C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Boy charred to death
*60 jhuggis gutted in Colony No. 5
*250 rendered homeless
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A seven-year-old boy, Vijay Kishore, was charred to death after a major fire broke out in Colony No. 5 today. Around 60 jhuggis were gutted and about 250 people were rendered homeless.

The fire broke out in one corner of the colony, but spread after two cylinders burst. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained so far.

The mother of the victim was inconsolable. She and her husband Bhanu work as daily wage earners and were away when the fire occurred. She stated that had the cylinders not burst, her son could have been saved.

Long after officials left and the fire was doused, residents could be seen rummaging through the ashes to retrieve whatever they could.

“I have lost everything. I could only pick up my daughter and run in time with my two children,” Geeta said.

Uncertain of where to spend the night, they were helped by BSP workers who provided them with food and blankets. Tents announced as part of the relief by the deputy commissioner had still to arrive.

The DC, R.K. Rao, has announced a relief of Rs 50,000 for the family of the deceased from the district relief fund and free treatment for the injured at the GMCH-32. The Red Cross has also announced free medical aid.



Girl fails in BA exam, ends her life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Failure to clear her BA-II examination even in the second attempt, led 20-year-old Pinki Rani to consume some poisonous substance at Burail here this afternoon.

Rani was rushed to the Sector 32 GMCH, where she succumbed to her injuries.

Quoting the victim’s brother, Karamjit, the police said Rani, a student of Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, came home at around 11.30 am. He was alone at home at the time. He consoled her and told her not to lose heart. Rani said she could not face her father after failing twice.

Karamjit told the police that after consoling his sister he went to get his moped repair. On his return after about 45 minutes later, he found her vomiting.

She was rushed to hospital where she died. No suicide note was recovered from the house. The police said Rani’s mother had died earlier and her father was a carpenter. Her younger brother also goes to college.



Man gets death for killing sons
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The district and sessions judge, K.K. Garg, today awarded death sentence to Kamleshwar Paswan, a migrant labourer from Bihar, who has been charged with killing his two infant sons. Unable to make both ends meet and fed up with his wife’s alleged nagging, he bludgeoned his sons to death at Kishangarh village on May 15, 2005.

When the judge asked him if he had anything to say in his defence, he just folded his hands. Unaware of the implications of the decision, he said: “I think I have been sentenced to life imprisonment, but am not sure.”

When questioned if he would move the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he said: “I don’t have the money to fight the case in the high court. I cannot recall what happened on that fateful day. I killed my sons with my own hands.”

Paswan reportedly returned home drunk at night and slapped his wife when she asked him to stop drinking and arrange for food for two-and-a-half-year-old Suraj and nine-month-old Anil. He dragged her to a room and bolted it. He then picked up a stick and started hitting the children with it.

A neighbour, Vinod, came running after hearing their shrieks. The children were taken to hospital where they died.



Lara’s duck deflates fans
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 1
It was a disappointing day for cricket afficionados after Brian Lara, leading Mumbai Champs, failed to display his magic touch against Hyderabad Heroes during the Indian Cricket League (ICL) Tournament at Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula, this evening.

The former West Indies skipper left the crease for a ‘duck’. Lara came in to bat at the fall of the second wicket but was trapped leg before wicket. His wicket went to the kitty of Hyderabad’s Azhar Mahmood.

Spectators who had assembled to see his magic, anticipating a masterly innings by the genius, were visibly disappointed by his performance.

A section of fans felt that Lara did not play to his potential. “You cannot expect good results at the end of the day when you are not happy,” said Vikas, a cricket statistician, referring to rumours of the BCCI attempt to lure him to their fold.

For Naveen, a former cricketer, it was a harrowing experience seeing Lara lose his wicket so cheaply. “It was shocking but hope this was just a one-off thing.”

Sunny, another fan, said: “It is hard to see him depart for a duck in his inaugural innings. It will not do much good to his team’s morale.”

Amrita, a fan of Lara, said: “I came here not to see Bollywood stars, but the magic of Lara. It was disappointing. If his bat fails to do the talking in the coming ties, the 17-day extravaganza is bound to be disappointing. It was sad to see such a genius bow out like that.”

Prakash, who had come from Ludhiana to see Lara bat, said: “It was a dream come true to see Lara. But seeing him get out so cheaply was heartbreaking. I still plan to come back whenever he is on the pitch.”



Waiting for a saviour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Four occupants of an ambulance, including its driver, had a miraculous escape this afternoon when the vehicle rammed into Matka Chowk following a tyre burst.

Except for the driver, the others sustained minor injuries. An ambulance was stopped by passersby, but its driver refused to ferry the injured. A woman took the initiative and the victims were rushed to hospital in a private vehicle.

The ambulance belonged to a Saharanpur-based company and was carrying a patient for an MRI test to the city. They were on their way back when the accident occurred.

According to the police, the accident took place at around 1 pm when the driver of the ambulance lost control over the vehicle following the tyre burst. The vehicle swerved to the left and hit a berm before it crashed into the roundabout.

The police said no case had been registered in this regard as the accident occurred due to tyre burst.



PU has a pride of place in history: Ansari
Lays stone of Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
“The objective of any university is to generate intellectuals and develop an intellectual capital. Although it’s easier said than done, the challenges posed by a fast changing society have to be met in the realm of thought first and then in execution”, remarked Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India and chancellor, Panjab University, on his maiden visit to lay the foundation stone of the Rajiv Gandhi College Bhawan on the campus here today.

Laying the foundation stone, Ansari appreciated the university’s move to name the college bhawan after Rajiv Gandhi, who, he said “had a vision for the youth and it was an apt dedication”.

Emphasising the need for focused thinking in fulfilling the role of universities, Ansari observed that efforts should be directed at totality and needs of society.

Talking about the place of prominence Panjab University enjoyed in the history of Indian universities, Hamid Ansari said it was a unique experience for him to visit it as its chancellor. He appreciated university’s achievements, future plans and wished it all success.

Prof R.C. Sobti, vice-chancellor, spoke about the history, challenges and vision of the university. The university would set up an institute of para-medical sciences and vocational studies at Kauni (rural area) with support from the Punjab government, he added.

Earlier, the vice-chancellor while briefing the chancellor about the college bhawan, informed that it would be built at an estimated cost of Rs 2.78 crore. The five-storey bhawan would have 24 suites with attached toilets, balconies, offices, dining and seminar halls in the northern end of the campus.

Meanwhile, a delegation of prominent Mulism leaders of the city today met Mohammad Hamid Ansari, at the Punjab Raj Bhawan. Led by Khalil Ahmed, president of the Muslim Welfare Society, Chandigarh, the delegation apprised him of various issues pertaining to land allotment for teaching children Urdu and Arabic.



Rs 300 crore for DRDO’s NBC protection project
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has initiated a massive project to develop advanced protection systems for troops operating in a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) environment.

“DRDO has been sanctioned Rs 300 crore for this project in the Eleventh Plan,” DRDO’s chief controller (R&D), W. Selvamurthy said while speaking to The Tribune here today. He revealed that this year the Defence Acquisition Council has released Rs 2,000 crore for procurement of protection systems and items. In the recent past, similar equipment worth about Rs 1,000 crore have been delivered by the industry to the services.

The project involves design and development of early detection kits, individual as well as collective protection modules, decontamination agents and techniques and medical management systems.

Inflatable shelters and field hospitals having NBC protection, mobile monitoring stations, nano-technology based bio-sensors, unmanned aerial and ground vehicles for surveillance are among systems being developed under the project.

A special bio-vest is also being developed. This would be coated with substances that would kill biological agents that come in contact with the vest. Special thermo-electrical coolers for NBC protection suits, which are bulky and uncomfortable to wear for long periods, are also being developed.

Selvamurthy, who was here to inaugurate a seminar on management, said that aircrew are also being brought under the ambit of NBC protection. So far, the focus has been on ground troops, but pilots and air force personnel too may have to operate in an NBC environment, he added.

Last week, an underground NBC field shelter was successfully tested near Chandigarh by the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory. The steel module shelter has the capability to sustain 30 people for four days. The shelter can be used for command and control centres as well as NBC quick-reaction teams. The Army has placed an initial order for over a 100 such units, each of which costs about RS 16 lakh, and its requirements may run into several thousand such shelters, Selvamurthy said.

Among other instruments being developed by the DRDO is a portable gas detector which would have the capability to detect and identify over 20 different types of gases and colour-paper chemical detectors, strips of which would be attached to a soldier’s clothing and would change colour depending upon the presence of certain gases, thereby issuing a warning.



Bank accused of coercion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A local resident, Sandeep Gulati, has moved an application to the SSP against HSBC Bank accusing it of using intimidatory tactics.

Sandeep had got a credit card issued from the bank in 2004. During one of his visits abroad, his card was deactivated by the bank. On reaching India, he approached the bank, which regretted its mistake, claiming it to be a technical error.

The bank authorities asked him to clear the bills for which he requested them to give him a statement of charges imposed on him. For the time being, he paid Rs 5,000 to the bank for reactivating the card.

However, as the bank didn’t provide Sandeep with the statement, he didn’t clear the bill.

He alleged that the bank started sending goons to his house to recover the amount. Later, he filed a case in the consumer courts that is still pending.

He alleged that someone claiming to be a police official from Delhi made calls to him and used abusive language. Alleging that the bank had been harassing him, Sandeep has requested the police to take strict action against the bank.



Major reshuffle in police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
It was a day of major reshuffle in the Chandigarh police, as four newly promoted DSPs were given posting and 13 sub-inspectors (SI), including in-charge of several police posts, have been shifted.

Sources in the police said while DSP S.S. Randhawa had been shifted from the police lines to the crime branch, DSP Jaswant Singh Khaira had been shifted from traffic wing to Police Lines. Newly promoted DSP B.S. Negi has been given charge of the traffic police.

Similarly, DSP Jagbir Singh has been sent to economic offences wing (EOW) from CID wing and newly promoted DSP Satbir Singh has been posted at CID wing.

DSP Vijay Kumar, who was promoted yesterday, has been posted at operations cell. Vijay Kumar was earlier in-charge of the operations cell.

Besides, two inspectors have also been transferred. Inspector Prem Chand has been made in-charge of the crime branch. He was posted at the CID wing earlier.

While inspector Sudarshan Kumar of EOW has been appointed as SHO of the police station-34.

Also, 13 sub-inspectors have been shifted, including in-charge of various police post.



City officer is Maintenance Command chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar, an officer who started his career as an engineering officer at No. 3 Base Repair Depot (BRD), Chandigarh, and also belongs to the city, has made it to the top of the IAF’s Maintenance Command as he took over as its Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) at Nagpur today.

The officer belongs to the city as his parents settled here in 1971.

He has also served as Group Captain at 3BRD from 1995 to 1998. A keen sportsperson, the Air Marshall received his cricket coaching in his formative years by D.P. Azad.

He was commissioned as an aeronautical engineer (mechanical) in the IAF on January 3, 1972.

As a Flight Lieutenant, he was trained in Spain on retarder bombs. He underwent the special weapons course in 1980. In the mid-1980s, he was instrumental in induction of Mirage 2000 aircraft in the IAF.

He also served as senior engineer at a MiG-21 base and chief engineering officer of a Mirage base.

He was responsible in formulation of the aircraft maintenance manual (AMM).

As Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Engineering B) at Air HQ, he was responsible for maintenance of the entire Indo-Western fleet of the Air Force.




Start direct flights

Chandigarh came into being in 1952 but still there are no direct flights from the city to metropolitan cities and other big cities of India (except for Mumbai).

Passengers have to wait for two to three hours at Delhi airport to board flights for big cities like Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore, Ahmadabad etc, which is tiresome. Besides, there is wastage of time.

It is high time for the government to start direct flights from Chandigarh to the other cities of India.

G.K. Chopra

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Two held with 10 kg heroin
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Sleuths of the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) arrested an African national and a Jalandhar resident from near Sector 39 Grain Market here early this morning while allegedly carrying 10 kg of high-quality heroin. The NCB officials said the international value of the contraband is around Rs 10 crore.

NCB sleuths had a tough time in nabbing the accused as the African national made a bid to escape after biting the officials. However, he was again pounced upon by the officials.

An NCB official said Chandigarh had become a “transit point” for international drug-traffickers involved in smuggling bigger consignments.

The accused have been identified as 55-year-old Paramjit Singh Sareen of Amritsar and 32-year-old Festus Benson Onwchuruba of Burundi in Africa.

Benson lives in Mumbai while Sareen has a house in Kharar where he leads a lavish lifestyle. He had been earlier arrested in Delhi in 1998 with one kg of heroin. He remained in Tihar jail for seven years after his conviction and was released on parole in 2005. He jumped parole and has been on the run since then, said NCB officials.

After remaining inactive for about two years, Sareen plunged into the world of drug-trafficking and had made a delivery of contraband. He was under joint surveillance of the NCB and Border Security Force personnel for the past over four months.

Sareen came to Chandigarh from Amritsar by his car. At the grain market here, when he made an indication with his headlights, the African national approached him. At this point, the NCB officials pounced upon them, said Saji Mohan, zonal director, NCB, Chandigarh.

During the preliminary interrogation, Sareen told the officials that the contraband was brought from Jammu-Kashmir and was to be delivered at Mumbai.



5 held for kidnapping Phase XI resident
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 1
Five persons, arrested on the charge of kidnapping a resident of Phase XI, were remanded in police custody till December 3 by a court here today.

According to the police, Gagandeep Malhotra was allegedly kidnapped by five persons yesterday as he had failed to make a payment of Rs 10,000 to car dealers from whom he had purchased a car about six months back.

The arrested persons were Ashwini Kumar Sharma, resident of Sector 7C, Chandigarh, Varinder Sharma, resident of Sector 21, Chandigarh, Narinder Singh, resident of Sector 22, Chandigarh, Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Phase VII and Amritpal, resident of Phase I. They are all car dealers.

The police said Gagandeep had purchased a car for Rs 88,000 but had made a payment of Rs 78,000 only. He had failed to pay the remaining amount to the car dealer over the past months.

A case was registered under Sections 364A and 34 of the IPC against the five persons on the complaint of constable Lakhwinder Singh.

While on patrol duty yesterday, he had found a woman carrying a small child, crying. On being asked, she told him that her husband had allegedly been kidnapped by five persons.

The police immediately swung into action and set up nakas to nab the accused. Gagandeep was recovered by the police at a naka laid near the Municipal Bhawan in Sector 68. The five accused were immediately arrested.



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