C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

45.72 pc turnout in peaceful civic poll
*Fate of 172 candidates sealed *Counting tomorrow
Tribune News Service

EVM blues

Polling at a few booths in the city was stalled for some time as electronic voting machines stopped functioning. The voting process was stalled from 15 minutes to an hour at various polling stations.

Polling was stalled at Bal Bhawan, Sector 23, Model School, Sector 37, Anganwadi, Sector 26, Guru Nanak Khalsa School, Sector 30, Colony No. 4 and in Dadu Majra. Mechanics later found out that “wrong” buttons were being pressed.

Talking to TNS, Mr S.P. Marwaha, State Election Commissioner, said there was an operational defect, not a mechanical one in the EVMs.

EVMs were used for the first time in the municipal corporation elections. 

Chandigarh, December 20
The Municipal Corporation elections saw 45.72 per cent voters exercise their franchise here today. According to officials, the polling was conducted peacefully. However, supporters of various parties reported incidents of “frictions” across the city.

As many as 172 candidates were in the fray. Counting will be held on December 22.

Polling this time was around 13 per cent more than that of 2001. It was, however, around 1 per cent lower than that of 1996. Expressing happiness over the voter turnout, Mr S.P. Marwaha, state Election Commissioner, stated that it was very good that the voting percentage had increased. “It is a very good increase compared to last year. We are very happy with the voter turn out.” In 1996 46.46 per cent votes were polled while in 2001 31.75 per cent electorates cast their votes.

The maximum percentage of polling, 64.45 per cent was registered in Ward No. 24 which comprises Mauli Complex (Railway Colony), Ambedkar Avas Yojna, Mauli Complex (Charn Singh Colony), Bhagat Singh Colony, Vikas Nagar, Shivalik Enclave and Mauli Complex (Housing Board). Mukesh Basi from the Congress, Anil Kumar from the BJP and Ram Lal from the CVM, Mahboob of the SP, Ajya Verma of the NCP, Shiv Kumar of the BSP, Ram Asre of the RJD and SM Khan (Independent) are contesting elections from this ward.

The lowest percentage of polling, 33.74 per cent was witnessed in Ward No. 17 comprising Sectors 18, 19 and 21. Anju Beniwala of the Congress, Veena Kohli of the BJP and Narinder Kaur, an Independent, are candidates for this ward.

Polling started at 8 am. Till 10 am, only 6.91 per cent votes were polled. The voting picked up by noon and 20.17 per cent polling was witnessed. It steadily increased and by 2 pm 31.14 per cent and till 4 pm 41.99 per cent voters had exercised their franchise.

The cold winds and foggy weather seemed to have kept away the voters away from the polling booth. Maximum voting in the morning was witnessed in Ward No. 24 (11.84 per cent). The lowest voting of only 2.89 per cent was registered in Ward No. 1 which comprises Sectors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

Maximum voting was witnessed in the afternoon. Maximum voting in the afternoon was witnessed in Ward No. 6, reserved for Schedule Caste (women). The ward includes the area of Dadu Majra Colony, Dadu Majra and Shah Pur. The maximum votes polled here till noon was 33.85 per cent. Later, it increased to 57.36 per cent by 4 pm, again a maximum of all wards. The total votes polled here are 62.57 per cent.

Former Mayor Kamlesh from the Congress, Farmila from the BJP, Jaswinder Kaur from the NCP, Sunita from the BSP and Manjeet from the LJSP are contesting elections from this ward.

There are 55,7070 voters for the MC and panchayat samiti elections out of which 30,5027 are men.



Hung House likely 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The city may be heading for a hung House in the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh despite rhetoric displayed by the top political leadership in the city. Low voting, particularly in the urban wards, may not give clear edge to any of the major three political formations—the Congress, the BJP-SAD alliance and the Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM) — in the civic body poll, counting of which is slated for December 22.

And in that eventuality, the smaller formations like Uma Bharati’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti Party (BJSP),and the Independents may play a crucial role in elections to the post of Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor on January 1.

Though party leaders put up a brave front at parties’ prospects in the post-December 22 scenario, yet sources conceded that cobbling up majority may prove to be herculean task for the parties. “We are sure to win atleast 20 of the 25 seats as people have voted for development,” the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) chief, Mr BB Bahl, told Chandigarh Tribune.

BJP spokesman, Mr Kehar Singh Koundel, reiterated his party’s claim of securing a two-thirds majority in the elections. Rising prices and corruption were important issues in elections and the electorate want to “teach the Congress a lesson,” Mr Koundel added.

However, a senior Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity said anti-incumbency factor and rising prices had caught the fancy a substantial number of voters. With the electorate set to “dump” the non-performing Congress councillors, the party may find it difficult to cross the figure of 10. The elections were held for 25 wards and a party needs 13 seats for majority.

Similarly, the low voting and the challenge posed by BJSP may also rock the BJP-SAD alliance. In the past it has been seen that low voting and split in voters have helped “influential” candidates irrespective of the party affiliations.

The BJP is also banking on fielding new faces, which, coupled with an intensive campaign launched by its star campaigner cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu, may stand it in good stead. The Congress, on the other hand, is “elated “over the low voting, which has always “benefitted” the party, the Congress leader claimed.

In the 2001 elections, the Congress had romped home with 13 seats by polling 38 per cent votes. The BJP (19 per cent) and the CVM (16 per cent) had bagged four and three seats, respectively, in the 20-member House.



Parties allege bogus voting
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Candidates of major political parties “enjoyed the outside help” in the elections to the local Municipal Corporation held here today. The help was seen in the form of supporters, bogus voters or leaders from Punjab, who enjoy a political clout in the city.

Some of these familiar faces were quite active during the elections to the Mohali Municipal Council held in August.

Since morning, the leaders with their supporters spanned around the polling stations, especially in Ward Nos 17, 18, and 21.

“A lot of immaculate planning and pre-poll strategy at the party level went into the municipal elections as the outcome of the poll will have its repercussions on the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections,” said a senior Congress leader.

For the candidates, polling of bogus votes meant an assurance of winning the elections.

The local unit of the BJP was quick to allege that the Congress had brought about 300 persons from Punjab and Haryana to rig the poll. There were counter allegations from Congress and other parties also.

In Sector 19, inebriated supporters of a Congress candidate allegedly bashed an aged BJP worker who objected to the presence of bogus voters.

In Sector 32, Congress candidate Ravinderpal Singh Palli and Lok Jan Shakti party candidate K.S. Lamba, alleged that a businessmen-turned-politician had brought a group of bogus voters to cast votes after 5 pm.

It was alleged that the police was allowing voters to enter the polling station at Government Model High School, Sector 32, after 5 pm.

Complaints of presence of outsiders in other wards were also received.



Polling peaceful, except ...
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The polling was more or less peaceful in the city. However, tense moments were witnessed in Ward No 2 when BSP candidate Anita Sahini was denied voting right after her name was found missing in the voters’ list present with the officials there.

However, she was later allowed to vote after she produced a voters’ list, which had her name. Objections were raised that it was not possible that her name was not there as one of the prerequisites of being a candidate is that the candidate’s name should be in the electoral roles.

Mr S.P. Marwaha, state Election Commissioner, when informed, stated that a marked copy of electoral role was given to the Presiding Officer. “The Returning Officer has been asked to give an explanation, as one cannot be a candidate unless one’s name exists in the electoral role. Appropriate action will be taken after the inquiry,” he said.

Meanwhile, at many places housewives were denied the right to vote after they were unable to provide any proof of identity.

In Ward No 25, the staff on election duty objected that women had come with ID cards of their husbands. The women, however, stated that as they were housewives, all documents were on their husbands name, like electricity bills, phone bills, etc. So what should they do. It was only after the intervention of the election officials that the women were allowed to vote.

The polling at Government Model High School, Sector 19, was marred by an incident of an aged worker of the BJP being bashed by outsiders. The youths, allegedly supporters of Congress, disappeared from the scene after assaulting the aged person.

In Sector 44 (Ward No 15), the SAD candidate and Congress candidate had a heated argument over bogus polling. At one of the polling stations in Industrial Area, Phase-II, the voters were denied their right to vote after they produced letters written by the companies on their letterheads. Disregarding it as an identity proof, the election staff on duty refused to let them vote.



63 pc turnout in panchayat elections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The elections to the panchayat samiti members recorded a voting percentage of over 63 per cent.
The State Election Commissioner, Mr S. P. Marwah, said till 4 p.m., 58 per cent of the electorate had cast their vote. Constituency No 8 recorded a high of 70.36 per cent followed by constituency No 11 which had a polling percentage of 70.25 per cent. The lowest polling was recorded in constituency No 6 which recorded a polling percentage of only 54.20 per cent



Dry day: Inebriated youth kills father
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
A youth murdered his father on a dry day in an inebriated condition. The provocation: Not being served his choicest meal.
The incident took place in Bhaskar Colony, Sector 25, last night when a 23-year-old-youth allegedly bludgeoned his 75-year-old father to death.

The accused, Sanjay, returned home at around 12 in the night and had quarreled with his mother, Prakashi, over meal, which he did not like.

On seeing him quarreling with his mother, his father, Ram Singh, intervened and fell prey to his son's wrath, the police said.

Sanjay, a ragpicker, under the influence of liquor repeatedly smashed his father's head with a heavy wooden baton until the victim collapsed. Prakashi, unable to control him, ran out of the house crying for help. She went to the residence of her another son, Mangal, who lives nearby and informed him about the incident.

Meanwhile, people and neighbours gathered there and called the police. A police control room vehicle rushed the seriously injured victim to the Sector 16 General Hospital, where he was declared dead by doctors, said Inspector Puran Chand, SHO of the Sector 11 police station.

The police initially registered a case of attempt to murder, but later converted it into a case of murder and causing hurt under Sections 302 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint filed by Prakashi.

The police said Prakashi in her complaint alleged that Sanjay came home late in the night and had a quarrel with her over not cooking a meal of his choice.

She said he did not listen to her and began to assault her. On seeing this, her husband, Ram Singh, who was sleeping woke up and intervened. At that Sanjay got violent and attacked his father with a wooden baton.

He hit his father on his face and head repeatedly. He also hit her and she ran out of the house crying for help. She suffered injuries on her head.

However, talking to mediapersons in the hospital, she maintained that she sustained injuries as she fell on the staircase.

Asked from where the accused procured liquor on a dry day, the SHO said they did not ask him about it. He, however, said the accused, being an addict, might have had liquor with him. He was produced before a local court, which sent him to judicial remand for 14 days.



Bill being introduced in Parliament to check unsolicited mobile calls
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Your quintessential accompaniment all around — mobile phone — is invading your privacy, every single moment of your life. From the spam calls and sms alerts by your cell phone operator or by banks and/or insurance companies, to being forced to part with your cell phone before entering several government buildings or during air travel — ensures that you cannot remain ‘connected’ at your own will.

Telemarketing — be it the marketing of schemes started by your mobile service provider, or the schemes started by any bank or insurance company or a direct marketing company — can catch you unawares at any point of time. On a holiday; while negotiating your way through a stream of traffic; or, even early in the morning or late into the night. And imagine getting one of these annoying calls from a telemarketer when you are in the midst of an important business conference, say in London, Mumbai or Bangkok, and then being billed for answering the call on roaming! Sounds absurd? It happens all the time!

Interestingly, many cell phone operators, instead of helping their subscribers tide over this problem, have launched call block services. The subscribers have to pay for blocking each number that sends them a telemarketing call, including the calls made by the service provider. Though most operators offer “do not disturb” services, where the subscriber can register to block the calls by the service provider, but in most cases these are of little help as subscribers continue to be bombarded with these unwanted and unsolicited calls.

Official spokesmen of both Spice Telecom and Airtel informed TNS about their ‘do not disturb’ services to deal with calls by the service provider. They, however, expressed helplessness in dealing with the spam by telemarketers.

“Though telemarketing is a legitimate business, it cannot be an unbridled action. The need of the hour is to bring in legislation to identify spam, frame rules to take action against the spammers. A ‘national do not disturb registry’ could be set up and telemarketers should register with this and abide by the rules for telemarketing. The problem has become serious, which explains why a Bill is being introduced in Parliament to check unsolicited calls,” said Mr T.V. Ramachandran, Director-General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

This is not all. The ‘indiscriminate’ use of jamming devices by the authorities in high security government buildings, VIP areas and even in jails for security reasons, is also affecting the people residing in the vicinity of these areas. Because of jammers being installed, these people cannot use a mobile phone, even in case of an emergency.

Mr Ramachandran informed TNS that COAI had written to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) that instances of allowing jamming devices should be few and far between. “The government can make the Wireless Planning and Coordination Cell in the DoT as a central agency for allowing cases of installation of jamming devices,” he added. 



Watch out

DR V.K. Chhabra, a leading family physician in the city, will be cruising on the Arabian Sea, from Goa to Mumbai, to participate in a three-day conference — Inspire 2006 — Update in Chest Medicine, beginning Thursday. A number of specialists and super specialists in chest medicine will be participating in the conference where the latest techniques and treatment facilities in pulmonary medicine will be discussed. Dr Chhabra will be presenting his views on the chest medicine advances in the city. 



In Town

Back from Pakistan Ludhiana-based Punjabi scholar and literary critic M.S. Cheema is in the city on the invitation of the Secretary General of the Punjab Arts Council. M.S. Cheema, known as the encyclopaedia of Punjabi literature, is admired both in India and Pakistan especially after the release of his latest book ‘Signature’ at the Nehru Centre, London, recently. He will review the maintenance of the archives of the old folk musical instruments on the verge of extinction at the Arts Council archives and the modalities for providing representation to the folk artists from the Doaba region.



Passing Through

R.S. Seshadri
R.S. Seshadri, Director, TILDA Riceland 

How would you rate the growth in the Indian basmati market?

India is not just increasing its basmati exports, the domestic market is growing at a high rate. As of now, the Indian basmati market is valued at Rs 800 crore, and within a few years, the domestic market in India would be the largest in the world.

What is needed to ensure a steady domestic growth in basmati?

At this point of time, what is needed is the setting up of standards for basmati for domestic consumers. Though we have standardisation for basmati exports, no such facility exists for the domestic market. In most developed countries, like the UK, consumers have the benefit for DNA testing. Since we are the home of basmati, consumers here, too, should have access to quality and standards.

What are the initiatives that Tilda has taken to preserve authenticity of basmati production, processing and marketing?

We have set up Ricesearch (a DNA laboratory); a farmers advisory cell to make basmati growing less risky and more profitable for farmers; and, created FOSTER (field of systematic trials and experiments).

— Ruchika M. Khanna



SAD youth leader flays govt policies
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 20
The Congress had exploited various sections of society, including, farmers, businessmen, employees, workers and Dalits, during its regime in the state.
This was stated by Mr Harsukhinder Singh Babbi Badal, general secretary of the youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at a rally held in Phase XI here today. The youth leader said the government had shown no concern for the common man who was finding it very difficult to make both ends meet due to rising prices.

He criticised the Punjab Chief Minister for making alleged policies on forcible acquisition of agricultural land at throwaway prices and uprooting farmers. He said the government had planned to acquire about 12,000 acres for mega projects and farmers were not being given the market price for their land.

The government was spending crores of rupees on inserting advertisements in newspapers to get credit for various works, thus misleading the public even when Punjab was in a state of neglect. A large number of industrial units had closed down in the state in the past years. The state was under debt even though the government had scrapped various posts and not made fresh recruitments, he added,

Mr Badal said SAD workers were ready to play a major role in the coming elections and were all prepared to spread the message of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, in every village. 



Blast triggers panic at Mani Majra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
There was panic in Mani Majra following an explosion near the Solitaire hotel this afternoon. The explosion ripped through the skull of a bitch, killing it on the spot. No one was reportedly injured in the blast.

The police called experts from Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) and forensic team of the Chandigarh Police to pick clues at the spot.

The headless body of the animal was lying on the pavement near a hotel. The explosion was so powerful that pieces of flesh were found scattered in the area of about 50 metres. A part of its body was found across the road.

According to the eyewitnesses, the incident took place at around 2 pm when they heard a loud blast and saw the animal tossed in the air about 15 feet. Soon the area filled with thick smoke and people scurried for safety. As the market was closed in view of the Municipal Corporation elections, there were not many people at the place. Otherwise, the police said, the blast could have caused more damage.

Mr Hira Singh, an eyewitness said, he saw the animal coming from the bus stop side carrying a polythene bag in its mouth just before the blast. He said thick smoke, which filled the area, dispelled after about five minutes.

The Director of the CFSL, who reached the spot, told mediapersons that it was premature to say anything at this stage. Samples had been collected from the spot.

The forensic experts said they had collected threads of jute, which are generally used in making crude bomb. They have also taken four damaged pavement slabs into their possession.

The DSP (East), Mr Prem Singh Malik, said the matter was under investigation. He, however, said, “So far we believe that the explosion might have caused by some crackers. Eatables and crackers are used in marriages and their presence near a hotel is not uncommon”.

He, however, said the body of the canine had been sent for a post-mortem examination.



Panchkula becoming city of crime 
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 20
Four days, three thefts, two clashes, two snatchings and unprovoked beating up of two boys by policemen — shocking statistics for a district considered to be Haryana’s show window and whose resident list includes the Deputy Chief Minister and ministers of the Haryana government.

In the last few months, the crime graph of the city has gradually risen with chain snatchings reported every other day and thefts becoming a routine affair. While insecurity is niggling the residents, criminals continue to have a field day robbing unguarded homes.

This despite police claims that patrolling has been intensified in the city and new PCRs have been added to the existing fleet. Interestingly, none of the major thefts reported in the city have been cracked so far.

The police stance on rising crimes is very clear — the public is to blame. “Thefts are rising in the city because residents leave their house unattended and proceed on vacation. We can’t keep an eye on every house in every locality till we have information for the same. They must at least inform the nearest police post about their absence or leave behind somebody trustworthy,” the DSP (City), Mr Om Prakash, says.

He said the CIA I and II staff had been involved to solve the incidents of theft.

The residents, however, have a divergent point of view, maintaining that the police is just not bothered about the thefts in the city. The policemen are either on VIP duty or busy without any substantial results.

Mr S.C. Papneja, general secretary of the Sector 16 Residents Welfare Association, says, “The police in our city is on one track. They just pick up an issue and go all out to deal with it. These days challaning has become an obsession with the police, so crime is going unchecked. Every policeman is only thinking of tackling traffic violators. Nothing else seems to be important to them.”

Residents are also critical of the police’s attitude of washing its hands off the various crimes committed at various meetings with the residents welfare associations. “They keep telling us that the residents must act more responsibly. The real problem is that the police fear is missing in the minds of the criminals. They may be out there but they are totally ineffective. No cases have been solved and nobody has been caught. So, there is no reason to fear the police,” maintains S.K. Nayar, president of the association.

Citing laxity on the part of the police to nab criminals as the main cause for rising crime, the president of the Sector 8 Residents Welfare Association, Mr G.C. Kansal, opines, “Most couples go out for work during the day, making their houses vulnerable to thefts. Then, the migrant population is also growing in the city and most of these people are on the lookout for such homes. Also, at meetings with us they make tall claims but police-public interaction in the city has failed before it even took off.”

Now, the latest offer of the cops is that gates should be installed at entry points in an attempt to block easy entry of thieves on the pattern of gates already installed in the lanes of some sectors.

They have suggested that watchmen should also be deputed in all areas to cut down crime in the city. The onus, thus, rests with the residents.



India needs effective library policy framework: Expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Social Sciences in India have not received the due attention they deserve. Social scientists must come out of their narrow groove in the globalised world. This was stated by Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director-General, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), while inaugurating the four-day workshop-cum-symposium on the "Role of Information Technology for the Advancement of Social Science Research", at CRRID here today.

The seminar is being organised in collaboration with the National Social Science Documentation Centre (NASSDOC) and the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. He said by promoting multi-disciplinary research, CRRID was responding to this situation and highlighted the supportive role which information technology could play in this context.

Social scientists, research scholars, university and college teachers and librarians from the city are participating in the symposium. The objective of this workshop is to expose the participants to the latest information and communication tools and technologies for exploring social science information is digitised world.

Dr S.K. Mangal, Senior Adviser, CRRID, said that Information Technology today was an indispensable vehicle for advancement of knowledge, and every sphere of human activity. He visualised "digital libraries" as the future libraries, and India with its headway in Information Technology could be the forerunner in this respect. Mr M. Satyapal, Former Secretary, GOI and Adviser, Planning Commission, underlined the challenges to which social science should respond in the wake of phenomenal changes brought out by the resolution of Information Technology and the pressure of globalisation. He made a plea for promoting library culture to impart impetus to social science and for that India should formulate an effective library policy framework. Presenting his paper in the first technical session of the workshop, Prof Gopal Krishan gave an account of history of social sciences in India and reflected on the shift in themes of their interest since Independence. He dwelt on the changing role of librarians in the face of change brought out by the Information Technology.

In the second technical session, Mr P.V. Rao, Librarian, MGIPSA, gave a talk on the "Institutional Repositories" and the importance they have in the digitised world.



Terrorism: Experts for more teeth to police 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Top security experts in the country have expressed their serious concern over the prevailing security scene in the country. In a signed statement, they have demanded more teeth for the police and also change in laws to deal with terrorism.

The statement has been signed by Mr Brahma Chellaney, Mr B. Raman, a former Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Lieut-Gen. V. K. Nayar, a former Governor of Manipur and Nagaland, Mr G. Parthasarathy, a former Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr A. K. Doval, a former Director, Intelligence Bureau and Mr Prakash Singh, a former Director-General, BSF.

They have demanded that the police must be adequately empowered and given full backing in dealing with terrorism. The statement says the Union Home Minister’s recent address to the police chiefs of the country should be an eye-opener. The minister had reiterated the threat to nuclear installations.

Earlier, the National Security Adviser had expressed his concern over terrorist threat to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, and to the Kaiga plant in Karnataka. Oil refineries along the coast were also being targeted by terrorists. Lashkar-e-Toiba and other terrorist groups had reportedly decided to use the sea routes to infiltrate.

“Terrorists are spreading their tentacles all over the country. Their objective is to destabilise the polity, cripple our economy and fracture our social cohesion. Though officers and men are sacrificing their lives, but the war against terror requires a comprehensive strategy and a stringent anti-terror law is an essential component of that. Western democracies have not hesitated in enacting such laws. However, we find ourselves hamstrung by political considerations.”, they said.

The existing laws are woefully inadequate to deal with the threats. The experts urged the government to take cognizance of the threats and face these boldly, irrespective of the costs involved and the sacrifices that have to be made. 



Night Life
Farmhouse bashes the latest fad
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Placed far from the rules of social existence and inhibitions on the freeway meandering its way through the hustle and bustle of city life, you miss noticing so many extravagant farmhouses flourishing near Zirakpur during the daytime.

In fact you tend to whiz past them unconcerned, if parties or marriage ceremonies are not commemorating their holy union with the partying crowd in the hours of daylight. For, there is nothing to suggest the rising importance of these “semi-detached” nests in the lives of nocturnal birds celebrating a bash called life.

But drive down the road late in the evenings and you find the Warehouse, Richmond Gardens and so many other farmhouses dazzling with partying crowd in dancing shoes, getting ready to trip the light fantastic on the polished floor during the bashes. For, the party scene is fast shifting from here to some of these farmhouses on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Patiala highway.

"Gone are the days when the farmhouses were only for occasional fashion shows and private parties where only friends of friends were called strictly through invites," says Akashdeep of event management group Popcorn. "Now it’s free for youngsters willing to pull out crisp currency notes from their wallets".

The bashes, the organisers insist, are “absolutely” safe as only single girls are welcome. “The entry of stag guys is strictly prohibited,” he asserts. 



Speaking Out
‘Justice still exists in India’

Kanu Priya
Kanu Priya

Lokesh Kashyap
Lokesh Kashyap


Kunal Sood
Kunal Sood

Chandigarh, December 20
The Delhi High Court judgement, awarding life imprisonment to Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall murder case, has got the thumbs up from the city. Residents have termed it as “victory for justice and the media”.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Kanu Priya, a student of MA Sociology, Panjab University, said, “Finally after more than seven years, justice has been delivered in the case. After a long time Indian democracy is taking the right path. It has set a defined example for the people like Manu Sharma who try to take advantage of their political backgrounds. Media has, indeed, played a significant role from reopening of the case to its verdict”.

Lokesh Kashyap, Project Head in an event management company said: “Life sentence to Manu Sharma shows the variation between the results of two courts in a democracy. The Lower Court let him off without any punishment, whereas the decision of the High Court has helped maintain faith that justice still exists in India.

“Though the justice was delayed, but finally it came. The role of media was indeed great, but it cannot highlight every case and many Manu Sharmas are still to be convicted.”

Echoing same sentiments, Rahul, an engineering student at Government Polytechnic, said, “Manu Sharma tried a lot to use his political connections but the Judiciary proved its superiority over political power. The justice in India still prevails, but delay in justice is something the Judiciary has to work upon. Many such cases are lingering on and media should continue with its role in bringing the culprits to justice. Media has become another way of getting justice in today’s era.”

Kunal Sood, who is doing an animation course, was of the view that Manu Sharma should have been given death sentence for his act. The Judiciary in India is not quick and the delay is always a judicial affair, which can be averted. Media played really a crucial role and needs to be applauded for its act, he said.

— A Correspondent



Oustees urge govt to allot plots

Mohali, December 20
The Pre-1966 Punjab Capital Project Oustees Rehabilitation Committee, Mohali, has urged the Punjab Chief Minister to allot plots to 6,000 capital project oustees at the 1966 price schedule to rehabilitate them.

Mr H.S. Billing, general secretary of the committee, said here today that the land to the oustees could be made available through Cooperative House Building Society.

He said the government should announce before the elections that land would be reserved for the oustees in the area falling under the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority.

He said if the government fulfilled the genuine demand of the oustees after 43 years, all members would vote for the Congress. He said the oustees had a vote bank of 50,000. — OC



Two cops suspended
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 20
Two cops involved in the beating up of two boys in the Sector 9 market were suspended today. The personnel of the Haryana Armed Police, Ajit and Rakesh, were accused of beating Sameer Chadha and Abhinav Bansal, students of Class XI, without provocation.

The boys were getting their bike repaired in the Sector 9 market when the two policemen stopped near them and asked for the papers of the vehicle before beginning to hit them relentlessly. The cops, however, had held that the boys were involved in an eve-teasing incident.



Dhillon new SSP of Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 20
Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon took over as SSP of Mohali district here today. He replaces Mr Naunihal Singh who has been transferred to Jalandhar.

Mr Dhillon said he would stress on the maintenance of law and order in the area. Public-police relations will be strengthened and all pending matters will be sorted out 

When asked about the community policing project launched by Mr Naunihal Singh, Mr Dhillon said work on the project would continue.

Mr Dhillon, who belongs to the Punjab police cadre has served as SSP at Barnala, Sangrur, and SSP (Vigilance), Ludhiana. 



Thieves strike at house, decamp with gold
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 20
Thieves struck at a house in Sector 4 here today and decamped with 12 tolas of gold, some foreign currency and a Rado watch among other items. The owner of the house, Mr Randhir Singh Dhindsa, was away with his family for a vacation when the incident took place.

A neighbour informed Mr Dhindsa about the theft this morning while he was still in Delhi. "It's not much of a loss but the fact that my privacy has been invaded is a matter of concern," he said. The exact estimate of the loss will be known once the family is able to settle the scattered belongings.

The servant working at the house of the Dhindsas said everything was in order when he checked the house at 3 am last night. He came back this morning and found that the lock had been broken open and the house had been ransacked.

Mr Dhindsa said the servant was supposed to have slept at the house all through the fortnight while the family was away. "He stays one house away from my residence and his wife works at our place. He is only trying to cover his tracks by saying that he checked the house at 3 am. I don't rule out his involvement in the incident," he stated.

Meanwhile, the police carried out its investigations and registered a case in the matter.

The thieves left behind a shawl in the garden and a slipper, which was found near the gate. They also "treated" themselves to food before executing the theft and left the oven on. 



Drunk cop crushes youth to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
A police personnel in an inebriated state allegedly crushed a youth to death and injured two persons on the Rajpura-Chandigarh road last night. An inebriated Joginder Pal, posted at the Sadar police station here,was on his way from Rajpura to Chandigarh when he allegedly lost control over his car and rammed into the bicycle of Narinder Kumar (18), who was going to his village. Narinder Singh and Harish Kumar, who were on their bicycles, to were injured.

Meanwhile, high drama was witnessed at the local Civil Hospital when Joginder Pal, who was arrested, created a scene there. The injured were admitted to the hospital.

A case has been registered.



Two arrested with liquor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Two persons, including a woman, were arrested on the charge of illegally possessing liquor yesterday.
The police said Krishna Devi of Sector 29 was arrested from her residence with three cartons of whisky. In another incident, Joginder Singh of Dadu Majra Colony was held on the allegations of possessing 15 bottles of whisky and four bottles of country-made liquor.

Two separate cases under the Excise Act have been registered.

Car stolen: Mr Charanpal Singh Bawa of Sector 8-C lodged a complaint with the police that his car was stolen from Sector 9-D yesterday. He told the police that he had gone to ICICI Bank in the sector and returned within 15 minutes and found his car missing. The matter was reported to the police and a case of theft has been registered.

Motor cycle stolen: Mr Tenzin Dakpa of Sector 15-D reported to the police that his motor cycle was stolen from near the Sector 16 General Hospital on Monday. A case of theft has been registered this.

Robbery: Mr Rajesh Bhardwaj of Solan district in Himachal Pradesh filed a complaint with the police alleging that an unidentified pedestrian robbed him knife point of his brief case containing Rs 1200, some clothes and a wrist watch at knifepoint on Tuesday night near Mini Secretariat in Sector 17. A case has been registered.



Chadha Group signs Kapil
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev has been signed as brand ambassador by The Chadha Group to endorse its residential township project, Westend Estate, in Mohali. Under the project, the group will develop sports infrastructure for residents under the supervision of the cricketer.

According to Mr Manpreet Singh Chadha, Director of the project, "We are developing the township on the pattern of sports villages. It will have international-standard sports facilities such as a cricket field, an air-pistol shooting range, a football ground, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and a billiards pool. These facilities will be exclusively available to the residents of the township."

Speaking on the occasion, Kapil Dev said: "Providing world-class sports infrastructure in the country is the need of the hour and is necessary to produce more champions in the country.”



Get set for surprises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Christmas may still be nearly a week away, but commercial houses have come out with bag full of yuletide surprises for city residents.
At Cafe Coffee Day, you can take part in the “Be a Santa” contest. Buy two gift certificates of Rs 202 and forward the bill number and the outlet’s name at a specified number through an SMS.

As many as 50 contestants win trademark coffee mugs every week. Besides this, 200 Santas will win holiday discount vouchers every week. A lucky winner will win a night cruise experience for two. The contest is open till December 31.



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