C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Not Fair
DEO abused; calls for police
Bigwigs influence admissions
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
There were allegations and counter-allegations at the newly opened Government Model High School, Sector 38 (West) with local leaders allegedly interfering in the admission process under way.

District Education Officer Kamla Bains, along with two more officials from the education department, were present in the school premises to monitor the admission process.

Former Mayor Kamlesh was reportedly seen collecting admission forms from parents, but fled from the scene as she saw this correspondent approaching her. Another area councillor Rita Sharma was seen sitting with the DEO at the office of the principal. Then appeared more leaders led by Rajesh Bohr of Dalit Sena, Adhyaksh and president of the Dadumajra Colony Welfare Association.

As the situation got worse, the DEO called up the police and the leaders disappeared from the scene. A complaint was registered against Rajesh Bohr, who was later released on a surety bond.

The DEO alleged that the leaders shouted at her when she objected to their intrusion in the admission procedure. “When I objected, Rajesh abused me publicly and threatened me with dire consequences. The leaders were so menacing that I had to call the police for protection.”

The DEO alleged that these leaders had no other purpose in coming to the school other than collecting money from gullible parents, ensuring admission of their wards to the model school.

“ The model school is a craze among colony residents and these leaders were making a fool of them,” she alleged.

On the other hand, Rajesh stated that he was only helping the parents of the colony in filling the admission forms. “Since the majority of colony residents are illiterate, I was just helping them out. Moreover, I have applied for my children’s admission here. I came here to make queries.



Entertainment Park
Nod to project plan any time
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Nearly six months after signing an agreement, Unitech has submitted a map to the administration with details of the 30-acre entertainment Park at Sarangpur village. The company chosen for running the project expects a formal nod to the project plan any time now. The project will be commissioned by June 2009.

Joyrides like those in Disneyland will be the park’s main attraction. The project plan features a range of rides for all age groups. The main sections include Kids Zone, Teen Zone, Little India, Family Zone and Water Park. Each section has a provision for a restaurant. The entertainment park will have a hotel, retail mall, spa and ceremonial gardens.

Parking is one component that needs attention. Officials confirm fears of overcrowding in case the problem is left unattended. The park has Education City and Film City in adjoining areas. A heavy rush is quite expected at the venue. A senior official said the annual tourist turnout at the park was expected to touch five lakh.

"We expect a rush at the venue and are working out certain modules of connectivity with the mass transport systems. Buses are seen as the most important possibility. Common bus stands will be identified at certain points in the city, Panchkula and Mohali. There can be special parking lots for traffic from Mohali and Panchkula."



On his birthday, he lit 3 pyres
A.J. Philip
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
On his birthday today, Atul lit the pyres of both his parents and his grandmother at the crematorium in Sector 25.

A large gathering of mourners witnessed the heart-breaking scene as the first year student of an engineering college near Kharar performed the last rites. But for cruel destiny taking away his parents and grandmother when the car in which they were traveling collided head-on with an oil tanker near Lalru in the wee hours of Friday, today would have been a great day for Atul.

Numerically the day was significant, as he would have turned 21 on the 21st day of April. He knew that such a day would never come again in his life.

More than that, he was looking forward to welcoming his grandmother, Thankam Menon, who really doted on him, as he was her only grandson. A widow who lost her husband Sivashankara Pillai a few years after her marriage, she was living alone at her ancestral house at Karakkurusi in Palakkad district in Kerala.

With old-age problems haunting her, Menon decided to dispose off her properties in Kerala and settle down at Chandigarh with her only daughter Shobha and son-in-law Muralid. Another reason for her to think of resettling in Chandigarh was that her younger brother C.H. Menon, Assistant Registrar of Panjab University, stayed in the city.

Murali and Shobha had gone to Kerala a week back to help Menon sell the properties and bring her to Chandigarh for good. They were all looking forward to celebrating Atul’s birthday when the accident occurred. The taxi, which belonged to an acquaintance, Swaran Singh, had gone all the way from Panchkula to New Delhi to bring the family, which reached there by air.

While the couple and the driver died on the spot, Menon was admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32 where she succumbed to her injuries yesterday at 5 p.m.

Postmortem of Menon’s body was done this morning. A large number of people belonging to different strata of society thronged the crematorium to pay their last respects to the three. The driver’s body was cremated yesterday.

Murali and Shobha have left behind, besides Atul, a daughter, Kavya, a 9th class student of Mount Carmel School at Sector 47, and a large number of relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Murali was the president of the Panchkula Malayalee Association, which is famous for celebrating Kerala festivals like Onam.



Airport expansion on hold
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Non-availability of land has come in the way of modernisation of the Chandigarh airport, one of the 35 non-metro airports on the radar of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Punjab had recently refused to part with 300 acres of land for the modernisation and expansion of the airport.

Official sources informed TNS that though the modernisation of the airport was on the list of 35 non-metro airports, non-availability of land led to the proposal being stalled at the last minute. If the city had taken up the development of the airport, it would have been completed by 2010. The AAI has appointed two consultants for assistance in selecting joint partners for the city.

The development includes hotels, convention centres, a food court, flight kitchens, petrol stations, hospitals shopping malls, hyper marts and cargo warehouses.

Senior officials said they were not aware that the Chandigarh airport would not be included for development by the AAI. A top official said they were trying to identify land for expansion, after the refusal of Punjab government to acquire 300 acres.



Beggar with a style
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
“I am one among millions”, boasted a “proud” beggar. This beggar stays in hotels, loves English wine and is fond of branded cigarettes. He watches Hindi movies on his VCD in his hotel room.

The startling facts were discovered today when the police arrested Shankar Mehta, in his mid-forties, under the Haryana Prevention of Beggary act, 1971, this morning, from Sector 42.

Mehta, who calls begging his profession, told TNS that he hailed from Raipur district in Madhya Pradesh. He left home when he was a child and had begged in almost every big city in the country.

“I spend summers in Shimla. I was about to leave for Shimla, when the police caught me,” he revealed. He said his daily “earning” were anything between Rs 300 to Rs 400.

Mehta said he loved to stay in a luxury hotel, whenever he had enough money. He said he stayed in Hotel Shivalikview for a few days eight years ago and paid between Rs 800 to Rs 2,000 per day.

Mehta said he lived like a hermit, but with a difference-he enjoyed life. Asked about his mobile phone, he said he had bought it to call the video parlour boy who delivered discs of movies to him in his hotel room. He said he paid Rs 20 for the CD and tipped the boy for the service.

SHO of the Sector 36 police station inspector Ishwar Singh Mann said a search of his room in Hotel Akash in Attawa led to recovery of a portable colour TV set , a VCD, several packets of cigarettes of premium brands and bottles of India-made foreign liquor.

The hotel staff told the police the man was staying in the hotel for the past about three months. He paid a rent of Rs 250 per day, always in the afternoon without fail.

Another police officer said they found Rs 3,000 (two notes of Rs 1,000 and two of Rs 500) and a mobile phone on his person. This led to suspicion that he could be a spy, but all doubt was cleared when they checked his (98888-69213) call details and searched the hotel room.



Put behind bars for no fault
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
A faux pas by the district court staff today resulted in a Sector 48 resident, Harbans Kaur, being put behind bars by the Chandigarh Police.

She was released after several hours when the court realised that she had been “wrongly” declared a proclaimed offender (PO) by the staff posted in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate JS Bhinder.

The case file in which she was shown PO was ordered to be closed by the court of the judicial magistrate in January after the complainant recorded before the court that since he had received the entire amount from Harbans Kaur, he wanted to withdraw the case. Accordingly, the judicial magistrate ordered closure of the case file.

Unmindful of the facts of the case, cops from the Sector 34 police landed at her place to arrest her. Somehow the arrest was delayed after she produced the court papers. Not satisfied, she was arrested this morning and produced in the court in the morning.

Inquiries reveal that the ahlamad in the court of the judicial magistrate wrongly put the name of Harbans Kaur in the list of POs sent to the SSP.

In another case, a cop from the Sector 36 police station landed at the house of an accused and his guarantor with non-bailable warrants issued by the court of a civil judge in a criminal case lodged by the state.

The accused and his guarantor, who had recorded their presence in the court on February 13, 2007, and were again to appear before the court on April 24 were taken aback.

On realising the mistake, the concerned ahlamad withdrew the to escape embarrassment.



Boy beaten at ex-cop's ‘behest’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Sumit, a minor slum boy from Panchkula, was allegedly beaten up by a security guard on private duty at Mata Mansa Devi shrine complex this afternoon.

The manhandling, he alleged, was ordered by Sant Ram, a former CIA official, already under suspension for using third degree torture on the same child two years ago.

The child had allegedly been beaten up with iron rods. The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the case which is pending

Today, the child was allegedly tortured again at the behest of the same suspended cop. And though he wanted to file a complaint against Sant Ram at Mansa Devi police post, the police did not cooperate, child's mother Madhu said.

It all started this afternoon when Sumit went to the shrine to drink water. He was prevented by a guard to do so. The guard allegedly beat him up till the time he escaped. Later in the evening, Sumit alleged that he was again hit by a brick by one Ramesh whose wife called the cops from the police post.

The cops, alleges Madhu, took Sumit along and detained them illegally for 45 minutes.



Study: 88 per cent addicts are under 25
Addiction degrades individual

Readers’ response to our debate was passionate. Most were outraged that policy-makers continue to have a cavalier attitude toward matters of public health. Others spoke of how any public-interest campaign started by the authority is bound to fail because it is so removed from ground reality. Yet others referred to the complex nature of intoxicant consumption, linked as it is with our unchecked population and the consequent unemployment and poverty. Here goes a selection:

In the early days, alcohol was used by mankind for medical purposes. Now factors like inadequate attention by parents, erosion of values and influence of the media, especially films and the televisions, are said to be responsible for the rise in abuse of alcohol. Alcohol addiction is a global problem.

According to a survey conducted by the WHO, 88 per cent heroin addicts in India are in the 14-25 years age bracket. Alcohol not only affects health, but it also degrades the status of the individual in society. It is seen that those whose parents have strained ties are more vulnerable to addiction than the others.

Government institutions and voluntary organisations should work hand in hand to wipe out this evil. Most government campaigns fail as these are divorced from facts at the ground level. In schools and colleges, students should be told about the devastating effects of alcohol. A well-thought-out media education programme can help dispel the notion of glamour associated with alcohol.

Shruti Gupta, Chandigarh

Drinking no status symbol

Drugs, intoxicants or narcotics, have become a major vice. Like the mythical hydra, it has sunk its roots deep into every section of society. The Tribune's effort to curb this menace has brought to light shocking facts.

It's shameful that in a city like Chandigarh, the ever-increasing number of liquor vends pose a major threat to youngsters. The belief that drinking enhances status has gripped the minds of youngsters. The occasional habit becomes a need. Within a year or two, the addict becomes a wreck, in mind and body.

Undoubtedly, laws need to be made more strict with loopholes in the system plugged. Laws are so soft that the offenders escape the net. Also, corrupt officers in their greed for money act as death merchants.

Till the government does not wake up there's little that the common man can do to free youngsters from the shackles of this menace.

A happy atmosphere at home is a must. Its generally the alienated, lonely and frustrated youth who fall a prey to this evil. Moreover, society must not treat the addicts as social outcasts.

It's not an impossible task and if tackled on all fronts, social as well as political, the menace can be contained, if not eradicated.

Gamandeep Kaur, Kainaur, Ropar

Ban vends in markets

No liquor vend and drinking joints should be allowed to run in the main markets, at roadsides and near educational institutions. No person below the age of 18 should be allowed to purchase liquor and the entry of minors into drinking joints banned. Parents should avoid drinking in the presence of children. Parents, schools and media should take pains to educate teenagers about the ill-effects of liquor. The government should give preference to the health of its citizens over profit, by curtailing the number of liquor vends. A complete ban on the advertisement of liquor brands should be imposed.

The police should make sure that no liquor vend and drinking joint serves minors and offenders should be fined and their licence cancelled.

Prof Surender S. Minhas, Ropar

Government at fault

The government itself has been encouraging the use of alcohol. The government earns billions of revenue through the sale of intoxicants. Hence, it should discontinue spending money on family planning and encourage the use of intoxicants. This will solve the population problem with more and more casualties on account of addiction.

The problem, in fact, has no simple solution. It is linked with other problems-of poverty, unemployment and population. Any solution has to be in the larger context.

The government must own responsibility for citizens' health. It should involve qualified people in its campaigns against the use of intoxicants. For more revenue, the lives of citizens cannot be put to risk.

J.S. Jaiswal, Mohali

Too many vends in city

It is regrettable that in the land of Buddha and Gandhi, where the Directive Principles of our Constitution enjoin upon the state to endeavour to bring about prohibition, we are promoting drinking.

In the City Beautiful with a population of 9-10 lakh, we have 200 liquor vends, 120 out of which have ahatas attached. Besides, there are 100 other licensed sites - pubs, bars, hotels and clubs, where we can have liquor.

As per the doctors' report in your paper, 70 per cent accident casualties occur with drivers under the influence of liquor. Clashes and brawls are on the increase. Why should we not have a check on drinking so that we have a peaceful atmosphere? At some crossings, there is more than one liquor vend. Only one vend should be allowed at such site. The others should be closed immediately.

G. R. Kalra, Chandigarh

Imprison, don’t fine

It is said that you have to lose something to gain something, but so far as drinking is concerned, there is no gain, only pain. An obsession for drinking can be fatal. Alcohol has several ill-effects. It decreases stamina and damages the liver, heart and stomach. It eats up funds. Driving in inebriated condition may cause accident. It is slow poison which draws a person nearer death each moment. It leaves the family in misery. In the tricity, alcohol joints have become commonplace. Liquor companies glorify their products and associate their use with manhood.

Laws should be implemented strictly. Imprisonment-not fine will do.

The government must own responsibility for citizens' health. It should involve qualified people in its campaigns against the use of intoxicants. For more revenue, the lives of citizens cannot be put to risk.

Rashi Srivastava, Chandigarh



Vacant Plots
GMADA may face litigation
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 21
The greater Mohali area development authority (GMADA) has landed itself in a muddle by adopting PUDA’s decision of not giving extension in the construction period regarding plots allotted more than eight years ago. Such a move of the authority will lead to litigations from affected plot owners.

The cut off date, fixed by PUDA for not allowing further extension in the time period was December 31, 2006, even though the decision in this regard was taken in February this year. It was adopted by the GMADA in March. What could lead to litigations is that the decision makers did not bother to inform the plot owners regarding the new move being initiated.

A resident of Phase VI B.S. Pooni said the policy of the GMADA was arbitrary and prejudice as far as the interests of the common man were concerned. He said the retrospective implementation of PUDA’s and GMADA’s order was against the spirit of natural justice. Even after the orders were released by GMADA on March 12, 2007, after adopting PUDA’s decision dated February, 22, 2007, GMADA continued to accept extension fee beyond the cut-off date apart from issuing NOCs, he added.

Pooni stated in a letter to the chief administrator, GMADA, that his daughter, Balneet Birah, had applied for an NOC for the purchase of a plot from Sarup Singh in Phase VI. No dues certificate in connection with the plot was issued on March 6, 2007, while a conveyance deed in favour of Sarup Singh was executed on March 16. Fee for an extension in the construction period till December 31, 2007, was paid on March 16. But, later, the NOC was denied because of the orders issued by PUDA and later adopted by the GMADA . He appealed to the official that the NOC be issued in the case of his daughter as had been done in other cases even after the release of the orders.

Bhupinder Singh Sabharwal, a property dealer, said there was nothing wrong with the move of GAMDA to initiate proceedings to resume vacant plots, but the owners of such plots should have been informed about such a move well in advance. He said a number of vacant plots were owned by NRIs who would be caught unaware by the move.

The GMADA is planning to initiate proceedings to resume plots allotted more than eight years ago on which no construction has been carried out till date. The process of issuing no objection certificates for sale of such plots has been halted.

There are around 11,500 such plots in the town. A few of these plots were allotted way back in 1980.



‘Pop-con lobby’ behind skewed sex ratio: Expert
Gayatri Rajwade

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Blaming the “pop-con lobby” (population control lobby) of the government for the declining sex ratio across the country, Subhash Mendhapurkar, director, SUTRA, the Himachal Pradesh-based NGO, stressed upon how “the desire to have girls is being systematically killed.”

He said this at a state-level workshop conducted by Women Power Connect with the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab under its executive secretary, Manmohan Sharma, at Panjab University today.

Mendhapurkar said the government policy of a controlled population growth to foster economic development was one of the significant reasons for the declining sex ratio. He reiterated that it was the girl who suffered in a family’s decision of how many children to have and what their gender should be.

“There is nothing illegal, unethical or immoral if people desire a male child. What is unethical is to fulfil the desire by killing the girl child or to kill the unborn girl in the womb,” he said.

He said people wanting a male child and the government wanting to lower the total fertility rate could only be fulfilled by millions of girl child foetuses being aborted.

The morning session of the workshop began with the inaugural address by Harinder Rana, director, Health and Family Welfare Services, Punjab, who talked of changing mindsets and educating and empowering women.

Ruing the fact that in the last decade Punjab had seen a 77-point fall in the sex ratio (0 to 6 years), V.K. Goel, nodal officer, PC and PNDT, Punjab, stressed that the problem could only be solved by enforcing the Act. However, he said constraints set in when the right of women to conceive or abort were violated amounting to invasion of privacy.

A point that was further elaborated by Manmohan Sharma, who spoke on the Nawanshahr model of preventing the elimination of the unborn child by targeting pregnant women, while the Bathinda model aimed at the registered ultrasound centres and clinics to enforce the Act.

The session also included a field study report commissioned by the PNDT Division, Department of Family Welfare, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by Rajesh Aggarwal, senior research fellow, CRRID, on the “PNDT Act and ultrasound clinics in Punjab”.

Apart from all the expert comments, the session also included an interaction with Pooja Rani, the “whistleblower” in the infamous Patran case, who revealed that the clinic had not been sealed until now and that she was still being threatened.



Beggars grease police palms
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The swelling numbers of beggars hint at the beggar-police nexus in the city. Most of the beggars operating from prime locations admit to having shared their booties with beat officers and kingpins, who control the trade by controlling the areas of operation.

The Mani Majra multiplex is a peculiar example where scores of children beg right under the nose of the police. A child rescued recently had told counsellors that he had been sharing his earnings with policemen.

Cashing in on superstition

The problem also has roots in superstition among residents, who oblige people begging in the name of religion. Beggars from Morinda, Rajpura, Patiala and Ropar regularly travel to Chandigarh on Saturdays to beg in the name of “Shani dev”. They return with thousands.

Markets of Sectors 34, 35, 36, 8 and 10 are other hunting grounds for beggar children. Not a single child has, however, been referred for protection to Chandigarh child welfare committee in the past six years.

The situation hasn’t changed even with the modification in the Juvenile Justice Act last year.

The Act now places such children in the category of abandoned children who need institutional support.

The police can simply bring children caught begging to the child welfare committee, which has powers to shelter them in state’s designated homes, instead of taking them to court.

With Chandigarh Tribune campaigning for the cause, the UT social welfare department yesterday even designated part of the Sector 25 juvenile observation home as the beggars’ wing.

Madhu Singh, member of the committee, says: “The modified promises to shelter beggar children who are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. But that’s possible only if the police brings them to us and we organise for their care and schooling. Strangely, they have never referred these cases to us. They can do so directly or through PGI Childline.”

The police has seldom gone on overdrive to prevent the nuisance. Although recently some enforcement of the Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act has come to light, the past record of UT police has been poor.

In 2000, its role came under a cloud. Recognising beggary as a traffic hazard, the then IGP R.P. Singh had constituted teams to advise the police on streamlining of traffic.

The committee, comprising civilians as traffic wardens, decided to raid Aroma traffic lights at a given time one Saturday. They were to take preventive action by arresting beggars and alms seekers. To their surprise, not a single beggar was spotted. The information had been leaked.



Going easy on them
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

The Chandigarh police seems to have turned a blind eye to the beggary menace. In fact, the unwillingness on part of the law enforcement agency is being seen as the reason behind the growing menace, as the police only swings into action when the problem is highlighted.

To date, over 45 persons have been arrested under the Prevention of Beggary Act since January, 2005.

This figure compares poorly to the number of persons held by the police for various other offences, including motorists.

The number is miniscule, considering the number of persons begging in city.

Beggars, who pester people and even go to the extent of obstructing their way, are seldom caught for violations. The least the police can do is to shoo them away from public places, feel city residents.

On the contrary, the police often arrests people for offences like loitering and obstructing way.

Surprisingly, beggars are allowed to violate the law, uninterrupted.

“The phenomenon is only fuelling the menace,” says Vikas Anand, a government employee.

Similarly, legal luminaries maintain that it is the duty of the police to ensure free flow of traffic and look into whether people are being harassed and forced to pay alms by beggars at public places or not.

Policemen on duty should take action against the offender under such circumstances, but it is seldom done.

Another city resident says the Chandigarh police, the traffic police in particular, targets only the common man.

The police rarely books those loitering around religious places and other institution harassing public.

Even at traffic lights, kids rush toward vehicles, forcing motorists to give alms. Beggars also become potential hazards on road as motorists have to maneuver their vehicles around them.

However, the police watches all this silently from a distance, instead of shooing them away.

A police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said they were in a fix when it came to taking action against beggars. Under the law, they could not be kept in lockup or sent to jails.

Ideally, they should be sent to correctional facilities. However, courts let them off after penalising them.

Even as the police has launched a drive and arrested over 20 persons in the past two days, many police officers are facing problems in lodging the beggars, as the court has postponed the hearing and asked them to take away the beggars to police stations.



Move to ‘adjust’ cop in MC
Resistance by councillors in sight
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The move of the Chandigarh police to bring a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) into the Chandigarh municipal corporation fold is set to meet with some though resistance.

For elected councillors have expressed their reservations, though in a subtle manner, against the proposal of creating a fresh post.

According to sources in the police, higher-ups in the department intended to promote one of their “blue-eyed boys” to the post of DSP even though there is no room for another DSP in the department.

While it is learned that senior functionaries of the corporation are in favour of creating the new post, elected councillors are against the move.

“The police department has already experimented with the idea of creating a similar post in CITCO and the Chandigarh Housing Board, but failed miserably,” said a councillors.

Senior councillors said the corporation already had an enforcement wing. “A complete police cell should be created in the corporation that can take over the functioning of the enforcement wing. A single DSP will not be able to do much in the corporation,” contended one of the senior councillors.

These councillors maintained that they would convey their discontent on the issue when the matter came up for discussion.

Meanwhile, city mayor Harjinder Kaur said the proposal to create the post in the corporation had come up before she assumed the office.

Supporting the contention put forth by councillors, she said the corporation did not need another DSP.

She stated that the matter would be discussed before a final decision was taken.

The councillors also contended that in case a post was created, it would put an additional financial burden on the corporation on account of salary, transportation and miscellaneous expenditure.

They said the Chandigarh police was trying to further its own interests at the cost of the corporation.



Attempt to suppress dissent in MC, says councillor
Tribune News Service

Councillor of the BJP V.K. Sood (centre) makes a point at a press conference in Sector 5, Panchkula, on Saturday.
Councillor of the BJP V.K. Sood (centre) makes a point at a press conference in Sector 5, Panchkula, on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, April 21
Maintaining that there was a complete breakdown of municipal administration in the municipal council, BJP councillor V.K. Sood has said there was a deliberate attempt to create terror and suppress dissent in the House.

Sood, accompanied by mandal president Devinder Dhawan and senior BJP leader Sham Lal Bansal, alleged here today that the council was being virtually run by MC president's husband, Kulwant Gill, while Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan is hand in glove with the law-breakers.

Sood said instead of punishing culprits who were allegedly terrorising councillors and the NGO exposing their misdeeds, the Deputy Chief Minister had proposed dissolution of the House and abolition of the council.

“If he has public interest at heart, he should have abolished house tax and fire tax which are a burden on the public. While the entire nation is talking of strengthening democratic bodies, our city is moving backwards because a handful of people want concentration of finances and power in their hands,” he alleged.

Stating that development of the city was at its lowest ebb, he said works were being carried out in the wards of a chosen few. “Stray dogs and other cattle have virtually taken over the city. The problem needs to be tackled on a priority. For months together there is no meeting of the council. No inquiries have been made public,” he said.

Sood said the budget of the city, involving revenue from house and fire tax, was enough to take care of the requirements of the city. “Some ‘favourite contractors’ are getting payments while those of genuine contractors are being held back in the name of inquiry,” he claimed.



Bonus mooted for ESIC members making no claims

Chandigarh, April 21
In a proposal that can have far-reaching implications on the health of the employees of the organised sector, union minister of state for labour and employment Oscar Fernandes today advocated bonus for the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme members not making claims from hospitals and dispensaries.

“A large number of employees continue to make contributions to the ESIC scheme but never make any claims. These employees needed to be compensated through some kind of bonus,” Fernandes told delegates attending the biennial conference of the All-India ESIC Officers Federation here today.

The minister, however, left the decision to grant bonus on the ESIC management, saying the labour ministry would not force its decision on the corporation. The payment of bonus would also check certain malpractices such as claim of reimbursement on bogus medical bills, etc.

Meanwhile, in an informal chat with reporters, the minister claimed the wage boards for the journalists and non-journalists would be constituted within a week. It would be a multi-member board with representatives of the employers, employees and the government. — TNS



Woman says baby swapped; no way, says MS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh April 21
A resident of Mauli Jagran has alleged that her male baby was swapped with a female baby immediately after birth at Government College and Medical College, Sector-32.

However the hospital authorities refute the charge, saying they would conduct a DNA test on the complainant to remove doubt.

Shagufta Parveen, the complainant, says a baby boy was born to her on April 12.

The staff nurse on duty informed her that she was blessed with a son. However, to her surprise, a baby girl was brought to her after a few minutes. The staff refused to her.

“Yesterday when I was discharged from the hospital, I noticed that the wrist band of the baby showed the gender of the baby as male.

This confirmed my doubts that my baby was swapped,” said a distraught Shagufta.

Dr Harsh Mohan, Medical Superintendent, said he saw a lapse on the part of the staff, but there was no chance of the baby being swapped.

“However, we have decided to conduct a DNA test to remove all doubt.”



One year gone, killers at large
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 21
Even as children of a couple who was done to death in Phase IV, here, last year are organising a barsi of their parents tomorrow, the police has failed to trace the killers.

Raghbir Sharan (75) and his wife Shakuntala (70) were brutally killed in a 10-marla rented accommodation on May 3 last year. The bodies were found lying in different rooms and there were some signs of struggle.

The police had found that cupboards had been broken open and searched. The police had suspected that more than one assailant was involved in the crime.

Ram Kumar Gupta, son of the deceased, has alleged that the police had failed to properly investigate the case. He said he had been meeting senior police officials repeatedly but to no avail. He alleged that he had suspected some persons who had borrowed money from his father but the police failed to question them.

The police had rounded up some persons after the crime for questioning but had failed to trace the killers till now.



NCM team to visit Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
A delegation of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is setting out on a four-day visit to Haryana and Chandigarh tomorrow to get Punjabi language its due status in government schools and government offices.

NCM member Harcharan Singh Josh told TNS here on Friday that he would call on Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and impress upon him the need to execute the Haryana Assembly resolution on implementing Punjabi as a second language.

Apart from this, he would call on the Administrator, Chandigarh, and Home and Education Secretary to introduce

Punjabi as an optional language in government school curriculum for classes VI to VIII.

Josh said that they will also visit Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Sonepat to look into half a dozen complaints of graveyard encroachment made by a minority community.



Govt ‘committed’ to welfare of Dalits
‘Tribune News Service

Lalru, April 21
The Punjab government is committed to overall development of the Dalits, said Naranjan Singh, chairman of the SC and ST commission, Punjab, here today.

Addressing a function organised by the Bharat Petroleum SC, ST Employees Union to mark the 116th birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the chairman called upon the Dalits to be aware of their rights so that they could avail themselves of various government schemes.

Alleging that casteism was playing havoc with society, Naranjan Singh said the nation could not be united till it was banished from the country.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included Rajiv Sharma, territory manager of the Bharat Petroleum and Ramesh Kanojia, president of the north region of the association.



Farmers’ panel reminder to administration
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Pind Bachao Committee has reminded the Chandigarh administration of a letter written by the Prime Minister to all chief ministers and administrators regarding the contentious issue of land acquisition wherein farmers are not getting the market price.

“If the empowered group of ministers (EGOM) has taken a decision in principle to stop all acquisitions for SEZs, the administration should not be in a hurry to acquire land, said Maj R.S. Virk (retd), general secretary of the committee.



84 challaned for traffic violations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Chandigarh administration continued its drive against bus operators and auto-rickshaws violating the rules.

During the special drive conducted today by the enforcement staff of the State Transport Authority and the traffic police, three buses and 81 auto-rickshaws were challaned under the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.



Micro-credit system highlighted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
A conference of NGOs engaged in women empowerment was held at UT secretariat here on Thursday.

A presentation on micro-credit system under the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) was given by Sneh Lata Kumar, executive director of the kosh.

Special secretary finance Raji P. Shrivastava and Amandeep Kaur, managing director, Chandigarh Child and Women Development Corporation Limited, facilitated the interface with NGOs.



Body found near Sec-52 school
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The body of an unidentified man in his mid-30s was found near government school in Sector 52 this evening.

The police said they received information about the body around 5 pm and reached the scene immediately.

No visible injury marks or document to establish the identity of the man was found on the body.

The body was taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16.

The SHO of the police station, Sector 39, said the exact cause of death would be ascertained only after the post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, inquest proceedings have been initiated under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Motorbikes stolen

Manjit Singh of Sector 20 A reported to the police alleging that his Bullet motor cycle (CH 03 U 1063) was stolen from his residence on April 13.

In another incident, Gobind Singh of Sector 29 B lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Bajaj Calibre motor cycle (PB 70 4474) was stolen from his residence on Thursday night.

Similarly, Anil Kumar of Sector 29 filed a complaint with the police alleging that his Bajaj Calibre motor cycle (CH 03 A 0326) was stolen from his residence on Friday night.

Three cases of theft have been registered.


Gopal Das of Mori Gate, Mani Majra, filed a complaint with the police alleging that water meter was stolen from his residence on Thursday night. A case of theft has been registered.


A cyclist, Istkar of Burail village, was hurt after he was hit by an unidentified Tata 407 truck near the Sector 46-47 traffic lights on Friday.

He was admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and later referred to the PGI.

A case of causing injuries due to rash and negligent driving has been registered.


The local police arrested Mohammad Nishad of Mauli complex on the allegation of outraging the modesty of a woman after trespassing on her residence on Friday evening.

A case under Sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at the police station, Mani Majra.



Imposter mediaman in police net
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The local police on Thursday arrested a Kurukshetra resident on allegations of impersonation. He was posing as the bureau chief of a national private TV news channel. The accused, 26-year-old Pawan Kumar Habana, allegedly defrauded a Mohali resident of Rs 5,000 on the pretext of getting him a job in the channel.

In charge of the crime branch inspector Satbir Singh said Bhupinder N. Singh, bureau chief of Aaj Tak, Chandigarh, lodged a complaint, alleging that someone had been using his designation and name to dupe people on the pretext of getting jobs with the channel.

Bhupinder told the police that Baljit Singh of Phase I, Mohali, approached him in his office in Sector 17, saying that he had paid Rs 5,000 to “their bureau chief” for a job.

Inspector Satbir Singh said the police managed to summon the accused to Sector 17, where he was nabbed. An identity card of Indian Consumer Protection Samiti and several other visiting cards were recovered from Baljit Singh.

He told the police that he was working in a private carpet manufacturing unit in Kurukshetra.



Youth thrashed

Panchkula, April 21
Sunny, a resident of Sector 19, was beaten up by a group of boys late last night while he was returning home from Sector 15. One of the boys was later identified as Babbu, a resident of the same sector, who hit him in his jaw breaking two of his teeth.

His father Jaspal, who brought him to General Hospital, Sector 6, said this was the second time that his son had been hit by boys. "About a fortnight back, boys wielding lathis had attacked him and he had landed up in a hospital with a head injury. He has still not recovered from that when he was attacked last night. The police has still not initiated any proceedings against the accused," he said. A girl was behind the constant bickering among the boys, he added. — TNS



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