C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Ex-cop suspects Pandher behind his son’s disappearance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
After the recovery of children’s skeletons from Nathari village residence of Moninder Singh Pandher, a local businessman, the demand for starting digging at his Sector 27 house here for possible recoveries is gaining ground.

In a new twist to the case, Rajinder Chopra, a former constable with the Chandigarh Police, whose 17-year-old son had gone missing in October 2000, today expressed suspicion that his son might have been kidnapped and killed by Pandher. He came to the Sector 27 residence of Pandher carrying the documents of the missing son’s report and pictures of his son and asked the mediapersons camping outside the house to highlight his plight.

Rajinder took voluntary retirement from the Chandigarh Police in 1998. He has a son and a daughter. Jatinder was his second child. He said he had no rivalry with anyone in the city.

Rajinder, a resident of Sector 20, told the mediapersons that his son, Jatinder Chopra, a Class XI student at that time, had gone out for a saunter one fine morning and did not come back. The matter was reported to the police and a daily dairy report was lodged in Sector 19 police station.

“Since the day my son went missing, I have not heard anything about him. I have travelled to every corner of the country in order to trace him, but in vain. Now that the media has brought the shocking recovery of skeletons to light, I suspect that my son could have fallen prey to Moninder Pandher’s perversion”, he told mediapersons.

Expressing displeasure over the functioning of the Noida Police, he said it did nothing to investigate the local links of the nefarious criminals and did not search his house. He demanded that the police should dig up Moninder’s house here at the earliest.

Questioned about the reason behind his suspicion, Rajinder asserted that though he did not know Pandher, but the revelation of the heinous crime forced him to believe the same person could be behind his son’s disappearance.

Rajinder said he had contacted the DSP (East) in this regard and the latter gave him an appointment.

Meanwhile, a police team from Noida carried out search at Pandher’s residence this evening. The police team comprising three sub-inspectors and two constables remained inside the house for about one-and-half-hours. It, however, said nothing incriminating was found during the search. It also questioned the family members and servants in connection with the case.



Mayors’ poll: Nominated councillors hold the key
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Lobbying for the post of the Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) has picked up momentum with the Deputy Commissioner (DC) today fixing January 11 as the date of elections.

The DC, Mr R.K. Rao, who is also the prescribed authority for elections under the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 as applicable to UT of Chandigarh, issued a notification fixing January 6 as the last day for filing nominations. The detailed programme, however, will be issued by the Secretary of the MCC.

The announcement woke up the Congress from its slumber and the party has called a meeting of the newly elected councillors tomorrow apparently to chalk out the strategy.

In a house of 35 members, the Congress has a strength of 13 councillors, including the local MP, who is ex-officio member, and the party is banking on the support of the nine nominated councillors to have its candidate elected as the Mayor. The post of the Mayor is reserved for a woman councillor for the first year.

On the other hand, the BJP-SAD alliance has a strength of eight members followed by the Chandigarh Vikas Manch, which had the support of four councillors. This makes the contest dependent on the support of nominated councillors. The BSP also has one councillor in the civic body.

The nominated councillors have already gone on record saying that they would support a candidate with a “clean image” who has the interest of the city uppermost in his mind. This will mean that party politics might not have much say in the elections.

The meeting, to be held at the Assembly Hall, Deluxe Building, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh in Sector 17, will be chaired by a nominated councillor, Dr A.P. Sanwaria, for the contest to the Mayor’s post.



Councillors take oath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
It was a day to renew their commitment to the development of the city for “old timers” while the newcomers, standing in the House, seemed in complete awe of the atmosphere there.

The Municipal Corporation wore a festive look and rolled out a red carpet welcome to the newly elected councillors who were administered the oath to discharge their duties in accordance with the Constitution.

The New Year dawned amidst a lot of excitement as newly elected councillors and veteran councillors along with nominated councillors trooped in with their families for the big day. While all benches in the House were occupied, the visitors’ gallery too saw a house full with seats occupied by husbands, wives and children of the councillors.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.K. Rao, read out the names of the councillors of the new House. While the nominated councillors were administered the oath first, the elected councillors were called ward-wise.

After the ceremony, the councillors had a small get-together outside the House which was attended by their supporters as well. The veteran councillors were distinguishable by their calm attitude while the “new lot” was more boisterous and peppy. The first meeting ended with a photo-session of the councillors.



Harassed firm gets 10 lakh insurance claim
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , January 1
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, has allowed an insurance claim of over Rs 10 lakh to a Ludhiana-based firm manufacturing different kinds of spare parts.

Holding the National Insurance Co Ltd responsible for harassing and denying genuine claim to the complainant company, the Commission has directed the insurance company to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation for the mental agony caused and Rs 10,000 as the cost.

The complainant company, Ganesh Trading Co, through one its partner, B.D. Bansal, had prayed before the commission that it was engaged in trading all kinds of spare parts and getting all kinds of parts insured regularly through the insurance company.

The company had got all the items insured for a sum of Rs 1.50 crore. The company also got an insurance policy for cash transit from Ludhiana to anywhere in Punjab, within 200 km. The cash vest with a maximum limit of Rs 5 lakh, kept in the company office on the Ferozepore Road, was also insured.

On December 19, 2000, the office was closed. The next day being a Sunday, the office again reopened on December 11, 2000. But on December 11, it was noticed that the shutters had been broken and Rs 1,40,000 along with spare parts worth Rs 9,01,129 were missing.

Subsequently, a police complaint an FIR was lodged under Sections 380 and 457 of the IPC. Arun Mehta, a surveyor of the insurance company, visited the spot and prepared an inventory of items.

Thereafter, another surveyor, Mukesh Gupta, visited the premises and checked the relevant papers. After the police failed to trace the stolen items, it sent an untraced report. The insurance company did not settle the claim despite having verified the theft.

After the lapse of a period of over seven months, the aggrieved company moved the Punjab State Commission. After hearing both the parties, the Punjab Commission relegated the complaints to have their remedy before the civil court.

Aggrieved by the order, the company moved the National Commission which set aside the order of the Punjab Commission and redirected the case to the UT Commission on July 13, 2005. After hearing both the parties, the orders were passed by the UT State Commission.



DSW: Bitta seeks CBI probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The pressure on Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab Brig J.S. Jaswal (retd), mounted today as more people and ex-servicemen came out in the open alleging sexual misconduct. The All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF), headed by Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, today demanded a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the functioning of the Directorate of Sainik Welfare (DSW), Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here, AIATF president Maninderjit Singh Bitta alleged that the rest houses were being used for immoral acts, funds, including Flag Fund, were being misused and recruitments were being made in violation of the rules.

The Director, Brig Joginder Singh Jaswal, has denied the allegations saying some employees against whom disciplinary action had been taken during his over three-year tenure were behind the campaign aimed at his “character assassination”.

Mr Bitta alleged “widows of army personnel working in the directorate are being harassed and sexually exploited and the families of killed army personnel were also being harassed”.

He said after he recently highlighted the case of a woman employee who accused the Director of sexual harassment, many other employees had approached him with their grievances against Jaswal.

“Nothing less than a CBI probe can bring out the truth,” he said, adding that some of the victims had given affidavits and some women were not ready to come out in the open due to social stigma.

Mr Bitta presented before media persons some ex-servicemen who alleged that they had suffered in the DSW even before the present Director joined.

“We demand that some civil officers should be posted in the directorate as ex-servicemen employed in the DSW exploit us due to rank differences,” Chairman of Ex-servicemen’s Cell, Mr Bhim Sen Sehgal, said. A woman employee appeared before the media with her daughter alleging that the Director and his personal assistant harassed her. Brig Jaswal, however, claimed the woman in question had faced disciplinary action.

Mr Bitta alleged that senior bureaucrats, including the Principal Secretary of the Sainik Welfare Department were giving patronage to the Director. “We would request the senior bureaucrats to act and not to support Jaswal,” he said. About Rs 1 crore was spent from defence funds to visit countries in Europe.

Mr Rajesh Sharma, president of the Chandigarh unit of the AIATF, said they were collecting details and would soon present a memorandum to the Union Defence Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, highlighting the alleged irregularities.

Sharma alleged that the widows and parents of dead army men had to pay a minimum cut of 30 per cent out of the ex gratia and other grants given by the directorate on behalf of the government. Jaswal, denying the allegations, said various funds, including ex gratia, were distributed as per rules.

Denying the allegation of misuse of the rest houses for “sexual exploitation”, he said, “These are allegation of some perverted mind. There is no question of harassment of any kind of women,” he said, adding that all those speaking out were facing enquiries.

The income of the rest houses during his three-year tenure had increased by more than five times, Jaswal claimed, and said that one could judge whether the rest houses were being used unauthorisedly during his tenure or before his joining.



New Year ushered in with unabated cold wave

Chandigarh, January 1
The mercury stayed low, ushering the New Year with unabated cold wave in many parts of north-west India even as dense fog affected rail and road traffic at different places in the region today.

Chilly winds swept Punjab and Haryana as the minimum temperature hovered 2°C to 3°C below normal despite the cold wave having abated from these states. Ground frost is likely to occur at few places in the twin states for the next two nights, according to the Weather Office here.

Several areas in the region were shrouded in thick fog, which reduced the visibility to zero at Amritsar, Adampur, Halwara, Sirsa, Bhatinda, Suratgarh, Udhampur and Palam in Delhi.

The dense fog adversely affected the rail services on Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Jammu routes with most of the trains running four to nine hours behind the schedule, a report from Jalandhar, quoting a railway spokesman, said.

The fog which forced vehicular traffic to move at snail’s pace with headlights on, cleared as the day advanced.

The temperature hovered 2°C below normal in Punjab where Amritsar recorded 2°C, followed by Adampur, near Jalandhar, registering 2.4°C, Ludhiana 3.9°C and Patiala 5°C.

In Haryana, the minimum stayed 3°C below normal at Ambala recording 3.9°C while Narnaul showed 4.5°C and Karnal 5.5°C. Hisar recorded 6°C which was 1°C above normal.

A piercing cold wave swept Himachal Pradesh following further fall in the temperature. The cold wave is likely to continue for the next two days. Sundernagar in Mandi district recorded 0.3°C and Bhuntar in Kulu district 0.6°C.

Kangra and Kulu valleys and the capital town of Shimla also reeled under cold wave. Shimla recorded the minimum temperature at 1.6°C.

Chandigarh and its adjoining areas in Punjab and Haryana were also under the impact of cold weather conditions with the city recording 4.6°C, 2°C below normal. Icy-cold winds blew across the city during the night.

Cold wave also lambasted the Kashmir Valley with Srinagar recording minus 0.3°C.

The Met Office has predicted mainly sunny days in the region with fog or mist during night and morning in Punjab and Haryana during the next 24 hours. — UNI



Passing Thru

What fascinated you most in Chandigarh it being a much less happening city unlike your Mumbai?

The city beautiful with its panoramic ambience, modernity in life style and thoughts of the people and above all their love for music and aesthetic sense to appreciate the art and the artist.

Handsome and gifted vocalist as you are, why you opted for ghazal gayaki against the film or pop singing.

What are your achievements so far?

With a strong background of classical vocal music and cultivated knowledge of Urdu language and poetry the ghazal singing could be the best choice. After an initial struggle I got recognition and during my formative years brought out seven ghazal albums produced by top music companies. Besides, I gave playback music in film “With Love Tumhara” and “Chausar”

What are your comments on Indian idol and allied competitions to groom singers?

It is hard to stay for the half-baked singers born out of SMS courtesy. In music no compromise on taleem, talent and teyyari is possible, as the next incumbent is just a call away.

What are the memorable moments you love to relish?

Though top singers like Suresh Wadekar, Sadhna Sargam, Anup Jalota, Alka Yagnik and Kavita Krishnamurthy had sung my compositions but the historic moment of my life came when my most revered Jagjit Singh rendered a ghazal “Har ghadi khud se uljhata hai muqadar mera, Mein hi kashti hoon Mujh mein hi hai samader mera” for this film in my music direction. — S.D. Sharma



Tips to harassed city-Ambala road users
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 1
In view of the ongoing work on bridges in Zirakpur and Dera Bassi due to which commuters are being put to hardship , the district police conducted a survey which gives valuable information to road users to ensure that their journey is safe and convenient.

The survey , carried out by the traffic wing of the police in partnership with the Community Police Resource Centre here , was presented at a press conference by the SSP , Mr G.S.Dhillon, here recently. It focussed on five motorable routes between Chandigarh and Ambala with the starting point being The Tribune roundabout in Chandigarh.

The survey showed that the Zirakpur –Dera Bassi – Lalru route ( 42 km ) was highly congested with bottlenecks due to construction work at Zirakpur and Dera Bassi. The fuel consumption on this route was also higher and the study did not recommend its use during peak hours. The normal time taken for travellers on this route was over one hour while during peak traffic hours the time extended to over two hours.

The police survey further showed that the Panchkula – Ramgarh- Dera Bassi route ( 48 km ) was a very good road , traffic flowed freely on it and there was fuel saving. Besides, the safety aspect was also high. The time taken during peak hours was one hour and 20 minutes against the normal time of an hour.

The Panchkula – Ramgarh- Barwala road was also good . It was slightly long ( 54 km) but safe .

The Mohali- Landran- Banur- Rajpura route was of 75 km , but there were few congestion points on it . The survey indicated that though the route was long it was safe.

The fifth route surveyed was the 47-km long Mohali- Landran- Banur- Lalru stretch . On this route the time taken during peak hours was one hour and 45 minutes while the normal time taken was one hour and 30 minutes. However, the survey said there was need to manoeuvre through traffic on a narrow road though there were relatively few congestion points.



'Shikaras' launched to enhance beauty of Sukhna Lake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Another milestone in the tourism industry of the city was witnessed with the launching of "Shikaras" at Sukhna Lake by General S.F. Rodrigues(Retd), Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, and the lady Governor amidst gaiety and enthusiasm, at a colourful ceremony, here today.

The Shikaras, made of Deodar wood specially manufactured at Dal Lake, will enhance the beauty of the Lake and attract more tourists to the spot.

General and Mrs Rodrigues were welcomed in the traditional Kashmiri manner whereby Mrs Jean Rodrigues was presented an ‘atthor’ and a ‘tilak’ was put on the forehead of the chief guest. The Kashmiri Sahayak Sabha of Chandigarh also showcased the culture and tradition of Kashmir.

The significant feature of the ceremony was the participation of a large number of slum children who shared greetings with the chief guest and other dignitaries.

General and Mrs Rodrigues, after the ceremony went on a joy ride in the Shikara. The cultural troupes of sabha performed a colourful programme focusing on patriotic songs and dances. It included a rendition of popular Kashmiri folk songs like ‘Bumbhro-Bhumbhro Shyam Rang Bhumbhro’ by school children from Bal Niketan, followed by a performance by Kashmiri Sabha members of ‘Yiuchhu Soan Watan Yiuchhu Soan Chaman’.



New Year revellers land in hospital after drunken driving
Tribune News Service

Ms Jaspal Kaur, a staff nurse with the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, was admitted to the same hospital in an unconscious condition under mysterious circumstance at about 10.30 pm. A resident of Sector 32, Ms Jaspal Kaur was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after her health deteriorated, late night.

Sources in the hospital said that Jaspal's medical reports show that she has consumed some poisonous substance. No case has been reported to the Police as yet.

Chandigarh, January 1
New Year celebrations turned sour for over 32 revelers who were rushed to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospitals (GMSH), Sector 16, and the Government Medical College (GMCH), Sector 32. A majority of them were drunk and had met with accidents in different parts of the city.

As per reports, 20 persons were admitted to the GMSH while 12 were admitted to the GMCH. A couple of them were even reported at the PGI. A majority of those who were taken to the hospitals were teenagers. They were picked up by the PCR vehicles from different venues of the new year celebrations in the city.

Being in an inebriated condition even created ruckus in the emergency OPDs of the GMSH and the GMCH. The doctors on duty had to seek assistance from the attendants and the paramedical staff for controlling them.

They used abusive language which put the female staff and women patients in an awkward situation. The security personnel were also pressed in to bring the situation under control at the GMCH.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (PCR) said the youths creating ruckus were rounded up from various places and picked up on various complaints from the organisers.



New Year messages choke mobile networks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The tall claims of cell phone companies that the quickest way to send New Year greetings was through SMS proved not so fast after all.

In spite of the enhancement of capacity to deal with rush on New Year, mobile networks remained blocked for most part around midnight and in the morning today.

Most people, who wanted to send SMS of New Year greetings to their friends, found that their messages could not be forwarded. In many cases, the SMS reached after a delay of few hours. The heavy flow of traffic on the networks made it impossible for people to make mobile calls.

Mr Rahul Sachdeva, a resident of Sector 8, Panchkula, said that from 11.30 pm yesterday till about 12.45 am today, he was unable to send any messages.

Shrinkhla Narula, a student added, “Even calls could not be made because of the excess traffic on the networks. In the morning, too, the network remained busy from 7.30 am to 11 am. It was only later that I could make calls.”

Meanwhile, Mr Mukul Khanna, Assistant Vice-President of Spice Telecom, said that there were 2.5 crore SMS transactions on the New Year. “Spice was all geared up to deal with the huge volumes of SMS, therefore our subscribers did not experience network problems or congestion.”

“Subscribers, who had subscribed to SMS packs, were able to avail the benefits of their respective packs. They were able to send messages at special rates which their respective packs entitled them to,” he added.



Baby girls usher in 2007 in city
Tribune News Service

Births in first 12 hours of the 2007

               M / F
GMSH     3 / 5
PGI         2 / 4
GMCH    1/ 3

Chandigarh, January 1
It was a girls-year with majority of couples ringing in 2007 after getting blessed with baby girls at three city hospitals. In the first 12 hours of the New Year, 18 more babies added to the city population. The number of girls was twice the boy’s population.

Interestingly, the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, took lead of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, and the PGI, where eight babies took birth and out of them, three were male. The PGI was the second hospital where six babies were born while only four new-bornss were reported at the GMCH.

It was Mrs Manju of Sector 38 who gave birth to a baby boy at the PGI labour room at 12.22 am. Ten minutes later, Mrs Kalpna, a resident of Sector 41, gave birth to a baby girl at PGI. Mrs Davinder Kaur and Mrs Shivani gave birth to girls at 1.40 am and 1.44 am respectively at the GMSH.

The New Year gave the parents and many more a reason to smile-relieving the pain and ushering in cheer with the advent of 2007.



Road safety week launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The Chandigarh Traffic police today launched its 18th Road Safety Week on the theme of ‘Road safety is life safety’ in Children Traffic Park (CTP) in Sector 23, here. The week was inaugurated by Mr H.S. Bedi, General Manager of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

A road safety exhibition was also installed at Plaza, Sector 17. Literature on road safety will be distributed to the general public about traffic rules and regulations. Traffic CD version-II has also been put up for sale for Rs 30 at the exhibition.

Mr A.S. Ahlawat, Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) appealed to the public to obey traffic rules to make city roads safer. A cultural programme was also organised to promote road safety awareness. Traffic police marshals, members of the Chandigarh Advisory Committee, members of the Market Committee and other prominent citizens were present on the occasion.

The road safety week will continue till January 7. Blood donation camp, declamation contest, workshop for auto-rickshaw drivers, rickshaw-pullers, truck drivers, driver training workshops, scooter rally for girls, conference on road safety and school area traffic management for school principals will be held in various parts of the city as part of the week.

The Traffic police also handed out surprise gifts to women drivers at three venues - the road separating Sector 23 and 24, the road separating Sector 16 and 17 and in Sector 35 market.



Defence body seeks justice
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 1
The All-India Defence Brotherhood has demanded that one representative from the defence services should be included as member of the Sixth Pay Commission.

The general secretary of the organisation, Lt Col A.S. Bhinder (retd), said in all previous pay commissions there was no representation from the defence services and they suffered in terms of pay, perks and in other respects . The chairman and members of the Sixth Pay Commission had no clue and knowledge to military matters but decided the fate of millions of soldiers and ex-servicemen. This amounted to injustice to them.

He also demanded that the principle of one rank, one pension must be implemented as recommended in the 20th report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (2003), which was tabled in Parliament.

The association said rank pay awarded by the Fourth Pay Commission and accepted by the government was fraudulently denied by bureaucrats to personnel of the defence forces while fixing their emoluments, contrary to the government notification. It demanded that this injustice should be undone.



Fauji Beat
Raise pension, not retirement age

One of the findings of the Kargil war was that our battalion commanders, being in the higher age group, were not fit enough to keep pace with their company commanders and jawans in spite of this, the retirement age of the officers is set to be enhanced by two years for the second time in the past 10 years.

In almost all armies of the world, officers are in a much lower age group as compared to ours. Even in the Indian Army, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa was only 49 when he became the Commander-in-Chief in 1949 and General K.S. Thimayya was 51 when he took over as Chief of the Army Staff in the late 50s.

By ending more years to the retirement age we are sacrificing the essential requirement of keeping our officers in a young profile. How come every time when we raise the retirement age of officers, we forget about the JCOs and other ranks? Shouldn’t they too get a raise in the retirement age? If not, why? If we ascribe the physical fitness rule to them, then officers should also be covered by this rule.

What should be raised is the pension to compensate for early retirement, rather then raising the retirement age. In a number of countries, the last pay drawn by a soldier is his pension because of his early retirement.

AMC brain drain

The Army Medical Corps (AMC), which celebrated its 243rd anniversary on January 1, is hard hit by the shortage of officers. What is more worrisome is that a number of specialists/super-specialists are quitting the service because of late promotions and measly emoluments. Almost all of them have an assured market in the multi-speciality private hospitals because of their expertise-cum-experience.

Thus the AMC’s loss becomes the private hospital’s gain. In December 2006, Col Jaivir Singh, a renowned ophthalmologist who had carried out 5,000 eye operations in the Command Hospital, Chandimandir, took pre-mature retirement and joined a multi-speciality hospital in Mohali.

In December 2004, the Lieut-Col’s rank was taken out of the ambit of selection grade. Thus making Colonel’s rank the first selection grade rank and not Lieut-Cols could only become Colonels on the completion of 26 years of service. For some strange reason, the AMC and the Army Dental Corps (ADC), among some other services, were not covered by these orders.

This caused lot of heartburn among Lieut-Cols of the AMC. For, several of them, who had completed more than 25 years of service, were still waiting for their selection boards to be held from Lieut-Col to Colonel. And those of whom who had not made it to the Grade for selection to Colonels were still continuing to serve as Lieut-Cols, rather than getting time-scale Colonel’s rank after 26 years of service.

However, when some affected officers went to the court, the government made the provision of time-scale Colonel’s rank applicable to the AMC and other services, which left out earlier. This is not enough to stop the exodus. The AMC’s terms of service need a substantial improvement so that good specialists do not leave it to seek better opportunities in the open market.

A symbol of sacrifice

The foundation stone of the Chandimandir war memorial, “Veer Smriti”, was laid on the golden jubilee anniversary day of Headquarters Western Command i.e. September 15, 1997, by the then Army Commander Lieut-Gen H.B. Kala. The memorial was constructed before December 16, 1998, the day the 1971 war came to an end.

For the first time, the wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial was held on December 16, 1998. Thereafter, as is customary in the Army, the ceremony is held at the memorial on all historic days to commemorate the sacrifice of war heroes.

— Pritam Bhullar



Muslims condemn Saddam's execution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was condemned during the Id-ul-Zuha prayers in the Sector 20 Jama Masjid and other mosques in the city.

Various speakers, including the Jama Masjid Imam, criticised the US Government for the execution of Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of people wore black badges while offering prayers at mosques.

Meanwhile, Dr Anwar Ali of the National Muslim Welfare Movement, said that the movement observed the day in protest of the execution.

The Marxist Communist Party of India also organised a protest rally for the same cause.



Nagar kirtan tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
A nagar kirtan procession will be taken out from the Gurdwara Sri Guru Teg Bahadur, Sector 34 D, here, on January 3 at 10 am to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

The procession will proceed on the roads separating Sectors 33 and 34, 44 and 45 before entering the Sector 45 market and reach the Sector 46 gurdwara. Then it will proceed to the road separating Sectors 45 and 46 and 32 and 33 to reach the Sector 20 gurdwara.

It will then move through Sectors 20, 21, 22, 23 before terminating at the Sector 37 gurdwara in the evening. Major Karnail Singh (retd), President of the Sector 34 Gurdwara Committee, said in a statement today.



Book released
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 1
Bipan Goyal’s latest book ‘Ikk Gadhe Di Talaash’, replete with a qualitative satire was released at Punjab Kala Bhavan.

The book was released by chief guest Dr Jaswinder Singh. The Editor, Punjabi Tribune, Mr Sidhu Damdami presided over the function.



Cash, gold stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Thieves decamped with Rs 12,000, gold and diamond ornaments worth thousands of rupees from a house in Sector 11.

Ms Priya Shergill of Sector 11 lodged a complaint with the police alleging Rs 12,000, £110, a laptop, three gold chains, a diamond ring, a silver bowl, a gold bracelet, six gold rings, two pairs of ear rings and some documents were stolen from her residence. She told the police that she was out of station from December 28. She returned on Sunday and found her house ransacked. A case has been registered.

Two held with contraband

The police yesterday arrested Hira Lal of Bihar from near Dadu Majra barrier and his search led to the recovery of 5.5 kg of ganja. In another incident, Sinbir of Sector 24 was arrested on the charges of carrying two grams of smack on Sunday night.

Two separate cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act have been registered.



BoB to give easy finance for stevia farming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Finance for stevia cultivation is now at hand for farmers of the region with the Bank of Baroda signing a memorandum of understanding with an NGO involved with stevia farming. A pact to this effect was reached between the BoB and the NGO, INDICO Hi- Tech Agro Rural Development of Women Welfare Society, here today.

With this understanding, the bank will be providing easy finance to the farmers actively involved in the contract farming based production of stevia medicinal plant in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. “Highly specific farming finance as this one has become the order of the day and we hope that stevia medicinal plant cultivation will receive a tremendous response in the region through our strategically planned finance option. This step will also take the entire banking community a step closer to the ground reality, which is in fact demanding a more diversified contract farming in the region”, said Mr M.L. Jain, Assistant General Manager, Bank of Baroda, Chandigarh region.

Mr Jain also informed that Bank of Baroda was committed to enter into such type of tie ups and MoUs with other big business houses and corporate companies involved in agri business. “Already we have tied up with 12 tractor manufacturers of the region for providing tractor and implements to the farmers at discounted rates and additional free services”, added Mr Jain.

The present tie up for stevia cultivation is being seen as a trendsetter for the other banks also. On the other hand the financial help from the Bank of Baroda has come as a great boost for INDICO HI- Tech, which is aiming to bring over 1,000 acres under stevia in the coming few months. We plan to increase the acreage under stevia by significant proportions in the months to come and BoB’s support will indeed play a crucial role in this initiative”, said Mr Krishan Chand Bansal, Chairman, INDICO HI-Tech Agro Rural Development of Women Welfare Society.



Biz Clip

Laser printer launched: Xerox is launching a state-of-the-art colour laser printer, DocuColour, at Ajanta Graphics at Sector 17 here. Mr Sumeet Singla, proprietor of Ajanta Graphics, said the new machine by Xerox could take paper size up to 12. 6x 19.2. “This can print full colour or four colour prints at 52 pages per minute or 3,100 pages per hour. The digital technology would revolutionise the printing, as there is no need of films and plates in this technology,” he said. He pointed out that this machine could directly print from CD or flash drive or computer, which reduced the steps in printing and ensured better quality and productivity. This could print on both sides of the paper automatically. This could also print variable data like name, address to a specific card or a mailer automatically. — TNS



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