C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Land Acquisition
Bansal blasts admin ahead of LS polls
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
With an eye on ensuing Lok Sabha elections, union minister of state for finance and parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal today vent his ire on top officials of the Chandigarh administration for changing the character of the city through “forcible” acquisition of land for the “controversial” mega projects.

The recent award for land compensation ranging from Rs 11 lakh to Rs 24 lakh per acre in Palsora, Badheri and Kajheri villages is not justified.

— Pawan Bansal, MoS for finance and parliamentary affairs

Addressing a gathering at the foundation-laying ceremony of the community centre in Palsora village here, Bansal was cautions enough not to name any officials. However, it is an open secret that a majority of the mega projects were the brainchild of UT administrator S.F. Rodrigues and Bansal and Rodrigues do not see eye-to-eye on these projects.

Fearing backlash from the voters in UT villages in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the backdrop of the “meagre” land compensation by the Chandigarh administration, Bansal trained his guns on the administration's “lopsided” land acquisition policy.

The recent award for land compensation ranging from Rs 11 lakh to Rs 24 lakh per acre in Palsora, Badheri and Kajheri villages was a “gross injustice” to the people, he said.

Continuing his tirade against the “unaccountable” administration, the minister claimed that even the Land Acquisition Act did not permit the authorities to acquire land “forcibly”. Even if the land was to be acquired for the projects, it has to be acquired at the market rate, Bansal said, drawing parallels to the neighbouring Mohali where the land was being acquired for over Rs 1.5 crore per acre.

Bansal's protégé and mayor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation of Pardeep Chhabra blasted the administration for its alleged “anti-people” policies, including “raw deal” to the elected representatives of the people.

Inaugurates greenbelt

Bansal also inaugurated a green belt near the Football Stadium in Sector 17. Developed at a cost of Rs 21 lakh over an area of 2.75 acre, the greenbelt has 2,500 different plants and shrubs besides the benches for the people to relax.

The minister also laid the foundation stone of the community centre in Palsora to be constructed at the cost of Rs 1.35 crore.



Japjit’s Kidnapping
Family paid Rs 3.5-lakh ransom for child’s release
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Contrary to the claims of UT Police that six-year-old Japjit was released by the kidnappers under police pressure, the child’s custody was secured by the family after 28 hours of ordeal following payment of a ransom of Rs 3.5 lakh.

According to police sources, the family preferred to give ransom for the child’s release. They had stopped cooperating with the police at last stages, fearing that the kidnappers might eliminate the child, said sources.

A senior police officer admitted that the family paid a ransom of around Rs 3.5 lakh. He, however, added that the police gave first preference to the safety of the child.

It is learnt that the kidnappers, about four in number, collected the ransom from the rendezvous point in Mauli Jagran area in a metallic-coloured Skoda car. As per the instruction of the kidnappers, the bag containing the ransom was left by the child’s family.

The child was subsequently released near the Rose Garden in Sector 16. The kidnappers reportedly escaped from Mauli Jagran right under the eyes of a police team, which could not nab them. The officials claimed that the police did not react as they suspected that the abductors might harm the child.

However, why they lost the track of the kidnappers if they were on their heels, as being claimed, after the boy’s release still remains a mystery. The officials do not want to discuss the issue at the moment.

A police officer said the scrutiny of the mobile call details of the kidnappers indicated that they used a new sim cards for every call they made. They kept on travelling throughout their run and were on Chandigarh-Dehradun route. They had taken meal at a “Dhaba” on the way.

The investigating officials are trying to locate the “Dhaba” and they are in the process of making sketches of the accused on description given by Japjit.

A police officer closely associated with the investigations of the case told TNS that the accused have local connection. In all probability, some of them belonged to Chandigarh, as they did not try to keep the child at any of the locations in the nearby areas and remained travelling.

The police believes that the kidnappers might have graduated to the kidnapping from petty crimes and it appeared to be their first abduction. They may have formed a gang in jail, as possibility of some Uttar Pradesh-based criminals in the gang cannot be ruled out. Giving reason, a police officer said that accused did not target child of some affluent family.

It was a successful kidnapping, so far, as the kidnappers have meticulously planned the entire crime and kept on changing the locations even as the police was trying its best to monitor their activities, said sources.

The criminals also managed to exploit Japjit’s family to act as per the wishes and managed to take the ransom amount.

However, no one is ready to buy the police theory that the bag containing ransom had only Rs 25,000 in cash and rest paper wads as such a gang of criminals could not be taken for a ride.

Meanwhile, UT SSP S.S. Srivastva said the police has got some vital leads in the case and the culprits would nabbed soon.



Local criminals’ links suspected with UP gang
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The suspected involvement of some hardcore criminals from Uttar Pradesh in the kidnapping of six-year-old Japjit Singh has brought into focus the growing nexus between city-based criminals and their counterparts in the neighbouring state.

The involvement of the UP criminals in the kidnapping is being presumed, as they had taken the boy to Dehradun rather than any other place.

This choice, police officials suspect, is a clear indication of their familiarity with UP’s topography and the logistic support they might have had there.

Their nexus with local criminals is being suspected since the boy was kidnapped from the city and also released after allegedly receiving ransom in the Mauli Jagran area.

Some police sources also confirmed that the crime was the handiwork of six-member gang, with some of its members belonging to UP while others hailing from here.

While these theories may take time for confirmation, the involvement of two UP-based hardened criminals in the alleged extortion case with the city-based businessman has made the cops think about this new emerging nexus.

On November 20, an FIR was lodged at the Sector 11 police station by the businessman that he received a letter, demanding Rs 5 lakh otherwise he would be eliminated.

The police investigations revealed that letter was written by two gangsters, Ravi Tomar of Muzzarnagar and Rinku Swami of Saharanpur.

Both criminals are said to be involved in several murders and were lodged in the UP jail.

In another sensational murder case of Prabhjinder Singh alias Dimpy in 2006, the police had found that Dimpy was gunned down by UP-based sharp shooter.

“Undoubtedly, this is a dangerous trend as the involvement of hardcore criminals of UP has started increasing in crime scenario in the city,” said a senior police officer.



Admn to check illegal GPAs
Residential proof must to register power of attorney in Mohali

Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
Acting on the reports that property buyers were furnishing false addresses to get their general power of attorney (GPAs) registered, the Mohali district administration has made it mandatory for the applicants to produce documents in support of their residence proof.

The deputy commissioner (registry), Mohali, has categorically told the sub-registrars at Mohali, Kharar, Derabassi and Majri to see the documents of residence proof before registering a power of attorney.

It has been seen that GPAs regarding property transactions in Chandigarh, Haryana and other parts of Punjab were registered in Mohali due to nominal fee. The speculators often opted for power of attorney to secure investment. As a result, certain cases had been detected by the administration in which applicants had submitted false addresses.

The decision would affect hundreds of “benami” and unauthorised property transactions undertaken by speculators. Earlier, the attorney could be registered on non-judicial stamp paper. This resulted in a loss of revenue to the authorities.

Sources confirmed other than blood relations, the office of the sub-registrar was also discouraging power of attorney in case of properties. Though there were no specific orders in this regard from the revenue department, sources said that if the registrar feels that any power of attorney involved evasion of stamp duty, he could ask the applicant to pay the requisite fee.

A senior official said that due to high rates of plotted houses or land, a property generally changes several hands on the basis of power of attorney or sub- power of attorney. In each transaction, government loses several lakhs in form of stamp duty.

Unlike the UT where the buyers (to get their special power of attorney registered) have to pay a stamp duty as applicable to other conveyance deeds, no such fee is charged from the applicants here. After amendment in the Indian Stamp Act, 1989, the UT has specified that the area of registering the power of attorney would be restricted to the place where the property is located.

The earlier practice of bringing the attorney from another state is not accepted. To calculate stamp duty, the prevailing collector rates of the area of property alone are considered.



Today is World AIDS Day
Gays pose biggest challenge: Study
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Gays or MSMs (men who have sex with men) are posing the greatest challenge to the city in its fight against AIDS.

The State Aids Control Society (SACS) estimates that the city is home to about 2,500 MSMs, of which 2,300 are at high risk of contracting HIV due to multi-partner and commercial sexual practices.

According to the SACS officials, 4.8 per cent men of this community are already infected with the deadly disease.

A study undertaken last year to map gays in the city had revealed that even married men are part of this community. In fact, the percentage is quite high. They are not restricted to low strata. People from high society also indulge into this activity.

In a bid to counter this problem, the SACS is now planning to put special emphasis on educating the gay community about prevention and protective sex.

The department is pondering over forming self-help groups of MSMs to achieve this.

Ashwani Kumar, project manager of NGO, the Family Planning Association of India, who is involved in MSM and trans-gender project, said there was dire need to immediately target and control the spread of the disease among MSMs.

According to experts, MSMs were 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population.

A report launched by the American Foundation for AIDS Research studied 128 country reports and found that nearly half (44 per cent) failed to provide any data on MSMs.

Ashwani told TNS, "MSMs are a very high-risk community in India. At present, India has 800 targeted interventions, of which 200 are for MSMs.”

He said since these communities are suspicious of outsiders, we have decided to let MSM communities run the self-help group on their own. Ashwani said target intervention covering behavioural change, services to treat sexually transmitted infections, providing condoms and linking them with integrated counselling and testing centres were part of the task assigned to these groups.



18 injured as bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 30
Eighteen persons were injured, two of them seriously, when a private bus turned turtle near Bindrakh village this afternoon. The bus was on its way from Khijrabad to Ropar.

The seriously injured were admitted to Ropar Civil Hospital.

Passengers said the bus was running at a great speed. The bus operators said it overturned due to some technical snag.

The injured included four children (three of them siblings) and 12 women.

The injured are Gurvinder Singh and his mother Jaswinder Kaur of Shyampura village in Ropar, Jaspal Kaur, Gurdial Kaur and Gurmeet Kaur from Mansuha, Babu Ram from Bihar, Sucha Singh Dhangrali, Balwant Kaur from Gharuan, Kulwant Kaur from Bawani Kalan near Mianpur, Rajinder Kaur from Kotla Nihang, Jagat Kaur from Singhpur, Baljit Kaur and Gurvinder Kaur from Lakhmipur, Karnail Kaur from Lohgarh village in Haryana, Amarjit Kaur from Karampur village in Haryana, Satnam Singh (2), Mishapreet (5) and Karampreet (8), all three are children of Balvir Singh from Gharuan.

Gulzar Kaur Mansuha and Baljit Kaur from Lakhimpur are among the seriously injured.



Youth hangs himself to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Rajinder Kumar, a 22-year-old BCA student, hanged himself to death at his residence in Hallomajra today.

The incident came to light at around 8 pm, when deceased’s brother found his body hanging from ceiling fan and raised the alarm.

No suicide note has been found near the body and the police is yet to certain the reason behind it.

The boy was a student of Punjab Technical University centre, Sector 46, and the family originally hails from Nangal district. The body has been sent to GMSH, Sector 16, for the postmortem.



Student killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 30
A student of Landran College was killed in an accident on his way back from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib here today. Rahul Awasthi, a resident of Ropar, had gone to the gurdwara to pay obeisance along with his friends on motorbikes. Rahul lost his balance when he reached near Jhanjheri village and fell on the road.

He was rushed to a private hospital in Mohali where the doctors declared him brought dead.



Second-line treatment for HIV patients at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Even as the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) reached the crucial benchmark of providing first line treatment to more than thousand persons living with HIV/AIDS in the city, it has plans to provide second line treatment in PGI from December 1 — the World AIDS Day.

Second-line treatment is required for patients who are resistant to the first line. As of now, out of 150 anti-retroviral centres across the country, only two centres were offering these drugs. Now, PGI will offer this treatment, said care support and treatment consultant, State AIDS Control Society (SACS).

As per the NACO figures, over 1.62 lakh persons living with HIV+ are enrolled in 150 anti-retroviral centre for the treatment across the country. Till now, only 15 per cent were getting second line treatment, as this drug therapy was available only in Mumbai and Chennai. President of Chandigarh Netwok, Pooja Thakur, said almost 3,500 persons living with HIV/AIDS were registered at ART, the PGI and out of those, 100 needed second-line drug therapy.

“I need the second-line treatment for living and being able to raise my eight-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. I want to live long enough to see my children grow up. I want to live for her. I am very happy as the NACO will provide this treatment in PGI,” said Amanpreet, an HIV positive mother.

According to experts, the drug will help people in containing the deadly virus and perhaps stop them from moving to the AIDS-level. Though this single parent’s CD4 count, used to assess immune status, susceptibility to opportunistic infections, need for ART and for defining AIDS (if CD4 count is less than 200) is over 600, she has suffered severe weight loss in the past one year. The cost of second-line treatment is Rs 5,000-15,000 but it would be available free of cost to the patients who are enrolled at ART centres, said officials of SACS. Amanpreet, like hundreds of others in the region, was waiting for the NACO programme to roll out .



Getting over those winter blues
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, November 30
People suffering from depression will have a harsh winter ahead. For, they may not realise that winter can prove to be the toughest time of the year. Experts call the condition seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression. The primary reason for SAD is lack of sunlight, say experts.

“Depression, lack of appetite, low physical and mental energy levels, disrupted sleep patterns and difficulty in concentration are some of the common symptoms associated with SAD,” says psychiatrist Dr B.S. Chawan, head of psychiatry department, GMCH-32.

This seasonal disorder caused by the biochemical imbalance in the brain due to shortening of daylight hour’s affects one and all.

Though some experience ordinary mood swings, others are prone to severe depression leading them to take recourse to various therapies and medicines for relief.

“However, since the therapy requires the person to get up early and get back for the lost energy through a fixed flux of light fitted in the room, many prefer a light antidepressant to stay away from the cumbersome process. As the body metabolism is directly related to SAD, eating habits contribute in a big way to the sluggish feeling.

“Thus, high calorie, hot and spicy food and intake of too much of sweet stuff must be avoided,” adds Dr Kiran Bala, consultant psychiatrist, Cheema Medical Complex, Mohali.

Students, too, feel a drop in the level of activity as the winter break approaches. A large number of students suffer from winter blues. “Since the mind and body are interlinked, students being idle during winter break engage themselves in a negative thought process. Pondering over their weaknesses and shortcomings,” points out Dr Kiran.

Women and older people are most vulnerable to SAD. According to doctors, women are almost 2-3 times more susceptible to SAD. “Last winter, I visited almost all doctors with a complaint of abnormal mood swings. I had to resort to regular exercise and therapies to overcome the mental irritation,” shares Anupma Rastogi, a resident of Sector 18.

Though strategies for coping with the situation may vary from mild to moderate depending upon personal choice, Dr Kiran strongly advocates the best prevention and cure for winter blues is meditation and yoga, as it not only helps control the thought process but also helps the mind to concentrate on positive aspects of life.

Socialising and establishing more interpersonal relations can also work as an effective tool to overcome the disorder.



We can't leave security to God
Raveen Thukral

The deafening sounds of the grenade blasts and the numerous gunshots that rang the precincts of Taj and Oberoi Hotels and the Nariman House in Mumbai will continue to echo in the ears of millions of Indians for years to come.

The deathly images of blood soaked bodies, injured people, mourning relatives, the stony look on the faces of those who survived the hostage situation and the seemingly never ending raging gun battle between the security forces and the terrorists, beamed through satellites to our televisions in drawing rooms, will be hard to forget and will act as a grim reminder of our vulnerability to terror attacks from Jihadi and other extremist groups.

One particular image that I presume will be unforgettable is the unabashed face and that murderous glee, of the AK 56 armed terrorist, Ajmad Mohammed, wearing a black Tshirt with Versace written on it, a loaded rucksack and a taped double magazine on his weapon, shooting at people.

Encounters with terrorists and terror attacks are not new for us as we have been living with them for decades now but what has happened in Mumbai - Americans, Britons and Israelis being targeted in a particular fashion and the plan to kill 5000 people- is a clear indication that our country is the new stage for the global jihad. For years we had been finding solace from the fact that international Jihad hadn't affected us and our problems were restricted to home grown terrorism borne from internal strife, be it Gujarat, Ayodhya or Kashmir.

However, the attack on the country's financial capital has given an altogether different dimension to this game of terror and jihad, which incidentally is not faceless anymore. These jihadis or fidayeens are more determined than our home grown breed of terrorists who have killed innocent people by cowardly planting bombs in crowded markets and trains.

While undoubtedly a strong intelligence network is the key to deal with such terror attacks, an uncompromising security system is the need of the hour. We should take lessons from the Americans who have succeeded in preventing any terror attack on their land after the tragic 9/11. The formation of the Homeland Security department and the manner in which it successfully implemented a totally uncompromising security network is an example worth considering.

One would recall how security officials strip-searched George Fernandes twice at Dulles Airport in the US capital area when he was defence minister, once while on an official visit to Washington and another time while en route Brazil. And also how the UK authorities refused to give concessions to Lok Sabha speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, and stuck to their stand of subjecting him to security checks at the airport.

These incidents must have hurt the bloated Indian political pride but when security has to be made uncompromisable such steps are essential and there's no two opinions about it. What we also require is a security system where compromises have no place and the safety of the citizens is the only concern.

The death trail of the Mumbai terror attack has come right to doors of the tri-city as four people including two children from Mohali lost their lives. Though Chandigarh has been lucky so far of not being directly hit by terrorists, the question is that are we prepared to deal with such an eventuality.

This city has a fairly large population of expatriates particularly from Canada, Germany, Australia, Britain and France. With the Canadian Consulate, Germany based Groz Beckert's needle plant in the industrial area, Alliance Francaise in Sector 36 and some international NGOs, a lot of foreigners have made the city beautiful their homes in the recent past. Besides being the gateway to Himachal Pradesh, the city is frequented by numerous tourists daily.

So like any other metro in the country, Chandigarh is a vulnerable and a fertile ground for global jihadis. Though senior UT police officials will like us to believe that they are prepared to deal with any eventuality, they have nothing to prove that they are better than their Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi counterparts where terrorists, in the recent past, have successfully exposed the huge chinks in the security setup.

I am not a security expert and thus obviously not the right person to either access the existing safety measures or advise the UT police about the ways and means for improving them but as a conscientious citizen I strongly feel that much needs to be done. Our airport may be secure to a great extent but our railway station and bus stands are totally exposed and lack minimal security systems. Even the city hotels lack the basic security infrastructure and most of them have private guards, who are more of showpieces rather than professionals.

While it is for IGP S K Jain to decide how best to deal with the situation and ensure the safety of all of us, for a start it would be a good idea to consider installation of x-ray machines, like the ones at the airport, at bus stands and the railway station to scan baggage. Even prominent hotels in the city can be asked to do the same as prevention is certainly better than cure.

Installation of CCTV cameras in crowded areas and a visible police presence by increasing patrolling and random checking of vehicles entering the city can also act as a deterrent. In a nutshell, security of the people, not only of the VVIPs, is the government's responsibility and it has to be done at all costs and not left to god.

Write to [email protected]



e wild wild
Blogosphere as Mumbai mourns

Within minutes of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on television, bloggers, in particular in the sub-continent, started posting their views on the incident.

At the peak of the violence, more than one message per second with the word “Mumbai” in it was being posted onto Twitter, a short-message service that has evolved from an oddity to a full-fledged news platform in just two years, says the New York Times.

Those descriptions and others on Web sites and photo-sharing sites served as a chaotic but critically important link among people across the world. Some people transmitted videos from inside the Taj Hotel to news networks via cellphones. And reporters used cellphones to send text messages to hotel guests who had set up barricades in their rooms. Much of this activity flourished early in the crisis, while there was a vacuum of official information either from government sources or from mainstream media outlets still struggling to understand the extent of the attacks. Sreenath Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and a professor at the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, said, “A little bit of information is better than no information at all.”

As usual Indian blogs minced no words in dubbing India a soft state as India comes second to Iraq as far as the terrorists’ activities are concerned since 2004. Most blog posts went hysterical, but there was no paucity of saner voices which were for restraint and pleaded not to be swayed away by the attack.

But a discernible welcome change was in the comments by bloggers from Pakistan. Victims of the Frankenstein’s Monsters themselves, they did not mince words in sharing the agony of Indians, though in a subdued tone.

Hassan Rizvi from Lahore writes:

First the leaders and experts on the Indian channels: Within minutes of the event unfolding they discovered a boat in which these people had landed, and even found a passport and mobile SIM of Pakistani origin-- some trained terrorists these! Their media went wild accusing Pakistan of being the hand behind the event. Soon their PM did the same, though in a more subtle way informing the world that ‘outside hands’ were involved. The CNN and BBC also joined in to clarify -- least we miss it -- that this meant Pakistan. What exactly did all these people want -- war between two nuclear powers? If not, what was the purpose of inflaming public opinion at a time when they should have been applying a soothing balm?

And what about Pakistan? President Zardari who a few days ago offered India a no first-use nuclear weapons agreement and also called even our brother Kashmiris as terrorists; as also our foreign minister, made all the right noises.

But the rest of our lot went wild whipping Pakistan into an anti-India frenzy. Channel after channel presented ‘experts’ informing us that Indians were once again playing the blame game to implement their evil designs against Pakistan. They informed us that in the past too after the bombing of their Kabul embassy or even the Samjhauta Express, Indians had indulged in ‘the blame game’ to discredit and take advantage of Pakistan, but failed in their design as they were unable to provide any evidence to support their allegations as it was discovered that their own people, including military officers were involved. However, this time backed by the Americans -- and Israelis -- they aimed to dismember Pakistan!

I did not hear even one of our ‘goofs’ analyse why any Indian government must always do what it does -- and immediately blame Pakistan, proof or no proof. I may be wrong but to my way of thinking anything less risks unleashing the fascist hordes of the ‘Shiv Sena’, BJP, Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad on the Indian Muslim minority (which incidentally is larger then our entire population). Communal riots on that scale India just cannot afford.

So my request to all sane Pakistanis is: do beef up your defences; but learn to look on these statements as Indian government’s standard operating procedure for immediate damage control rather than aggressive measures. We both have too many skeletons in our own cupboard -- and too much progress at stake -- to perpetuate the emotionalism and gamesmanship of the past.

To the ‘experts’ I would say Indian intelligence has already found out that these terrorists had been in Bombay for at least a month, and that the action is more akin to that of Tamil Tigers rather then Islamic Jehadists. Consider also that Bombay lost three of its top anti-terrorist police officers. And Hemant Karkare, its chief, was instrumental in uncovering Hindu terrorist hands behind the Malegaon bomb blasts, something which was designed in a manner to pin blame on the ISI or Muslims. Thus he exposed the mode of operations of various radical Hindu groups and despite severe political pressure -- including threats to blow up his house and kill him -- he managed to keep the issue apolitical and continued the investigation. The timings and method of the Bombay attack certainly served to distract the media glare from Hindu to Islamic Jehadi organisations.

Meanwhile, the facts may already be about to surface. The city showed it love and respect for chief Hemant Karkare, not only in the large attendance at his funeral, but also in the rebuff it gave Gujarat CM Modi on his visit to Bombay. At every step of his visit Narendra Modi was shown very clearly that he was not welcome. Perhaps the strongest rebuff came from the wife of Karkare who refused to meet him.

Unless like in the past the Indian government intends to sleep over the matter once the public trauma has subsided and election realities come into re-play, Bombay is the place where we have an opportunity for getting at the root of the matter through international co-operation. GB, Pakistan and USA have already indicated their willingness to do so.

Ikramuddin Bahram from Peshawar writes that Indians are angered and now they are openly accusing their neighbour of having stabbed in its back by talking of peace on the one hand and of supporting the terrorist outfits in India on the other. However, Pakistanis are no less than the Indians; they were quick to condemn the attacks.

Armed with nuclear arsenal, both countries now need to work closely to avoid a military clash over this issue and think wisely for the safety of those who are alive. Interestingly, in these two countries, citizens don’t have that value as the dead. In other words, their masses are simply a grave-worshipping public.

But the time has come for the people of both nations to open their eyes and accept the reality that those who fell victim to this inhuman act can’t be brought back.

However, what the nations can do is to vow not to allow miscreants destroy their trust which they have established at a very heavy price. It will not be wise either to rush to a conflict of accusations as it will bring no fruit other than embarrassment, once it is proved wrong.

Anilm is an editor with Instablogs.com

[email protected]



Farm Mechanisation
High-cost equipment a deterrent
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The sophisticated and ultra-modern farm machinery displayed at the Agro Tech fair has met with a good response from farmers. They are enthused to find machinery suitable to their farm needs and ones commensurate with their land holdings. But the high cost of these machines is preventing them to go in for complete farm mechanisation.

With fragmented land holdings and high indebtedness, the farming community who converged at the agri-fair from different parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh felt that though this time the companies had come around to customise machinery to suit their needs, it was still very expensive and out of their reach. Farmers who visited the fair - courtesy sponsored trips by state agriculture departments and certain NGOs roped in by the organisers- felt that farm machinery and tractors on display, were meant only for those landlords with large land holdings and high incomes.

With an annual average increase in cost of inputs of over 17 per cent, and production having reached a plateau, small farmers visiting the fair felt that the agri-industry had failed to address their issues. Pritam Singh from village Bhedpura near Patiala, said that with the labour shortage being faced by them, farm mechanisation was the need of the hour. “Farm mechanisation suggested by various international companies participating in the fair, or even the mechanisation in dairying would require an additional cost of Rs 15- 20 lakh, which small or marginal farmer in Punjab cannot afford,” he rued. Though the manufacturers have tried to bring things that would suit farmers here like small tractors (with 50 HP and 35 HP), seed drills, cereal dryers and rice transplanters, these remain unaffordable to farmers, even with the huge subsidy component. Sukhwinder Singh of village Dhilvan near Kapurthala, said that though he was impressed by the mechanised solution offered by companies for farmers in the region, only those farmers with huge land holdings, or those who till over 30 acres of land on lease, could afford to buy it. “Things like rice planters will be used just once a year. For the rest of the year, we will have to bear its maintenance cost, besides having to pay its installments on bank loan - which is an expensive proposition,” he added.

Farmers also felt that the agri extension services department of Punjab and experts from Punjab Agricultural University should have better linkages with the farm equipment industry, and only after these machines had been tested and demonstrated in fields here, would they be able use them.

Amrik Singh, a farmer from Khooni Majra village in Kharar, said because of the depleteing watertable in Punjab, he was interested in looking at various sprinkler sets. “But no one from the PAU or Agriculture Department has demonstrated it in our village, so we do not know about its suitability in Punjab, where wheat and paddy crops are sown,” he said.

There were others like Kishan Kumar of Tobla in Mahendragarh district, who said they were here to see farm machinery and buy it, not only for use in their own farms, but to rent it out to others. He said the fair was a perfect opportunity to update oneself about the latest in farm technology.



Planning panel mulls scheme for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Planning Commission is thinking of launching a new scheme aimed at increasing the income of farmers by ‘adding value’ to their agricultural produce.

This was stated by the Planning Commission director(agriculture), Daljeet Singh, while talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a seminar organised by the CII during the Agro Tech 2008. “With agriculture production getting saturated and natural resources facing pressure, we are thinking on how to increase the income of farmers,” he said, adding that they were thinking of launching a specific scheme for this purpose.

Though the issue of increasing farm income is still at a conceptual stage, the focus will be on bringing improvement in the secondary sector, he added.

“We are thinking on how to add value to the principal crops, including wheat, paddy and other horticultural crops, by strengthening post harvesting management, grading, sorting, packaging and marketing exercise of these crops,” he said.

On the issue of ‘Diversification of agriculture versus food security’, the director said there was a need of maintaining judicious balance between diversification and food security so that neither farm income was affected nor country face any food shortage situation.



Agro Tech draws crowds
Tribune News Service

A view of visitors to the Agro Tech-2008 in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 30
Agriculture technology and business fair, 'Agro Tech 2008', underway in Chandigarh, drew large crowds today with a footfall of over 20,000 persons.

Unlike the initial days, in addition to the entrepreneurs, around 4,000 farmers hit the stalls, many of them hailed from distant places like Madhya Pradesh and Meghalya.

At the 'Kisan Goshtis', the farmers were being taught about developments in areas like crop nutrition, organic farming and contract farming through films, special talks and interactive question-answer sessions.

The goshtis, which witnessed lukewarm response so far, had decent participation as many farmers approached the special pavilion earmarked for them to resolve their queries. With all the leading companies showcasing their products and services, the eighth edition of the four-day event has spread over an area of 5,960 square metres with 204 stalls.

In addition to seven other countries, states like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are participating in the event.



Mumbai-based trio mesmerises audience
S.D. Sharma

Chandigarh, November 30
Fully packed Randhawa Auditorium witnessed a unique confluence of cohesive melody, precise percussion and dazzling dance by Mumbai-based trio of the acclaimed flautist Rupak Kulkarni, tabla maestro Pandit Kalinath Mishra and kathak virtuoso Nandita Puri in a music soiree here today.

The event brought to the city by the Triveni Sangeet Sabha in association with the Sangeet Natak Akademy, New Delhi, commenced with soulful flute recital by young maestro Rupak Kulkarni, foremost disciple of legendary Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

An aura of serenity and contemplation pervaded the auditorium as Rupak bared the melodic structure of evening raga “Marwa” in the free-floating exposition of a reposeful alaap.

Amidst adulations Rupak presented raga hansdhwani composition set to teen tal before concluding the memorable flute recital with a devotional item. Rupak could not have aspired for better accompaniment than the Benras gharana tabla maestro Pandit Kalinath Mishra. Mishra articulated the melody meter with brilliance.

Credited with memorable roles in over dozen TV serials and films Mumabi-based actor and classical kathak dance exponent Nandita Puri took the center stage to cast a spell. She defined the fundamental syllables of Jaipur gharana kathak with an adroit display of agile footwork, eloquent movements and emotional expression. She was at her best while delineating the diverse “Bhavas” in her entrancing spell of Raagmala. Pandit Kalinath Mishra provided matching rhythmic support.



BJP flays M’rashtra dy CM’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh: November 30
The information technology cell of the BJP today condemned the statement of Maharashtra deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, who allegedly termed the terrorist attack at Mumbai as a minor incident.

In a joint statement, Satinder Singh and Shakti Prakash Devshali, convener and co-convener, respectively, said the policemen, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and NSG Commandoes spent over 60 hours to evacuate Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi and the Nariman House from terrorists and Patil was terming it as a minor incident.

They lauded the role and timely action of the security personnel, who laid down their lives in saving country’s pride. The problem of terrorism is increasing day by day due to the negligence of the Central government and its unwillingness to deal with the terrorism with an iron hand, they said. This is high time that the Central government comes out with a concrete plan to combat terrorism instead of any appeasement to allure the voters, they added. 



Street theatre fest ends
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, November 30
A two-day Street Theatre Festival of Socially Relevant plays, organised by the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy, concluded at the Manimajra fort here today.

The immaculate staging of a theme a social theme based play “Kiran”, written and directed by S. Gursharan Singh, provided a finale to the festival. The play depicts the common attitude of a nagging mother in law and a demanding husband of a young married woman.

The intensity of torture gets manifold, especially when she delivers a baby girl, which is believed to be a harbinger of curse by the orthodox family. She is forced for an illegal abortion when the attending doctor refuses and instead exhorts them not to follow unethical practice.

Earlier, Vijay Machal presented “Daldal”, a play on drug addiction among the youngsters. The play showed how the adolescents imbibe the life style of their hero’s in films like many while copying Shah Rukh Khan’s smoking splurge turn habitual smokers and later drug addicts. Forced by the circumstances, they eventually fall into bad habits of stealing and thievery. As the problems raised in all the socially relevant plays was close to the pulse and heart beat of a common man, the audience relished it, claimed akademy vice-chairman Kamal Arora.



Play on Lakshmi Bai staged
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 30
The two-day extravaganza on the annual day of Bhavan Vidyalaya concluded with the staging of musical play based on the story of Rani Lakshmi Bai here yesterday.

The two-minute mourn was also observed as a mark of respect to the innocent people, who lost their lives in the Mumbai blasts.

Almost 250 students, attired in colourful costumes, dazzled the audience and carried them to the historical era of Jhansi trying to portray the Rani Lakshmi Bai.

The play related the past to the present day scenario in which the woman is still meted out with discrimination.


An art and craft exhibition, ‘Kalodayan’, was organised at Chamanlal DAV Senior Public School, Sector 11, here yesterday.

About 800 budding artists showcased their creativity. The juniors tried their hands on making masks, mats, fruit baskets etc under the category of ‘Best out of waste’. Wind chimes, made up of plastic sheets using glass colours, and mirrors won appreciation.

Drill display

Doon Public School, Sector 21, celebrated grand drill display cum prize distribution here yesterday.

The pre-primary section made its presence felt with clown drills. Primary section made the audience spellbound with tae-kwon-do drills. The ultra-modern robotic drills enticed everyone’s imagination.

The event came to an end with a vibrant, colourful and lively Haryanvi folk dance.

Principal motivated the students to maintain physical fitness.



Bicyclists with a mission
Urge people to fight drug menace
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Nearly 130 bicyclists from various villages of Ludhiana today paid obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. They had been bicycling through various villages to spread the message of using bicycles to reduce pollution.

They have also urged people to avoid drugs, including liquor, poppy husk, opium and other drugs, as they are dangerous to one’s health. The cyclists said the villagers were now addicted to new kind of drugs which include smack and various harmful injections.

Lakhvir Singh, one of the bicyclists, rued that the government machinery, including the police, has failed to tackle the drug menace. Drugs have now taken strategic positions in the minds of youngsters and it should be removed immediately.

The cyclists said they would continue their journey in different villages of Punjab to spread the message of using bicycle to keep the body and environment fit.



650 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
Over 650 patients were examined at a medical camp organised by the Residents Sarbat Da Bhala Association, Phase VII, in collaboration with Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital at Phase VII here today.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh, vice-chairman of the Gian Sagar Educational and Charitable Trust, inaugurated the camp.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh said the trust had been running a 500-bed hospital with latest medical equipment. A dental-care van fitted with equipment was used to undertake dental examination of the patients.

The association organised a healthy baby show for children up to the age of two years. A drawing and painting competition for children up to the age of 12 years was also organised.



Rath yatra concludes
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 30
The local chapter of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) organised a two-day Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra here and in Panchkula, respectively, in which a large number of devotees from India and abroad participated. The yatra concluded at Panchkula today, according to Nand Maharaj Das Prabhu, president, the local unit of ISKCON.

In Chandigarh, the rath yatra started from Sector 46 market and passed through Sectors 45, 44, 43, 35, 35/34 dividing, 21/22 dividing, 22, 22/23 dividing, Kisan Bhawan before it concluded at Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36-B, followed by delicious Krishna prasadam (langar) distributed among those present on the occasion. The ISKCON devotees while chanting Hare Krishna mahamantra were dancing to the tune of mridanga and kartal before the chariot. In Panchkula, the yatra began from the NAC market, Mani Majra, and passed through Sectors 7, 7-8, 8-17, 9-16, 10-15, 10-11 before concluding at Shiv Mandir, Sector 9, Panchkula, today.



Hotel owners protest luxury tax
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
The Banquet and Hotel Association, Mohali, has criticised Punjab government’s decision to charge luxury tax from hotels and banquets.

The members of the association, in a meeting, said it was unfair on part of the government to charge the tax.

Owners of the banquet halls also said charging 10 per cent luxury tax from the people would add extra burden on them as customers were already paying 12.36 per cent service tax along with 10 per cent VAT.

Banquet owners said they had already taken number of bookings and fixed the amount to be charged. The association had decided to submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister for the abolition of the tax.



Refugees from PoK seek property rights
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
A meeting of the Mirpur (Jammu and Kashmir) Welfare Association was held here today to commemorate the fall of Mirpur city in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

It was alleged at the meeting that Hindus and Sikhs, who migrated from PoK, were not treated as refugees like their West Pakistan counterparts. The refugees from West Pakistan got their claims for the property they left behind in West Pakistan while the refugees from PoK were being denied these incentives.

Even after 61 years of Independence, the Central and the Jammu and Kashmir governments have failed to settle their claims for property left behind in PoK, they alleged.



Book on Dalit empowerment released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Pawan Bansal, minister of state for finance, released a book titled “Dalit empowerment after Dr B.R. Ambedkar”, by K.S. Raju at a seminar held at Panjab University today.

The seminar held on topic, “Dr Ambedkar, Dalit awakening and liberation” was organised by the Social Justice Forum of India and Bhartiya Dalit Sahit Academy. The seminar was attended by likes of Dr B.L. Mungekar, a member of Planning Commission, the Government of India, who said, “Untouchability is a curse and should be rooted out by creating awareness and by enforcing laws more strictly.”



Blood donation camp held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Rotary Club of Chandigarh midtown organised a blood donation camp at the picturesque gurdwara of Khudda Ali Sher village, north of the city, where over 100 volunteers, including village womenfolk, donated blood.

Medical team from GH-16, headed by Dr Saroj Aggarwal, did a commendable work.

President, Saroj Jhawar, Rotary Club, and Youth Club president, S. Balvinder Singh, were amongst the first to donate blood.



Fight terrorism with education

Let us admit that our weakness is being exploited by the enemies of peace. Terrorists spread their network by utilising uneducated and unemployed youth of our country, either by assuring liberation from hardships or in the name of religion.

Education and awareness are the only means by which we can get rid of terror. Poor children, who should get education, are seen begging, polishing shoes, working as domestic help, thereby, becoming soft targets to disrupt peace.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan needs a boost, and employment opportunities should be increased. Education will pave the way for unity and secularism.

Sonu, Chandigarh

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From Schools
Annual day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
St Xavier’s School, Mohali, celebrated its annual day. Balbir Singh, district transport officer, was the chief guest on the occasion. Chairman of Xavier’s group of schools, Andrew J. Gosain and principal, Georgina Roy welcomed the guests.

After the principal presented the annual report, a traditional Chinese dance, was presented by the students. Next were the tiny-toddlers of pre-nursery, nursery, KG and I, who performed a Red Indian drill. The grand finale was marked with a “bhangra” presented by the little angles of the school.

Meanwhile, the annual function at St Paul International School showcased spellbinding performances by students. A rich feast of entertainment loaded with enthralling presentations in form of dance, songs, skits and plays. The show was inaugurated Dr Deepti, secretary, Sai Tara Unnat Foundation, and ex-principal, DAV School, who was also the chief guest on the occasion.



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