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Under debt, PGI clerk kills pregnant wife
Tribune News Service

Monica and Sonia whose mother was killed by their father in Chandigarh on Friday.
Monica and Sonia whose mother was killed by their father in Chandigarh on Friday.  — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, March 30
A debt-ridden man allegedly strangled his seven-month pregnant wife to death at their Dhanas residence in the wee hours today. Thirtyfive-year-old Laxman Singh, a clerk in the dental department of the PGI, locked himself in a room after the incident and reportedly consumed pesticide in an attempt to end his life.

He was brought out of the room by the police after breaking open the door and admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

The victim, 32-year-old Godavari, was found lying on the bed. There were marks on her neck, arms. She had a black eye. The police said the injuries found on the victim’s body suggested that she had struggled to save herself.

Deputy superintendent of police S.S. Randhawa said preliminary investigations revealed that Laxman had taken a bank loan of Rs 50,000 in 2005. In July, 2006, he again raised a loan of Rs 1 lakh from the bank. His salary was Rs 7,000 per month out of which he paid a monthly bank instalment of Rs 3,000. He was undergoing depression as he saw himself incapable of supporting his family.

The DSP said Laxman woke up at 2.30 am and strangled his wife to death. Scratches on Laxman’s face and an injury on his right eye corroborated the fact that the victim had struggled to save herself. A case of murder has been registered against Laxman.

The incident came to light when neighbours asked the two minor daughters of the couple, nine-year-old Monica and seven-year-old Sonia, playing in the courtyard of their house about their parents as they were not seen late till 9 am.

The girls told them that that their mother had not woken up and their father was not opening the door of his room. Some neighbours went inside the house to find Godavari lying dead on bed. They knocked at the door of Laxman’s room, but there was no response from inside. Suspecting the worst they informed the police.

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Suicide
Chetna was being stalked
Tribune News Service

Suicide by Chandigarh girl Chetna Ramachandran, a third year B.Tech student in Annamalali University in the temple town of Chidambaram led to the closure of the university as violence erupted in the campus. A post-mortem was carried out by doctors and her body handed over to her parents who cremated her in Chidambaram.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone while returning to Chandigarh, Chetna’s father Ramachandran, a resident of Zirakpur, said: "Sometime ago, my daughter complained to her mother about being stalked by lecturer Raghuram. When Chetna ignored his calls, the man is understood to have changed his number and called again.

A heart-broken Ramachandran said: "My daughter, who was only 20, was a bright student. I sent her to Tamil Nadu to help her learn our culture and tradition.

“I have no clue as to what happened to my daughter because she spoke to her mother on the telephone three hours before she died. The test itself was of no consequence because it was an internal exam which could have fetched her, at best, 20 marks.”

"She had no reason to resort to copying. Her classmates told me that the paper said to have been found in her purse was “planted on her.”

“Chetna herself was dismissive of the incident when she talked to my wife.” Students alleged that Chetna was falsely accused of "hiding bits of paper inside her dress during a model lab examination by two male invigilators who touched her body while frisking her in an adjoining room to the examination hall".

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Fire at power station
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A transformer at the 11 KV power sub-station in Sector 39 caught fire this afternoon. There was a blast. Giant flames and a curtain of thick smoke covered the sky for more than an hour.

Hundreds of residents of Maloya, Dadu Majra, Sector 38(West), Sector 39 and adjoining areas flocked near the site. The police had a tough time managing the crowd. A fireman said: " The job is more tough because inflammable insulating oil is on fire and we cannot rule out a blast, which can be very dangerous."

The fire occurred because the oil used for insulating the transformers had caught fire.

The insulation is needed to keep a check on the high temperatures. It acts as a coolant. Sources said the staff regularly checked the temperature on the transformers which can be switched off in case it gets dangerous.

"We will check with the staff on duty to verify the details," a senior official said. Six fire tenders were used to extinguish the fire. Water could not be used to extinguish the flames. Foam had to be used instead.

Power supply to the area was disrupted at 3.30 p.m. The fire was extinguished after 4.30 p.m. Mr S.K.Gosain, Station Fire Officer, said: “The main task was to avoid the fire from spreading to adjoining transformers.”

Electricity to most areas was restored at 8.30 p.m. The break in power supply also disrupted water supply.

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Disabled students await results
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
All 11 disabled students of Government Art College will sit for their final exams beginning April 9, not knowing if they’ve cleared their last class.

The results of the class exam they took in April last are yet to be declared. Worse is Panjab University’s indifference towards these students, who are not in a position to argue their case. Most are hearing and speech impaired; some with profound disability like Saurabh Saini, a final-year student with 92 per cent hearing impairment.

When the diploma course for the disabled was first started in 2003, parents had to fight hard to get their wards’ results declared. Result for the 2003 exam came in December 2004.

Ironically, other students of the college have got their results in time whereas the disabled have been struggling for months to get the same. The matter is urgent for students like Saurabh, who can’t apply for courses or jobs without a result card in hand.

Even when the diploma course for the disabled was first started in 2003, parents had to fight hard to get their wards’ results declared. Result for the 2003 exam came in December 2004.

The apathy continues as the university has not yet heeded to the special students’ request for a postgraduate diploma on the lines of Delhi Art College. The proposal, submitted months ago is gathering dust, though principal Brahm Prakash says the university is about to set up a committee to work it out.

The final-year students will neither have a PG diploma nor a job to look forward to after their exams are over in May. And this is not the only problem they are facing. The college doesn’t have a single trained teacher or sign language interpreter to help special students cope with other students.

This despite the fact that National Institute for Technical Teachers Training experts have often offered to hold orientation courses for teachers. These students teach one another. Saurabh, the brightest of them, waits after college every day to take a two-hour class for his friends.

“If I don’t help them, no one will,” he signals in frustration. The students also regret that the college doesn’t organise separate display of their art works, nor does it promote their art among corporates, which support such projects under corporate social responsibility.

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Tree snaps commuters out of nap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
It was a providential escape for commuters and motorists after a mango tree fell to the ground along the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, near the Tribune Chowk, this afternoon.

Over 25 passengers were waiting to catch their bus at the bus stop near the junction when the incident happened.

A Haryana roadways bus had halted near the spot to pick up passengers when the tree fell.

Even though several branches of the falling tree hit the bus, no one received injuries.

The traffic came to a halt after the incident, as the road was blocked by the tree trunk and branches.

Roadside vendor Parasnath, an eyewitness, said: “Around 3.40 pm, I heard the snapping of the tree as it fell to the ground. I alerted those standing under it. People ran helter-skelter to save their lives. However, some parts of the tree fell on to the bus that had halted to pick up passengers. Fortunately, no one was hurt.”

The police, which reached the spot immediately, requisitioned a crane and informed the horticulture department to remove the tree from the road.

“Termite attack in the roots caused the fall of the 70-year-old tree”, said Baljeet Singh Chadha, in charge of the police station, Industrial Area.

Incidentally, another tree, of the same age as the one that fell, infested with termites stands nearby.

“It is a matter of time when it meets with the same fate”, said the police officer.

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High spirits at kisan rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A farmer’s rally at the new rally ground in Sector 25 brought cheer to the owner of a liquor vend there. As thousands of farmers converged on the venue to protest in support of their demands this afternoon, liquor sale picked up at the vend.

With huge price difference between the liquor prices of Punjab and Chandigarh, certain participants were in “high spirits” even before the start of the rally.

On the penultimate day of the current financial year, almost all liquor brands were available at 40 to 50 per cent discount, which proved to be another attraction for bacchus lovers.

Many carried away cases of whisky to their trucks and tractor-trailers on which they had travelled to the venue.

“March-end is a good time to buy liquor stock, as it is cheapest now,” said Mukhtiar Singh, a farmer from a nearby village.

Over 2,000 farmers had gathered at the venue to voice their demands, which included passage of an ordinance by the Punjab government to abolish outstanding loans on farmers, halt of land acquisition for big companies and nullification of all notifications, and grant of 50 per cent subsidy on diesel rates for farmers.

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Blocked entry points
HUDA waits for court order copy
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
The blocked sector entry points on road dividers remained intact as the day went by in the wait for a copy of the orders given by the district court yesterday. While the officials of HUDA said they would begin the process of opening the entry points only after they have the court directions in their hand, the Sector 7 market association was in an upbeat mood.

“They dragged their feet on the first order for over a month. Finally, our stand that the closure was in violation of the master plan, stands vindicated.

Now, we will immediately file a contempt case against them if the orders are not implemented shortly,” president of the association B.B. Kochhar said.

Sources in the district administration said it, too, was in favour of opening the entry points. Having consulted the master plan, the administration is learnt to have told the police and the officers of HUDA that the blockades were illegal. Also, they have already asked the police to open up these dividers at the earliest and draw up a list of crossing where traffic lights need to be installed.

Earlier, the police had asked HUDA and the Municipal Council to close all opening points on dividers connecting sectors.

While businessmen had demanded the opening of these entry points, stating they were incurring losses, the police had sought to close the points to bring down the number of accidents in the city.

“We had checked up with the authorities concerned and found out that the closure would also amount to violation of the master plan. However, HUDA was just not interested in our reasoning,” Kochhar said. 

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Govt committed to empowering women
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 30
Empowerment of women is one of the top priorities of the cooperative sector. Women empowerment groups are being formed and these would be given financial and technical support. Training for the first batch of women started yesterday.

This was stated by cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh during his interaction with elected representatives of rural cooperative societies of the state here today. He said at the next meeting, he wanted to see about 50 per cent women representing the cooperative societies.

The minister said there was a need to bring about a number of improvements in the cooperative sector. In Maharashtra and Gujarat the cooperative movement was very successful. But, in Punjab the performance of this sector was far from satisfactory because of a lack of initiative. The model of development in Western countries could not be implemented in India as farmers here had very small land holdings.

The minister said while Markfed and Milkfed had been successful, other cooperatives like Sugarfed had failed. He could not under stand why a sugar mill in Nawanshahr could earn profits and that in the Malout area closed down. A report would be prepared to look into various reasons why sugar mills in certain areas failed.

There was a need to change the mindset of the officials of the cooperative department and members of the cooperative societies. A time had come when challenges had to be accepted and only then progress was possible. A committee, comprising officials and cooperative members, should be set up to discuss what role cooperative societies should play and from where the resources could be generated. The role of cooperative societies should be extended and not merely limited to distribution of insecticides and fertilisers.

A model society should be formed and later the same model be implemented in other areas as well. He said elected members of the societies would be given training.

The minister said every official would be held accountable for his actions. Prize posting would be given to those who worked hard while others would have to face the consequences.

Financial commissioner, cooperation, G.S. Sandhu said it was an era of globalisation and days had passed when departments could get a protected environment from the government. Only efficient departments would be able to survive. Globalisation was bound to make its effect everywhere.

Cost-competitiveness was a must for survival and as such production was to be increased at reduced input costs.

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Obesity among major causes for rejection of IAF women candidates
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Obesity is among the major causes of rejection among women candidates applying for a commission in the Indian Air Force (IAF), a recent study by the IAF’s Institute for Aerospace Medicine has revealed.

While obesity was the common factor between candidates for the flying branch and ground duty stream, anthropometric incompatibilities like substandard leg length, and ophthalmic disabilities topped the cause of rejection in the flying and ground duty cadres ,respectively.

The first- ever study on the cause of rejection of women candidates was undertaken by Wg Cdr Narinder Taneja, Wg Cdr P. Pant, and Maj S. Venkatesh. It was carried out to analyse the initial medical examination of women candidates for providing information regarding the nature of disabilities causing rejection.

The IAF opened its doors to women officers in the early nineties.Women aircrew are employed in transport and helicopter streams, while ground duty officers serve in technical as well as non-technical streams like engineering, air traffic control, administration and education. The standards for the initial medical examination are predominantly the same for male and female candidates.

In 2004, the IAF had terminated the services of Flt Lt Prerna Chaturvedi, a helicopter pilot, for being over-weight. She thereafter moved the Delhi High Court against the IAF order. Her petition, which is pending before the court, states that the IAF has over the years dismissed as many as 35 women officers for being overweight.

The study found that among ground duty candidates, 26 per cent of the rejections were due to obesity, while that among flying branch candidates was 21 per cent. “This rate of prevalence of obesity may reflect the societal trends on obesity,” the study remarked.

Ophthalmic disabilities accounted for 30 per cent and anthropometry accounted for 49 per cent rejections in the two categories, respectively.

A record of 331 women candidates, including 86 for the flying branch, who underwent medical examination over a nine- year period were studied. The mean age of candidates was 22 years. 

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Old liquor stock on sale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The UT excise department will allow the sale of old liquor stock of 2006-07 in the next financial year.

This step is being taken to ensure that there is no break in the supply of liquor at the country liquor vends across the city from April 1.

The action is the offshoot of the litigation in the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding allotment of tenders for supply of liquor during 2007-08.

“We will now allow transfer of unsold stocks of 2006-07. Since in most of the cases the licence of the existing players had been renewed, transfer of the unsold stock would not be a problem,” said an official.

However, it could not be ascertained whether the licence would stick to the discounted rates of liquor that are offered as a standard practice in a runup to the financial year ending March 31.

Since the legal matter will come up for hearing before the court on April 3, a provision under rule 37 (29) of the Punjab Liquor Licence Rule, 1956, would enable the excise department to allow liquor contractors to continue with the sales against the quota allocated for the financial year ending March 31, said a senior official. The rule enables the department to extend the provision up to 90 days as has been in case of Punjab.

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Scheme for disabled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Pleading for a better deal in the rehabilitation of physically and mentally challenged children through well-structured programmes, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator General S.F. Rodrigues (retd) today called for mass participation of people on this issue.

Inaugurating Samarth, a Centre-based scheme jointly launched by the Parents/ Guardians Society of Mentally Challenged Children and Government Institute for Mentally Retarded Children, in Sector 15 here today, General Rodrigues asked the organisers to be innovative in their strategies.

He asked them to prepare data sheets for children suffering from different handicaps with a focus on identification of their special needs to take appropriate corrective measures.

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CSIO develops early warning landslide monitoring system
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) scientists have developed an early warning landslide monitoring system. Data Acquisition System (DAS) designed and developed for monitoring, detection and issue of early warning is being tested at a location in Hardwar in Uttarakhand. It will soon be replicated at other strategic locations soon. Once this is done, it will help predict the movement of earth prior to when it happens.

The system specifically targets assisting the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Geological Survey of India, which, in turn, will be able to devise strategies to remove population from habituated areas and minimise damage caused by a natural disaster ahead of the calamity.

According to CSIO scientist S.K Mittal, proposed by the Natural Disaster Management Authority under the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the project was sponsored by the Planning Commission in 2003. It has been jointly undertaken by the CSIO and the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee.

“Landslides could be sensed earlier too, but with this project in place, we will be able to predict when and where it will happen along with its intensity”, Mittal disclosed. The monitoring equipment will be put up at different locations, which in turn will continuously send data readings on various parameters to a central control room where the predictions will be made by the scientists.

The main difference of this new device from the previously available ones is that the earlier devices were stand alone systems that depended upon pressure and load factors. But this monitoring system will monitor the ground situation round-the-clock, powered by solar panels and will give readings on five parameters. These are the amount of rain, inclination of surrounding areas, tilt of the sub-surface, earth pressure and cracks in the soil, Mittal said.

He said all information would be collected every 12 hours through a V-Sat link at Chandigarh, Delhi and Dehradun. The DAS can record inputs from 80 sensors installed in different locations simultaneously.

Once the DAS has been cleared and declared fit for use, it will be used by different state governments, BRO, universities and educational institutions for research and to monitor landslide-prone areas for issue of early warning to mitigate damage, says Mittal.

According to the CSIO Director, Dr Pawan Kapur, this equipment is far superior in technology as well as in accuracy compared to the existing landslide monitoring systems as it uses advanced computer technology that transmits data over a V-Sat system in real time.

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Panel meets adviser

Chandigarh, March 30
The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (Colony Cell) today met the adviser to the administrator seeking admission for thousands of students who faced a bleak future in light of the March 31 order to close down schools operating in residential areas of Mani Majra.

Shambu Banerjee, chairman of the committee, said the adviser assured him of help for the students. TNS

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Letters
Fans, did you say?

This is regrading the news item about three fans (March 27) planning to go to the West Indies despite India’s exit from the World Cup. It made for poor reading. True lovers of the game, you say. Look deeper, please; there must be an entirely different reason why they are flying there now. May be, monied men with time and money to blow? Most probably. And, if you please, why do they need publicity?

— Jasmer Bains, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030

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Pickpocket arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The local police has arrested Rajbir Singh of Sector 38 A on charge of theft.

In his complaint, Nalin Singh of Sector 45 alleged that Rajbir stole his purse near ISBT, Sector 17, yesterday. A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC has been registered at the police station, Sector 17, in this regard.

Cheating

The police has booked Ashutosh Rastogi, Jeved Khan and others, all residents of New Delhi, on the charge of cheating.

The complainant, Rajiv Kumar Sharma, a resident of Sector 44, alleged that the accused took Rs 3.2 lakh on the pretext of sending him abroad. But they neither sent him abroad nor return the money.

A case has been registered at the police station, Sector 34.

Vehicle stolen

Rajinder Pal Saini of Sector 35 has reported to the police alleging that his Tata Safari SUV was stolen from his residence last night. In another incident, Darshan Singh of Sector 44 lodged a complaint alleging that his scooter was stolen from his residence during the intervening night of March 26 and 27. Two cases of theft have been registered.

Theft

In his complaint to the police, Gulshan Kumar of Mauli Complex has alleged that Rs 1.20 lakh were stolen from his residence in the period between March 26 and March 30. A case has been registered.

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Body of youth found

Panchkula, March 30
The highly decomposed body of a man was found at a drain near Nirankari Bhavan, Sector 17, Panchkula, today. According to Chandigarh police sources, there was an injury mark on the neck of the body.

“The deceased, who was in late twenties, was wearing a black trousers,” said Bishi Ram, SHO of Mani Majra police station. — TNS

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Girl ‘abducted’ from Delhi sent to kin
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 30
A minor girl, who was allegedly abducted by a youth from Delhi, was handed over to her family here today.

According to the police, the girl was crying in front of a sweet shop in Matour village. The owner of the shop, Vinod Kumar, informed the police.

The girl, who is a Class VIII student, told mediapersons that she lived in Shalimar Bagh in Delhi and Arjun, who was a rickshaw-puller, used to take her younger brother and sister to the school. She alleged that when she was returning home from the school on March 1, Arjun met her on the way and gave her something to eat. On eating the stuff, she lost control on herself and started acting on the directions of Arjun. He then brought her to Matour village here.

Arjun said the two of them were allegedly having an affair and the girl had come with him on her own.

The girl was handed over to her parents after she was produced before the SDM.

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Rajpura councillor among accused
Flesh-trade racket busted
Tribune News Service

The police takes the accused arrested in a flesh-trade racket in Pinjore to the local district courts in Panchkula on Friday.
The police takes the accused arrested in a flesh-trade racket in Pinjore to the local district courts in Panchkula on Friday. — Tribune photo by Malkiat Singh

Panchkula, March 30
Five girls and 11 men were arrested in a flesh trade racket busted by the CIA staff in collaboration with the Pinjore police here today. While all girls are in the age group of 17 to 24 years, the men, including two pimps and a Rajpura councillor.

In a late night operation, the CIA staff, led by inspector Surjit Kumar and Pinjore SHO Karam Singh, and the CIA staff, raided Comfort Resort in Pinjore.

The hotel staff said they beat them up during the raid without provocation. They did not even resist the entry of the cops.

Inside the rooms, three couples were caught in compromising positions. The rest of them were in the lawns of the resort.

Police sources said they had information that Manoj Kumar, manager of the resort, Happy and Gautam Kumar, pimps, were running a call-girl racket. They used to supply girls for Rs 5,000 a night and have a “dedicated” client list. The sources had information that the girls came from Delhi and were at the resort yesterday.

Those arrested include Sandeep, Amarchand, Gagan, Bunty, Happy and Jagdish Jaggi, an Akali Dal councillor from Rajpura. Jaggi was admitted to the Primary Health Centre, Pinjore, after he complained of discomfort.

The sources said they were produced in the court of Shashi Bala Chauhan. While the manager and the pimps were remanded in two-day police custody, the rest of the accused were sent to judicial remand. The police was also asked to produce the accused admitted to in hospital.

A case under Sections 3,4,5,6 and 7 of the Immoral Trafficking Act has been registered.

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BUSINESS

Tax Collection Banks work extra hours
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Transactions worth Rs 1,000 crore were effected in the tricity on the penultimate day of financial year 2006-07.

Though long queues were seen outside most banks in Sector 17 during the day, it was government transactions that kept the bank staff busy till late evening.

The MICR branch of Punjab National Bank (PNB), which clears cheques for all banks in the tricity, held an extra clearing session today to deal with the excess flow of cheques.

The special session was held between 6 and 8 pm and cheques could be cleared only till midnight, as this was the last clearing for this financial year.

This special clearing (with return clearing) was conducted so that clearing instruments received from public were realised and credited to government account by March 31.

Enquiries made by the TNS at the MICR branch revealed that over 48,000 instruments (cheques) were cleared today.

Till 8.30 pm, transactions worth Rs 829 crore had already been cleared and it was expected that in all cheques worth Rs 1,000 crore would be cleared by midnight.

The main branches of the SBI and the PNB in Sector 17 were also open for tax collection till 9 pm.

During the day, people queued up at branches of the SBI and the PNB in 
Sector 22.

Special counters were set up at these branches for collection of excise duty and sales tax.

Officers at the PNB branch said they were expecting heavier rush tomorrow.

“Though tomorrow is a holiday, our bank, just like other authorised banks for tax collection, will remain open till midnight to facilitate customers who want to deposit direct and indirect taxes,” said a bank official.

N. Soni, chief manager, SBI treasury branch, Sector 17, said: “Today customers trickled in the bank till 7.30 pm. We have received payments worth Rs 10 crore, which includes Rs 4 crore in cash. But the total transaction at the branch will be almost double, which includes the amount released by the bank,” 
he said.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner, Chandigarh, today issued instructions to all treasury branches and authorised banks receiving taxes, including the regional office of RBI, to remain open till midnight tomorrow.

These instructions have been issued in the wake of the orders issued by the RBI, asking banks to extend working hours.

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