C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Depressed, veteran BJP leader shoots self
Family, police rule out foul play
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The veteran Jan Sangh activist-cum-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Senior Deputy Mayor of Chandigarh, Dr Prem Sagar Jain, shot himself at his Sector-15 residence this morning. He was 76.

Though no suicide note was found, the police has ruled out the possibility of any foul play.The family has also not expressed any suspicion over the incident.

The family said Jain was suffering from depression due to his deteriorating health which forced him to take the extreme step.

Known for his enthusiasm and courage, he was not in high spirits of late as he had undergone major knee-transplant and spinal surgeries in the past.

Jain had attended a mourning of his acquaintance yesterday and was depressed when he came home.

As the news about the incident spread, senior BJP leaders, activists and a large number of supporters began assembling at his residence.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Jain’s elder son, Mr Ajay Kumar Jain, said he heard a gunshot at 9:30 am and rushed to the direction of sound only to find his father lying on bed with blood oozing out of his right temple.

His .32 bore licensed Webley Scott pistol was lying under one of his heels, which was touching the ground. Shocked by the sight, Ajay raised an alarm. The room from where Jain’s body was recovered was not locked from inside.

The police said they received information at 10:20 am and reached the spot along with forensic experts.

Ruling out any possibility of foul play behind the incident, the SHO of the Sector-11 police station, Mr Puran Chand, said it was a clear case of suicide and the inquest proceedings had been initiated in this connection. Five bullets were found in the pistol.

The Central Forensic Science Laboratory experts were also called in to inspect the spot. Later, the body was sent to the Sector-16 General Hospital.

Expressing surprise over the incident, Mr Ajay Jain, said: “I did not notice anything unusual. He woke up in the morning and had a stroll in the lawn as usual.

“Later, he came inside to have a look at the newspapers and had his breakfast.Every thing was normal till that time. It was the gunshot, which brought forth the harsh reality.”

A Jan Sangh activist since 1975, Jain had a long association with the BJP. He always remained on his toes to work for his party and was worried over the fact that his political activities were restricted by his deteriorating health.

His younger son, Mr Vinay Jain, also lives in the same house and his only daughter, who is married, lives in Panchkula. The body was handed over to the family after the post-mortem and it was cremated later in the evening.



BJP loses a towering leader
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Dr Prem Sagar Jain, who strode like a colossus on the local BJP horizon and was party’s voice of reason— is no more.

In fact, Jain, who met his brutal end today by shooting himself, will always be remembered as the man who rose above party politics and put Chandigarh’s welfare first. He was one of the last party activists, who came to the BJP via the RSS, and rose from the ranks.

A grassroots worker from Kurali, Jain remained the president of the Kurali municipal committee in the early sixties before unsuccessfully contesting the 1967 Punjab Assembly elections from Kharar on a Jana Sangh ticket.

A man of principles, who perhaps never compromised on his values, the veteran leader remained in jail for about 19 months during the Emergency in 1975.

A former president of the local unit for several years in the eighties, Premji, as he was popularly called by his friends, left stamp of his Parliamentary acumen during 1996-98 in the House of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) when he was the city’s first Senior Deputy Mayor.

It was largely on account of his organisational abilities that the BJP-SAD combine won the elections to the MCC in 1996.

Loaded with wit and humour, Jain’s speeches were heard with rapt attention both by the then ruling BJP and the opposition Congress and the Chandigarh Vikas Manch members, besides the illustrious nominated councillors.

A great orator,who quoted profusely from the ‘shayari’ of legends of Urdu poetry, Jain was unsparing to even his own party when it came to the welfare of the city.

In fact, Jain’s was the voice of reason which made even his harshest critcs to sit up and listen. Coupled with this, his commitment to the RSS ideology was evident from the fact that he preferred to remain in the BJP even when he was “expelled” from the party for a brief period.

Meanwhile, the BJP organised a condolence meeting at the party office ‘Kamlam’ in Sector 33 to mourn his death.

Mr Yashpal Mahajan and Mr Satya Pal Jain, local BJP president and a senior leader, respectively, said the death of Jain was an irreparable loss to North India and it had created a void in the party.



Lakhanpal’s security guards go berserk, thrash 3 youths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
In an unusual burst of anger, security guards of the Punjab’s Chief Secretary (CS), Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, allegedly thrashed three youths, including two scooterists, following a minor accident involving the bureaucrat’s car in Sector 26 here this afternoon.

According to eyewitnesses, the Chief Secretary’s Skoda Octavia car (PB-27-C-0001), which was reportedly being driven at a high speed, took a sharp u-turn into a Sector-26 parking lot .

The car subsequently went out of control and hit a stationary scooter (HR-03-F-6842) from rear following which the scooterists, Mr Satinder Singh and Mr Akhilesh Kumar, fell on the ground.

The security guards in a “fit of rage”, instead of helping the youths in getting up, began beating them up with blows and sticks.

Seeing the brutal display of power on two hapless youths, a bystander, Mr Neeraj Puri, tried to intervene but he too fell prey to the wrath of the security guards. The guards reportedly hit him with a wireless set thus resulting in injuries to Mr Puri. The incident took place at around 1:30 pm.

Meanwhile, people gathered at the spot following which the guards left the youths. The enraged crowd also intercepted the bureaucrat’s car.

They claimed that the Chief Secretary was sitting in the vehicle who later “sneaked out” of his car and took “shelter” in a nearby hotel from where he later managed to escape in another vehicle.

The police,on being informed, reached the spot and took the victims and the security guards to the Sector 26 police station along with the vehicles involved in the accident.

“The police, instead of taking the injured persons to the hospital, took them to the police station and began pressurising them to reach a compromise.

“It was only when people protested that the victims were taken to the hospital for a medical examination. The security guards even went to the extent of saying that in case a compromise was not arrived at, we would be booked in a case of snatching their pistol.

“Despite the fact that the incident took place four hours before, the police is dragging its feet on initiating action,” alleged Mr Anuj Gupta, employer of Mr Satinder Singh and Mr Akhilesh Kumar.

Mr Gupta alleged that the security guards and some other persons who were in an escort Gypsy acted swiftly and removed the red beacon and the flag from the car to give an impression that the Chief Secretary was not in the car at the time of the incident.

When contacted, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (East), Mr Prem Singh Malik, said the police was investigating the matter on merit and was not under any kind of pressure. Action would be taken as per law.

He said it was a minor accident following which the youths fell. 



City Beautiful is youthful too
Only 5% of population is aged above 60
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Contrary to the popular belief, Chandigarh is not the city of tired and retired people.

The final figures of the 2001 census bear a testimony to this as they show that only 5 per cent of the city’s population of about 9 lakh is above the age of 60, thus belying the popular dictum that it is the city of ‘Chitian dhariyan, harian jhariyan’ (white beards and green bushes).

The figures, which were released at a workshop on disability at the UT State Guest House here today, revealed that 29 per cent of the UT’s population comprised children below the age of 14. And the age group of 15-59 years constituted about 66 per cent of the total population.

In fact, the figures threw several surprises and little-known facts about the City Beautiful. While workers formed 37.8 per cent of the population, male workers dominated this category with 56 per cent of the share. The female workforce comprised only 14 per cent of the ‘workers’ category.

Similarly, females were lagging behind males in the literacy rates with 76.5 per cent of them being able to read and write as compared to the 86 per cent of males.

On the disability front, a total of 15,538 persons were physically-challenged of which 8,422 (54 per cent) were visually challenged. As many as 3,828 persons had difficulty in movement from one place to another.

While Nizampur Kumbra was the least literate village with 44 per cent and 25 per cent male and female literacy rate, respectively, Behlana had the highest literacy rate.

In Behlana, 92 per cent males and 80 per cent females could read and write, according to Mr PK Chaudhary, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Census Operation, Chandigarh.

In the urban areas, Ward No 13, comprising Sectors 27 and 28, had the highest male literacy at 96 per cent while Ward No 11, comprising Sectors 20 and 33, recorded the highest female literacy rate (98.7 per cent).

As expected, the Hindus were the largest religious community with 78.6 per cent population followed by the Sikhs (16 per cent) and Muslims (3.9 per cent).



Local Govt, Forest Depts spar over Naya Gaon notification
Chief Secy calls special meeting today
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The Department of Local Government and the Department of Forests, Punjab, have locked horns over the notification of Nayagaon as Nagar Panchayat.

A series of haughty letters have been written by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Mr B.R. Bajaj to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr B.C. Bala over the issue.

This has forced the Chief Secretary to call the two, along with the Financial Commissioner, Forests, Mr D.S. Jaspal, and the Advocate-General, Mr R.S. Cheema, for a special meeting tomorrow.

Following the notification of Nayagaon as Nagar Panchayat by the Department of Local Government on October 18, Mr Bala had, on October 20, written to the Financial Commissioner, Forests, pointing out that the entire land of Nadah and Karoran villages was locked under the provisions of the various Forest Acts.

The Government of India had, in its latest communication to the department, informed that it had referred the department’s plea of delisting portions of these lands from the Forest Acts to the Supreme Court, the letter by Mr Bala further stated.

Mr Bala had further requested the Financial Commissioner, Forests, to advise the Department of Local Government to hold the notification in abeyance till these areas were delisted from these Acts.

A copy of this letter was also sent to Mr B.R. Bajaj who, in a reply, wrote to the Financial Commissioner, Forests, stating: “If your Principal Chief Conservator of Forest does not understand the municipal law, I think you should advise him not to mislead you by misappropriating the role of the legal advisor himself.

“The constitution of the Nagar Panchayat, Nayagaon, has been approved by the Chief Minister after taking into account the legal position as it emerges in the context of apex court judgment on the subject/PLPA/communication exchanged between the Government of India (Ministry of Environment and Forests) and the state government.

“I would also like to clarify that in almost all local bodies in the state there exist areas where the Forest Conservation Act 1980 is applicable.Apart from the Forest Conservation Act, all other laws are also applicable in the Municipal areas.

“The action of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) to further increase the confusion that he has created in the last one year is evident by his request for keeping the notification, constituting the Nagar Panchayat-Nayagaon, in abeyance till the delisting of all the areas of villages Nada, Karoran and Kansal is permitted by the Honorable Supreme Court/Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India as this action according to him is in violation of the Forest Conservation Act and orders of the Honourable Supreme Court of India.”

Mr Bajaj continued the letter by stating: “Under Article 243-Q of the Constitution of India, it is the Constitutional responsibility of the state government to consider a Nagar Panchayat/Municipal Council/Municipal Corporation for a area keeping in view the population of the area, the density of the population, the revenue generated for local administration, the percentage of employment in non-agricultural activities, the economic importance or such other factors as may be specified in the notification.

“By constitution of the Nagar Panchayat-Nayagaon, the state government has discharged its constitutional responsibility."

Mr Bajaj concluded: “I hope…. you will suitably advise your PCCF to stop creating further confusion in the minds of the functionaries of different departments by writing letters which misrepresent the legal position regarding the constitution of the Nagar Panchayat of Nayagaon as the municipal law and other laws are not mutually exclusive and the apex court judgment does not in any way debar the state government from constituting a Nagar Panchayat in Nayagaon.”

This was not all. When Mr Bala’s objection appeared in the press, Mr Bajaj wrote to the Chief Secretary on October 26 complaining: “It is strange that an officer of the Forest Department independently challenged the decision of the government and gives a controversial interpretation to the legal position of the government without seeking a meeting with the competent authority.

“The PCCF has earlier also created a lot of confusion on the subject…I think it is high time that such officers were suitably dealt with, to prevent them from writing such letters off the cuff and leaking it to the press.”

In response to these letters, the Forest Department is learnt to have come to the support of its officer and intends to clarify it position to the Chief Secretary tomorrow. Sources said the Forest Conservation Act 1980 has an overriding effect on any law, including the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act-1911, in case the two are inconsistent with each other as was the case now.

It was further pointed out that in case the municipal laws and forest laws were not mutually exclusive as claimed by the Department of Local Bodies, then why was not the constitution of the Nagar Panchayat done last year itself when the preliminary notification in this regard was published.

Instead all efforts were made by the state government to prevail upon the Ministry of Environment and Forests to delist these areas without any riders from the various Forest Acts.



Dua lays stress on investigative reporting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
A 13-member inter-service team from the College of Defence Management, Secundrabad, visited The Tribune office today to have a glimpse of the functioning of a newspaper organisation. The visit was part of the Higher Defence Management Course curriculum, which the officers are undergoing.

Addressing the officers, Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, said the primary duty of the journalist was to defend public interest and that professional ethics and values should not be sacrificed under any circumstances. He also laid stress on investigative reporting, but expressed his opinion against conducting sting operations.

Mr Dua also discussed socio-economic problems affecting the region like female feticide and rampant drug abuse by the youth. A lot of developmental activities are taking place in the northern states which, he said, is changing the profile of the region. He also touched upon other topics like the impact of electronic media on the print media and the entry of Internet.

While outlining The Tribune’s future plans, the Editor-in-Chief also gave them an overview of The Tribune’s 125-year chequered history, which began when Dayal Singh Majithia started the newspaper in Lahore to counter British propaganda through its Civil and Military Gazette.

Stating that it is the only newspaper to be run by a trust as a public institution, he said the newspaper had established bureaus in several major cities in central and southern India and it now carried more national content. He was of the firm opinion that The Tribune needed to venture out beyond the region.

Prior to coming here, the team, comprising officers of the rank of colonel and equivalent, had visited the Planning Commission, the Reserve Bank of India, the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis, Hero Honda and some industrial establishments to have a first-hand account of their administrative and functional matters.

HDMC syllabi revised

The curriculum of the Higher Defence Management Course has been revised to make it more suitable to military matters. Earlier it was purely management concepts, but it now includes various operational, intelligence, training and logistics aspects as applicable to a host of military situations. A notable feature of the revised curriculum is visit to foreign countries in the region such as Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Malaysia to study the functioning of various establishments over there. At the end of the course, participants are awarded a masters degree in management.



Sukhvir Singh Grewal Watch out

Sukhvir Singh Grewal, international hockey player and coach is on a hunt for young talent at the grass root level. Grewal who played for India for many years also coached the Indian hockey team for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and before that the Indian national junior teams till 1991. Grewal has been working in close association with Director Sports Punjab Pargat Singh and has offered to spot young talent for the sport at the grass root level. 



In Town

Jean-Francois Roth Mr Jean-Francois Roth, Minister, Jura Canton, Switzerland, along with 17-member highpowered business delegation will be in town on Tuesday to participate in a session on Trade and Investment Opportunities with Jura Canton, Switzerland. The session will be held at CII, Northern Region Headqaurters. Canton of Jura is the newest of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland in the northwestern part of Switzerland. Jura has an agro-based economy. Since the main industries in Jura are watches, textiles and micromechanical industry, the Swiss delegates will interact with industry representatives from North India, on the business opportunities that exist between North India and Jura Canton, Switzerland. 



Passing Through

Manbeer Chaudhary
Manbeer Chaudhary, president, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI)

What is the agenda for the 42nd FHRAI convention to be held here on November 10- 12?

The convention will have a theme of “Mission tourism: Incredible India” and will emphasise on presentations and interactive sessions to be made by key market players, policy decision makers, investors from the government and private sector, representatives of hotel managements and foreign delegates related to the tourism industry. The convention will lead to creating of employment opportunities on a large-scale and ways and means to develop franchisees and management opportunities of international brands within India.

What initiatives should the Administration take to make Chandigarh a tourist destination?

Chandigarh does not have a history of its own. To promote tourism, Chandigarh will have to have opportunities for entertainment. The Administration will have to go liberal on pub timings, promote a night life culture and organise regular cultural evenings.

What steps need to be taken to bring Chandigarh on the country’s tourism map?

The government can bring Chandigarh on the popular circuits like - Delhi - Chandigarh - Amritsar, or Delhi - Chandigarh - Manali, or Delhi - Chandigarh - Katra. This will bring in more tourists.

— Ruchika M. Khanna



Chandigarh Calling
Mona’s trip pays off

Mona Singh and her twinkle-toed choreographer Tobby won Sony Television’s ‘Jhalak Dikhlaa Ja’ despite her competitor Shweta Salve being a distinctly better dancer. However, for audiences voting, dance was not the only criteria and Mona’s recent trip to the city to garner votes obviously paid off. As for being so convincing on the dance floor Mona decided to follow Tobby’s advice to the T. “We decided we would only look at each other and dance and not be aware of the people sitting around us.” The other competitors did a credible job of ‘eye-to-eye’ concentration too and in fact during the tête-à-tête with Mona and Tobby, they let slip that sweet nothings were brewing between actor Pooja Bedi and her choreographer Hanif Jilal but, alas, they were the first to be voted out.

‘Dus Saal’

Producer, director, writer and theatre personality Raman Kumar who was in town for a flying visit is known for his sensitive films and serials touching upon human relationships which he says fascinate him. On the cards is also an experimental film ‘Dus Saal’ which looks at a ten-year old marriage and the nuances within it. And the inspiration is Francoise Truffaut’s ‘Scenes from a Marriage” which he has been watching again and again and was going to watch on the train journey back to Delhi too. He calls it “studying under the pretext of Dus Saal”!

CHB should be practical

In April an assurance was given by the local M.P. and the Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal to the CHB Residents` Federation that those who have small houses and use four/five feet extra area along with their courtyard for parking, particularly car, would be considered sympathetically. Being violation, they might be charged for the land as this land is no use for the government. The Municipal Corporation has no objection if is used having left the area of 7/8 feet from the road berm.

Surprisingly, before transferring the housing board houses, still Chandigarh Housing Board officials object to covering the area through grill and gate for parking. Would the Chandigarh Housing Board give a thought on humanitarian grounds and adopt a practical approach?

Insanity on city roads

It’s a mad rush out there and the sanity of Chandigarh roads has gone for a ride in the recent years. With the basic road ethics lost and the devil resurrecting no sooner than one sits behind the wheel, the state of affairs in the U.T. in terms of traffic management is in total dismay.

Only the halt at a red light is able to tame the wild stallions for a bit. But just at the glimpse of green(signal), the incivility is unleashed yet again.

So where’s the solution to all this? It lies in the hands of the authorities in terms of implementing stricter laws and strengthening the public transport. While the reckless driver needs to remember, just how many times has one taken another’s honk or road rage in good stride? If the answer is never, well then as the saying goes ‘do unto others, as you wish to be done unto you.’

Honesty still exists

In current times when the word honesty is confined to theory, an act of honesty sounds really something unique, noble. Surinder Kumar Sharma, an employee of The Tribune, was lucky to have got back his lost purse returned by the finders. Jalalpur (near Rajpura) residents Naib Singh and his son Hardeep Singh found his purse from near Tribune Chowk. After learning the owner’s address through some document along with the purse, they contacted Surinder Sharma on the phone. The next day he went to their office and they handed over the purse to him. And, naturally, he owed them a lot of thanks.

Yoga exercises

‘Astha’ channel has spread the message of Swami Ramdev’s style of popular yoga like ‘Kapal Bhati’ and ‘Anulom-vilom’. May people can be seen in the early mornings as well as in the evenings in the city parks performing yoga exercises. Thanks to the Municipal Corporation, the Administration as well as the M.P. to have converted green belts into parks.

“Jungle” patch

While most of the ugly spots in the city have been given a tidy look, one remains unattended so far - a vacant spot in Sector 29-C (adjacent to the Pir Dargah). It seems to have been “abandoned” and allowed to turn into a “jungle”, with an awesome growth of weeds and vegetation. At night one has an eerie feeling passing by the area. One cannot overlook a reptile threat the area tends to pose. One can also be waylaid, especially at night, by some bad element while passing by this patch. The Administration should take a remedial step.

Contributed by Gayatri Rajwade, Sunil Minocha, Parbina Rashid, Rajiv Bhatia and Tarundeep Aggarwal.



9-yr-old dies in freak incident
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 30
In a gruesome incident, a nine-year-old child was killed after he got trapped in a shaft of a machine at a flour mill in Mataur village here today.

Chintu, who was playing with his brother and friends near the flour mill got trapped after his shirt accidentally got entangled in the extended portion of the shaft which was protruding out of a wall.

The child then reportedly kept moving at the speed of the shaft of the moving machine.

A part of his body kept touching the ground which created a small pit as the shaft was only about two feet high from the ground level.

Blood had also oozed out of the body of Chintu and a large number of blood spots could be seen on the dargah in the vicinity of the flour mill.

The machine was made to stop only when someone raised the alarm on seeing the child entangled. It is reported that the child had died by the time he was removed from the shaft.

The brother of Chintu ran home and infromed his parents about the incident. It was a great shock for the members of the family of the deceased .

Mother of Chintu was inconsolable.

Chintu was one of the four children of Mamte Ram who hailed from UP. Mamte Ram is a labourer and came to Mataur village about a year ago.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 374 of the CrPc on the complaint of the father of the deceased. Chintu’ body was sent to the local Civil  Hospital.



Challaning drunkard a battle for cops
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Challaning is not always fun for traffic policemen as is usually made out to be. On the flip side, it can be nasty and dangerous and all, because residents won't pay up a fine of Rs 100 for traffic violations they knowingly commit. Today, however, a could-have-been-dangerous incident turned out to be a trifle but funny when the police managed to "lay its hands" on one such violator, overspeeding on Purv Marg.

On the road at a special naka, set up to check overspeeding, traffic policemen stood in wait of violators. Having installed three barriers at some distance, they waited for their "prey".

Unsuspecting Raju Rawat, a hospital attendant at PGIMER, zipped down the road on his motorcycle (PB 12 B 3987), his wife riding pillion. On receiving a signal that he was overspeeding from a gypsy, the traffic cop signalled him to stop. But Rawat was not one to be cowed down. He manoeuvred through the crowd of vehicles around him to dodge the cops and come out right on top. Again signalled to stop at the second barrier, he waved his hand at the cops, indicating his lack of intention to stop.

The cops, too, were unwilling to relent. Together, at the last barrier, they made one last effort to nab him and he crashed right into them, fell on the road. After escaping unhurt from the "crash", the cops laughed all the way to the end while Mr Rawat's bike got impounded and he was challaned for drunken driving under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act as also driving without any documents of his bike.

The drama began when both husband and wife fell to the ground, then got up and dusted themselves before the wife, seeing no way out of the situation, said the cops had manhandled her. She wept to "expose" the "ill-mannered" policemen who had dared to force them to halt and ordered her husband to stop.

The husband, under the influence of liquor, tried to pacify her and then they both tried to flee. They even stopped some passersby to muster support for themselves and against the police. The traffic cops, too, asked Rawat why he had chosen to ignore the police waving at him to stop. He stood smiling with no answers, amused at his wife's embarrassment and repeatedly asking her to cool down.

On being asked for documents of his bike, he produced his PGIMER identity card, handed it to the traffic cops and again attempted to escape from there. He was brought back again and an alchometer was asked for.

He chose not to cooperate there as well, doing exactly the opposite of what the cops told him. Asked to blow into the pipe thrice, he chose to suck in air and then sat down panting for breath.

Finally, unable to get him to behave, the traffic police handed him over to the Industrial Area police station while his wife was sent home in an autorickshaw.

Rawat was taken for a medical where he tested positive for drunken driving and was booked.



Visual disability alarming in Jammu & Kashmir
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Uttar Pradesh has another dubious distinction to its credit with the state topping the country in the number of physically challenged persons. If the latest figures released by the Department of Census Operations are to be believed, UP has 34.53 lakh physically challenged persons out of the total 2.19 crore such persons in the country.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest percentage of visual disability among all disabilities. In Jammu and Kashmir, 69 per cent of the total of about 3 lakh persons are visually impaired while Goa has only about 28 persons visually impaired.

According to figures released during a workshop on disabled population here today, Punjab has 4.24 lakh physically challenged persons and Haryana 4.55 lakh with Chandigarh having about 15,538 persons. The figures revealed that 40 per cent persons in Punjab and 44 per cent in Haryana suffered from visual-impairment. The corresponding figures for Chandigarh was 54 per cent.

However, mental health remains a cause of concern for Punjab as the percentage of mentally challenged persons was reported to be 15 per cent of the total disabled population, which was among the highest in the country.

Officials highlighted that the census figures could only be indicative in nature as there was social stigma attached to the reporting of any kind of disability, particularly mental disability.

“In India, this segment of country’s population needs a specific attempt not only for the identification of people with disability but also require special attention for creating conditions allowing people with disabilities to live life in a dignified manner,” Mr P.K. Chaudhary, Deputy Director-cum-Assistant Registrar General of the Directorate of Census Operations of Chandigarh, told The Tribune here today.

Mr Chaudhary hoped that the census would serve as an important ready reference for the key stakeholders such as planners, policy makers, and all other data user agencies associated with the welfare and upliftment of the physically challenged persons such as the governments and the NGOs.

It may be recalled that the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act makes it mandatory on the part of the governments to undertake surveys, investigations and researches concerning the causes of disability. The census for this category, which has been revived from the 2001 census, seems to be an outcome of this compulsory requirement.



Cadets, officers donate blood
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
As many as 300 gentlemen cadets along with 40 officers from the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, donated blood at a special camp organised at the academy today.

IMA Commandant, Lt-Gen K.K. Khanna and Deputy Commandant, Major-Gen T.P.S. Bakhshi were among those who donated blood. The camp was organised in association with the Indian Medical Association Blood Bank of Uttaranchal (IMABB), a statement issued here said.

A medical examination of all donors, including a hemoglobin levels and blood pressure were done to assess the suitability of donors. The IMABB also gave a commitment to supply a certain quantity of blood to the Military Hospital Dehradun.

Meanwhile, as part of the nationwide blood donation drive organised by the National Cadet Corps, cadets from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh will be donating blood at camps being organised across the three states. The target is to collect 1,000 units from this region and the Red Cross and civil hospitals have been involved in a big way.



Fauji Beat
How Srinagar airfield was saved

THOUGH Indian troops began to land at the Srinagar airfield on October 27, 1947, threat to the airfield, which was the only link with their bases, continued to mount in the first 10 days. This was because of the tribals being in a much larger number than out troops.

To save the airfield, the last defensible position at Badgam along the ridge was hurriedly occupied by a rifle company of 4 Kumaon under Major Somnath Sharma. The tribals attacked this position from all sides at about 2.30 pm. Major Sharma’s last wireless message was: “The enemy is only about 50 yards from us. We are hopelessly outnumbered. I shall not withdraw even 1 inch, but will fight to the last man, last round.” Major Sharma fell fighting along with his men. The company suffered heavy casualties. But it was able to stop the enemy’s advance. Meanwhile, the reinforcements rushed in and the tribals were forced to withdraw. Thus was saved the Srinagar airfield. Major Sharma’s pre-eminent act of valour in the face of the enemy won him the country’s fight highest gallantry award of Param Vir Chakra (posthumously) on November 3, 1947.

Liberation of Kashmir

After the green Hill battle on October 27, 1947, in which Lieut-Col Ranjit Rai, Commanding Officer (CO) of 1 Sikh, and his men fell fighting (as covered in our last week’s column) and the Badgam ridge battle, the threat to the Srinagar airfield receded.

On October 29, 161 Infantry Brigade was hurriedly formed at the Srinagar airfield on ad hoc basis with whatever units and sub-units were available and it was this brigade that fought the battle for the liberation of Kashmir. Because of the land route over the Banihal Pass getting snow bound by the third week of December, 161 Infantry Brigade was completely cut off from the rest of the Army for the next few months.

It was sheer raw courage and determination of the Indian troops that saved the valley. Our casualties were 76 officers, 31 JCOs and 996 other ranks. Of the 3152 wounded were 81 officers, 107 JCOs and 2964 other ranks. The small Royal Indian Air Forces (RIAF) lost 32 personnel, including nine officers. The Jammu and Kashmir State Forces lost about 1990 officers and men. According to one estimate, the enemy casualties were 600 killed and 19,400 wounded.

The Army won five Param Vir Chakras, 47 Mahavir Chakras and 280 Vir Chakras. Among these award winners was a civilian washerman, Ram Chander. He won Mahavir Chakra for rescuing an officer, who was wounded in an ambush, by shooting down many enemy troops.

3 Bihar turns 75

Third Battalion of the Bihar Regiment, which was raised by Lieut-Col V.W.S. Leatherdale at Agra on November 1, 1945, celebrates its Diamond Jubilee at Hyderabad on November 1.

In its 75 years of history, the battalion has served in 14 field areas of which, five were high-altitude areas and taken part in almost all operations. The battalion took an active part in J&K operations in 1948. In the 1965 war, 3 Bihar was deployed on the East Pakistan border near Agartala. In 1966, while being deployed in Mizo Hills (now Mizoram), the unit killed/captured 89 insurgents and recaptured Lungleh.

In the 1971 war, 3 Bihar captured a Pakistani outpost on the Kulsuri ridge in the Tangdhar sector. Subsequently, it captured Wanial in the Lipa valley on the night on December 15/16. The battalion took part in Operation Bajrang and Operation Rhino in Assam in 1990-91. In the latter operation, it captured 129 militants. While being deployed in the Uri sector from 1997 to 1999. it captured several militants and killed 35 Pakistani personnel, including the CO of 24 Punjab.

— Pritam Bhullar



Fire Dept’s timely action saves 10 lives
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
It was a harrowing experience for as many as 20 employees of a company — Mega Maya Estate— Sector 46-C — today afternoon after they were trapped in their office due to the dense smoke caused by a short circuit in the main electricity junction meter.

The incident, which occurred at about 1 pm, spread panic among the traders and residents of the area as they saw dense smoke coming out of the building.

A huge crowd gathered as they watched the firefighters douse the fire and evacuate 10 employees trapped on the second floor.

As many as 10 employees had earlier managed to escape from a first-floor window with the help of a ladder put up by a neighboring tent house. Two fire tenders were rushed from Sector 32 and Sector 17 to the spot.

The fire broke out in the electricity meter situated at the base of the stairs leading to the office of the Mega Maya Estate on the first and second floor of SCO 73.

The fire, which the officials allege occurred due to a short circuit in the junction box, spread quickly leaving no time for the employees upstairs to escape. The staircase was the only route of escape.

However, the quick thinking of one of the employees, Mr Prem Verma, saved his fellow employees from choking to death. Mr Verma, who was on the first floor, immediately opened the windows and raised an alarm.

To their luck, a tent house in the neighbouring SCO put a ladder to the wall and helped about 10 employees trapped on the first floor come out.

However, 10 of them on the second floor were not that lucky as no window opens out on this floor. It was the fire officials who came to their rescue and first doused the fire before rescuing the employees from the smoke.



Governor focuses on industrial growth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues today unfolded a structurally supported plan for upgrading the industrial sector and offered industrialists a partnership for the growth of this sector.

Addressing industries' associations here, Rodrigues said the Administration had focused on industrial growth by strictly pursuing the provisions in the law and the Constitution, through a totally transparent, responsive and accountable system.

He called for the formation of a core group of industrialists and senior officers of the Administration to suggest ways and means to develop and implement progressive programme for diversification of the industry.

He said the officers of the Administration had been given directions to respond to the changing needs of the industrial sector. He asked the members of the industry to bring to its notice any inadequacies or problems to further rationalise the system. 



12 protesters hurt in clash with cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The protesting veterinary pharmacists from Punjab today braved water cannons and mild cane-charge at the Matka Chowk in Sector 17, here today. The police resorted to force when the agitating unemployed youths tried to breach the barricades.

The clash left 12 protesters injured out of which four were shifted to Sector 16 General Hospital. Mr Gurlabh Singh Mansa, a veterinary pharmacist who had threatened to end his life as a mark of the protest, also sustained injuries.

He reportedly lost his mobile phone during the melee.

Addressing a gathering, the state finance secretary of the agitating veterinary pharmacists, Mangal Singh, threatened that in case their demands were not fulfilled, they would stop the functioning of the department by November 6. He also added that during the coming rally of the Minister of Forest, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, on November 5, one of their protesters might commit suicide to mark their protest.

The protesters stated that, meanwhile, their boycott of vaccine and artificial insemination would continue. They also asserted that the 99-day-old protest in front of the office of the Director, Animal Husbandry, Punjab, would also go on.



Poor sanitation, say councillors
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 30
A number of councillors complained at a meeting of the Municipal Council here today that sanitation in the town was in a state of neglect.

They said they had been given an assurance that the town would be cleaned before Divali but nothing much had been done. The situation had worsened after Divali as safai sewaks had still not cleared the leftovers of crackers in various parts of the town.

Mr Kuljit Singh Bedi said councillors should be told how many employees had been deputed for sanitation work in various wards so that a proper checking could be done. He also said only a few safai sewaks could be now and then seen sweeping roads. He said Jhotekut Colony had made matters worse for residents of Phase III B 2. A part of the road near the colony had become a breeding place for mosquitoes and flies as filth from the colony flowed onto the road.

Ms Harvinder Kaur, pointed out that she generally saw two or three safai sewaks working in her ward and certain areas were not cleaned by them for almost a month.

When a proposal related to the clearance of a payment of Rs 50,000 in connection with the visit of the Prime Minister to the town was presented in the House, Mr Bharat Bhushan Maini objected to it and said as to why did the Deputy Commissioner want the council to bear expenses when the municipal councillors were not invited for the function organised in connection with the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh.

He lamented that elected people were ignored and certain persons who only represented welfare bodies in certain sectors were invited. A number of councillors of the opposition group shared similar views and passed a dissenting note in this regard.

Some councillors also objected to certain estimates prepared in connection with some development works. They said development should be carried out in the wards first instead of giving a facelift to some parts of the town. The House cleared estimates worth over Rs 2 crore for development works in the town.



MC cancels licences of 2 parking lots
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh today cancelled the licenses of two parking lots in Sector 17 and 34 following the alleged failure of the operators to pay the installments of the bid amount. The Sector 17 contractor was running the ‘Dr Sahib Singh and Sons’ parking lot.

The corporation spokesman said the security amount deposited for the sites had also been forfeited. The Sector 17 lot was allotted to city resident Ashwani Rajput on August 31 for a period of four months commencing from September 1 at a premium of Rs 27.05 lakh during an open auction on August 29.

The other site in Sector 34 was allotted to “M/S Anil Mor & Co.” on August 1 for a period of five months, ending December 31, at a premium of Rs. 9.01 lakh during another open auction held on July 26.

Both the companies deposited the initial amount which was to be kept as security till the expiry of the licenses. The entire bid amount was to be paid in monthly installments for which postdated cheques were deposited. The cheques of both the companies for second monthly installment were, however, dishonored.

The spokesman added that the operators were given an opportunity to appear before the authorities on October 26 along with the due amount.

Mr Kumar and representative of the other company attended the hearing and requested for a day’s time, but failed to turn up along with the outstanding dues.

“Following the circumstances, it is evident that they are not interested to continue with the license of the parking lots. As such, the corporation, after considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, has decided to cancel the licenses of both the sites and forfeit the security,” the spokesman said.

He added that the corporation reserved its rights to recover the outstanding dues till the date of contract cancellation from both the companies.



MC poll: BJP alleges rigging, shows VCD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The Punjab unit of the BJP today released a video CD showing rigging and booth capturing during the MC byelections in Patiala. The party, seeking immediate annulment of the elections, alleged that the persons in the VCD were Congress workers and they had captured booths and cast ballots on their own.

The seven-minute VCD released by the BJP at a press conference showed how rigging and booth capturing was carried out in front of the police at polling stations on

Claiming the contents of the VCD to be irrefutable evidence, BJP leaders M.M. Mittal and Vineet Joshi sought a high-level inquiry.

A delegation of the party met the State Election Commissioner and party leaders would be meeting the Governor on the issue. “Getting the poll annulled would top our agenda, apart from the demand for deploying Central forces to ward off any law and order situation in the forthcoming Assembly poll, Mr Joshi said.

Mr Anil Bajaj, BJP candidate from Ward No 32, Patiala, alleged that Congress councillors Seema Sharma (Ward No 22), Kamlesh Kumari (Ward No. 19), Harvinder Singh Nippy (Ward No. 29), Rama Puri (Ward No. 16), Krishan Chand Buddu (Ward No. 26), and Sanjeev (District Youth Congress president) could be seen exercising pressure and casting bogus votes.

The claims of Punjab police chief, S.S. Virk to conduct free and fair elections had been rendered false, Mr Mittal said.



Accused booked in Hallo Majra case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
A day after the plight of two brothers of Hallo Majra village were allegedly beaten up by some villagers was highlighted in these columns, the police was booked the accused for rioting, causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

Sources in the Sector 31 police Station said Kedar Gupta, Pawan, Upinder, Kalu, Ram Babu and other persons have been booked for rioting, criminal intimidation and causing injuries by dangerous weapons on a complaint filed by the complaints. They said the matter was being investigated and action would be taken against the guilty.

The sources further said the matter was being politicised by the local leaders of the village and they were trying to mislead the investigations by implicating certain persons, who were not involved in the incident.

The brothers, Sovit and Jatinder had alleged that the police acted hand in glove with the prime accused.



Boy strangulated

Panchkula, October 30
Twelve-year-old Suraj who was found dead in the Industrial Area yesterday was strangulated to death according to a post-mortem report.

To establish whether he had been sodomised, the police has sent some samples to a lab in Madhuban. No arrest has been made so far. TNS



City hotels’ fortunes on a high
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
It is a boom time for hotels in the city. The emergence of Chandigarh as an important corporate and IT hub has meant that the floundering hospitality industry in the city is finally looking up.

Since the regional head offices of a number of corporates are located in the city, its emergence as a sports destination and a conference destination (be it in medical, corporate or educational fields) is bringing in good business for the hotel industry. The average hotel occupancy rates have gone up from 30 to 40 per cent two years before to almost 70 per cent now. The cutthroat competition between Hotel Mountview and Hotel Taj, too, has failed to bring down the occupancy rate for either of the two elite hotels.

“In fact,” says Mr J.S. Bir, Managing Director, CITCO, which runs three hotels - Mountview, Shivalik View and Park View, besides Transit Lodge, “we have only been increasing our revenue. Last year, we recorded a profit of Rs 1. 90 crore.”

In days when a major conference is taking place in the city, or when the city is playing host to big sports events, as the ICC Champions Trophy, the hotels in the city are boasting of a 110 per cent occupancy.

“As a result, till November 2, no room is available in any of the good hotels in the city. The increase in population and a growing corporate workforce has also meant that restaurants and banquets in these hotels are doing a flourishing business,” says Mr Manmohan Singh, proprietor of Hotel Aroma.

The hotels have spruced up their ambience and service, roping in not just the clientele in transit to the cooler climes of Himachal, but also a major chunk of corporate clients headed for MNC units in Baddi, Lalru and Dera Bassi, says Mr B.B. Bahl, proprietor of Hotel President and President of Hotel Association of Chandigarh.

The big industrial houses in Baddi, Lalru and Dera Bassi have permanently booked rooms in hotels for their corporates visiting the region.

The business meetings/ conferences/ dealer meetings are also being held in the city, especially because there are no good hotels in Baddi, Dera Bassi or Lalru, he adds.

The booming business has also meant that hotels are increasing the Average Room Rent (ARR). “Earlier, the hotels in the city would not revise the ARR annually. But considering the growth in the hospitality industry, most of the good hotels have been revising their ARR annually since year 2004,” says Mr Ankit Gupta, Managing Director, Hotel Himanis.

He adds that even though the newly built guest houses in the commercial areas are giving a competition to the hotels, it has not brought down business.

It is not just the hotels in the city, but also those in the neighbouring towns of Panchkula and Mohali, which are reaping the benefits that the industrialisation of the region have brought along.

After years of being treated as poor country cousins of the chic and swanky hotels in Chandigarh, the hotels in these satellite townships, too, are boasting of an average of 70 per cent occupancy.

For the past almost two years the hotel industry in these satellite towns has had a complete image makeover. Aggressive marketing, improvement in service, plush interiors and a quiet stay away from the hustle bustle of city life are their USP.



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