C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Medicos bring city down to its knees
Rail, road traffic blocked; court work struck; shops closed
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, May 30
Medicos observed a half-day bandh against the government’s proposed reservation policy, leaving the city completely paralysed, here today.

Human chains blocking traffic on all major roads, complete closure of shops and business establishments, suspension of work in District Courts, disruption of rail and road traffic and complete public support — the city was under virtual siege in the peaceful bandh backed by various organisations on a call given by the protesting doctors.

The day opened to a protest at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where resident doctors got together to burn copies of their medical degrees amidst shouting of slogans and burning of an effigy of the Congress government.

Dr Sanjiv Bhatia, a resident doctor, who burnt his original degree to lodge his protest, said with the proposed reservation, degrees had lost their meaning.

“Birth and not worth is what counts. These are mere papers which can’t take us places anymore,” he said before consigning his degree to flames.

At the PGIMER, doctors formed small groups and spread out in different directions, on important roads to form human chains and disrupt traffic flow.

All roads leading to and from the PGIMER were dotted by human chains, shouting anti-reservation slogans.

The doctors also urged public to join hands for the cause. Some of them obliged, others shrugged their shoulders and changed direction.

The evening saw hundreds of city residents join the chain, which ran all along the Madhya Marg before culminating at a funeral of “reservation” at Matka Chowk.

An anti-reservation torch to spread “light” was also passed around in the chain, which comprised toddlers to octogenarian, students to doctors and just about all citizens concerned about reservation.

Doctors converged on the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 17, to block entry and exit points to the bus stand.

Though most buses had already left the stand by then, outstation buses were not allowed inside for nearly half an hour.

At the railway station, medicos led by Dr Gurpinder Singh of the General Hospital, Sector 16, and Dr Sanjeev Bhatia of the GMCH-32, delayed the Jan Shatabdi (2058) from Chandigarh to Delhi by about 15 minutes.

Though the train was scheduled to depart at 10.30 am for New Delhi, it could only leave the station at 10.45 am.

Around 100 doctors, who included junior doctors from General Hospital, Sector 16, and doctors from the GMCH-32, participated in the “rail roko” protest.

They also distributed pamphlets against reservation to passengers.

Advocates at the District Courts suspended work for the day in support of the bandh call given by the doctors.

The Beopar Mandal, too, came out in support of the bandh call by the doctors and closed shops during the first half of the day.

They organised a rally in support of the doctors and against reservation, stressing the need for giving merit its due place.

The Transport Union also suspended movement of trucks in the city to express solidarity; the PGI faculty proceeded on mass casual leave; and the IMA stood firmly behind the protesting doctors.

While public was put to inconvenience in the face of roadblocks and suspension of buses, patients had to return without being attended to in view of the complete boycott of OPDs and suspension of work by private hospitals.

“All shops and business establishments from Sector 7 to Sector 45 were closed. We even provided water and refreshments to protesting doctors who blocked roads and disrupted traffic flow to express their resentment,” said Jagdish Kalra, a Sector 17 trader.

The evening saw a candlelight vigil by resident, senior and junior doctors of the GMCH-32 on the hospital premises.

At the PGIMER, doctors got together to get signatures of the public against reservation. These would be forwarded to the Prime Minister shortly.

“The bandh saw participation from all sections of society. It was due to complete support and backing of various organisations that the city came to a grinding halt and all work to a standstill. The public realises that reservation must go,” Dr Anand Vinekar, a spokesperson for the Association of Resident Doctors, PGIMER, said.

Mohali: Doctors and students from educational institutions in Chandigarh blocked traffic near Balongi barrier here today.

The protesters squatted on the road to block traffic heading to Chandigarh to show their resentment against reservation.

The traffic was earlier blocked near the Civil Hospital but the protesters later moved to the Balongi barrier.

Besides doctors from the PGI, students from Panjab University, PEC, Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology and University Institute of Engineering and Technology participated in the protest.



Protesting doctors block highway
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 30
The protest by medicos against the Centre’s proposal to reserve 27% seats for the OBCs in the institutions of higher education today spilled over to the periphery with the protesting doctors blocking traffic on the busy Ambala-Chandigarh highway here for over two hours.

Thousands of the commuters and motorists were a harassed lot as traffic in and around Zirakpur came to a standstill.Though the protest was peaceful, it was a virtual nightmare for the travellers on the busy road in the sultry weather.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of the protesters, a majority of them girls, converged at the UT-Punjab border near Raipur Khurd and organised a dharna on the road.

Carrying banners and shouting anti-quota slogans, the protesters first started blocking traffic here. Later, they marched in procession to the Zirakpur Traffic Lights and blocked traffic there.Chaos prevailed as hundreds of vehicles were struck in the traffic jam.

The police had a tough time in controlling the traffic.Though the traffic from the Tribune Chowk and from Dera Bassi was diverted to alternative routes, hundred of vehicles were caught up in traffic jam.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Dera Bassi unit of the Brahmin Sabha joined the protest of the doctors. Mr Narinder Mohan Sharma, pledged whole-hearted support to the agitating doctors.



A novel way of protest against quota
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Silence is not senior resident Dr Bhanu Prakash's cup of tea. Ordinarily he's bubbling with life despite his gruelling schedule in the wards and OPDs of PGIMER, chirpy with patients and gregarious with colleagues.

Reservation, of course, is "out of the ordinary". So, while his colleagues are crying themselves hoarse with anti-reservation protests all over the city, Dr Bhanu Prakash of the Department of Neurosurgery has taken recourse in silence and indefinite fasting.

Into the sixth day of his protest, he was put on intravenous fluids today in view of his failing health. Back in Bangalore, his hometown, his parents have "threatened" to come down to the city if he doesn't "mend his ways" and are constantly in touch on his mobile. It's a monologue more often than not and he gives them a patient hearing but changing tracks has never crossed his mind.

"My protest, the hunger strike and silence are a penance for the wrongs being committed in the name of reservation. We only want the creamy layer to be excluded from benefitting from the policy," he scribbles on a piece of paper, lying on the mattress in the tent which has been at the centre of all protests by resident doctors.

A television channel blurts out news updates by the hour which help him stay abreast with the latest on the "war front". Managing a weak smile, he admits,"Keeping silent is very tough for a talkative person. It's worse than starving yourself." And, in trying times like these, he is drawing all his strength from the Bhagwad Gita, seeking inspiration from Lord Krishna's discourse to Arjuna.

"All my colleagues are a manifestation of Arjuna and Lord Krishna is showing us the way. The Gita cautions us against deviating from our goals and we will follow it to the letter. There is no place for compromise on reservation. The creamy layer must be dropped when it comes to extending the benefits of reservation to the backward classes," he emphasises.

While his protest is on in full gusto, he's not one to be left behind in the fight for justice, not the kind to sit back and watch things take their own course. He's been in the thick of all planning and giving direction to the protest which completed 15 days today.

"I help with preparing a blueprint of the course our protest will chart each day. I jot down points that come to my mind and make suggestions during our daily meetings. I don't want my protest to be a deterrent in active participation," he writes. During the course of his protest he has filled pages upon pages with his thoughts---they keep him company and also keep him occupied.

A news channel rattles out news that the Supreme Court has asked protesting medicos to join back. Dr Bhanu Prakash is all ears but is not impressed. He, like his other colleagues, is waiting for some good sense to prevail in government circles. He believes silence, too, is a language and somewhere, sometime the government will hear the noise it makes.



Delimitation of wards: HC dismisses petition
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the petition filed by some former office-bearers of the Municipal Council (MC), Mohali, challenging the delimitation of wards notified by the delimitation board headed by the then SDM, Mohali.

Some days ago, the Punjab Government had informed the High Court that elections to the MC would be completed within three months.

Giving this undertaking, the government claimed that the election process had been delayed due to the fact that the delimitation of wards had not been completed.

However, as per the petition filed by Mr Manjit Singh, a former vice-president of the MC, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Billa, and others, the 12-member delimitation board notified the wards on May 18.

In their plea, they stated that the panel, which had five government officials as members, did not properly consider the objections raised by the people, including the petitioners.

In November 2005 the delimitation board had accepted the proposals regarding delimitation of wards submitted by the state government. Thereafter, vide notification dated March 14, it had invited objections to the proposed delimitation. As many as 45 objections had been received by it.

It finalised the process on May 18. According to the petition, the constitution of the delimitation board itself was highly irregular and against the Constitution as only seven members had been granted voting rights. Of these, five were government officials.

The petitioners had also alleged that the objections raised by them were not dealt with properly by the board. They also questioned the board accepting the government proposal totally.

The petitioners had also alleged that the delimitation exercise was also aimed at improving the electoral fortunes of some prospective candidates, including the former president of the MC, Mr Kulwant Singh.

However, the Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jasbir Singh and Mr Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma, did not find merit in the plea raised by the petitioners and dismissed the petition.



Court orders framing of charges against Naresh Batra
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Nearly eight years after a case was registered against city-based advocate-cum-businessman Naresh Batra and others, a city court has ordered the framing of cheating and forgery charges against him in the Batra-family dispute matter. The family owns Batra Theatre in Sector 37 and other liquor and bottling plants.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Ram Kumar Singla observed that there were specific allegations of forging “blank signed share transfer forms” and “minutes of the meeting register”. Besides this, the report of a document expert had also been received in the matter. He added that on the basis of allegations, prima facie case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was made out.

However, discharging him from the offence of destroying evidence under Section 204 of the IPC, the magistrate observed that prima facie the same was not made out against him. Mr Singla added that no offence was made out under Sections 406 and 418 also in view of the offence under Section 420 of the IPC.

The case in the matter was registered on October 1, 1998, on the complaint of Naresh Batra’s brother, Dr Mahesh Batra, after the death of their father B.L. Batra.

Dr Batra’s counsel had argued that the accused had managed to get shares transferred on the basis of “blank signed share transfer forms”. As such, a case of cheating and forgery was made out. Even case of criminal breach of trust and wiping out evidence was made out as he had destroyed some documents and had also misused certain others documents that were entrusted to him in good faith.

He had added that the blank signed papers had originally been given by Dr Batra and his wife to B.L. Batra in good faith. These, and other such documents, were kept by B.L. Batra for smooth functioning of the companies owned by the family.

Describing the arguments as baseless, defense counsel had claimed that the shares were transferred by the complainant and his family and there was no forgery on record. The allegations, he had asserted, were without documentary evidence.

Seeking his discharge, counsel had asserted that even after taking all the documents into consideration there was nothing to suggest forgery or attempts to destroy evidence.



Admn ‘ups’ MC wards from 20 to 23
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The wards of the Municipal Corporation have been increased from 20 to 23. According to sources, the UT Administration has accepted a proposal, sent by the MC recently, to this effect. A notification regarding the same is expected to be issued soon.

The new southern Sectors from 48 to 60 and parts of Sector 61 are slated to be included in the new wards.

The MC already takes care of the water, sewerage and other related amenities.

The inclusion of these Sectors in the ward distributions is being seen by many as a mere formality.

Majority of these Sectors have flats made by the Chandigarh Housing Board and various group housing schemes.

According to the sources, the Sectors will not be divided during the delimitation process. Each sector will be included as a whole in the ward.

A part of the periphery of the city is also expected to be included in the wards. Once the notification of the wards is issued, the process of their delimitation will also begin.

It is also being said that the reserved and general wards will be decided once the distribution of wards is finalised.

The 2001 Census had put the population growth rate of the city at 4.3 per cent. The city’s population was put at 10 lakh.

Taking the growth rate of the city’s population at 4 per cent, the MC mooted a proposal to the UT Administration to increase the wards in the city from 20 to 23.

Talks to hand over 14 of the 18 villages that fall under the UT Administration are also on between the MC and the administration.

If the villages are handed over to the MC before its elections, which are scheduled to be held in December, the number of wards is expected to go up to 30.

The last ward distribution was done in 1994, before the MC was constituted.

According to officials, wards should be distributed after every MC election. However, this has not been done so.

The Punjab Municipal Act delineates a ward for every 13,000 people.



Housing project inaugurated
Charges of nepotism in allotment of flats
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 30
Kendriya Vihar, a project completed by the Governing Council and Executive Committee of the Central Government Employees Welfare Housing Organisation (CGEWHO), was inaugurated by the Union Minister for State Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Ms Selja Kumari, here today.

The project in Sector 25, however, came under a cloud following objections and allegations of nepotism levelled by a senior defence employee against the organisation.

Mr Rup Chand, a senior employee working with Garrison Engineer (Airforce) at Chandigarh, met Ms Selja and gave a representation alleging nepotism by organisation officials in making the allotment of flats to the applicants. Built at a cost of Rs 29 crore in Sector 25, the housing complex has a block of 240 flats.

In the representation, Mr Rup Chand claimed that he had applied for a flat being constructed by the organisation in Mohali under registration number PJA 2421 over two-and-a-half years ago. The organisation (from its office in Janpath, New Delhi), in a communication to Mr Rup Chand, admitted that it was not getting land in Mohali due to some reasons and asked him to join their project in progress in Panchkula.

He further claimed that repeated representations to the New Delhi office of the CGEWHO, expressing his willingness to join the Panchkula project, proved futile. Moreover, three visits to the office also yielded no results, he lamented.

He alleged that a majority of the flats had been allotted to the relatives and close friends of the organisation officials and other staffers. To make money, certain officials of the organisation allotted flats to some property dealers and other influential persons, he alleged.

Mr Rup Chand further alleged that officials of the CGEWHO had deprived many employees of the Central Government their fundamental right due to their vested interests. The flats constructed by the organisation were strictly meant for the Central Government employees and not for others.

The minister assured the complainant that a probe would be conducted into the alleged nepotism in the flats allotment case in Kendriya Vihar-II.

Lt-Col V. Ohri of the CGEWHO expressed his inability to comment on the issue, while efforts to contact Mr N.K. Wadhwa, Director (Administration) of the project, proved futile till late evening.



Admn fares well during 2005-06 fiscal year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The UT Administration has fared well during the financial year 2005-2006. The fact has been highlighted in the appraisal of the budgetary performance recently by Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), UT Administrator, a press note stated here today.

Finance Secretary S.K. Sandhu apprised that the administration had achieved the plan expenditure almost to the extent of 100 per cent (99.93 per cent).

The administration has also done exceedingly well under non-plan expenditure as there is an excess of income over expenditure to the tune of Rs 426.12 crore against the target of Rs 267.52 crore fixed in the Revised Estimates 2005-06 by the government.

This means the administration has contributed Rs 426 crore to the Consolidated Fund of India over and above the revenue realised by the administration. During 2004-05, this surplus was Rs 284.32 crore.

The Finance Secretary also said the realisation of revenue during the financial year was 114.98 per cent.

The actual realisation during the last year was Rs 1196.21 crore against the target of Rs 1040.33 crore.

Out of this, tax revenue realised was Rs 743.23 crore, which is 123.62 per cent of the target fixed.

The Excise and Taxation Department has collected Rs 89 crore over and above the target of Rs 425 crore fixed under sales tax and it was more than the previous year 2004-05 by Rs 137 crore.

This increase is attributed to better monitoring and supervision by the Sales Tax Department and increased tax compliance by the tax payers.

The excise duty target had also exceeded by Rs 20 crore, which was Rs 126 crore against the target of Rs 106 crore.



City cyber crime cell in tatters
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
A city which aspires to be a dream IT destination ought to have a strong police framework to detect and check cyber crimes. But that is what Chandigarh woefully lacks.

The City Beautiful which boasts of the potential to replicate Bangalore’s success story in north India has barely managed to put in place a ramshackle cyber crime cell with just one computer and one junior police officer at its disposal!

The irony is that while crores have been invested to produce a world-class technology park, the net investment on the cyber crime cell comes out to be a paltry Rs 30,000, excluding the salary of the cell-in charge concerned!

To make matters worse, the cell, now at least three-years-old, is completely obsolete as far as the software is concerned. In the name of crime-detecting software capability, the cell has been provided with an internet connection only.

There is no software worth its name to tackle hacking, bust porn sites or trace out the source of threatening e-mails.

A police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said the in-charge of the cell was not expert in handling cyber crimes and had not undergone any specific training for the job.

Acknowledging the poor state of affairs, the DSP, Crime, Mr Om Prakash, told The Tribune that a proposal containing a list of requirements had been sent to the higher-ups and the cell would see a complete makeover soon.

He informed that an Inspector-level officer would be sent for training to get expertise on cyber-crime detection, adding that the UT police had cracked two cyber-crime cases recently.



Trial of softwares on licensing soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) of the Chandigarh Administration will hold trial of two new softwares developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

“Sarathi” and “Vahan” have been designed specifically for speeding up normal work and helping monitor job at the same time.

The programmes will cover works related to normal registration of the vehicles. A lot of paperwork in the existing system, which often led to delays and belated procedural wrangling, will be done away with, senior sources said.

A special emphasis has been laid on monitoring the task at hand and relate it to the entire data on the system. This will be an effective tool in checking licences procured by unauthorised persons.

Besides issuing of new licences, the system will be effectively used in the renewal process or in issuance of duplicate licenses.

“Sarathi” has been developed for issuing fresh or renewed learner’s licences; fresh, duplicate or renewed regular licences; conductor’s licences; endorsement in the driving licence and driving school licence.

“Vahan” will be employed in the registration of new licences and vehicles from other states; issuing temporary registration numbers; renewal of RCs; issuance of NOCs and surrender or cancellation of RCs.

The new software will be effectively linked to the police system to keep track of all vehicles on the city roads. It can be of help in looking for untraced vehicles as well those being employed in unlawful activity.



Punjab dept to help Admn in VAT implementation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Punjab’s Excise and Taxation Department will assist the Chandigarh Administration in the smooth implementation of value added tax (VAT) in the city.

To bring more efficiency and for the speedy disposal of cases under the new tax regime, the Excise and Taxation Department has agreed to share its software of VAT with the UT’s Excise and Taxation Department.

To sort out the matter, a meeting was held today between the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, Mr D.P.Reddy, and the UT Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr R.K.Rao.

Since the provision of the Punjab VAT stands extended to Chandigarh, the software would further supplement the VAT’s implementation in the city. It would also remove certain anomalies in the pricing of certain commodities under the new tax regime.

Cooperation of the Punjab officials has been sought in providing programmers and data feeders. UT has offered to meet the expenses for the sharing of software and other facilities being offered by Punjab.

The UT Excise and Taxation Department has installed 20 computers in the office of the assessing officers with one server room being controlled by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The work being done includes basic date feeding of registered dealers, conversion of existing sales tax number to VAT registration, data feeding of daily collection register and feeding of returns under the Sales Tax Law since 2002.



Meditation must for peace of mind
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Improving productivity of the human mind and body through meditation was discussed at a seminar organised at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development here today.

Delivering his talk, Member (Electrical) Railway Board, Mr R S Grover, an avid practitioner of meditation and yoga, said all humans should inculcate attributes of fearlessness, truthfulness, self-service, non-violence, humility and benevolence. Meditation is one way to achieve these qualities.

Stating that the need for improvement in productivity in human beings is being increasingly stressed upon, he added that meditation and yoga were progressively becoming important tools in enhancing productivity and output worldwide.

Meditation, he said, led to peace of mind, thereby resulting in increased concentration, liberation from evils like anger, greed and ego, and improved will power, it also resulted in sound health. It improved sleep and calmness, immunity from waxing and waning in life and free from tension. He also highlighted the process of meditation.



Photo I-card drive on
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Election Department of the Chandigarh Administration has decided to prepare and issue photo identity cards to all registered electors to achieve 100 per cent coverage.

A door-to-door photography campaign in Sectors 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 is in progress.

The teams will visit houses during evening hours on all working days and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays in these sectors.

A special programme of door-to-door photography was launched on January 3.

In the first phase, Sectors 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 were covered, with 79 per cent coverage.

The remaining area was expected to be covered within the next six months.

The details of the electors registered were available on www.ceochandigarh.nic.in , website of the department.



CITCO shed owners hold rally

Chandigarh, May 30
The Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) shed owner's association took out a protest car rally of more than 250 cars starting from Industrial Area till the CITCO office in Sector 17 here today.

The "memorandum was handed over to the managing director of CITCO in his office, who assured the association that at present 282 files had been handed over to the Estate Office to dispose off their cases," said the press release. — TNS



Police clueless as theft of cables continues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Thousands of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) subscribers have been subjected to inconvenience in the wake of "frequent disruption in services" as theft of underground cable of the telecommunication giant continues unabated in the city.

The Chandigarh police and BSNL authorities have so far failed to 'unravel the mystery' behind the theft of cable belonging to BSNL only, despite the local police having arrested three persons involved in the theft of the cable.

Nothing could explain the recent incident of theft of four meters of cable from Sector 51 during Sunday night, which rendered thousands of phones in Sector 61 and 52 non-functional. A case of theft had been registered in the Sector 34 police station. Sources in BSNL said over thirty incidents of cable thefts had been reported from various parts of the city in the past two months. They added that repair of damaged cables was not only time consuming but also affected service, as the joints lead to certain other problems in the line. Sources in BSNL said the police had not been able to unravel the mystery behind the theft. "Last week the police arrested a rickshaw puller while carrying the stolen cable. They called us for identification of the cable which we did. We hoped that something would come out of the interrogation, but the police failed to find any lead," said a senior BSNL officer preferring anonymity.

"This is also damaging our image among telecommunication service providers in the city in the present day competitive world," a BSNL employee said.

Mr Yashvir Walia, sub divisional officer, BSNL, said, "We are having troubled times in the wake of rising incidents of thefts, which are not only causing a direct financial loss of revenue but a lot of precious human hours are being wasted in repairing the damages".

The SHO of Sector 34 said, "We interrogated the arrested for two days.” He said he had stolen the cable and then sold it to a local junk dealer.



Man assaulted by 4 persons, injured
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 30
Joginder Singh, a resident of the Danga Peerat Colony on the Zirakpur-Patiala road, was allegedly assaulted and injured by four persons on May 28 over a property dispute.

According to a complaint lodged with the police by Kartar Singh, father of the injured, his son was assaulted by Jiwan Kumar, Amarjit Singh, Pammi and Sonu on the morning of May 28.

Joginder Singh sustained injuries on head and arms. He has been admitted to Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi.


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