C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

CM begins journey amid chaos, confusion
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

  • VVIPs bring misery to common man
  • Hundreds having VIP passes denied entry
  • Major roads around stadium closed for general traffic
  • Traffic jams try motorists’ patience
  • Extensive damage to stadium

Mohali, March 2
The swearing-in ceremony of the Parkash Singh Badal ministry at the PCA Stadium brought misery to the residents as the VVIP movement around the stadium threw life out gear putting the residents to a lot of inconvenience.

Even as thousands of SAD-BJP supporters watched the action live inside the stadium hundreds of others were in for disappointment as even the VIP passes could not guarantee them entry into the stadium which was virtually turned into a fortress with the top brass of the BJP, SAD and the INLD thronging the venue.

In fact, the arrival of the VVIPs sent the Mohali Police into tizzy. The police, it seemed, was busy in pleasing their political and bureaucratic masters with middle-rung leaders, including the elected representatives, at the receiving end of the police mismanagement.

A virtual stampede was witnessed when the cavalcades of Badal and the Governor arrived at the main gate. With every VVIP insisting on taking the vehicles inside the stadium, the limited parking space was clearly chocked.

The family of Punjab Minister Sucha Singh Langah was caught in the melee and it took several minutes before the SAD supporters prevailed upon the police personnel to let them in.

Tempers ran high with persons having VIPs passes virtually being denied entry through the main gate (A-1).”When the administration cannot accommodate the invitees, there was no use of issuing the VIP passes,” Jagtar Singh, a resident of Dasuya, complained.

The patience of local SSP Neelabh Kishore and the DSP (Traffic) Arun Saini, was stretched to the limit as the number of persons carrying the VIPs cards far outnumbered the seats available inside the stadium. Apparently not finding any space to sit, a large number of persons, including elected representatives, were seen trooping out of the stadium.

The police cordon around the main gate was repeatedly broken by the impatient crowd. Though the police repeatedly failed to control the surging crowds, yet it preferred not to use any force.

Since all roads were closed for vehicular traffic except the VVIPs vehicles, the residents of adjoining areas were worst-affected. From morning till about 3.30 p.m. the residents were at their wits’ end as to which way to take for venturing out of their houses.

The circulation area around the main gate of the stadium was almost chocked with vehicles as also the parking area opposite the stadium. While the traffic police made way for the gun-totting escorts and vehicles carrying the VVIPs, the other vehicles were caught in the traffic jams.

The chaos was further compounded when the ceremony ended with thousands of persons and scores of vehicles coming out of the gate. While the police officials in the uniform got a helping hand from the cops, senior bureaucrats had difficulty in locating their vehicles with parking lot bursting at seams.



Free for all at PCA Stadium
Pitch area damaged
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 2
The oath-ceremony of the new regime under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal was a new chapter for Punjab. But for Punjab Cricket Association stadium and sports lovers, it proved a nightmare.

The stadium, one of the best cricket grounds of the world, was the venue of the ceremony. Surprisingly, in the ground area, where a common man is not allowed even when there is no match, thousands of people were roaming around at will. Even the pitch area was not spared.

Over 70,000 people turned up to show their loyalty to their leaders. In the process, they damaged the number one stadium of the country. The barricades and poles left big holes in the grounds. The stage and chairs were also put up at the area. The pitch area was also damaged but the overzealous PCA staff immediately repaired it for the obvious reasons.

The pitch area was fenced with nets and ropes to keep the people away. But these all arrangements proved inadequate to cope with the great rush. Hundreds of people were seen sitting on the pitch area to see the ongoing of the function.

In the pavilion area, the railing along the stairs in the lounge room was broken due to the pressure of the people. Many people fell down from the steps but luckily no one got injured.

The last function (a star night) was held in the late nineties here after which the PCA decided to ban the functions at the ground area. Interestingly, in 1997 also the oath ceremony of the Badal government took place at the same venue. 



Speaking Out
Damage to PCA Stadium saddens sportspersons

Desh Prem Azad
Desh Prem Azad

Bhupinder Senior
Bhupinder Senior

Surinder Baijee
Surinder Baijee

Stadiums are meant for sports activities, not for social or political functions. Therefore today’s swearing-in-ceremony of the Parkash Singh Badal government at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium has left the sports persons as well as sports officials miffed. The anger and disappointment over the misuse of the stadium was evident when the eminent local sports-related officials talked to The Tribune:

National selector of Board of Control for Cricket Bhupinder Senior says: “When an ample space is there to hold such functions then choosing stadiums for such events is definitely irritating. The stadiums are for sports persons only so holding such functions there should be avoided. Sometimes one can not say ‘no’ to such functions so the organisers should show utmost care to save the venue from damage. The PCA stadium is one of the best stadiums of the world, and the spectators should not have been allowed in the ground and the pitch area. Moreover, the entry should have minimised during the function. As the domestic cricket season is on, the damage could create problem”.

Vteran cricket coach Desh Prem Azad says: “Holding functions at sports arena is not a new thing in our country. The sports persons have protested many a time against such a practice but to no avail. Cricket is a religion in our country and we worship cricketers as demigod. Organising functions and damage done to the stadium by these functions could affect the practice sessions of the players. As this was the government function, one could not say no to them. But the playing area should be taken care of properly during such events.

Surinder Baijee, general secretary, Chandigarh Cricket Association (Haryana), says, “It was really disappointing to see defacement of the world class stadium. This also showed that how the new government was serious about sports in the state. In my viewpoint politics should always be kept away from religion and sports. So holding political functions at this world class sports ground has made every sports person and sports lover sad. In their campaign, the leaders of the new government announced that they would make stadiums like the PCA in every village of Punjab. But if they were to be used in such a way then it’s better money was put to some other use.

Former Ranji player Rakesh Jolly says such a shoddy treatment to the topmost stadium of the country is not acceptable to anyone. For political and social functions we have many open spaces like Circus Ground, Parade Ground, Dashera Ground in Mohali and others. So it could have been held elsewhere. The PCA officials do not allow even local cricket tournaments at the stadium and damage to the ground by mob in this manner is really disappointing. — TNS



Suicide bid in police station
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
A 25- year old love-lorn youth, arrested on charges of disrupting public peace by stalling his beau's engagement, tried to attempt suicide in Police Station Sector 34, where he was confined in the investigation officers room.

The incident took place this afternoon, when the investigationg officer, ASI Rajbir Singh, locked up Babloo in the room and himself went away for some work. Sensing lack of attention, he tied his belt with an iron bar inside the room and hanged himself. It was only later that another cop went in to get Babloo's signatures for some work, when he saw him hanging and struggling for breath. He immediately freed Babloo and with the help of other cops and rushed him to the hospital.

Babloo, a resident of Sector 45, Burail, was picked up by the police last night after he started a fight with Ranjit, a resident of Colony No 5 and father of his beau. Ranjit had fixed his daughter's engagement with someone else and Babloo got to know of it. He went to Ranjit's house and raised a hue and cry. Ranjit then complained to the police and Babloo was arrested by ASI Rajbir Singh and booked under Section 107 and 151 of IPC this afternoon.

Police sources said that Babloo was serious and is recuperating in the Intensive Care Unit of GMCH, Sector 32. The police has booked him on charges of attempt to suicide, under section 309 of IPC. 



Suspended student moves High Court against NIIFT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT), situated in the Industrial Area, Phase VII, Mohali, is in the news once again for the wrong reason. This time one of its students, Deeplekha Goyal, is up in arms against the functioning of the institute and she has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against it.

Deeplekha, a fourth semester student pursuing the three-year diploma in textile designing at the NIIFT, was suspended for one week from February 21 to 28 on the charge of ‘misbehaviour’ with the head of department (HoD) in front of the entire class.

The HoD (textile designing department), Ms Anu H. Gupta, confirmed that Deeplekha was suspended for one week as she had shouted at her before the whole class. “I didn’t retaliate but instead told her to calm down. But she didn’t listen”.

On being asked, Anu Gupta said, “They did not have any written apology from Deeplekha in the office records. That’s what I know”.

On the other hand, Deeplekha claimed that “though she never misbehaved with any faculty member or with institute’s director Vijay Sharma, still she submitted a written apology with the director. But instead the director threw the letter on her face. She is bent upon insulting her so that she may leave studies and the institute”.

Leaving nothing to chance, Deeplekha today filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the institute seeking directions to the management of the NIIFT to save her from threats, abuses and harassment by the director and other faculty members.

Deeplekha disclosed that she was one of the girls who had raised her voice against the vulgar SMS messages sent by teacher K. Krishnamurthy, who was now under suspension.

Taking a serious note of the complaint, the division bench consisting Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Vinod Sharma today ordered the secretary, department of industries and commerce, Punjab, to initiate an inquiry into the matter and suggest remedial measures to redress the grievances of the students. The court also ordered to submit the report within three weeks.

The institute functions under the guidance of the governing council consisting of nationally eminent celebrities, industrialists and senior government officials. The secretary, department of industries and commerce, Punjab, is the chairman of the governing council of the institute.

Deeplekha alleged that the faculty of the institute had wide and arbitrary powers in many ways, which were being used to arm-twist and harass students. “There is no transparency in recording attendance in the class or evaluating assignments, projects, presentations and examinations. Even no result cards or certificates are given to the students during or after the completion of a particular semester”.

It is pertinent to mention that the same institute was in news in December last as its teacher K. Krishnamurthy was reportedly accused of harassing students by sending vulgar massages (SMS) and making obscene phone calls to girl students. “I was also one of his victims. Krishnamurthy had reduced my attendance in two subjects, and awarded me ‘re-appear’ in them.

The same teacher used to send us vulgar SMS. When a group of students lodged a complaint against the teacher director of the institute Vijay Sharma took no notice”.

“Following this, a group of students went on strike demanding the removal of the teacher”, said Deeplekha, adding that “thereafter, my father intervened, approached the police and the media.

It was only under those compelling circumstances that the management had to remove the teacher”.

“Since then the director of the institute leaves no chance to insult, abuse or threaten me. On one occasion she had asked the students to vote by raising hands for revoking the suspension of Krishnamurthy. She also threatened me in the classroom and made derogatory remarks against my father and brother”. 



Lt Gen awarded censure in meat scam
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
A Lieutenant General in the Army Service Corps (ASC) has been awarded a censure for irregularities in the operation of a contract for supplying frozen meat to troops based in the northern sector.

He is among two Lieutenant Generals whose name figures in a list of 25 senior armed forces officers facing charges of corruption, which was released by the defence ministry.

The other Lieutenant General, S.K Sahni, who is now retired, is also from the ASC. According to the list, he was allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of dry rations. A court of inquiry, which had recommended disciplinary action against him was quashed by the Delhi High Court, with directions that the Army, if it feels that a case against him is made out, may consider going in for an alternate action.

The two generals were the senior most ASC officers, with General Sahni serving as the Director General Supplies and Transport (DGST) at Army Headquarters and General Dahiya being posted as the Commandant ASC College and Centre, Bangalore.

With the aforementioned Generals, along with several senior ASC officers being held blameworthy by different courts of inquiry (COI), the post of DGST has remained vacant since September last year. A Major General has since been officiating as the DGST.

Sources in Army Headquarters reveal that the Army had sent a proposal to the Defence Ministry that General Dhaiya be moved as DGST. The matter is still pending and apparently no decision has been taken as yet as the defence ministry had made some observations in this regard.

Within the Army, two schools of thought exist in this regard. While a section of officers are of the opinion that since the ASC has a Lieutenant General on its strength, General Dhayia ought to be moved instead of a Major General running things. The other school of thought believes that appointing an officer who has been held blameworthy of irregularities as the head of the service would set a wrong precedent.

This was perhaps for the first time that the Army instituted action against officers of the rank of Lieutenant General for alleged lapses on their part. There have been instances in the past where erring officers of this seniority had simply been asked to put in their papers and go home.



2 call centre employees die in mishap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 2
Arun Verma, an employee of an international call centre company, and his woman colleague were seriously injured when their two-wheeler was hit by an unknown vehicle here yesterday.

According to sources, Arun was on his way to Sector 39 in Chandigarh to drop his colleague Gayatri Komal. They were rushed to the PGI ,where they both died.

The police has registered a case against the driver of the vehicle on the complaint of Om Prakash Verma, father of Arun. The police is investigating.



CBI challenges version on record tampering
Violation of bylaws at Fun Republic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
In the case of building bylaws violation at Fun Republic, Mani Majra, the CBI today challenged the version of Assistant Engineer (AE) Brij Mohan regarding the tampering of records of the estate office by the investigating agency officials.

However, the hearing of the application for anticipatory bail of the AE was adjourned till March 6. The adjournment was sought by the defence counsel.

On last Tuesday, the AE had in an application before the Special CBI court alleged that the CBI officials had removed certain documents of amalgamation of two booths in Sector 22 from the estate office. The file noting had gone missing during the recent CBI raid in connection with the Fun Republic case, Brij Mohan had alleged.

In its reply before the court, the CBI stated that February 25, the day on which the AE had intimated the incident to the Assistant Estate Officer (AEO), was Sunday. The AE had been on leave after the raid in the building branch of the estate office.

Anticipating his indictment in the multiplex case, the AE had moved an application for anticipatory bail.

The investigating agency in its reply to the court had stated that the multiplex was reconstructed in 2003 contrary to the sanction plan approved in 2001. The sanctioned plan was submitted to the estate office in 2003 and the building was constructed in violation of the revised plan. Serious violations of building bylaws were ignored and the requisite composition/conversion fee was not charged.

It had been stated that searches were conducted at the residence and office premises of the AE and incriminating documents were seized. The scrutiny of the same was in progress. It had further been stated that prime facie it had been revealed that the file regarding the issue of permission in form ‘B’ to Fun Republic was put up before SDO (Building) T.P. Singh through AE Brij Mohan. The AE dishonestly and unauthorisedly forwarded the same to the SDO and permission in form ‘B’ was issued.

Stating that Brij Mohan could tamper with the evidence in the case, the CBI had sought his custodial interrogation to uncover the larger part of the conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the CBI sleuths again visited the building branch today and sought more details from the officials concerned. The personal records of some of the officials of the building branch had also been sought by the central agency.



Corruption charge against Colonel
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
A Colonel from the Corps of Engineers is facing trial by a general court martial (GCM) on charges of misappropriation of funds and professional impropriety.
The trial, presided over by Brig Anil Mehta, Commander of an infantry brigade, was ordered by the General Officer Commanding, 14 Infantry Division, and began in Dehra Dun a few days ago, sources said.

The charges against Col Puneet Sethi pertain to the time when he was serving as the Commander, Works Engineer, Ambala Cantt, a few years ago.

He faces two charges under Section 52 of the Army Act for corruption, three charges under Section 63 for acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline and one charge under Section 39 for remaining absent without leave.

At the start of the trial the officer had initially pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against him, but when his statements made in the summary of evidence were brought on record, they negated his plea and the court thereafter recorded the plea as not guilty.

Meanwhile, a separate GCM has sentenced an Army jawan to five years rigorous imprisonment, besides dismissing him from service for allegedly shooting his superior, it is learnt.

The court, presided over by Col S.K. Sharma, Commanding Officer of an artillery regiment, concluded near Jammu yesterday, sources said. Jawan Satvir Kumar had been tried under Section 307 of the Ranbir Penal Code, read with Section 69 of the Army Act, which pertains to civil offences.

Satvir, belonging to a Territorial Army battalion deployed near Jammu, had used his service rifle to shoot and injure a Havildar of the same unit on December 17, 2005. He had pleaded guilty to the charge levelled against him, the sources added.

Sexual assault case
The general court martial which had tried a Colonel in a case pertaining to alleged sexual assault on a women officer under his command had yesterday ruled that the statements made by the complainant before the court were not credible.

Defence counsel P.N .Chaturvedi told The Tribune that the court had opined that the testimony of complainant Lieut Iman was false and motivated. He claimed that the statements of the complainant could not be corroborated with those made by other witnesses.

He also contended that the special finding of the court, on which the accused officer was awarded a reprimand, was tantamount to a fresh charge against him, for which neither was a charge sheet given to him, nor was Army rule No. 22 complied. He added that he was considering further course of action to be taken.



Air chief practises para-jumps 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
As a run-up to the Presidential Fleet Review, Chief of the Air Staff S.P. Tyagi today carried out two practice para-jumps at the Chandigarh Air Force Station today. The Air Chief Marshal will be para-jumping along with 74 other Air Force personnel on March 7, the day the IAF fleet will be reviewed here by President A. P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The fleet review is among the events being organised to mark the IAF’s platinum jubilee, which falls on October 8.

He carried out drops from a Mi-17 helicopter hovering at 5,000 feet. He had arrived here at mid-day and departed for Delhi soon after the exercise was over.

On the day of the fleet review, an Mi-17 and two AN-32s would be used to drop the 75 jumpers.

Aircraft formation also carried out dry runs today.

These included the Mi-17, Mi-26, Chetak and Mi-35 helicopters, a formation of 17 Jaguars forming the figure of 75, a Canberra, Mirage 2000s, MiG-21, HPT-32 trainers, MiG 29s and the Su-30s. The Surya Kiran team also took to the sky for practice runs.

Meanwhile, the IAF has requested people not to throw eatables and garbage in the open as these attracted birds, which pose a serious threat to flight safety.



Held captive by rampant simini
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 2
Captives in their own house - that's the fate of a handful of residents of Sector 8 being held hostage by monkeys. While they can't step out of the houses anymore without "sparing a thought" for the wild monkeys who seem at home on their terraces.

Even though the monkey menace shows no sign of abating, the residents are worried about their growing notoriety. From biting children to taking away clothes, from creating a ruckus on the terrace to smashing window panes and breaking flower pots---the "gang" seems to have all kinds of pranks up its sleeve all the time.

Says Ms Saroj Nagpal, "Our cars were all lined up in the driveway at night and we heard a loud smashing sound. We rushed outside and found that a monkey had dropped a brick on to the car's windscreen. While the windscreen was completely smashed, the bonnet too got dented."

Holding that the monkeys were probably a part of some experiment after which they were let off, Ms Rita Dubey, maintains,"All of them seem a little abnormal and have some kind of wound which never stops bleeding. Consequently, we have blood drops all over our back yard and on the terrace. My 10-year-old son was attacked and bitten by monkeys and we have had to change our water tank frequently because they have taken a fancy for swinging from the various pipes coming out of the tank."

While some residents feel that the monkey menace on the Kalka-Ramgarh highway has only moved towards the city, others feel that this gang has been released by some agency.

If the scare of the monkeys haunts the residents during the day, at night, it is their shrieky screams and constant jumping around that keeps them awake. "They seemed to have formed a night club where they sit on terraces and scream their heart out or break bricks, flower pots or just about anything they can lay their hands on," explains Ms Tanu Anand. The family has had to get is dish antenna repaired over and over again due to the damage caused by the monkeys.

In her neighbourhood, Meena Khanna can't get over the fact that the monkeys destroyed her entire wheat stocks. "I had put nearly 20 kg in the open for drying in the sun after washing it. The monkeys just descended out of nowhere and ate some of it and scattered the rest. Very often, they have taken away clothes lying on the clothesline. We are fed up," she emphasises.

However, their problem does not seem big enough to those they have approached. No action has been taken to nab the culprit simians responsible. From the residents welfare organisation to local councillor Jagdambha Gupta to the Municipal Council to the police, nobody seems to have a clue about what should be done. Managing these simians, after all, is no monkey business.



City ranked fifth on e-readiness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The city has again been adjudged as a leader in the latest report on e-readiness of states and UTs. The report was recently released by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, after conducting a survey in association with the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

The city has consistently improved its ranking in the past three years. Last year, the city graduated from the ‘aspiring leader’ category to the ‘leader’ category. From the eight position in 2003, the city has climbed to the fifth position in the latest e-readiness rankings after Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Other states like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Goa and Gujarat are placed in the aspiring leaders category.



Residents force rehriwallas to vacate ground
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Residents of Sector 19, Panchkula, got a ground vacated from the occupation of rehriwallas here today. Fifty-odd men led by chairman M.H. Khan of the area’s joint action committee and Manphool Singh forced the rehriwallas to leave who had encroached upon the open ground in the sector.

Members of the committee said they had approached everybody from the Chief Administrator, HUDA, to the estate officer as also the local SDO, but their appeals had fallen on deaf ears. They said the rehriwallas had been growing in number during the past six months. They decided to act after the authorities failed to respond to their requests.



LIC staff protest

Chandigarh, March 2
Employees of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) today staged a demonstration in Sector 17 against the proposal made by the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram regarding a comprehensive insurance bill.

Leading the demonstrators, Rajeev Sehgal, divisional secretary, Northern Zone Insurance Employees Association, said that the proposed bill was aimed at facilitating the hike in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in the insurance sector, increasing the capital of LIC and withdrawal of the clause regarding obligatory placement of reinsurance with General Insurance Companies. — TNS



Panel constituted for SAARC car rally

Chandigarh, March 2
The Administration has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner R.K. Rao for making arrangements in connection with the SAARC car rally. Orders to this effect were issued by the UT Home Secretary.

SAARC car rally is being organised by the Ministry of External Affairs. The rally would reach the city on March 27 in the afternoon and then proceed in the morning of March 28. — TNS



SSC roll numbers

Chandigarh, March 2
The Staff Selection Commission (SSC) has issued roll numbers for the skill test scheduled to be held on March 18 for the posts of assistant compiler. Those candidates, who did not receive their roll number by March 14, could contact the Regional Officer of SSC (NWR), at Kendriya Sadan, Sector 9, on March 15, 16. — TNS



13 sheep die consuming Ghaggar water

Dera Bassi, March 2
Polluted water in the Ghaggar today claimed the lives of 13 heads of sheep in Mubarikpur village near here.
Darshan Singh, Rania and Suresh were on their way to Hangola village in Haryana from Jalandhar along with their herd of sheep. However, when the herd was passing through the Ghaggar, 13 sheep fainted after drinking the water. A doctor was called who declared the sheep dead. — TNS



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