C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CITY HOME TO THE HOMELESS
Sadhus find it in temples
Manish Sirhindi/Tribune News Service

Guaranteed two square meals a day and shelter on rainy days has made temples in Sector 19 the ideal place for around 25 sadhus, who live here without bothering to work for survival.

Having found conducive conditions, the sadhus have made the temples their home with some living here for years together. For Rajnesh Rao, one such Hindu sadhu, the temples have been home for the past three years. He came here from UP and decided to make the best of the available conditions. The temples offer langar (community kitchen) and devotees provide them with alms. The green belts along the Madhya Marg grant place to sleep and on rainy days the corridors of commercial establishments on the other side of the road offer them the required shelter.

The mood among the sadhus is upbeat as they do not have to struggle to meet the daily needs. The temples offer langar twice a day and the sadhus get enough alms from the devotees to meet their other needs. Clothes are also given by those visiting the shrines to pay obeisance.

The sadhus have converged here from different parts of the country. However, it is not just spirituality that brought them here but the fulfillment of their needs has played a role in keeping them at the temples.

Unperturbed by the impending dangers of being killed in case a speeding vehicle on the Madhya Marg goes out of control and runs them own, the sadhus use the green belts to sleep during day and at night.

Unlike beggars, these sadhus lead their lives with pride. Baba Dalip, another sadhu who has been staying here for the past seven years, stated, “We never ask for alms. It is the wish of the devotees. In case someone wants to offer something, he should come to us. We never approach anyone,” he said.

Though many sadhus lead a nomadic live, those staying at the Sector 19 temples like it so much that they refuse to leave the place. Another sadhu said, “We visit many places, but ultimately we come back here.”

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...patients on PGI lawns
Arun Sharma/Tribune News Service

Aklu Mahato has been staying under the trees on the lawns of the PGI near the main gate for the past three years. The 50-year-old resident of Betia district in Bihar returned from his village with a heavy heart when the family found him a burden on them.

“I left my home in 1977 for the first time and went to Ludhiana to work as a rickshaw-puller with many others from my village,” said Aklu, adding that “after the death of my mother, my father remarried and my stepmother never bothered about my marriage.”

Five years ago, Aklu developed problems of kidney stone and even after many surgeries, he has problems in leading a normal life.

“I cannot work for my livelihood and when I went to my village two years ago, even my brother ignored me. However, I managed some money to come back and since then I have never thought of going back to my home,” he said.

Similarly, Mohan of Katghona village in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, is lying under the ramp of Research Block-A, PGI. Mohan left his home for New Delhi in 1982 and started working in dhabas. After a few years, he got married and shifted to Chandigarh. Now suffering from tuberculosis, he has been lying alone under the ramp, awaiting death slowly. With a skeletal body, Mohan is even unable to consume food brought to him by people staying around him from langars. “Since I don’t have money, it is now useless to go to the PGI as I was asked to deposit money for medicines when I had gone there on April 17 last,” he said.

“The staff at Emergency asked me to shell out Rs 200 and get a medicine, and when I showed my inability, they asked me to go to GMSH, Sector 16,” said Mohan. Then an acquaintance of Mohan found him outside the hospital and shifted him to the GMSH. “The GMSH referred me back to the PGI on May 3, but I have no option than to stay here outside as I don’t have any money to pay them,” said Mohan

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...others in bus shelters
Akash Ghai/Tribune News Service

“Bus shelters are the property of “sarkaar” (government), which is elected by people; so it belongs to me, and it is but natural that I will stay here.”

These sentiments were echoed by a mentally-challenged man who has made the bus shelter in Sector 27 on the road diving Sectors 27 and 30 his home.

No one in the entire locality, whom the Tribune correspondent contacted, knew where this aged man came from.

The man himself does not know his past, or where he came from.

He has made the bus shelter his “permanent home” by putting his belongings, including a blanket, a torn sheet and two or three sacks under the sitting bench there.

“The man came as a visitor to this place nearly three months ago and slowly made the place his permanent ‘quarters’ by adding his ‘belongings’. We have been closely watching him and feel that he needs to be treated and rehabilitated at a proper place by the administration. Residents, particularly women and children, do not feel safe with him around because they fear unruly behaviour because of his unstable mental condition,” said Deepak Sharma, a resident of Sector 27.

He is not the only one. At least three more such mentally challenged persons were traced by Chandigarh Tribune at different places in the city.

An aged woman at the Inter-State Bus Terminus and a man at the Sector 15 market could be seen moving around in the area in a mentally unstable condition. They move around the area and return to their ‘haven’ — bus shelters. Another mentally-challenged woman in Sector 15 moves around in the area bare feet. She cannot even converse. The mentally-unstable man moves about in a semi-conscious state, murmuring all the time.

City residents feel it is a piquant situation to see the administration remain unmoved to the plight of the mentally challenged on city roads. “We have heard of the Mental Health Act for the safety of the mentally ill. However, it doesn’t seem that it is being made use of,” a local resident said.

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Man found murdered in car
Friend’s hand suspected
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 6
A Sector 2 resident, 35-year-old Rajbir, was found murdered in his car (HR 03 C 83274) at Saketri village off the main road here today. An air-conditioner mechanic, Rajbir was last seen by his business partner, Ajay Nain, yesterday afternoon. A friend of the deceased is suspected to be behind the murder.

Police sources said Rajbir’s body bore stab wounds caused by a sharp-edged weapon. A screwdriver and a mobile chip were found inside the car. At some distance from the car, there were blood stains on the ground, indicating Rajbir had struggled before being finally done to death.

In his complaint to the police, Ajay said they had lunch at a dhaba yesterday afternoon. “We were supposed to go to Baddi to fix an air conditioner. As soon as we started for Baddi, Rajbir received a call on his mobile from one of his friend’s, Minto, who called him to Mansa Devi,” he said.

According to his statement, on seeing Minto, Rajbir dropped him off at Mansa Devi, handed over his mobile to him and told him that he would return shortly. However, he did not come back. After waiting for sometime, Ajay, too, returned to his house in Mani Majra. He identified Rajbir this morning.

DSP Abhay Singh Rao reached the spot. He said investigations were on to ascertain the reason behind the murder while the police had begun to search for Minto.

Survived by his wife and two daughters, the scene at his home was one of shock, though they said they had no clue about why he had been murdered. Stating that he remained out of the house for long hours in connection with work, family members said they first got worried when Rajbir did not return at night.

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Estate Office
Plum posting for ‘tainted’ officer

Chandigarh, May 6
An employee of the estate office, whose role is under the scrutiny of the UT vigilance department, has been given a plum posting. However, it has been made to believe that the employee, Rajeev Tewari, who is a section officer in the estate office, has been sidelined by being transferred out on the basis of findings by the vigilance into the wrongdoing in the office.

The vigilance is probing into the non-compliance of the adviser’s court order to restore certain properties.

The officer has been posted as assistant treasury officer, holding the charge of district treasury officer — a significant post.

The incumbent, who is a Punjab-cadre officer, has been repatriated.

Since the post of district treasury officer has so far been held by officers from Punjab, a new officer from the state is yet to join as names are being sought to fill the post.

The Government Employee Federation of Punjab, which had sought promotion of officers in the treasury department of Punjab, have threatened to protest if the post of UT district treasury officer was “hijacked” by Chandigarh.

Sources in the finance department confirmed that though there was certain reservation against his posting in the treasury office, the file was finally cleared and that, too, by bypassing at least seven section officers who are senior to him.

The practice of posting a subordinate account services (SAS) official in the treasury was rare.

A recent directive by the chief vigilance officer, finance department, and the estate officer to transfer employees, who had completed more than three years of services on sensitive post, has hastened his transfer.

“If the role of the section officer has been established in the vigilance probe, he should have been posted on an insignificant post,” said an official.

The SO had completed more than eight years of service in the estate office. — TNS

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It happens only at GMCH
Promotions sans fiscal benefits
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Promotions in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, have been made time bound, but these will not carry any financial benefits. An order to this effect has been notified by the Chandigarh administration recently.

Time-bound promotions will not have any financial benefits. Also, if a regular post of a reader or professor falls vacant, the re-designated doctor will have to go through the routine process of promotion without any special benefits.

“What is promotion without any financial package, and why is there no special weightage in promotion for vacancies in regular posts. The whole package seems a mere eyewash to impress doctors,” a senior doctor said. Interestingly, a cross section of doctors are satisfied merely by being put in the senior grade.

The administration has been “forced” to initiate action on this front because of brain drain from the hospital faculty. The process for initiating remedial measures for curbing the exodus menace comes following a number of qualified doctors leaving the hospital.

“One of the biggest reasons for the brain drain is the poor financial package in the job. A higher designation is a good idea, but it needs to be supplemented with related benefits,” another doctor said on condition of anonymity.

The higher designation will be given irrespective of the vacancies in the higher cadre. The incumbent will keep on drawing the same emoluments as per his existing pay scale with no additional financial benefits.

The terms and conditions for regular promotions to the next higher category will remain the same. If a regular post of reader or professor falls vacant, the new incumbent shall undergo the same procedure and meet the same standards as contained in the recruitment rules and the new designation will not bestow any right for selection to the vacant or a newly created post.

One of the reasons for staff dissatisfaction was that the hospital had fixed the number of posts in each category. In case there was no vacancy at the senior level, a faculty member had to remain stuck at the same post.

The order states that the new designation will be given from the date when a faculty member becomes eligible for the higher post. It has, however, been clarified that the work allocation of teaching and clinical and para-clinical workload will remain the same.

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3,000 take AFMC entrance exam

Chandigarh, May 6
Around 3,000 students took the entrance examination for the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, held at different centres in the city today.

The written examination started at 10 am. It was of two hours’ duration comprising four parts - physics and logic, biology, chemistry and English.

Students felt the physics paper was lengthy, but overall it was a very balanced paper.

Prof S.C. Gupta, physics lecturer, said the time duration of 120 minutes for 200 questions seemed to be insufficient for students.

The chemistry portion was easy, Dr B.K. Kapila, chemistry lecturer in DAV College, Sector 10, said.

The result of qualified candidates for interview will be declared in the third week of May. After the final interview, a total of 130 medical cadets (105 boys and 25 girls) will be admitted for 2007.

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Chandigarh Club in soup

Chandigarh, May 6
The Chandigarh Club had a brush with controversy tonight, with one of its members complaining about the presence of a cockroach in a soup served to him before dinner at the club.

The ruckus reportedly occurred when the member, Rajesh Sachdeva, found that the soup being served to him had a cockroach.

The member raised a hue and cry, blaming the club for the serious lapse. As the matter came to the notice of authorities, they washed their hands off the issue, maintaining that the service was provided by Commando Caterers, who reached a compromise with the member. — TNS

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Administration toughens stance
Conversion policy a central entity
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Exercising powers under Sections 3, 7 and 22 of the state Act, the administration has framed “Chandigarh Sale of Sites and Building Rule, 1960” and thereafter framed “Chandigarh Information Services Park Rules 2002” for allotment of land to IT companies.

Chandigarh, May 6
Taking a tough stand on the issue of conversion policy for industrial plots, the Chandigarh administration has stated that the UT administrator was fully competent to frame rules and there was a need to take approval of the Central Government.

It has been said that the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952 - by virtue of which the conversion policy had been framed - was a state Act and not a central legislation.

The stand taken by the principal accountant general, Punjab and Chandigarh, that conversion policy was notified in contravention of the central Act - Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952 - was incorrect, the UT’s finance department has said in a communiqué to the union ministry of home affairs.

It may be mentioned that dissatisfied with the reply of the administration, the comptroller auditor general (CAG) has again referred the matter to law ministry after putting it before the ministry of home affairs. The audit department has pointed out that the policy had resulted in loss of crores of rupee to the state exchequer.

However, officials in the administration state that bills relating to the Union Territories without legislature go to Parliament for enactment/amendment where Parliament acts as state legislature. Such amendments that are UT-specific do not become central Acts.

A number of rules under the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952, have been framed by the administrator by exercising powers conferred under Section 3 and 22 of the Act.

Earlier, the principal accountant general had objected to the opening of personal ledger account (PLA) for utilising the money collected from applicants under the conversion policy.

Officials in the Chandigarh administration had claimed that the union finance ministry had allowed the administration to use the money after creating a special public fund.

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Woman blames GH-6 doc for husband’s death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 6
A resident of Sector 19, Sarita Thakur, today accused a doctor of General Hospital, Sector 6, of negligence which led to her husband’s death. In her complaint to deputy commissioner Neerja Shekhar, she demanded action against Dr Rita Kalra for not attending to her husband on the intervening night of April 30 and May 1. A copy of the complaint has been sent to the police.

Sarita said her daughter fell ill few days back and they took her to GH-6 where Dr Kalra was on duty. Her husband, Subhram Thakur, an assistant at the Haryana Secretariat, on seeing doctor’s “casual approach”, asked her to give treatment to his daughter.

Later, on the intervening night of April 30 and May 1, her husband complained of chest pain. “We took him to GH-6 where Dr Kalra was on duty. On seeing him she immediately burst out, asking me if he was the same man who had misbehaved with her a few days back and turned her back on him,” she says.

Later, on the intervention of the president of the secretariat employees association, she told him that the patient was absolutely fine and had gastric problem. “The doctor told us to take him back home and that he would be well in a week. We brought him home around 4 am. By 6 am his condition deteriorated and we took him to the hospital again. Dr Kalra demanded that we show her the earlier prescription before she begins further treatment,” Sarita recalled.

The doctor finally said he had had a heart attack and needed to be shifted to another hospital. However, the ambulance was not available and again precious time was lost. The patient was referred to Fortis hospital, but died as soon as they got out of GH-6.

“Had the doctor put aside her prejudice and attended him properly the first time we went there, my husband would have been alive. She is squarely to blame for his death because she paid no attention even though we spent a lot of time in the hospital. We want the administration to initiate action against her,” Sarita asserted.

Meanwhile, Dr Kalra said the patient came in at 3:30 am with complaint of vomiting and pain in abdomen. “We got an ECG done which was absolutely normal, treated him and asked the wife to get him admitted. However, they wanted to go home so they went after half-an-hour. They were back around 7:30 am and the patient was sweating which was not normal. So, we carried out a second ECG and found it had changed. While we began the first line treatment, his blood pressure was low for which I contacted the specialist. After this, it was decided to refer them to Fortis,” she said.

Maintaining that everything went on very cordially, Dr Kalra said she had no clue why they were blaming her. “Everything is recorded in the file and my papers are complete,” she maintained.

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Bank dy manager taken for a ride
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
A deputy manager of the State Bank of India (SBI), Sector 17, today alleged harassment at the hands of the Punjab police by allegedly conniving with his kidnappers, who had held him captive in 2004, and threatening to implicate him in a human trafficking case if he did not depose in favour of the kidnappers.

This, in spite of the fact that he had approached UT senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gaurav Yadav around six months ago and apprised him of the threat perception from his kidnappers.

He had also written to Punjab Governor, union home minister, Punjab DGP and SSP Hoshiarpur, but to no avail.

Lekhraj, a resident of Sector 15, alleged that on April 25 a group of eight persons, led by assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Chanan Singh, a woman police officer and a constable reached his residence around 5.30 am.

They asked him to accompany them to Dasuya saying that they had non-bailable warrants against him issued by the court of judicial magistrate, Dasuya, following a complaint filed under Sections 420, 406, 506 and 34 against him and his wife Inderjit Kaur.

As his wife was out of station and his two minor children were home, he pleaded them to allow him to inform his relatives or neighbours before leaving.

However, the team did not pay heed to his pleas and bundled him into a private Tata Sumo, forcing him down on the floor.

Some other persons tailed their vehicle in a car (CH 23 T 4183), alleged Lekhraj.

Narrating his tale before mediapersons at a press conference at the Chandigarh Press Club, Lekhraj said after reaching Hoshiarpur the ASI got off the vehicle, leaving him with the unidentified persons.

He was then assaulted and threatened. He was taken to the Mukerian police station around 10 am instead of being taken to the court.

However, he was produced in the court at 3.45 pm after the intervention of the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Mukerian.

He alleged that their plan was to produce him before the duty magistrate after 5 pm so that he could not be released on bail.

Giving account of his kidnapping case, Lekhraj said his wife’s sister Kiran Kaur, presently living in the USA, was married to Jasbir Singh. After some time, differences arose between the couple leading to divorce, following which Kiran filed criminal cases against Jasbir in that country.

To pressure Kiran to withdraw cases against him, Jasbir along with his friend Tarsem of Tanda (Hoshiarpur) kidnapped him from his residence on June 28, 2004.

A case was registered in this connection in the police station, Sector 11, following which the accused was arrested.

Jasbir was later declared proclaimed offender by a local court.

Admitting that Lekhraj was wrongfully taken to the police station, DSP Mukerian Naresh Kumar Dogra told the TNS that he was not aware of the episode.

He said when the matter came to his notice, he helped Lekhraj, following which the latter was produced in court.

He, however, said no inquiry was being initiated against the erring police official.

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Ex-generals’ missive to Kalam on better pay scale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Several retired generals have approached President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, seeking his intervention to get better pay and emoluments for the defence services.

In a letter written to the President, a former Lok Sabha MP, Lieut-Gen S.P.M. Tripathi (retd), has stated: “The successive pay commissions have progressively wronged the defence services in fixing their pay and emoluments and there is apprehension that this step-motherly treatment may be repeated by the Sixth Pay Commission.”

The letter also bears the signatures of Lieut-Gen R.S. Dyal, a former Lt-Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), Lieut-Gen Depinder Singh (retd), Lieut-Gen B.S. Takhar (retd), Lieut-Gen G.S. Sihota (retd) and Lieut-Gen Harwant Singh (retd).

The Third Pay Commission was for the first time entrusted with the task of determining the pay and allowances of defence personnel but the defence ministry had turned down the request of the commission to hear the case directly from the armed forces, the letter stated.

“The Fifth Pay Commission, too, ignored the hardships of a career in the forces, which include limited promotions, long separations from family, limited family accommodation in peace stations, postings in harsh and difficult areas and a high risk to life.

The successive pay commissions have made the services so unattractive that there continues to be a deficiency of 13,000 officers.

Between 2001-04, over 2,000 officers applied to leave the Army, which included two lieutenant-generals, 10 major generals and 84 brigadiers,” stated the letter.

Stating that all difficult and hazardous tasks such as counter insurgency, internal security and relief operations during the disasters fall in the lap of the defence forces, the letter added that yet the services were always ignored when it comes to the pay and allowances.

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Here, roads are dug up at the drop of a hat
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 6
When it comes to wasteful expenditure, nobody can match Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat. A case in point is the recarpeting of internal roads in Gobind Vihar locality in Baltana.

Residents here alleged that the roads had been recarpeted every year without any reason. In fact, there is no coordination between various wings of the civic body as the roads are dug at the drop of the hat. When various underground pipes for such works as sewerage and telephone network are laid the roads are dug again and again, Simon, a resident alleged.

In the past over three years, the roads had been dug up by at least three times. A proper planning eludes the civic body as no thought had been given for laying of underground pipes before the recarpeting of the roads, alleged another resident. The dug-up roads have seriously affected the business of the shopkeepers of the area.

Besides, water and power supplies are in a bad shape, putting the residents to a lot of inconvenience. The less said about the streetlights the better.

Official sources said since internal developmental works in new areas take time the roads had to be dug up again and again. Though every care is being taken in digging up minimum area, it cannot be avoided altogether, the sources added.

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e-Gram Sampark Project takes off today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Punjab Governor and UT administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) will inaugurate the first e-Gram Sampark Project in the Union Territory at Khuda Jassu village tomorrow.

Continuing its commitment to bridge the digital divide, especially amongst the rural population, as many as 17 e-gram sampark centres are being set up in the UT.

Residents will be able to use all services available to sampark centres located in the urban areas.

Since these centres will provide rural population with an opportunity to access huge amount of information, using broadband connectivity, these centers will emerge as rural knowledge centres especially for the disadvantaged.

Information services in these centres will be provided free of cost, on the lines of Jan Sampark Services.

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He pedalled 1,000 km to visit Jalori Pass
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Jaibir Singh
Jaibir Singh

Chandigarh, May 6
With a purpose to explore the hidden sites of Himachal Pradesh, Jaibir Singh Virk, a youth from Tohana, pedaled 1,000 km from Kurukshetra to Jalori Pass in Himachal Pradesh.

He took only seven days to complete his arduous task and returned to his hometown on April 5. Talking to TNS, Jaibir said, “Travelling the remote areas of the hill state on cycle was really a challenging task. Sometimes you could not see a single man for the whole day”.

Jaibir started his journey on his mountain bike on April 29 and he reached his destination, Jalori Pass at the height of 3223 m, on May 3.

“During my expedition, I chose the countryside route to get my purpose. I explored three remote temples, including Shringirishi cave temple, 8 km from Bhagthan on the Nahan-Rajgarh road, and a Mansa Devi temple at Neharsewa. I also visited Serolsar Lake in Kullu district,” said Jaibir, who runs an adventure club and organises adventure trips for nature lovers.

During his expedition, Jaibir passed through many remote areas, including Khara Pathar, Hathkothi, Takhlez, Daranghati and Nirmand.

He thanked his parents and his sponsor Rahul Tanwar for encouraging him.

“I will compile all my experiences in my book ‘A countryside journey of hidden Himachal’, which is near to completion”, added Jaibir.

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Laughter Day at Fragrance Garden
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Fragrance Laughter Club celebrated the fifth World Laughter Day at Fragrance Garden, Sector 36, here, today.

On the occasion, a laughter session coupled with yogic exercises was conducted and S.S. Gill, Sunil Minocha and J.S. Oberoi were also honoured.

A special message from Dr Madan Kataria, founder of the International Laughter Club, was also read out which stated that "joyfulness through laughter is the fastest way to create a positive state of mind. Laughter is a creative energy. The laughter clubs in more than 55 countries are like one big family dedicated to world peace".

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Financial relief distributed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 6
The Karuna Charitable Society today held its first annual function where 25 of its beneficiaries, primarily women, were given their monthly financial aid.

Deputy commissioner Neerja Shekhar assured the beneficiaries of all help from the administration while announcing Rs 25,000 for the society and said there were a number of government schemes from which the needy families could benefit.

She lauded the good work being by the society and requested the eminent people in the gathering to refer “genuine cases” to her so that those in need could benefit from the schemes available. Among those present on the occasion were Dr R.P. Bambah, former vice-chancellor of Panjab University, and S.D. Bhambri and R.S. Verma, former chief secretary.

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PNB deputy general manager dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Deputy general manager of Punjab National Bank, Chandigarh circle, Kuljas Rai died of heart attack here this evening.

He had gone to Pinjore, where he suffered a heart attack.

He was 57 years old and is survived by his wife and two sons.

The cremation will take place tomorrow at the crematorium of Sector 25 at 10.30 am.

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Letters

Career in Army

The dignified lifestyle that the Army provides to its officers is not offered by any other service. However, it needs to create awareness among the youth for a career in the Army. Campus recruitments, the way it is done by big corporate houses, can help the Army in the process. It can also guide students about a career in defence services which they may take up after graduation.

In addition, pay scales of the force need to be improved. Those laying their lives for the service of the country and its citizens deserve to be paid handsomely. The hob has to be made more lucrative, otherwise many youth will continue to be shy away from it.

Harbinder Singh
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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