity carry electricity supply to the city from Nalagarh and Pinjore.

Work on an area of around 15 acres has been affected. The Engineering Department is having talks with the NTPC, the BBMB and the Power Grid Corporation to chalk out the future course of action.

A senior official of the IT park said they had received a feedback from power corporations that making alterations in the electricity supply would take at least a year.

A senior official in the Electricity Department said talks were on with the authorities concerned and the matter would be sorted out in about six months.

The department has invited quotations seeking “expression of interest” for the project. The NTPC and the BBMB authorities are also being contacted for an early solution.

The biggest technicality in shifting the overhead wires is the volume of infrastructure that has to be shifted. “The creation of infrastructure supporting the high tension wires requires specialised handling. The wires running over plots have to be brought underground,” the official said.

“The effort to reclaim IT park land involves a huge expenditure. It is also going to take some time so I guess a year’s time will be a decent prediction for completion of the project,” an engineer at the IT park said.

Travellers to the city adjoining the boundary touching the IT park from Mansa Devi face trouble because of a portion of broken road which falls in the Union Territory. Haryana has metalled the entire portion of road in its territory. The UT Engineering Department feels that construction of the road is not feasible under the existing conditions. In case a temporary bundh comes up, water from the territory of Haryana will flood the IT park.

Importantly, as part of the development of a special economic zone, the area under question might form part of a wall cutting the park from the adjoining area. So, the road might not come up at all.

The Administration has asked the Haryana Government on several occasions to construct storm water drains in the area to save the flow of water into the park area.

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Torture case: notice to Admn, SSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
In the case of the alleged torture of an employee of a private cable operator in Sector 28, Vinod, by the police at the Sector 26 police station, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice of motion to the Chandigarh Administration, Senior Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer, Sector 26, for July 6.

The notice was issued after Santosh, mother of the victim, moved the high court, seeking registration of an FIR against the erring police officials and handing over the investigations to an officer not below the rank of a superintendent of police.

The victim’s mother alleged that his son was forced to undress at the police station and made to do sit-ups.

The victim, presently undergoing dialysis at the PGI, was admitted to the hospital with damaged kidneys after allegedly being hit by an SI, Jaspal Singh. After being admitted at the PGI on April 27 the victim has undergone six dialysis. The victim’s mother lamented that despite an inquiry being done by a DSP, no action has been taken against the erring police officials.

No official from the police or the Administration has visited the hospital to know about his condition. The victim had been called to the police station on April 22 to sign papers of compromise with Krishan Garg, owner of a shop in Sector 28, Chandigarh. Both had entered an argument leading to a scuffle on April 21. An FIR under Sections 323 and 506 of the IPC was registered against Sanjay and Vinod.

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Cable theft hits 5,000 BSNL phones
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The theft of cable supporting the BSNL network in the city led to hundreds of telephone connections being snapped in the city, particularly in the southern belt. The affected areas included Sectors 38, 38(West), 39, 41, 55 and 6 and Maloya.

At least seven cables have been reportedly stolen affecting the connectivity in the city as well as certain portions of Mohali.

Mr O.P. Sikka, Principal General Manager, said late in the evening, “I have just returned from a visit to the site from which the theft has occurred and we expect the telephones to be functional by tomorrow.”

Top officials say the BSNL has been faced with a spate of thefts pertaining to cables, particularly in the past couple of months. An FIR has been registered. Official sources said at least 5,000 telephone connections had been affected.

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COMMUNITY
 

Overcharging rampant in eating shops, hotels
Akanksha Bhalla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
How many of us have spoken against exploitation by hotelwallas as they charge unreasonably for their food? But Vikram Bhatia, training manager with a local MNC, is determined to take them to court.

While the MRP of a 500 ml bottle of Gatorade, an energy drink, is Rs 25, Vikram had to pay Rs 50 to the Subway outlet in Sector 17 for it. Shocked by the amount he was charged for a bottle of drink that clearly said Rs 25 on it, he asked for the bill, which he was politely refused.

The seller’s usual argument in such cases is that the extra charges are for the add-ons they provide with the food item such as the glass that the drink is served in and the ice cubes in this case.

Seven months ago, when a consumer in Delhi took a restaurant owner in Noida’s Shipra Mall to the consumer court for charging him Rs 45 for a bottle of mineral water, the seller argued on the same lines. Money is charged over the listed price for the value added to the food item in terms of the presentation or the manner the food is served in.

The court, however, ruled that even in such a case, the seller cannot charge more than 30 per cent of its actual price and must be within reasonable limits while charging the customer. The case was decided in favour of the buyer.

In this particular case, the drink was not only sold at 200 per cent of the MRP but it was served in the same bottle it came in. The seller is disallowed to sell the drink in the same container of Gatorade and charge a different price than affixed by the company. Even the bill that he was given when he got the same drink home delivered said ‘Gatorade’ against its price, when it should have simply said energy drink.

Says, Sumeet Singh Arora, a lawyer, “As per Consumer Protection Act, 1986, as amended in 2002, these are clear cases of unfair trade practice prohibited by the said Act. As also under the MRTP Act, such practices are strictly prohibited by the law.” Charging above the maximum retail price (MRP) is a crime. If at all more money is charged by way of taxes, in which case, the bill should show it, for example, as VAT or service tax, he adds.

But even as law bans such exploitation, the question really is, how many consumers are vigilant enough to realise they are being exploited and take their exploiters to task?

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Murder case: son alleges police inaction
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 6
A son of an elderly couple, who was brutally murdered in Phase IV here on May 3, has alleged that the police was not properly investigating the crime.

Mr Ram Kumar Gupta, a son of Raghbir Sharan and Sakuntala Devi, alleged that the police had so far not questioned a washerman working in the area and neither migrant labourers working at a house under construction. He suspected that the owner of the house, where his parents lived as tenants, must had seen criminals. He said both families lived in the same building and when the killers attacked his parents and also broke a cupboard in a room the landlord must had heard some noise in the building. But the police had so far not been able to properly question the owner of the house.

Mr Gupta further alleged that a golden 'karha' was missing from the list of items prepared by the police that were recovered from the scene of crime. He said he had gone to the police station to see the list of items as he was not in town when the crime had taken place. He said his wife, his sister and a nephew had seen that a police personnel picked up the karha on the day of the crime. 

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Cong for CBI probe into hotel case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee today demanded a CBI enquiry into the case in which alleged prostitutes were arrested along with their pimp, Mr Cash, at Hotel Orange, Sector 35, here yesterday. The hotel belongs to a top BJP leader.

A press note, demanding the enquiry, has been signed by Mr Subhash Chawla, Mrs Kamlesh and Mrs Lalit Joshi, all former Mayors, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, former Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Pawan Sharma, Mr Devinder Babla, Mr Mehar Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh Badheri, Mr Kamaljit Singh Panchi, Mr D.D. Jindal and Mr Ram Charan Gupta, all CTCC members, and Mr Rampal Sharma, president of the INTUC.

The leaders said, “Mr Cash happens to be the man involved in the case of sex racket through the Internet. Reports to this effect appeared in various newspapers today.”

They have alleged that the arrest showed that the prostitution racket and other illegal activities were being carried out on the premises of the hotel of the BJP leader.

The Congress has made several other allegations on leaders of the BJP. They have sought clarification from Mr Satya Pal Jain, former member of Parliament, in the “Marble Market Dal” and “DAV land scam,” which have rocked the city earlier.

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BJP to protest outside CM’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The BJP will stage a protest outside the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence on May 20 in protest against the non-fulfilment of the government’s promise to provide 20 mgd water from the fourth phase of the Kaujali waterworks.

Speaking to the media at a press conference, former MP Satya Pal Jain said the BJP Mahila Morcha would stage a protest at Colony Number 5 tomorrow for the same reason. The party would also hold a protest in Manimajra on May 15.

Commenting on the case of theft involving a Congress councillor’s wife, he demanded that the Congress should come clean on who the councillor was and action should be taken against him. Stating that as the Congress was in power, it could put pressure on the Administration, he demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

Meanwhile, refuting charges of putting pressure on the Administration, Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, said the BJP was making false allegations. In a press statement here, he said no political influence from the party had been made.

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Fire destroys goods in phenol unit
Tribune News Service

A worker assessing the damage caused by a fire at Root Enterprises in Industrial Area, Chandigarh, on Saturday.
A worker assessing the damage caused by a fire at Root Enterprises in Industrial Area, Chandigarh, on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, May 6
Property and goods worth Rs 10 lakh were gutted in a major fire, which broke out at phenol and cleaning agent-manufacturing unit Root Enterprises in Industrial Area in the wee hours today.

No loss of life was, however, reported.

The fire, which started at about 12.30 am, was first spotted by the guard on the premises.

Four fire tenders took more than four hours to douse the fire, which had spread to the laboratory and the chemicals kept there, which included raw material for making phenol, etc.

The cause of fire was, however, not known.

The owner of the unit, Mr Sushil Jain, however, attributed the cause of the fire to a short circuit.

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Application date for relief extended
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 6
The district administration has extended the date of receiving applications to May 15 for giving compensation to ’84 riot victims.

Giving reference of a letter released by the Director, Disaster Management, Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh, said earlier applications were received from the riot-hit till January 22 and later the date was extended to February 28. Keeping in view the problems being faced by these persons, the date had again been extended. Verification of the applications received after February 28 would be done till May 30.

The applications would then be considered by a district-level committee which would send these to the government with recommendations.

Applications received after May 15 would not be considered for compensation.

Those who had already availed compensation, had been directed not to apply again.

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Roadways’ strike hits commuters
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 6
Passengers and commuters were put to great hardship due to the ongoing strike by the members of various unions of Haryana Roadways in the district here today. Almost every bus stop gave a deserted look.

The most affected were the students, elderly persons and patients who had to make alternative arrangements to reach their destinations. Apart from this, employees of various departments of Haryana Government were also affected due to the strike.

Owners of private carriers had a field day and charged exorbitantly from people.

The unions have suspended plying of government buses in the state in protest against the cane charging of Haryana Roadways employees in Hisar and Sirsa on Friday. They are also protesting against the introduction of Volvo buses by the state government. 

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Cops mistake tube burst for gunshot
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 6
The police rounded up over 10 youths and detained them following an incident that occurred at the time while the meeting of the Haryana Olympic Association (HOA) was going on in Sector 9.

According to information, the youths were riding motorcycles when a “fire like” sound emanates from a silencer. Taking it to be a gunshot, a PCR vehicle rounded up the youths. It also impounded the motorcycle.

Talking to The Tribune, the youths claimed that they had organised a rally after seeking permission from the SP in writing. They said tube of motorcycle had burst.

The “case” was solved late this evening and the youths were let off. 

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MCPI (U) activists convention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Marxists Communist Party of India (United) today held a convention at Saini Bhavan here. Around 250 activists from Chandigarh, Ropar, Patiala and Nawanshahr participated. The convention called upon Left and democratic forces of the state to fight against the “anti-people” policy of the Congress government in the state and at the Centre.

Mr Jagjit Singh Layallpuri, convener, All-India Preparatory Committee of the MCPI (U), stressed upon the need for the unity of revolutionary forces all over the country in order to fight against the revisionist line of the CPI (M).

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Mahapanchayat on lal dora issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
A mahapanchayat of 18 UT villages was held at Hallomajra village today on the issue of extension of lal dora and inclusion of villages in the corporation. Sarpanches and panches from different gram panchayats and Panchayat Samiti members participated.

Mr Angrez Singh Badheri, who was elected chairman of the mahapanchayat, said on May 14, members would give a memorandum to the MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, demanding that the lal dora should be extended.

Mr Didar Singh, chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, said the character of the villages should be retained rather than including them in the corporation.

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Retired Air Cmde cremated with honours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The first station commander of the Chandigarh Air Force Station, Air Cmde M.S. Aulakh (retd), who died yesterday after a brief illness, was cremated with service honours here today. He was 88.

A large number of serving and retired Air Force officers and personnel as well as relatives and well wishers attended the funeral.

He was commissioned into the Royal Indian Air Force in 1941 and saw action in Burma during the Second World War.

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Hyderabad scribes visit MC

Chandigarh, May 6
A 12-member delegation of journalists from Hyderabad visited the municipal corporation office here today. The journalist met Shyama Negi, Senior Deputy Mayor. The delegation is on a study tour to learn the best practices of the municipal corporation. — TNS

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Fire in grocery shop
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 6
Fire broke out in a grocery shop in Phase I here this evening causing damage. It is reported that fire broke out in a storeroom of the shop which was located at the backside of the shop.

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CRIME
 

Youth’s body found
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Four persons died in separate incidents in the city. In an incident in Mani Majra, the body of Ashwani (21), was found lying on the roadside under mysterious circumstances. The victim lived in Modern Housing Complex.

He was last seen at 11.30 pm yesterday after a chowkidar prevented him from ringing the bell of a house. An occupant of the house, Ram Vasan, told the police that after youth left, his motor cycle was noticed parked inside the complex. Ram Vasan went to the house of the victim whose address was tracked down from the registration papers of the motor cycle.

The father of the victim, Amar Bharti, was unaware of the whereabouts of his son and approached the police. This morning, the body was found. The DSP (East), Mr Vijay Pal, said no external injury mark was found on the body. A capsule was found near it. The brother of the victim, however, alleged that he had been murdered.

Woman ends life

A 25-year-old woman of Sector 7 allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan in her house. The body was noticed after her parents came back from Mohali and noticed that the house was locked from inside. Her father told the police that when she did not respond to the calls made on her mobile, they became concerned and reached home. She was pursuing MCA at a private institute in Sector 9.

Welder killed

A welder, Inderjeet, died after falling from a construction site in IT Park, Kishangarh. The victim was doing welding work when he accidentally fell. The contractor, Sharaf Ali, has been booked for negligence.

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