C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Three killed in accident on ‘killer stretch’
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, July 15
Tragedy struck the Sanan family of Solan when their car rammed in a mini bus killing three persons and injuring two others at Lehli village, near here, today.

The accident occurred when the driver of the Alto car, Ranjit Singh, apparently failed to negotiate the mini-bus standing on the road as the passengers were alighting from it. Besides Ranjit, Sushil Sanan and Chander Kanta, a relative of Sushil, were killed in the accident. The family was on its way from Solan to Delhi to attend a “jagrata”.

The impact of the collision was so strong that car’s mangled remains reduced to a heap of scrap. Following the accident, traffic on the busy Ambala-Chandigarh highway was disrupted for sometime. However, later the road was cleared with the help of the police.

Kamini and Roman, wife and son of Sushil, respectively, who were injured in the accident, were admitted to the local civil hospital. However, they were later shifted to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, of Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337, 338, 304-A and 427 of the IPC against the driver of the mini bus.

It may be recalled that this stretch on the Ambala-Chandigarh road was proving to a virtual “killer stretch” with fatal accidents a routine affair. Currently, the four-laning work on this stretch was in progress and slated to be completed in 2008.



Missing youths: Amarinder assures action against travel agents
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The missing of two Punjabi youths in Iraq has once again brought to the fore the alleged nexus between travel agents, police and the recruiting companies in the Middle East, which results in the gullible youths being taken for a ride.

In this instance, the missing youths were allegedly working for Kuwait Gulf Links (KGL), a Kuwait-based transport company, which hit the headlines last year when seven of its truck drivers were abducted in Iraq last year. The Kuwaiti company is banned in India.

It seems that the Overseas Ministry and the law enforcement agencies have failed to learn any lessons from the last year’s kidnapping of the two of the Indian drivers, who were later released by their abductors.

Several of the sub-agents are recruiting the youth for KGL under the guise of other companies for sending them to the Middle East.

Taking serious note of the matter, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today assured strict action against the erring travel agents.

Sources in the manpower recruiting trade revealed that KGL was effectively using the loopholes in the Indian legal system to recruit cheap manpower from here and sending them to the Gulf.

Investigations reveal that one of the youths, Sanjeev from Jalandhar, was recruited by a Hoshiarpur-based agent, Jaspal Singh, on behalf of Mumbai-based agency, Balson International.

“The driving test of the youth was conducted in Hoshiarpur about an year ago after seeking permission of the Protector of Emigrants (POI),” claimed Jaspal Singh, who added that all the papers were complete.

The youths are reported to be missing since May 25, the day they left for Iraq.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had blown the lid off ‘drivers recruitment’ scam in January this year.

The story had highlighted the modus operandi of the KGL Company in recruiting the youths.

Two project managers of the Kuwait Gulf Link Limited, Mr Quadros Dionysious Alexis, Mr Staney Sequeria and Mr Balram Karki, who was a trolley driver in Kuwait, two officials of the Kuwait Police, Lieutenant Mohamed Jassim Marzouk and a traffic constable, Mubarak Abdullah Alzafri, were present on the spot to recruit driver at site in Maloya village.

Investigations by The Tribune had revealed that to fulfill the demand of manpower by the foreign employer, a forged demand letter and power of attorney of Drake and Scull International was submitted to the Protector of Emigrants (POI) for clearance.

Mr V.K. Sharma, the proprietor of the recruiting agency, Shambros Human Resource Consultants, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, had submitted the documents to the ministry.



Mohali to have 140 sectors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The township of Mohali will be expanded to include as many as 140 sectors in the future. The Greater Mohali Urban Development Authority will be notified soon and a sum of Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned for all development in the vicinity of Mohali, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a “meet the press” programme organised by the Chandigarh Press Club here today.

The Chief Minister had come to the Press Club for the concluding function of the silver jubilee celebrations of the club. He also inaugurated a new bar, named “ Fourth Estate”, on the first floor of the club. He assured that he would discuss the issue of setting up a media centre with the Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), who is also the Administrator of UT.

Referring to the GMUDA, he said he had visited Bangalore and found that the metropolis was choking due to inadequate infrastructure. The new body shall be headed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Chief Minister side-stepped questions on the role of the PUDA in view of the setting up of the GMUDA.

On allowing the Notified Area Committee status to Nayagaon, the Chief Minister said work was on and a notification would be issued soon in this regard.



Novel way to check bootlegging
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
A veteran player on the city’s liquor scene has devised a unique manner to check sale of liquor below the Minimum Selling Price at his vends.

Concerned at the practice of smuggling within the city, the contractor decided to put his signatures on every bottle sold from the counter of his Sector 38 (West)-liquor vend here.

“The signatures would ensure that my employees do not buy liquor cheaply from other vends and sell it from my vend.

“We regularly conduct surprise checks, by sending decoy customers, to ensure that they do not indulge in the wrong practice, said Mr Sat Pal, the liquor contractor.

“Initially, signing on every bottle was a problem when new stocks had to be added at the vend. But now I daily sign on about 700 bottles,” he said.

Sources in the liquor trade reveal that with the introduction of the new system of licensing, the licencees are ready to lower their profit margins.

The price war is more visible in the areas where more than one liquor shop is located within a short distance. If a customer opts to buy a case of 12 bottles, the discount can be up to 30 per cent.

Even the department does not object to trend of retailers charging for 10 bottles in case of 12 bottles.

Sources in the liquor trade revealed that the Excise Department has allowed a margin of about 40 per cent to the retailers.



Question paper out of subject !
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Students of Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dera Bassi, taking the M. Tech (IInd year) exam of power system planning of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, were today shocked to receive question paper of digital speech and image processing.

The students alleged that though the question paper stated that it was for power system planning, the questions printed in it were for another subject. Rajan Sharma, a student, alleged that despite protesting and pointing it out to the superintendent, the authorities took no action. Around 10 students of the institute were taking the exam. The students subsequently left the answersheet blank.



Decision on PU VC on July 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The name of the Panjab University’s next Vice-Chancellor, which was to be finalised today, would now be announced on July 19.

Highly placed sources at New Delhi said no final decision had been taken on the matter today and it was likely to take a few more days.

Sources added that the current VC Prof K.N. Pathak’s term would end on July 22 and a decision would be taken before that date.



Mohali MC poll not to be contested on party symbols
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, July 15
Major political parties have decided not to permit candidates to contest the local Municipal Council elections scheduled to be held on July 30 on the party symbols.

It is learnt that political parties like the Congress, SAD and even the BJP have held meetings where it was decided not to allow prospective candidates to contest the civic body poll using the party symbols. It has also not been decided what kind of support will be extended to the prospective candidates.

According to sources, a meeting was called by the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at his residence in Chandigarh today, where some issues regarding the local municipal elections were discussed. Even though it was decided that elections would not be fought using the party symbol, Mr Badal gave directions to certain leaders to identify candidates, who would be provided support by the SAD. Another issue confronting the party is that two leaders belonging to the SAD are planning to contest against each other. Mrs Manmohan Kaur and Mr Amrik Singh Mohali are contesting against each other from Ward No VI. It is learnt that Mr Badal wants one of them to withdraw.

It is reported that Mr Badal expressed his desire to have an alliance with the BJP for the Mohali elections.

A meeting was also held by the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, at the Punjab Congress Bhavan in Chandigarh on July 12 in connection with the Mohali MC poll. At the meeting it was made clear that no prospective candidate could use the party symbol during the poll. It is learnt that the meeting was attended by a number of Congress leaders, including Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, president of the Mohali unit of the Congress, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Billa, former president of the Municipal Council. It has not been decided so far as to who would be provided party support during the election. However, leaders belonging to different factions of the Congress are extending support to different prospective candidates at their own level.

Even the Ropar district president of the BJP, Mr Khushwant Rai Giga, said the use of the party symbol during municipal elections would not be allowed.

Meanwhile, many new faces will be seen in the elections this time as only 19 of the former 27 municipal councillors are reportedly contesting the poll. At present there are 31 municipal wards.

Eight councillors of the last term are reportedly not contesting this time for various reasons. Mr Manmohan Singh Lang is not contesting as his ward has been reserved for women this time. However, he is planning to project his wife from that ward. Similarly, the ward of Mr Manjit Singh Sethi has also been reserved for women and he has filed a case in the Supreme Court against delimitation.

Mr Nazar Singh and Mrs Harbans Kaur have moved to areas which do not fall within municipal limits. Mrs Inderjit Kaur, Mrs Paramjit Kaur and Mr Yog Raj have also decided to stay out of the fray while the ward of Mr Tarlochan Singh was scrapped because the Guru Nanak Colony in Phase X was shifted to Jagatpura village.



Are you worried? IAF asks pilots
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reaching out to its pilots seeking their response on issues regarding work-related stress, duty hours, expectations about salary and also worries over their families’ future.

All pilots in the field units had been given special questionnaires seeking information from them on a host of issues, including those mentioned above, informed a top IAF source from New Delhi.

“We have asked the pilots to give details of any professional or personal anxiety and specially designated boxes will be installed where the answers can be put into,” said the source.

Importantly, pilots need not disclose their identity while answering these questionnaires so that only genuine replies can come forth.

These questionnaires are not related to and are distinct from the occupational hazard report (OHR), which is normally written by pilots and is often addressed to a superior bypassing the IAF hierarchy.

The OHR offers a platform to IAF pilots or officers to voice their concern over any service-related matter.

The move comes as a part of the project to psychologically assess the impact of stress and other factors on the IAF pilots’ performance.

“The project — psychological impact of stress on the pilots of the IAF— is being undertaken by the IAF and the Defence Institute of Psychological Studies,” said the source.

The IAF is quite eager to address the stress-factor among its pilots so as to remove the ‘human error’ which has resulted in a whopping 48 per cent of crashes in the past 11 years.

“Despite getting increasingly sophisticated aircraft, the human error still remains the forces’ Achilles’ heel. A stressed-out pilot is prone to losing concentration which may prove fatal,” the source said.



DGP’s call prods police act
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 15
An attempted immolation bid in a government office by an employee failed to invite any action from the police for three days. The reason: the police had no written complaint for the same.

Finally, all it took for the district police to book the erring employee of the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board (HSAMB) was a phone call from the Haryana police chief.

High drama was witnessed at the HSAMB building in Sectoer 6 when Urvesh Goel, an Assistant at the HSAMB, arrived at his office armed with fuel and a matchbox for attempting immolation.

His grouse was that he had been deployed at Jhajjar after senior officials found him indulging in property dealing business during office hours.

Even as he was preparing for the immolation bid, he was nabbed by a security officer of the HSAMB Chairman, Mr Shadi Lal Batra. The police was called in and the employee was handed over to them.

However, by evening, senior officers of the department were informed that the police had let him off without any punitive action against him.

It was then that senior officials got in touch with the police chief and sought his intervention in registering a case ageist the erring employee. Sources said that the Director General of Police, in turn, got in touch with the Superintendent of Police after which the local police swung into action.

Finally, last night, they took down the sequence of events in the run up to the failed immolation bid. Today, the police registered a case under Section 309 of the IPC at Sector 5 police station against Urvesh Goel on the complaint of Mr Jaib Singh, Superintendent of the department. No arrest has been made as yet.



Vohra is Rotary Club chief
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 15
Dr VJS Vohra, chairman and managing director of the Nevedac Prosthetic Centre, Zirakpur, has been installed as president of the Rotary Club, Chandigarh Midtown, for 2006-07.

The outgoing president of the club, Mr RK Goyal, presented the Club Collar to Mr Vohra in an installation ceremony organised last night.

The Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, and Mr Noraseth Pathmanand, Rotary International Director, from Thailand, who were the chief guest and the guest of honour, respectively, appreciated the club for its tremendous works undertaken in different fields.

Earlier, Mr Goyal presented the reports of various activities taken up by the club last year while Mr Vohra listed the future plans of the club.

Dr VJS Vohra, the newly installed president of the Rotary Club, Chandigarh Midtown, at an installation ceremony in Panchkula, on Friday.



PUDA staff threaten protest
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 15
The PUDA Employees Federation said here today that if the demands of the organisation were not conceded to by the authorities, it would be compelled to launch a protest.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Hardev Singh, chairman of the body, said the legal course might also have to be adopted for getting the demands fulfilled. It might be in the form of a public interest litigation in a court.

Decisions to this effect were taken at a meeting held to draw the future line of action. The federation had earlier presented its memorandum to the Chief Administrator, PUDA the Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, and the Housing and Urban Development Minister, who assured them that the memorandum would be forwarded to the government and interests of PUDA employees would be protected.

The federation has decided to present its memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary on Monday.



Protest against Mumbai blasts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Around 100 persons, including ex-councillors gathered at the Plaza, Sector-17, here to protest the recent bombings in Mumbai. The protesters carried placards denouncing the bombings and killings of innocent people and raised slogans against the government for being soft on the accused.

The protesters stated that the internal security of the country had completely collapsed, as Ranjana Shahi, ex-councillor, stated, “If serial blasts can occur in Mumbai and Srinagar in one day, then what is stopping them from targeting other metros.”

Prominent among those present were Des Raj Tandon, ex-senior deputy mayor, Rajinder Kumar, ex-councillor, Dr MS Chauhan, Shashi Shankar Tewari, RSS activist and Sanjay Kumar Labour leader.

Meanwhile, the local unit of the CPI today held a silent demonstration in protest against the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai and Srinagar.



Irregularities in deras: CBI probe sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The Majha Ex-servicemen Human Rights Front today demanded a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in certain deras.

Addressing a press conference here today, Col JS Sandhu (retd), chairman, alleged that these deras had been converted into personal fiefdoms by their chiefs and the money collected from the public was being misappropriated by them.

Urging the Akal Takht and the Sant Samaj to initiate action against a dera chief in Haryana, who is facing sexual harassment charges, the front chairman claimed that the dera chief was also being boycotted in the USA.



Sec 47 resident alleges police harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Alleging harassment at the hands of the local police in a dowry case registered allegedly at the behest of a DSP of the CBI, a Sector 47-D resident yesterday sought intervention of the SSP in the matter and demanded a fair probe.

Mr Harjit Singh Jason of Sector 47 in a letter to the UT Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Mr Gaurav Yadav, demanded a fair probe into the false case of dowry registered against him and his family on a complaint filed by his wife, Arpanpreet Kaur of Amritsar. He alleged that his brother-in-law, a DSP posted at the CBI office in Sector 30 here had implicated him in a false case.



109 caught travelling sans tickets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
In a single day, at least as 109 rail passengers were caught by the Special Railway Magistrate, Haryana, while travelling without tickets or other valid travel documents on different trains in the Ambala division.

In the surprise checking which began at 6 am on a daily passenger train, the team led by the Magistrate, Mr Phalit Sharma, caught the passengers on board Malwa Express, Dadar Express, Pashchim, Shane-e-Punjab and some other trains.

Most passengers were found travelling in the IInd class sleepers. A fine of about Rs 50,000 was travelling from the defaulters on the spot.



Punjab takes up staff’s travel issue with Haryana

Chandigarh, July 15
The Punjab government has taken up the issue of state government employees with the Haryana government. Sources said yesterday that a good number of employees of the Punjab government were residents of Panchkula and other nearby towns in Haryana. Earlier, they used to travel in Haryana Roadways buses to reach the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat.

As a reciprocal measure, Punjab Roadways buses used to ferry Haryana government employees, who lived in Mohali and other nearby towns, to the Civil Secretariat. However, for the past some months, the Haryana Roadways is not accommodating Punjab government employees. — TNS



Rickshaw-puller ends life
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 15
debt-ridden middle-aged rickshaw-puller committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in the Sector 5 market this morning. The body of Ram Pal (40) was noticed at about 11 am by some passersby, who informed the police.

The police said Ram Pal, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, parked his rickshaw under the tree and used a nylon rope to end his life.

Rickshaw-pullers at the site said Ram Pal was depressed due to heavy debt for the past couple of months. Ram Pal used to live in a Sector 11 jhuggi and had hired the rickshaw on a monthly basis.

The police has sent the body to the Sector 6 General Hospital for a postmortem examination. The police has initiated inquest proceedings.



Dept of Posts eyes 50 villages for schemes
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 15
To boost small savings, the Department of Posts has decided to select 50 villages in Hayana. Besides opening account of villagers, students and small children will also be roped in for various schemes launched by the department and their current accounts will be opened at various post offices.

The newly appointed Chief Post Master-General, Haryana, Col T.R. Kumar (retd), made the statement while addressing mediapersons at the Sector 8 main post office. He claimed that offices were providing services to customers on a par with those provided by banks.

He admitted that Panchkula had just eight post offices for a population of 2.5 lakh.

He said cities, including Gurgaon, Faridabad, Panipat, Rohtak and Panchkula would be provided postal services on a priority basis. More post offices would be opened in these cities shortly, he claimed.

He disclosed that there were 55,618 post offices in the country. Currently, a sum of Rs 3,50,000 crore was lying as deposits in the post offices, he added.

Mr R.D. Sharma, Senior Superintendent of Posts, Ambala, the Post Master, Sector 8, Panchkula, Mr Y.K. Bhushan, were among others present on the occasion.



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