C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Brigadier accused of sexual harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The widow of an Army man, who was posthumously awarded the Sena Medal, today levelled allegations against the Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig J.S. Jaswal (retd), saying he was sexually harassing her and pressuring her into entering a physical alliance with him. The Brigadier has denied the charges.

Brigadier Jaswal said the widow, Raj Kaur, was facing an inquiry for levelling caste-based accusations against Ms Surinder Kaur, hence she has levelled allegations of sexual harassment to cover up for that.“I am ready for any kind of inquiry. You can ask any of my staff members, including women, about my behavioural conduct,” said Brigadier Jaswal, when he was approached following the press conference held by Ms Raj Kaur.

Ms Raj Kaur was presented before the media here by the All- India Anti-Terrorist Front chief, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta. She said she had made representations on the issue to the Chief of Army Staff, the Kendriya Sainik Board, the GOC-in-C, the Western Command and the National Commission for Women, but received “no response” so far.

“I have been subjected to sexual harassment by the Punjab Sainik Welfare Director, Brig J.S Jaiswal, who tried to compel me into having physical relations with him,” said Ms Raj Kaur. Her husband, Hav Gurmail Singh, was killed in action during Operation Rhino in Assam on August 22, 1997.

Ms Raj Kaur, a mother of two, said she had joined as a clerk in the Directorate of Sainik Welfare on December 5, 2000, and performed her duties “honestly”. She alleged that the officer had spoiled her annual confidential report (ACR) for the year 2004-05 when she turned down his sexual advances. She alleged that the Brigadier showed her pornographic material. “When I protested, he told me that he had all powers to re-write my ACR provided I concede to his demands,” she stated.

Thereafter, she alleged, Brigadier Jaswal began harassing her in one way or the other personally as well as through her personal assistant (PA) Surinder Kaur. At the press conference, the woman went on allege that the PA, Ms Surinder Kaur, was also involved in the conspiracy to harass her.

Ms Raj Kaur said she had lodged two complaints against the Brigadier, accusing him of harassing her sexually, to the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, Punjab, Ms Geetika Kalha, on September 22 and 29, respectively. However, no action had been initiated. “In October, Ms Surinder Kaur lodged a complaint alleging that I had questioned her about her caste,” said Ms Raj Kaur.

Mr Bitta, who was approached by the widow, demanded a CBI inquiry into the accusations and said, “We will get a case registered by the police against the Director of Sainik Welfare”. Mr Bitta also met the SSP of Chandigarh today with a compliant against Brigadier Jaswal.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today condemned Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for appointing Brigadier Jaswal, as Director,S ainik Welfare, and demanded a high-level probe. “A government which cannot protect the dignity and honour of war widows has no right to remain in power,” an SAD spokesman, Dr G. S. Cheema, said in a statement here.

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Bonanza for school bus operators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
In a New Year gift to school bus operators in the city, the State Transport Authority (STA) has done away with the cumbersome procedure of getting registration copies (RC) of the buses renewed every year.

The Secretary, Transport, has decided to do away with the practice of issuing a fresh RC every year. Now, the RC will be made for 15 years. The entry of road tax and vehicle passing will be made in the RC instead.

Earlier, new documents were prepared every year along with the fresh RC. It could not be ascertained whether the same relief has been extended to other categories of commercial vehicles.

Mr Manjeet Singh Saini, president of the Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association, said this would avoid duplication of work in the office of the State Transport Department and the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA).

Regarding the payment of one-time road tax from the owners of commercial vehicles with more than five seats, no decision has been taken so far.

As part of reforms the Transport Department had a few months back decided to charge one-time road tax from the owners of non-commercial vehicles with more than five seats. This has saved the vehicle owners from undue harassment of visiting the office of the RLA every year to deposit the road tax and pay extra money for preparing the registration documents.

The order has benefited the owners of several categories of vehicles, including Maruti Van and multi-utility-vehicles and sports utility vehicles.

The decision will apply to the old vehicles already registered with the RLA, Chandigarh, new vehicles and the vehicles registered with other states. The decision, however, has not been made applicable to the vehicles being put to commercial use.

The Union Ministry of Surface Transport has clarified to the Administration that those using non-commercial vehicles with more than five seats need not get these passed each year for road-worthiness. On the other hand, the passing of commercial vehicles continues as usual, said the official.

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Three accidents, 2 killed, 15 injured
Tribune News Service

This is the second accident in this month involving a Punjab Police’ bus. Earlier, a Punjab Police bus collided with a school bus of a private school at a rotary on a road separating Sectors 48 and 49. Both the vehicles were damaged in the accident. That incident also ended in a compromise.

Chandigarh/Banur, December 26
It was a day of accident-related deaths in the city and its periphery with two persons being killed and at least 15 injured in three separate road accidents.

While one person died in a head-on collision between a truck and a government bus near Banur, a 40-year-old man, a victim of road accident involving a scooter and a car in Sector 22, last night, succumbed to his injuries in PGI here this morning. The car driver was allegedly in an inebriated condition at the time of the mishap.

The victim, Vipin Kumar, a shopkeeper in Sector 22, was on his way back home when the accident occurred near the jewellers’ market in Sector 22 at around 9:15 pm. The police said that a Maruti car collided with his scooter, resulting which the kick of the scooter got entangled in the front bumper of the car. In the process, he was dragged along with his scooter to a distance before the car came to a halt. He sustained serious head injuries, besides suffering multiple fractures on his right leg. He was rushed to the PGI in a critical condition, where he succumbed to his injuries at around 9 am today.

The police said the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The car driver, Rajiv Kumar of Panchkula, was arrested on the allegations of causing death due to rash and negligent driving under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code in this connection.

In the Banur accident, Balbir Singh, the driver of the truck, died on the spot when the vehicle collided head-on when both drivers failed control the vehicles.

The injured included five members of a family—-Babita, Ashima, Kavita, Pallavi and Akhil. Sita Ram, Mehar Singh, Gopal Dass, Roshni Devi, Anil Kumar, Manoj Kumar, two unidentified persons and the driver of the bus Sukhwinder Singh, were seriously injured and admitted to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. The bus was on its way from Chandigarh to Bathinda.

In another accident, a Punjab Police bus banged into a car at a rotary on the road separating Sectors 3 and 4 early this morning. The impact of the collision was so powerful that the car rolled thrice before coming to rest after hitting the rotary. The occupant of car, Mr Tarun Ghai, escaped with a hairline fracture on his right hand in the mishap.

Narrating the incident, Mr Ghai told TNS that he was on his way to the Golf Club at around 7:30 am in his BMW car (CH-03-V-7163). He slowed down near the rotary and at the same a speeding Punjab Police bus (PB-12-C-1837) did not slow down and rammed into the front portion of his car. The car was badly damaged in the mishap.

“The bus driver did not stop there after the mishap and tried to speed away from there. People and other motorists gave a chase to the bus and managed to intercept it. Soon the police reached there. The bus driver and other police personnel sitting in the bus, in stead of admitting to their fault, began putting the blame on me”, alleged Mr Ghai.

According to Ms Pamela Sahai, an eyewitness to the accident, the attitude of the policemen was rude and arrogant.

The police said a daily diary report has been lodged in this regard as both the parties reached a compromise. However, Mr Ghai asserted that the senior officials of the Punjab Police have assured him compensation of the loss of his car and he would only compromise after being paid for his loss.

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Move to cut licence fee on liquor vends
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
With a view to implement the Central Government’s Model Excise Policy, the Chandigarh Administration proposes to reduce the licence fee for all categories of liquor vends and slightly jack up various duties on the sale of liquor.

In the existing policy for 2006-2007, there are two categories of vends, depending upon the location. For Category A, the licence fee is Rs 40 lakh while it is Rs 25 lakh for category B.

Now, it has been proposed that a one-time licence fee of Rs 25 lakh be charged. In a draft outlining the excise policy for 2007-2008, the UT Excise Department has proposed that no liquor vend be allowed in tin sheds in the inner part of the city.

However, such vends will be allowed on the outskirts and in border areas. Bar coding on the bottles will also be mandatory. There will be no restriction on the number of liquor vends in a particular sector. An existing licencee wishing to continue will be allowed to do so.

“If the number of vends does not go down, the number will also not be increased. Because the rents of shops are higher, the licence fee will be reduced to enable them to make up for the loss,” said an official.

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Passing Through

Tell us about your involvement in Hockey ?

Our endeavour is to create interest for the sport among the masses, especially the youth. This is for the third consecutive year, when we along with Western Union are jointly sponsoring two teams of Punjab - Chandigarh Dynamos and Sher-e- Jalandhar - during the two-month long third edition of the Premier Hockey League to be held at Chennai and Chandigarh from January next year.

What strategies are you adopting to attract the youth?

We have focused on the point that the youth is very much obsessed with their mobiles. The fans across the nation will be able to download a host of features like ring tones and wall papers. T-shirts, caps and other accessories of the hockey teams will be made available at the retail outlets of adidas. The telecast of the matches, too, will be glamorised in a number of ways.

Why did you choose Punjab teams?

Basically, this national sport had a rich history associated with Punjab. By sponsoring the two teams of Punjab, we hope that the PHL will build support and will contribute towards the renaissance of hockey in the state. Last year, Chandigarh Dynamos were the runners-up and this time we wish to see both teams reach higher.  — G. S. PAUL

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Residents demand proper water supply
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
The Residents Welfare Association (East), Phase X, here has demanded that water in the area should be supplied at a higher pressure so that it reached upper-floor levels.

Mr Kulwant Singh Kaler, president of the association, today said water was supplied at a low pressure in Ward No. 17 and thus the residents of the first and second floors faced problems. Moreover, the supply hours were not fixed which added to their woes. He demanded that the water pressure should be increased so that it reached overhead tanks located on the second-floor level and even supply hours should be fixed.

Mr Kaler further said residents were also facing the menace of stray dogs and other stray animals in the area. He urged the municipal authorities to do the needful in this regard. He also urged that action should be taken against persons who dumped garbage in vacant plots and also against persons whose pet dogs dirtied the residential area.

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Farmers boycott GMADA official
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
Farmers of four villages, whose land is to be acquired for the development of Sector 81, boycotted the Land Acquisition Collector of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) who visited Chilla village to announce land compensation award today. The representatives of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee said farmers of Chilla, Mauli Baidwan, Kumbra and Raipur Kalan had been called to the government primary school here today, where the Land Acquisition Collector of the GMADA had to announce the compensation award. But, the farmers boycotted the collector.

The farmers even staged a dharna on the way that led to the school and raised slogans against the Punjab Government and GMADA officials for forcibly acquiring the land.

The general secretary of the committee said farmers were not against the setting up of a science city in Sector 81, but wanted that the government should give a residential plot measuring 1125 sq yds for residential use and another plot measuring 121 sq yds for commercial purposes for each acre of land acquired under the land-pooling scheme. Farmers were not ready to give their land at a price less than the market rate.

Mr Karamjit Singh of Chilla village said at present the crops in the fields were in full bloom and no government official would be allowed to enter the fields.

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Children don thinking caps at workshop

Chandigarh, December 26
At the British Library, Sector 8, the Yuletide spirit continued even today. As a part of Christmas celebrations, a Speech and Drama Workshop for its members in the age group of four to six years, was organised here today.

Apart from inculcating reading habits and comprehensive learning skills among the children, the idea behind the workshop was aimed at utilising the creativity and imagination of the young guns. More than 30 children attended the workshop that was conducted by Ms Suprita Gill, who has been organising similar workshops called “Magic minds”, in several schools.

Mr Bipin Kumar, Manager of the British Library, said, “The workshop intends to sharpen the creativity of every young member of the British Library family”. Starting with Ice Breaker as an introductory game, the workshop also had interesting tasks for the children, such as breathing exercises, clay molding and shaping, etc. A mini drama based on a popular story, ‘The Gingerbread boy’ was perhaps the most interesting part of the workshop. The children also acted out a humorous poem called ‘A Hippopotamus Sandwich’ by Shel Silverstien. At the end of the day, children acquired skills coated with lots of fun. TNS

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New Year festival begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Chandigarh New Year Festival began here today.

A large number of children from different parts of the city participated in a painting workshop organised at Sector 17 Plaza. The workshop was organised by the Chandigarh Tourism Department in collaboration with the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.

Art faculty from different educational institutions taught techniques of art and painting to the children. Children from various colonies in the city also participated in the event. They were provided with drawing sheets and colours by the Chandigarh Tourism Department. The transportation facility was also arranged for them.

The Director Tourism, Mr Vivek Atray, supervised the function and shared his thoughts with children. Members of the Business Promotion Council, Sector 17, and many eminent citizens were also present on the occasion.

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Club celebrates silver jubilee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Executives’ Club celebrated its silver jubilee at the CGA golf range here yesterday.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, said professionals in every field should endeavour to protect democratic values. He said a large population of the country was deprived of its right to education, right to equality, right to follow a religious belief and the right to medical care, which were fundamental democratic values.

“There is a need to change people’s mindset since superstitions and the caste system is dividing the country,” he said.

The Executives’ Club was formed in 1981 by executive representatives of different outstation companies.

Mr. S.K. Popli, founder member, Dr A.K. Vig, club President, Mr A.S. Deepak, Mr P.K. Verma, former presidents, Ms N.K. Joshi, wife of a former president of the club, and Mr Vikram Patil also spoke on the occasion.

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Councillors to take oath on Jan 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The councillors of Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) will take oath on January 1, 2007, at the assembly hall of the Municipal Corporation, New Deluxe Building, Sector 17.

As per Section 35 of the Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, as applicable to Chandigarh, the newly-elected members and nominated members will be given oath by the Deputy Commissioner.

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Cong cell appointments
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
Mr Baljit Singh and Mr Parkash Chand have been appointed the chairman and the vice-chairman of the District Urban Development Cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, respectively.

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Man held for selling porn CDs
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
The local police today arrested a man for allegedly selling porn CDs. Jaswant Singh of Indira Colony, Mani Majra, was arrested today from his shop, being run from his residence.

The police recovered 32 porn CDs from him. A case under Section 292 of the IPC has been registered against him.

Vehicle stolen:

Mr Irfan Ahmed of Govindpura, Mani Majra, reported to the police that his Bajaj CT-100 motorcycle was stolen from Modern Housing Complex on Tuesday. In another incident Mr Risu Sood of Sector 48 lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that his Hero Honda motorcycle (MP-20-KF-9532) had been stolen from the parking lot in Sector 7 at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Two separate cases of thefts under Section 379 of the IPC have been registered.

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4 vehicles, mobile phones recovered; 2 arrested

Chandigarh, December 26
The local police arrested two youngsters for allegedly indulging in vehicle thefts and snatchings. Two motorcycles, two scooters, a gold chain and six mobile phones were recovered from them.

Giving details, the SHO of the Sector 31 police station, Inspector Har Sahai Sharma, said the accused, Mohammad Nadeem (24) and Sanjay (19), both hailing from Uttar Pradesh, were nabbed from Phase II, Ram Darbar, last evening following a tip-off. The police had information that the two were coming to Ram Darbar to dispose of a gold chain.

Giving profile of the accused, Inspector Sharma said Nayim was involved in 13 cases of thefts while Sanjay had been arrested twice for indulging in thefts. They used to work as painters in the city and were presently living at Daria village.

The police said they had snatched the gold chain in Sector 48 a few days ago. They used to carry out snatchings on stolen motorcycles. They were produced before a local court today, which remanded them in police custody for three days. TNS

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Online ticketing booms as middle-class income zooms
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The online ticket booking system is clicking like never before with passengers travelling in and out of India. The programme is expected to expand further in the near future with more and more Internet users logging on to it. As of now there are 40 million Internet users in the country.

In Chandigarh for the launch of “travelOtravel.com”, a travel portal for the Indian vacationers and explorers, Joint Managing Director of Delhi-based Joy Travels Private Limited Niti Batra says the Indian travel market, both offline and online, is valued at $13.5 billion. For calculating the same, the revenue generated through bookings is taken into consideration.

Out of the total, the online travel market as of now is estimated at $796 million. It is expected to rise to $2 billion in 2008 with the ever increasing popularity of credit cards and more people going for bookings through the Internet.

Even now, there are around 30 million credit card users in the country. As the number of Internet and credit card users grows, e-commerce platform will further gain prominence in the domestic travel industry, she adds.

Elaborating on the reasons behind the popularity of Internet bookings, she says a few people have the inclination and time for visiting travel agents.

They log on to travel sites and plan there holidays. Moreover, escalating middle-class salaries and increasing awareness is encouraging them to undertake travel, sometimes more than once a year.

“Average Indians are travelling more, farther, in larger numbers and for longer durations. They are turning to travel portals for online comparison of tariff in the hotels, along with their ratings, to help them get the best possible deal. Airline tickets for all major destinations from multiple operators are also available at “highly competitive prices”.

They can even go in for a car rental and travel insurance. Their own website with a database of over 70,000 hotel locations in the major cities of the world offers instant and real-time confirmations of bookings.

The travel desk goes up to the extent of providing the travellers information on topics, including health, worldwide weather, currency conversion, distance calculators and time zones.

 

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