C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Mayor’s Poll
Will it be Anu or Harjinder?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Battle lines for the top post of Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) have been drawn. The battle is set to be fought between two former Mayors - Ms Anu Chatrath (Congress) and Ms Harjinder Kaur (BJP-SAD).

The Congress today took a lead in finalising the candidates for the three top posts in the civic body by nominating Ms Chatrath for the post of Mayor and Mr Ravinderpal Singh Palli as the Senior Deputy Mayor. Mr Manjit Singh Chauhan will be the party candidate for the post of Deputy Mayor, reliable sources said here tonight. January 6 is the last date for filing nominations.

The consensus on the names emerged after a meeting of Congress councillors held in the presence of central observer Parvez Hashmi. The councillors authorised Mr Hashmi, Mr Pawan Bansal, the Minister of State for Finance, and Mr B.B. Bahl, the CTCC chief, to take a final decision on the issue.

On the other hand, while senior BJP-SAD alliance leaders were tight-lipped about the final choice for the post of Mayor, sources said the scales might tilt in favour of Ms Harjinder Kaur. The party was in favour of this "heavyweight" candidate. This was being done keeping in mind the deciding role of the nine nominated councillors.

The Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM) headed by former Union Minister, Mr Harmohan Dhawan, which has four seats as against eight of the BJP-SAD alliance, has been projecting Ms Sarita Sharma as the Mayoral candidate. In fact, both the alliance and the CVM joined hands for the Mayoral polls yesterday.

Observers felt that it could be anybody's game as both the candidates had the capability to influence the nominated councillors. With nominated councillors deciding to vote on "merit", the parties seemed to be playing safe by fielding "heavyweight" candidates.

In the current House, the Congress and BJP-SAD-CVM has 12 councillors each. However, the Congress has a slight edge with Mr Pawan Bansal also having a vote in the elections.



Tenant wants his pound of flesh
Says he has been looking after woman who has willed house to trust
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The two-kanal house of a 55-year-old cancer patient, who is on the deathbed, has been turned into a battlefield.

Mr Bal Singh Malik, an advocate and her tenant, has staked his claim to the house, which is worth Rs 5 crore.

Unable to sit on her own, Ms Picky Panwar, who owns house number 266 in Sector 10 here, has been suffering from cancer for a decade.

“Anyone who is in need, seriously ill and suffering from dreaded diseases”, Ms Picky murmured when she was asked if she had willed to donate her house to the Chinmaya Tapovan Trust, Sidwari, Dharamsala.

Tension prevailed at the house today after certain followers of the trust assembled at the house for organising a havan for Ms Picky Panwar this afternoon, which was postponed in the evening.

Ms Kalpna Ghai, general secretary of the Bal Sadan, Panchkula, claimed that the Ms Picky had willed her house along with other immovable assets to the trust.

Ms Promila Chander Mohan, patron of the Chandigarh chapter of the trust, and Ms Ghai, along with followers of the trust and other NGOs, reached the house this evening.

Both parties were now camping at the house. “I am surprised over a news item regarding donation of the house by Ms Picky. I have no information if any havan is being organised at the house. Frequent visits by missionaries for the last over a week are creating disturbance”, claimed Mr Malik.

He claimed that he had been looking after Mr Picky for the last over three years, apart from paying her rent.

He alleged that certain followers of the trust had been trying to grab the house.

Ms Picky was operated upon in 2000 and was advised not to exert and climb stairs. Since then, she had been earning by renting out a part of her house.

Daughter of a Colonel, Makhan Singh, Ms Picky lost her parents when she was a teenager.



Industrial Area to wear a new look soon
Tribune News Service

  • New subway connecting Phases I and II
  • Area from airport chowk to Tribune chowk to get facelift
  • Parking of trucks to be regulated
  • Parks, streetlights, sewerage to be upgraded

Chandigarh, January 5
After being at the receiving end of the Administration for long, the Industrial Area is finally set for a makeover, with the Administration and industries’ associations agreeing on a blueprint for the area.

Proposals for sprucing up Phases I and II have been discussed at a meeting.

The municipal corporation will be entrusted with responsibility of chalking out the plan.

Topping the list of new facilities will be the construction of a new subway connecting Phases I and II.

Since national highways are the responsibility of the Union Government, permission for the construction of the subway will be sought from the Union Government.

The possibility of beautifying the entrance to Chandigarh from the airport chowk to the Tribune chowk has also been discussed.

It has been decided to do landscaping of the area, with the installation of fountains and other amenities.

Problems being posed by the parking of trucks along roads in the industrial area are high on the agenda.

Trucks will be allowed to be parked only for loading and unloading of goods.

It has been decided that parks, streetlights and sewerage will be strengthened.

Resources should not be any problem for the creation of new infrastructure in the area as surplus funds are usually available with the Administration.

The problem of encroachments, particularly by scrap dealers, also figured at yesterday’s meeting.



Noida killings: At last, police to identify missing
Tribune News Service


Chandigarh, January 5
Struck by the gravity of Noida killings case, the Chandigarh Police has started reopening files of missing children in the city. They also seem to be reacting to the mounting rush of parents of missing children who have been thronging alleged accused Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in Sector 27 in the hope of getting some clues.

The SSP, Chandigarh, Mr Gaurav Yadav, has directed SHOs of respective police stations to prepare a list of missing children in their areas. Today, the police even released photographs of three children, 14-year-old Moninder missing from Colony No. 4 since two months, 16-year-old Bunty of Ram Darbar missing since August 28 last and 13-year-old Vicky Thapa missing from Hallo Majra since August 28, 2005.

Not just those, the parents of missing children from Manimajra are also keeping their fingers crossed. Over the past two years, about six children have gone missing from Shanti Nagar and Mohalla Arorawala in Manimajra, where cases pertaining to missing children have been registered with the police station.

Representing the grieving families of Manimajra is Jeewan Kumar, an unemployed father, whose only son Kewal Kishore has been missing since February 8, 2001.

“Four years is a long time. We have left no stone unturned in locating the child, but no information has been forthcoming. Each one of us in Manimajra believes that our children have become victims of Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder. I wish I could personally go to Noida to make enquiries. But I have no money,” says Jeewan Kumar, who has been unable to cope with grief.

His family members say he has begun to stammer - an indication of his disturbed mind. With no income and no hope, Jeewan Kumar and his wife have been languishing in their son’s memory. And by what they have seen since December 29, their fears are only growing bigger.

But Pankaj Garg, Kewal Kishore’s cousin still hopes Kewal might be alive. “He was a bit unsound mentally. I still remember that Kewal had left home to take part in a nearby nagar kirtan procession. He never came back. He might have become a victim of Pandher. He might just have escaped, who knows?” asks Pankaj.

Our Ambala correspondent adds: A similar story is being played out in Ambala, where guardians of several missing children are blaming Pandher for their misfortune.

And they have a greater reason to link Pandher with their woes. Alleged accused in the Noida killing case, Pandher had connections in the Ambala city, as his father Sampuran Singh had a transport business and also owned a petrol pump here.

A few years ago, Pandher’s family shifted to Chandigarh. Yet, a few people in Ambala say they had seen him in the city last December.

According to information, around half a dozen children have disappeared from Ambala city, Ambala cantt and nearby areas in the past years.

The police is now preparing a list of children, who have disappeared in the past several months.

It, however, rule out the possibility of a link between the missing children in Ambala and the Noida killings.



Narco analysis — a tool for interrogation, not evidence
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

About narco analysis

  • Experts inject a “truth serum” (sodium pentathol or sodium amytal) and then start interrogation.
  • Doctors monitor reactions, facial expressions, pulse rate, heart beat and body temperature of the accused. Based on test reports, investigators corroborate information gathered previously on a person’s involvement in crime.
  • Test may not always yield the truth. The subject only sheds inhibitions. He never loses self-control.
  • In 1950s and 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US was directly involved in covertly using drugs to study "behavioural modification".
  • In India, brain mapping is being used since seven years.

Chandigarh, January 5
A narco analysis test is being performed on the accused of Noida killings. And though the police is relying heavily on the results, the test, in itself, cannot yield substantive evidence. Its results are not even admissible in a court of law. It can, at best, lead the police to further investigations by uncovering the suppressed intra-psychic conflicts of the person being subjected to the test.

The logic is simple. As Dr Ranjiv Mahajan from the Department of Psychiatry at Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, explains: “Technically, narco analysis is drug-induced hypnosis used by anesthetists and psychiatrists for clinical investigation. It reduces the level of resistance of patients and elicits from them information they are not comfortable sharing when in a conscious state of mind. I use the test regularly, but not unless the patient’s consent has been obtained. The issue of ethics must be addressed at all costs.”

Ethics apart, the police in the country has been extensively resorting to narco analysis for investigations of crimes. It is one of the three truth-detection techniques (the other two being polygraph or lie detection and brain mapping) the forensic experts have been using to track the minds of criminals. In the recent past, the test has been performed on Abdul Karim Telgi and Abu Salem while Rahul Mahajan marginally escaped it when the police withdrew its request for conducting the same. The police even need the court’s permission to conduct this test in forensic labs.

In India, the Bangalore Forensic Sciences Laboratory (BFSL) has been conducting lie detection tests and narco analysis since 2000.The techniques became more popular in June, 2002, three months after the burning of a train coach by a crowd at Godhra in Gujarat and subsequent killings of Muslims. Seven persons accused of torching the train were interrogated and subjected to narco analysis. Not just that, the Mumbai-based Anti-Terrorism Squad probing the 7/11 case found vital evidence only after some accused were subjected to lie detection and narco analysis tests.

Yet, the test is not a Bible for interrogators. It is, however, more advantageous for psychiatrists who use it on 10 per cent of the patients visiting them. They, however, say the extensive use of the test for criminal investigation is hampering its reputation as a therapy.

Mumbai-based psychiatrist Rajiv Anand confirms: “ The police has been using the tests on conjecture. The result has been disastrous. Our patients have been resisting the test thinking it is meant only for criminals. In reality, this test is a well-established mode of investigation and therapy for patients who keep on suppressing their conflicts, fears, guilt and other causes of anxiety. The modality has been in existence for 35 years.”

Concerned about the use of mind-controlling technologies in criminal investigation, forensic experts have been asking the Union Government to set up a committee of experts to decide about the use of truth detecting techniques- polygraph, brain mapping and narco analysis - by the police. Famous forensic expert P. Chandrasekharan even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India in this connection.



A first: Screening for genetic disorders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The UT Administration has decided to screen all pregnant women and newborn children for genetic disorders which may lead to disability.

With this decision, Chandigarh has become the first state or union territory in the country to go for mass screening of genetic disorders.

This screening will be initiated at the Government Medical College and Hospital and subsequently, the PGI, the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital and other hospitals will follow suit, according to a press note.

The poor and those below the poverty line will be provided it free.

The fee is Rs 100, as against the market fee of Rs 1000.



Passing Thru

What brings you here?

I am here at Shivalik Public School, Sector 41 to launch professional training programmes for the students of law and young lawyers. These courses will be beneficial for those who wish to get into specialised areas in information technology, retail marketing management, tourism management, communication, public relations, and telecom.

Tell us about the society?

Asian Education Society has been formed basically to work for the educated students. Despite the best academic qualifications, they hardly get exposure to the real world. The AES shall be gradually rolling out various programmes like for the law students and young lawyers, the Moot Courts Programme where they will get an opportunity to interact with some of the leading names in judiciary to learn the fundamentals.

How will it help youngsters?

It is all about empowerment of today’s youth who come out of the educational institutes. AES shall help them sharpen their skills, and instill confidence so that they can enter their chosen vocation with confidence.

Why was city chosen?

Chandigarh is one city with great potential and in fact, it has emerged as hub of all development in the northern region. And despite being a city with high literacy rate, the corporates, especially the IT companies are pouring in into this tri-city. So we have chosen to launch this project from here.

How can media be helpful?

Media is the driver of development and growth, and especially in Chandigarh I feel that the media is playing a positive role in making the city a global player. Our mission matches and we do look forward to a partnership with media, since we have a number of courses related to media management in the pipeline too.

— G. S. Paul



Are ‘Sales’ best bargains for customers?
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The short span of winters over the past couple of years has forced hundreds of woollen retail outlets in the city to indulge in distress sale by selling their wares at discounted prices. Even though woollens are available across the city at a 10 per cent to 50 per cent discount, customers are still scanty.

But how genuine are these “Sales” is anybody’s guess. Though these “sales” lure customers with an offer of “Up to 50 per cent OFF”, there are very few articles that are available on such a heavily discounted price. Most of the articles, especially in apparels of latest designs, the discount is a bare minimum of 10 per cent.

The winter sale began right from the third week of December as part of the Christmas and New Year sales promotion. Gone are those days when the discount sale on all woollens would begin in the first week of February as an off-season offer.

A visit to various market places in the city yesterday showed that almost all outlets selling sweaters, jackets, sweatshirts, shawls, woollen and mink blankets, and winter fabrics were luring customers by displaying “Sale” banners. At some of the shops, the offer of “Buy 2 and Get 1 Free” was also available which meant a boom time for consumers.

As a result, customers are availing of the best deals with discounts offered on not just non-premium segments, but also on branded woollens like Monte Carlo, Casablanca, Pringle, Creative Line and Rage. So, for all those who were craving to buy the best of clothes for the party season in the last week of December can actually strike a good deal with these sales.

Mr Amardeep Singh of Life Style, an apparel showroom in Sector 19 A, lamented, “Shopkeepers have to clear their old stocks and are left with no option than to sell them off at a discounted price or face loss, besides making arrangements to stock up the woollens for the next season. So the best bet is to put up a discount sale,” he said.



Fire at showroom: Loss put at Rs 10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 5
A fire broke out in the basement of Shivalik Complex, a showroom in Sector 11, here today, resulting in a loss of items worth Rs 10 lakh. The fire resulted from a short circuit today at 4.30 am.

Three employees of the shop - Azad, Tek Chand and Asif - who were sleeping on the top floor of the showroom, were the first ones to notice the smoke rising from the ground floor. The trio rushed down the stairs only to realise that the ground floor and stairs were full of thick smoke. They informed the fire station and the owner of the shop.

The fire brigade had a tough time putting out the fire since the fire had broken out in the basement. It took nearly two hours to extinguish the flames. Firemen struggled to remove the grill leading to the basement before being able to push the hose inside.

While the cabins of the wedding card shop, courier company and a homoeopathy shop were reduced to ashes, the cabin of mobile phone accessories, the computer centre and the flower shop were partially burnt.

Mr Rohit Kumar, owner of Card Shoppe, said that he had lost Rs 50,000 cash in the fire while putting his total loss at Rs 3 lakh. The owner of Friends Courier, Mr Surjit, said that important documents of the public awaiting despatch had perished in the fire which resulted in a total loss of Rs 2.5 lakh.

Clothes in a boutique were also burnt while a number of offices lost a lot of their important documents in the fire. The owner of the mobile accessories store and computer centre said that while the fire had damaged most of the items, the water too had resulted in extensive damage to the products and machines. The owners of the cabins pegged the total loss at nearly Rs 10 lakh.



Traditional fervour marks Gurpurb
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar today.

Holding of special kirtan darbars on the conclusion of akhand paths marked the celebrations, which started early in the morning by taking out of parbhat pheris. Discourses on the life and teachings of the 10th Sikh guru were also organised in some gurdwaras. Special kirtan darbars featuring eminent raagis, schoolchildren, Sri Sukhmani Sahib societies and others were also held.

Almost all gurdwaras organised special community kitchens. In the evening, the gurdwaras were tastefully illuminated.

There was an unprecedented rush of the devotees to historic Gurdwara Nada sahib in Panchkula. Other historic gurdwaras in the city and its surrounding areas, including Gurdwara Nabha Sahib, Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali and historic Gurdwara Jyotisar Sahib in Fatehgarh Sahib were visited by hundreds of thousands of Sikhs from all over the region.

Panchkula: Thousands of devotees flocked the bedecked Nada Sahib gurdwara in large numbers since 3 am to offer prayers on the occasion of Gurpurb.

Over one lakh devotees offering prayers at the gurdwara, for the first time the ‘parshad’ was in short supply. “Dhadi and raagis comprising Bhai Gurmeet Singh, Bhai Balwant and Jagir Singh, Naib Singh, Baldev Singh and Sher Singh were specially invited for the occasion ,” the manager, Mr Bhupinder Pal Singh, said.

The programme began with the bhog of the akhand path organised by villagers. The sarpanch and the former sarpanch of the village along with 50 others participated in the prayers.

A langar, where villagers of Nada contributed in the preparation of food, saw many devotees partake food. As a special case to mark the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, kheer and laddoos were offered as parshad.

Outside the gurdwara, the celebrations took the form of a fair, where devotees took time to stop over and roadside vendors did a brisk business by selling pictures of the Sikh gurus, flowers, booklets, scarves and other mementos associated with the celebrations amidst heavy police deployment.

A special parking to accommodate vehicles of devotees, which throng the gurdwara each year, was made keeping in mind the chaos at the venue. Police personnel diverted traffic to the parking, even while some devotees managed to go past the barrier and park on the roadside leading to the gurdwara.

Meanwhile, celebrations were also held at the gurdwaras in Sector 7, 17 and 12, beginning with a kirtan. At these gurdwaras too, devotees came in large numbers to pay obeisance. A langar was also held on the premises of these gurdwaras,which were especially lighted up for the occasion.



Mohali MC fails to decide on Madanpur’s development
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, January 5
The Municipal Council has adopted an indifferent attitude towards the development of Madanpur village here, the rehabilitation scheme of which was approved over five years ago.

The general house of the council has met thrice after September, 2006, when its representatives were asked to take a decision on development, but the issue failed to appear on the agenda of the three meetings.

At the September meeting called by the Additional Chief Administrator of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), Mr M.S. Narang, Madanpur residents were also present along with the council representatives. The civic body was asked to take a decision on whether the development would be carried out by the council or GMADA. The then council Executive Officer (EO), Mr Amarjit Singh Sekhon, had said in October that a rough proposal on development had been drawn up which would be presented at a meeting of the civic body soon for approval.

The village, which is located in Sector 54, has become an eyesore with haphazard construction in progress and unhygienic conditions prevailing all over.

The council President, Mr Rajinder Singh Rana, when asked today about the implementation of the over five-year-old rehabilitation plan for the village, said the council had not yet taken a clear stand on the issue. He admitted that the civic body had also not sent any reply to the GMADA authorities in this regard.

Mr Rana, however, said the Deputy Commissioner, who is also the Chief Administrator (CA) of GMADA, had been sent an agenda containing various topics related to the town’s development, including that of Madanpur village. The village issue would be discussed at length with the CA and action be taken as suggested by him.

The rehabilitation scheme of the village had been cleared on June 1, 2001, at a meeting presided over by the then Housing and Urban Development Minister and Chairperson, PUDA, Dr Upinderjeet Kaur. It has now been taken up for implementation by GMADA .

Under the scheme cleared over five years ago a detailed plan for the redevelopment of the village in situ was to be worked out after a survey was carried out by PUDA. The total cost of development was to be apportioned among the land owners in proportion to their land holdings. Apart from this, land owners were to provide land required for widening or rationalising of the road network and open public spaces.

The scheme also provided that no cattle were to be allowed in the village area. Besides, all construction undertaken in future was to be governed by the PUDA rules. No residential plot was to be used for commercial purposes or purpose other than subservient to residential use. It had also been decided that all vacant land in the village would vest in PUDA which would have the right to plan and use the sites at it deemed proper for the overall development of the village.



Ex-councillors can use phones allotted by MC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Former councillors of the Municipal Corporation will be allowed to continue to use mobile phones provided by the corporation. According to sources, the MC has taken a decision to this effect.

The MC bears the phone bills of the councillors up to Rs 750. Above this limit the councillor bears the bill himself.

However, the sources disclosed that the former councillors could retain their old mobile numbers, but they would have to foot the bill now onward.

Officials said the new councillors would be given new mobile phones. The delay in assigning the phone numbers was also leading to a delay in making the phone books and official diaries of the MC. This would be done by the month end, they added.



Balluana is SAD council member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has nominated Prof Baldev Singh Balluana, president of the Sikh Intellectual Council, as member of the general council of the party.



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