C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Fee rolled back by 5pc
But NRIs studying in PU have to pay more
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The Panjab University senate today rolled back the hike in fee for all regular courses being offered by the university by 5 per cent. The syndicate had approved a 10 per cent hike on March 20, which was objected to by a majority of senators today.

While there will be a 5 per cent hike in fee for general category students, there will be a two per cent hike in fee paid by NRI students. The hike will not be applicable to students persuing self-financing courses on the campus or to affiliated colleges.

The issue remained the focus of deliberations among the senators throughout the daylong meeting. Even before the item was placed before the house for discussion, senators Dharinder Tayal, Dinesh Talwar, Rabindernath Sharma and Khehar Singh objected to the hike. They said higher education was becoming unaffordable for rural and poor students.

Vice-chancellor Prof RC Sobti was adamant that the cash- strapped university had no other option but to increase the fee. He said the revenue earned from the hike in fee would be used solely on the welfare of students.

Prabhjit Singh suggested that general category students be spared of the hike, instead fee of NRI students be hiked.This was agreed to and while reducing the hike in fee by 5 per cent, a 2 per cent hike in NRI fee was approved by the senate.

During a discussion on the budget proposals, principal PS Sahota pressed upon the VC to ensure that the facility of scholarships granted by the university be extended to affiliated colleges. She said the university should create a placement cell for helping rural college students get jobs.

Senator Devi Sirohi pointed out that social science departments in the university had not received their due. Fellow SP Oswal suggested that the university should get its affiliated colleges rated through an external agency, especially those colleges offering job-oriented courses.

The senate authorised the VC to take a final decision regarding a proposal that music and dance students appearing as private candidates submit a certificate that had attended practical classes before they sat for the final exam.

The senators decided on a one-time reprieve to such students for the coming examinations in April.



Zirakpur colony chief booked
* IG defends his men * Residents begin to move
* Developers relieved

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, March 25
The town has been converted into a virtual fortress, a day after the mob attack on the police station triggered by rumours about the custodial death of a resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Colony

An uneasy calm prevails in the township. Acting tough, the police has booked 27 persons and arrested at least 14 under various Sections of the IPC for the attack on police personnel and damage to public property. Those booked included colony president Bal Kishan.

Patiala Range IGP MK Tiwari and Mohali SSP RS Khatra, talking to the media here today, said that the rumours about the custodial death of Chhote Lal had led to the attack on the police station, injuring nine police personnel, including Dera Bassi DSP Surinder Pal Singh.

Chhote Lal was in an inebriated state at the time of arrest and was recuperating at the Dera Bassi civil hospital.

Chhote Lal, who was booked along with others on a complaint by Manjit Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Automobile Association, on March 22, was arrested by the police yesterday. However, he was forcibly released by colony residents, who subsequently attacked the police station, following rumours about his death.

Tiwari claimed that the police was acting impartially in the dispute over the vacation of 14 acres of land, illegally occupied by the over 600 migrant families. The land was recently purchased by colonisers for Rs 50 crore.

Meanwhile, certain residents of Adarsh Nagar, adjoining the colony, said they bore the brunt of the police brutality yesterday. Yusuf, a tenant, alleged that his house was ransacked and his two-month-old daughter thrown out from the bed. A number of colony residents today moved out to safer places. The developers had reportedly offered Rs 20,000 each to the families for vacating the land.

Colony president Bal Kishan alleged that the police had acted in connivance with the land developers to “forcibly evict” them.



Gear up for traffic logjam tomorrow
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Commuters need to prepare themselves for some discomfort on city roads in the afternoon of March 27, when more than 30 SUVs (Special utility vehicles) under a tight security umbrella arrive here for a SAARC rally.

A route map for the rally is being worked out and arrangements for local commuters, if any, will be announced tomorrow. — Vivek Atray

Details are being worked out on the rally route as well as security for the special delegation of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).

The SAARC car rally coming from Nepal and entering Pakistan will stay in the city on Tuesday night. The rally leaves for Amritsar (Wagah border) the following morning. The team consists of delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, besides India.

At least 30 SUVs, especially Tata Safaris, carrying 120 delegates began the rally from Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh on March 15.

The rally will cover a distance of 8,000 km in 31 days, passing through all SAARC countries.

The will end in the Maldives on April 14.

The proposal for the car rally came up during the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in November 2005 when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh emphasised on the need to reconnect countries of the subcontinent.

The summit this time in New Delhi will lay special emphasis on tourism, economic and business cooperation and improving regional transport.

The subjects for business events are trade and economic cooperation, energy and fish processing.

The Chandigarh administration has been asked to regulate traffic and provide security to the rally.

It will also make arrangements for the rally reception.

A special cultural show will be held for the rallyists. 



Youth feared drowned in Dhanas lake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Ravinder Kumar, alias Sanju, of Bhaskar Colony in Sector 25 is feared to have been drowned in the artificial lake near Dhanas village this afternoon. Sanju, in his early twenties, had gone to the lake for swimming along with his friends.

Life guards and boatmen from the Sukhna Lake and fire brigade officials were asked to fish out the body. Despite their efforts, the body could not be retrieved. The lake is said to be more than 15 ft deep.

The search operation was suspended at 7.15 pm when darkness fell. The operation would be re-launched early tomorrow morning, said SHO Puran Chand of the Sector 11 police station.

Sanju had come to Kali Mata Temple near the lake along with friends Reeshu, Vikas, Pappu and Rajiv for langar. After visiting the temple, they decided to swim in the lake at around 2 pm. Sanju’s clothes were found near the lake.

Vikas told TNS that Sanju was the only one among them who could swim. He swam up to the middle of the lake, while the rest remained near the bank. “We saw him going down the water, resurface and go down again. We thought he was playing pranks on us. When he did not come to the surface for long, we got suspicious. As we do not know swimming, we were afraid to go into deep waters and informed the police”.

The police reached there in a few minutes and launched a search operation. Soon a thick crowd gathered at the lake and police faced a tough time keeping away curious onlookers.

Sanju’s brother Surinder expressed suspicion at the four boys accompanying his brother, alleging that they were responsible for the “drowning and disappearance of my brother.” The police, however, ruled out any foul play, saying that the boys were assisting the police and had not tried to escape.



Army man stabs himself

Chandigarh, March, 25
A computer operator in the Army Surjit Singh of Mehmoodpur village in Nawanshahr stabbed himself in the belly in sector 22 here late tonight.

He consumed liquor at a vend and sent an SMS to his friends and his beloved, bidding them adieu, the police said. — TNS



Banks levy tax on disability pension despite exemption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Instances have come to light where some banks are deducting income tax at source from the disability pension of ex-servicemen despite such individuals being exempted from paying tax.

In a letter written to the chief general manager-in-charge of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) department of banking services, several ex-servicemen affected have stated banks are deducting income tax from their pension as is being done in the case of regular armed forces pensioners.

They have urged the RBI to inform all banks about the existing provisions in regard to exemption of tax on pension of disabled soldiers at the earliest as the current financial year on the verge of coming to an end.

Disability pension comprises two elements, the service element (also known as service pension) and the disability element, the first element is paid in accordance with the length of service rendered and the second element is paid in accordance with the percentage of disability suffered by an individual. Both are exempted from tax.

In their communiqué to the RBI, the individuals affected have referred to the Finance Ministry’s instruction No. 135 of 1970, which ordained that disability pension (including the service element) of armed forces personnel is to be exempt from payment of income tax. The same instructions were reiterated by the government in July, 2001 and a circular in this regard was sent to all commissioners and directors-general of income tax for dissemination.



An evening of jailhouse rock
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Inmates of Model Jail, Burail, had a welcome change this evening when pulsating music reverberated the otherwise sombre high-security prison.

Punjabi pop singer Shankar Sahni regales inmates of Model Jail, Burail, in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Punjabi pop singer Shankar Sahni regales inmates of Model Jail, Burail, in Chandigarh on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

For inmates, lodged in the jail for various offences, got the opportunity to jig to the music of popular Punjabi pop singer Shankar Sahni.

Before the programme, Sahni asserted that he had come all the way from Delhi to change their lives, at least for an evening.

The music broke the barriers of language, as Lior Avi Bin Moyal, an Israeli allegedly caught with 155 kg of charas, jived to the Punjabi pop beats, in spite of the alien language.

It was for the first time after the infamous jailbreak case that such a programme was organised there.

The jail authorities did not take the risk of allowing Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, prime suspects in the former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh assassination case, to mingle in the audience and kept them behind bars of their cells.

A senior jail official held that they did not allow hard-core prisoners to attend the gathering. As many as eight prisoners fell under the category.

Besides, the authorities also deprived 101 members of the Federation of Unrecognised Schools Welfare Association (Haryana), who had been protesting, from enjoying the show.

The programme, which was aimed at relaxing inmates, kept security staff on tenterhooks.

They kept strict vigil on the proceedings from the watchtower and patrolled the premises with sniffer dogs.

Deputy superintendent Subash Chander remained on his toes during the entire programme.

Five persons arrested by the Chandigarh police on allegations of being human bombs following Bheora’s arrest also formed part of the audience.

At one point, the security staff had to control inmates after the level of excitement rose too much for comfort.

According to information, inmates under category “B” boycotted the programme initially when they were asked to sit on the ground.

However, the problem was sorted out when chairs were provided to them.

A total of 436 inmate, including 21 females, are lodged in the jail. The females were seated near the podium.

UT IG S.K. Jain was the chief guest and IG (prison) Dinesh Bhatt gave a brief account of various programmes launched for the betterment of inmates.



Women need to be empowered: Experts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The ten-day vocational training-cum-awareness camp for poor women concluded at Khajeri village, here today. Organised by Yuvsatta, in association with the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board, the camp aimed to empower women; both technically and economically.

Pooja Sharma, a member of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board said the aims of the camp were to empower women with knowledge about their rights, to give them information about various welfare schemes of the government and to provide them vocational skills in order to increase their monthly income. Such awareness camps are being organised by their board in various slum settlements and villages of Chandigarh.

During the valedictory function, chief guest Madhu P. Singh, advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, asked women to stand for their rights and not meekly submit to discrimination. She further said such camps were needed at regular intervals to help the have-not segments of the society. She informed the participants about various schemes of the government through which they could obtain easy loans to start their own ventures.

State Institute of Education

The State Institute of Education, Sector 32, organised a training programme on women empowerment at its complex, here yesterday.

The programme was organised in collaboration with the department of adult, continuing education, Panjab University. As many as 50 school teachers and staff of the institute took part in the programme.

Usha R. Sharma, secretary, department of animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy development, inaugurated the programme. She said our society had undergone tremendous change and there was little scope practically when we talk about women empowerment.

Resource persons for the training programme included, Dr Rajesh Gill, department of sociology, PU; Dr Ramma Rattan, editor, Punjab State University Text Book Board, and Dr Prabha Vig, senior project officer, department of adult, continuing education.

“There is a dire need to empower women and they should stand up for their rights and sustenance,” said K.L. Sodhi, director of the institute.

Memorial Trust

The Aruna Asif Ali Memorial Trust and Punjab Istri Sabha celebrated International Women’s Day at the Aruna Asif Ali Bhawan in Sector 44 on Friday.

Members of the sabha and the trust honoured P.H. Vaishnav, outgoing president of the Aruna Asif Ali Memorial Trust, who had been with the trust since its inception, for his valuable contribution towards it. The function also included talks on female foeticide by eminent dignitaries, including Dalbir Kaur, Surjit Kaur Sandhu and Gurdev Kaur. Oshima Raikhy, a well-known freedom fighter and social worker of the region, spoke on the changing scenario of the plight of woman and underprivileged children in India. Stressing on the need of empowering women economically and emotionally, she said, “Women need to be empowered at the ground level. There is need for them to be self sufficient in these changing times”.

Lashing it out on the media, Raikhy said these days the electronic media was misleading youth, showing them ways to become rich overnight. “To keep pace with the changing times, girls need to have certain basic principles of life, which should never be trespassed,” she averred.

Currently, the trust runs four centres named “Disha Schools” in the region, wherein underprivileged children and women are given education and vocational training.



Sharing hope in silence
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association at a function in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association at a function in Chandigarh on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, March 25
It was an unusual gathering - one where silence reigned, yet conversations happened.

At the heart of the conversations were 150 deaf and mute women from across the region.

They had gathered in the city under the aegis of the Deaf Way Foundation to share their hopes and aspirations and seek solutions to seemingly-formidable problems.

Acting as a bridge between resource persons and participants were two sign language experts, who translated the thoughts of participants for the experts.

To everyone’s surprise, 90 per cent of the gathering wanted the experts to find ways out of the communication vacuum.

In their own language, they bared their wounds, sharing incidents where even their parents had failed them by treating them unequally.

Strange as it may sound, most of the girls who attended the session on “Empowerment for deaf women” said their parents did not care to understand what they wanted to say.

“Very few people care to learn the sign language. Naturally, a barrier exists between them and us,” indicated a Ludhiana-based girl, whose parents recently married her to normal boy, who wanted Rs 2 lakh as “incentive for marrying a girl who can’t hear”.

The marriage was solemnised, but the money was not paid.

“We are on the verge of splitting, as my brother has prevented my parents from paying the promised money,” the girl broke down, while sharing her problem.

Another Chandigarh-based mother of two recounted her bitter experience with marriage.

Married to a normal boy 20 years ago, she was sent home some time back.

“He abandoned me because both of my children can’t hear. Now, I have nothing to live on. He has disposed of the property my parents gave at the time of marriage,” she said, hoping to find legal recourse

The experts, including Veena Sharma, a lawyer, talked about legal remedies available to such people on matrimonial discord.

She also discussed the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Work Act.

“Although few among those present were employed, they were keen on knowing how to protect themselves at workplace. They wanted to know if gesturing and touching amounted to harassment,” said Sharma.

Many other women shared the problems they faced at home.

“We are not even equally treated by our parents,” they indicated, hoping for a scenario where everyone, at least the parents of children who can’t hear, are made to learn the sign language.



Get-together for the disabled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The Muscular Dystrophy Association organised its get-together function here today.

Addressing the function, Gurbir Singh Kochar, association president, urged the Chandigarh administration to make Chandigarh a wheelchair-friendly city so that the physically-challenged could exercise their rights in public places, education and employment.

Veena Sharma of the Human Rights Law Network informed about the rights of the physically-challenged, as stated in the Persons With Disability Act.



Panchkula markets run short of space
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 25
The Sector 7 market is crying for space, courtesy the growing encroachments. It is bursting at its seams with “blooming” businesses of small-time vendors who have never had it so good. And, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) doesn't seem to mind.

Barely a stone’s throw from the market, neither the officers of HUDA, nor its enforcement wing seem to see the ever-growing number of “entrepreneurs” who are setting up their shops.

As evening dawns, every bit of space on the pavements is virtually taken over. There are dozens of mehandiwalas and experts of the Chinese and south Indian cuisines. There are doormats and clothes available at these temporary stalls.

To add to the encroachment menace in the market, shopkeepers, too, have openly “grabbed” the space in front of their shops to put up extra counters. Consequently, ice-cream counters, popcorn machines, utensils, purses, sandals and toys are all over the pavement and corridors, leaving little space for shoppers to move.

Amidst allegations that the HUDA staff and some shopkeepers are in connivance with the “encroachers”, the stall-owners openly say that they pay money for the space.

President of the market association B.B. Kochhar maintains that he has repeatedly asked HUDA to target the top violators in the market first and then go down to the small-time encroachers.

“They must issue receipts of everything they take away and proceed according the rule book. They don’t have the adequate staff to target everybody in one go. Also, they should deal with encroachments in all markets,” he says.

While the menace is at its worst in the Sector 7 market, in other markets open-air dhabas inconvenience the shoppers. In Sector 11, Sector 15, Sector 8 and 9 encroachments are all pervasive. The “leanly-staffed” HUDA, after all, has its hands full - removing new jhuggis mushrooming all around.



Society flats develop cracks
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
After paying lakhs of rupees, occupants of flats in The Chandigarh Sector 22 (First) Cooperative House Building Society, Sector 48, are a harassed lot, thanks to poor construction of the flats.

Cracks have started appearing in floor and walls of certain flats. Blaming the contractor for poor construction, the occupants lamented proper compacting had not been done, leading to the cracks in the walls. For the past few months, seepage in cracks due to incessant rain had worsened the matters, they said.

The role of some officials of the Estate Office is being questioned.

Registrar cooperative societies-cum-deputy commissioner R.K. Rao said there were disputes regarding the construction work in some of the societies which were to be basically sorted out by the elected management or members at their own level. Any specific complaint, if made, to him by any society was sorted out as per the provisions of the Act, he added.

However, most of the occupants of the flats, who are GPA holders, lamented that since they did not have the voting right to lodge their protest against the management of the society, they were not heard. “The management is allegedly working on its own whims and fancies. We are given repeated assurances to get the problems rectified, but nothing has been done. Minor repairs have failed to remove the defects”, lamented a number of occupants.

The managing committee comprises those who have already sold their flats on GPA and have no interest in their upkeep, they added.

The occupants accused the previous management of not fixing the responsibility on the contractor. “We have invested our hard-earned money in buying the flats. It is unfair that no action is being taken against those who supervised and those who constructed the flats”, they added.

Meanwhile, Rao said he had constituted a special committee, comprising representatives of cooperative department, Chandigarh housing board, engineering department, estate office and Chandigarh housefed to sort out the problems of the cooperative societies. The committee would meet every month under the chairmanship of the RCS.



Sec 31-32 concrete road closed again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Barely two months after the commissioning of a concrete road on a stretch separating Sectors 31 and 32, the engineering department today erected a wall blocking the traffic flow once again.
The road is being sealed to carry out work on a road junction. We want to plug all loose ends before opening the road to traffic. — V.K. Bhardwaj

Drums have also been placed alongside the three-foot high makeshift wall.

Nikhil Joshi, a bank employee, said: “I travelled on the road this morning while going to Panchkula. When I returned late in the evening, I saw workers raising a wall. I had to change the road to drive home.”

Prem Krishna, a shopkeeper, said: “It is strange how a road has been sealed off within two months of its inauguration.”

The engineering department has closed the section of concrete road separating Sectors 31 and 32, which was opened to traffic two months ago, in Chandigarh.
The engineering department has closed the section of concrete road separating Sectors 31 and 32, which was opened to traffic two months ago, in Chandigarh. — Tribune photo by Malkiat Singh

Chief engineer V.K. Bhardwaj said: “The road was being sealed off to carry out work on a road junction. It is going to take very little time. We want to plug all loose ends before opening the road to traffic.”

Nand Kumar, a daily traveller, said: “The workers on the spot told me they were carrying out work on a road junction. What intrigues me is that the road has been closed for work on a junction. Small traffic alteration should have been sufficient.”

Dinesh Kumar, a charted accountant, said: “The administration should have at least informed public in advance about the possible inconvenience because of public works and the day of commissioning of the project.”


Follow Guru Jambheshwar’s principals: Chander Mohan

Panchkula, March 25
Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan today exhorted people, especially the youth, to follow the principals propagated by Guru Jambheshwar 500 years ago.

He was addressing a gathering on the foundation day of the Shri Guru Jambheshwar temple and dharamshala organised by Shri Guru Jambheshwar Bishnoi Mandir Sabha in Sector 15 here today.

Chander Mohan stressed the need for creating a pollution-free and balanced environment for the coming generations.

He announced a grant of Rs 11 lakh to the sabha. — TNS



3-yr-old drowned in water tank

Panchkula, March 25
A three-year-old child, Rabi, was drowned in a water tank at an under-construction house in Sector 10 here late last evening. His father Parmod, a labourer, said his son was playing with his two daughters when the incident happened. He found his body floating in the tank. — TNS



Book released

Chandigarh, March 25
The Punjab Sahit Akademi organised a literary symposium to mark the release of a Punjabi book, “Shayari Da Sarvar,” at the Randhawa auditorium, here, today. The book, written by noted Punjabi litterateur Manmohan Singh Daun, is his 36th literary creation, including 28 for children. — OC



100 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Persons donate blood at a camp organised by the Uttarakhand Yuva Manch at Garhwal Bhawan in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Persons donate blood at a camp organised by the Uttarakhand Yuva Manch at Garhwal Bhawan in Chandigarh on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, March 25
About 100 persons donated blood, including a large number of women, at a camp organised by the Uttarakhand Yuva Manch at Garhwal Bhawan, here today.

The camp was inaugurated by Dinesh Bhatt, SSP (Operations) Chandigarh. He praised the efforts of the manch and called upon the youth to involve themselves in nation-building activities.

The manch also honoured Ritu Kakkar, Anil Semwal and Govind Singh, who have donated blood 10 times.



Cyclist loses life in accident
Tribune News Service

Jagat Thapa
Jagat Thapa

Chandigarh, March 25
A cyclist, Jagat Thapa, was seriously injured after being hit by a car near the Hallo Majra chowk last night. He was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where he succumbed to his injuries in the wee hours today.

A mechanic by profession, Thapa, in his early 40s, was on his way home in Ram Darbar when the accident took place.

The police said he was crossing the road when he was hit by a Hyundai Santro car (CH 23 (T) 3756).

The cyclist suffered severe head injuries, besides broken feet.

The car driver, Sanjot Singh of Mohali, Phase XI, took the victim to the hospital.

Thapa was married but without a child.

A case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving has been registered in this regard.

The body will be handed over to the victim’s family after a post-mortem examination tomorrow.



Landlord, 4 others held for trespass

Chandigarh, March 25
The police today arrested the owner of a plot in industrial area along with four others on the allegations of rioting, criminal intimidation and trespass.

The police said Joginder Kumar of Sector 21, Panchkula, lodged a complaint against his landlord, Parveen Narang of Bathinda, Lalit Kumar of Bathinda, Balwinder Singh of Khudda Ali Sher, Satish Kumar of Kansal village and Iqbal Virk of Sirsa, alleging that they had tried to get the plot vacated by force.

It was alleged that the police initially avoided taking action against the landlord and his men. Only when mediapersons reached there, the police arrested them. — TNS



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