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Fire at furniture market
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A major tragedy was averted when a fire broke out in the furniture market, near Sector 42, late this evening. Of the around 100 shops situated in the market, nine were gutted.

Though no loss of human life was reported, shopkeepers put the loss to property at around Rs 50 lakh.

The fire broke out around 8.45 pm, when the market was abuzz with activity. The market, which caters to the needs of the tricity for its affordable furniture, is a virtual tinderbox with shops selling wooden furniture stacked with dry wood and other inflammable material used for polish.

Sources claimed that the tragedy could have been greater had the incident taken place a little earlier. Even at the time of the fire, a lot of people were sitting at a tavern located nearby.

Though the exact cause of the fire could not be ascertained, initial investigations by the fire department hinted at the possibility of a short-circuit.

According to sources, the fire first started from shop No. 83 situated in one corner and soon spread to adjacent shops.

The lone watchman of the market was the first one to notice it. He called up the market association president and others who reached the scene.

Talking to Tribune, fire officer SK Gosain said fire-tenders arrived at the scene within minutes and doused the flames within half an hour.

Around five fire-tenders from Chandigarh and two from Mohali were engaged in rescue operations.

A team of CRPF also reached the scene and helped the police and firemen in carrying out rescue operations.

Meanwhile, Mayor Kamlesh and MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria reached the scene followed by Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal.

It may be noted that the market is unauthorised. The MC Commissioner said notices had been served on them many a time. Shopkeepers, however, claimed that they had been promised to be rehabilitated in Maloya but nothing had been done in this regard.

The police said they would inquire into the reason behind the fire, as the possibility of mischief or sabotage could not be ruled out at this stage.

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Jawan held with stolen AK-47
Had planned to rob bank
Tribune News Service


Army jawan Balvir Singh and his accomplice Charanjit Singh who were arrested at Ropar. A Tribune photograph

Ropar, January 18
Balvir Singh (22), a sepoy of 16 Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army, along with an accomplice was held with a stolen AK-47 rifle and 68 live cartridges. The two, both residents of Alampur village, had planned to rob the HDFC Bank on the College Road with the stolen gun.

Balvir had stolen his colleague’s AK-47 rifle when he was posted at Naushera in Jammu and Kashmir in August last year. He had joined the Army in 2005.

The man whose AK-47 was stolen by Balvir had been placed under court marshal and was still undergoing punishment, said the SSP, Ropar.

Police officials in the CIA, Ropar, on receiving a tip-off from some villagers, seized the stolen gun and ammunition from Balvir’s house.

Balvir had hid the gun in his bedding while packing his luggage at Naushera and managed to get past scrutiny. On returning to the village, he hid it in the backyard of his house.

“He had dug a pit in his backyard, put rifle and cartridges in a plastic bag and buried them there,” the SSP added.

The police said the Army jawan was also planning to rob a van of the bank that passed through the village to deposit money in an ATM at the Ropar thermal power plant.

The accused, during preliminary investigations, disclosed that he had involved one of his friends, Charanjit Singh, alias Channi, who owned a welding shop adjoining the HDFC Bank.

Balvir had kept 50 cartridges with him and given 18 to Channi. The SSP said the regiment was presently camping at Lucknow and its top officials had been informed about Balvir’s arrest.

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NRI, maid killed in accident
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 18
Barely two months after six persons from Haryana were killed at Madhopur chowk, an NRI and his maid lost their lives while five others sustained serious injuries in an accident at the same chowk on the GT Road, here today.

The incident took place around 7 pm. The victims were on their way to Chandigarh from Nabha, where they had gone to attend a wedding of a relative, in a Maruti Zen.

While NRI Gurdev Singh and his maid Anita died on the spot, Manpreet (15) and Simran (10) —both daughters of Gurdev — received serious injures and were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Avtar Kaur (40), employee of an international airlines, driver Munna Lal and 21-year-old Ekta also received injuries in the accident.

Police officials said the identification of the victims could not be completed till the filing of the report as relatives of the deceased and injured were informed over the phone and were on their way to Sirhind from Chandigarh and Mohali.

Preliminary reports suggested that Gurdev Singh was a resident of Chandigarh, while others were from Phase XI, Mohali.

Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Kaustubh Sharma said the car occupants were not from a single family.

He said the car was crossing the GT Road when a speeding truck-canter coming from Mandi Gobindgarh rammed into it.

He said a case would be registered after recording the statements of the survivors and other witnesses.

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2 players, 3 others hurt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
In a freak accident, five persons, including two national-level basketball players, two girls and an elderly man, were injured when a recklessly driven Maruti Swift car hit a motor cycle, a scooter and a Maruti car on the road separating Sectors 33 and 45, here tonight.

The driver of the Swift car sped away after the mishap leaving a trail of damaged vehicles and injured on the road.

According to eyewitnesses, the Swift car (CH 04 C 0597) hit a Bajaj Pulsar motor cycle (CH 04 A-4623) ridden by the players from the rear before hitting a Kinetic Honda scooter of the girls and finally a Maruti car.

The players were not wearing safety helmets at the time of the accident and sustained severe head injuries.

The profusely bleeding players were taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

The injured have been identified as Hardeep Singh and Aman, both BA-II students of SD College, Sector 32, and national-level basketball players, Parveen Khurana the driver of the Maruti car.

The police has yet to identify the injured girls, who were taken to a private hospital.

The players, who were in their early twenties, are residents of Burail village.

They had recently participated in a tournament at Hyderabad and were on their way home after practising in the college.

The police said both sustained serious head injuries, while Hardeep also suffered a fracture in the leg. The police did not recover any helmet from the scene believing that the two were riding without helmet. According to police station-34 SHO Sudharshan Thakur, though the driver of Swift car sped away the police recovered the registration plate of the car from the scene.

The car belonged to Pritam Singh of Sector 44 and efforts were on to trace the offender.

Talking to TNS, Parminbder Singh, a relative of injured Hardeep Singh, said both Hardeep and Aman had been representing Panjab University in national games.

The police said a case had been registered against the unidentified driver of the car.

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Woman, watchman found dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A 64-year-old woman, Mohini Puri, and a watchman in the UT PWD, Rudher Bhadur, were found dead at separate places in Mani Majra early this morning. The police has ruled out foul play behind both deaths and termed them as natural occurrences.

The police said Rudher Bhadur was found dead outside his residence around 6 am. His neighbours spotted his body and blood was splattered near it. The police was informed about the incident.

The police said Rudher was a tuberculosis patient and was an alcoholic. He was working as a watchman at a PWD store in timber market, Sector 26.

His landlord told the police that Rudher had come home from duty around midnight. He apparently had a bout of vomiting as blood was found in his room. The police said the victim then came out and collapsed.

He was taken to the Government Multi Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, where he was declared brought dead. His family lives in Nepal and a post-mortem examination would be conducted upon their arrival.

In the second case, the police said Mohini Puri was found dead naked in her bathroom. She had gone to take a bath and collapsed due to possible heart attack. The family found the body in the bathroom.

They called private doctors for help, but none was available. The family then called the police, which took the body to the GMSH, where she was declared dead.

Mani Majra police station SHO Kehar Singh said as the doctors termed it a natural death, the family insisted on taking the body without a post-mortem examination. Mohini was living along with her husband, Surinder Mohan Puri.

The police has initiated inquest proceedings in both incidents.

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Citizens as Catalysts
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
In a unique citizens’ initiative, prominent residents of the tricity have got together and formed a group, CATALYST, that will strive to identify and create groundbreaking, sustainable solutions to social, civic and environmental challenges faced by the residents.

Addressing the first meeting of the group, which has judges, senior retired army generals, leading businessmen, architects, educationists and intellectuals on its board, retired Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice SS Sodhi, exhorted the need for a transparent and accountable governance in the city.

Asserting the need for retaining the basic character of Chandigarh, Justice Sodhi said the “principle of precautionary measures” should be adopted to ensure that irregularities did not creep in.

“Sukhna Lake is the face of Chandigarh. Apart from desilting drives, the administration should be aware that it has altered the basic character of the city by planning high-rise buildings around the lake”, he said adding that these reflected the faulty policies being pursued in the city. He rued the fact that decisions in the administration were taken behind closed doors without any participation from public.

Stressing the need for people’s participation, Supreme Court Judge Justice M Katju lauded the initiative and said such efforts needed “judicial backing”.

Maintaining that time had come when only public could bring about change, as there was no hope from those at the helm, he urged people to take recourse to public interest litigations and assured that the judiciary would certainly back them.

Saying that such initiatives should be emulated throughout the country, Justice Katju, who had come down heavily on the growing misuse of PILs by vested interest, said genuine pleas were always welcome.

CATALYST plans to create two core working sub-groups, one led by Justice Kuldeep Singh and another by Gen VP Malik - by January 25 to identify areas of concern and draw up detailed intervention on various aspects like security, traffic and environment issues. Thereafter Plain Language Guides (PLG), after analysing these aspects, will come up with detailed recommendations to be presented to and discussed with the authorities concerned for joint implementation.

Speaking on security scenario, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen VP Malik, said time had come when certain amount of curtailment of civic liberties was required to ensure that the police could discharge its duties diligently.

“People should be cautious about sensitive places like temples, fairs, hospitals and even schools,” he said, adding that departments like hospitals, fire brigades, rescue divisions should be equipped for disaster management.

Mrs Bambah suggested to have trained and efficient ambulance services in the city to meet emergency situations. She also suggested the administration to impose check on sale of unsafe protective gears for two-wheeler riders and provide safe driving mechanism on roads.

Gurpreet Singh, an industrialist, opined that the growth of the city should not be gauged on the basis of GDP but by providing safe and pollution-free air, corruption-free society, safe roads, etc. Steps in these directions should be initiated through education at school level by including them in their curriculum.

Earlier briefing the participants on the initiative, former Advocate General ML Sarin said the forum would focus on core issues like plugging loopholes in citizens’ security, traffic regulation, consumer rights, poverty alleviation child welfare and public awareness on the Right to Information Act.

The members also showed concern about menace of congress grass, stray dogs, cattle and work out plans for disaster management like earthquakes, fire, epidemics, etc.

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This system, less said the better!
Raveen Thukral

In response to one of my earlier columns, Musings from Beijing, in which I had raved about the cleanliness and the discipline that I witnessed in China, a reader mentioned that usually people who return from abroad are in a habit to talk like this and things weren't really that bad here, at least in Chandigarh.

This remark took me down the memory lane to my much younger, albeit naiver, days and reminded me of how even I used to react when relatives from abroad raved about the "system" in US and cribbed about the problems in our country. Like a true patriot I used to stand up for issues which were sometimes even indefensible and argue endlessly, even at the risk of being branded incorrigible, just because I considered the relative a 'phirangi' and earnestly believed that things couldn't be that good there.

My short holiday trips to USA after my brother shifted there in 1999 didn't change my outlook much. But having seen the other side at close quarters I certainly sobered down to the extent that I stopped defending what was indefensible.

However, my 10 months stay in Canada last year has completely changed my way of thinking. Having seen how things work there and how the people react to it, I now earnestly believe that the "system" here needs a total overhaul. And if that doesn't happen, the way things are going, in times to come there may not be a qualitative difference in the lives of majority of us.

I don't blame the people but the system has made many of us so weak that we wittingly or unwittingly happily agree to whatever is thrust on us, hardly ever fighting for our rights. Compromise has become a way of life for most and we meekly accept almost everything that happens around us- be it the rudeness of the cops on the roads, the sarcasm of the doctors at hospitals, corporal punishment to our children in schools or the poor governance that we get.

Talking about governance, everyone knows how our politicians and bureaucracy works so less said the better. However, when they fail to do even routine and small jobs like demolishing illegal structures, enforcing laws for cleaner air that we breath and ensuring smooth traffic on highways and require Court orders to push them into action, it speaks volumes on the dismal state of affairs that we are in.

A few weeks back, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered that vehicles should not to be allowed to unnecessarily park on the Zirakpur-Derabassi stretch and directed the Deputy Commissioners of Mohali and Panchkula to work out ways for ensuring smooth traffic flow on the highway. The Division Bench of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Daya Chaudhary had stated that "no vehicle will/shall stop on the highway expect at bus stops or in case of emergency breakdown on the side of the road between Zirakpur and Derabassi" and had asked the state counsel to inform that DGP to deploy sufficient manpower to implement the directions.

Sometime back the High Court had intervened and ordered the Panchkula district administration and NHAI to ensure streamlining of the traffic on Pinjore-Parwanoo stretch, which had been witnessing lengthy traffic jams due to the road expansion work. In this case the court had also issued directions to the Panchkula SP traffic to deploy men for smooth traffic flow.

When courts have to intervene in such routine matters it indicates nothing but administrative paralysis, which perhaps now reacts only to judicial shocks. Jobs like these are routine and are the responsibility of the local administration. But they seldom do it and only react when the courts ask them to.

However, it will be too shortsighted to only blame the civil servants for this paralysis and administrative mess. Administration at the apex level vests with politicians in states and constitutional executive in the UT and lot depend on the policy goals laid down by them.

If the policy is to implement the law in its exception and dilute the same for political and populist considerations, little is left for the civil servants to implement. In fact corruption and inefficiency among both civil servants and politicians is largely responsible for the poor administration but unfortunately it's usually the former who get hauled up by courts for incompetence and the latter go scot free.

Judiciary should normally intervene when Act, rules and policies are not implemented in fair and transparent manner but thanks to the administrative paralysis that we have in our midst, it is piloting policy formation and prioritising the thrust areas, which is the job of the executive. Though the ideal situation would be to leave this task to the executive rather than substituting it, the way things are people now look upon only the judiciary for justice as both the legislature and executive seem to have lost trust of the masses.

Till this trust is restored and the administration, both the politicians and civil servants, become responsive to the basic needs of the masses, things may not improve much for the common man.

Write to [email protected]

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COMMUNITY

Woman’s Death
Police struggles to locate kin
Sister battles for life in hospital
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Mystery continues to shroud the death of Ranjit Kaur, alias Dolly, who was found dead at her Sector-40 residence, here yesterday.

The post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause behind the death could not be conducted today, as the police failed to trace any relative of the deceased to complete the formalities.

According to sources, the police got information that a maternal uncle of the woman lived in Ludhiana and the investigators were trying to trace him.

On the other hand, Dolly’s elder sister Jasbir Kaur (40), who has difficulty speaking and has been rendered incapacitated due polio, was also unable to shed light on the circumstances leading to Dolly’s death.

Police station-39 SHO Janak Rana said it could take some time before they traced a close relative of the deceased to complete formalities for autopsy.

Efforts were on to trace her maternal uncle, who is believed to be living in Ludhiana. On Jasbir Kaur’s fate, the police said she was being treated at the PGI. After her treatment, the PGI would discharge her and if nobody from her relatives came to take her along, she would be shifted to the Pingalwada (a home for destitute and forlorn) at Palsora.

Quoting doctors treating on Jasbir Kaur, the police said her condition was stated to be critical. She was still unconscious. She was admitted due to severe dehydration, as her food intake was poor. Even now, she was unable to take anything.

A police officer said Jasbir was unable to move her limbs and might have been fed by her sister. Had she been able to move, she could have come out of the room and detect the death much earlier.

She remained confined to bed in another room, even as her sister died and her body began to decay.

Neighbours said the relatives had severed their ties with the sisters after the Chandigarh Police booked Dolly in an immoral trafficking case. The police found empty liquor bottles from Dolly’s room and learnt that she was a habitual drinker.

The police said the deceased had an affair with a man in the locality a few years ago and could have taken to drinking after the latter rejected her marriage proposal.

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UT must have its own civil services

The Punjab Governor should be relieved of holding additional post of the UT Administrator.

The city, despite being joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, is first of all a Union Territory. As such, it should be governed by a Lt Governor, rather than a Chief Commissioner, under the purview of the Centre, on the lines of Delhi.

This will also silence those critics who lament the prevailing practice of keeping Administrator's post reserved for Punjab Governor rather than allocating it to its Haryana counterpart. The man at the helm of affairs in UT, belonging to Punjab, cannot go well with people owing allegiance to Haryana. There is also an urgent need to revamp the present administrative structure as it is not able to live up to the expectations of its residents.

System irrational

There appears to be no logic for combining the post of Punjab Governor with that of the UT Administrator. The reason for having a combined post was the required coordination during the days of terrorism. As the problem is no more in the region, there is need of the prevailing system.

The Administrator is not accessible to the public. Nor does he get time to move around the city to get himself acquainted into the problems of the people.

— GR Kalra

With respect to the top officials in UT, there is a quota for Punjab and Haryana in the ratio of 60 and 40, respectively. Normally, it is witnessed that the top bureaucrats tend to keep the interests of their parent state over the other, when it comes to the policy framing.

Also, the posting in UT is so lucrative that whenever the process is set in motion to fill a vacancy in respect of any of the coveted positions, the instances of tug-of-war is witnessed among aspiring bureaucrats, like last year's episode regarding the posting of Home Secretary from Haryana. The only way to avoid such situations and in order to tone up the administrative set-up, it will be appropriate to post officers from the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory cadres. Regarding lower-rung officers, instead of posting PCS or HCS officers, the Centre may contemplate setting up of Union Territory Civil Service (UTCS).

The need of the hour is to dispense with the present deputation policy, wherein officers from Punjab and Haryana are drawn in a pick-and-choose manner.

Hemant Kumar, H. No. 414, Sector 7, Urban Estate Ambala

CCs were people-friendly

I have worked with the first Chief Commissioner of the UT, Dr MS Randhawa, as his first private secretary. He used to hear people's grievances with utmost attention. Without previous appointment, people could meet him easily, and their genuine complaints were removed expeditiously. For this, he would, in certain cases, himself visit the site in question.

Successive Chief Commissioners BP Bagchi, NP Mathur and TN Chaturvedi, more or less, followed this practice till 1980, when the city was put under the Governor of Punjab as Administrator with an Adviser under him.

As the federation of residents’ welfare associations have demanded a change in the set up, the post of Chief Commissioner should be revived in the interest of the people as well as the administration.

KL Malhotra

Duties unfulfilled

Adviser is a respectful post, but is also open to exploitation by a few of those placed in positions needing their services. In the eyes of the public, their decisions attain perfect legitimacy.

If, as in the case of UT administration, the Administrator and the Adviser are at loggerheads, we are looking at a dark abyss. The fig leaf has blown away and the General stands isolated with the record of his military service as the only cover.

The case for the continuation of the post of the Adviser has been shot to smithereens by the overt and covert actions of the Administrator and the revival of the post of the Chief Commissioner seems the best solution to handle all the affairs, including the sensitive issue of acquisition of land. The city deserves a better fate. The UT administration, apparently unaffected by political sensitivities, continues to justify acquisition of land at unbelievably low rates, thereby glaringly mocks the buyers. Residing in a vibrant democracy, we are comfortable with Generals, in or out of uniform.

The Administrator should keep in mind that to be offencive and in hurry is not always the best strategy. To call the fight for justice a simple matter of a greed tantamount to dehumanising and downgrading the humanity. The city residents with their current position on the development index deserve more. The UT with its small size and literate population offers an excellent opportunity for an informed interaction between the rulers and the ruled.

The government, even if fulfilling most of its objectives, is going astray if it does not present a benign and considerate face to all sections of the society, irrespective of their financial standing. Nothing can justify administration’s unequal treatment towards owners of land and eventual buyers utter disregard of the market forces.

Arjan Singh

Guv for state only

The Governor of Punjab should look after state’s affairs and Chief Commissioner should be appointed for good administration of the Union Territory. Hope the Union government will respect the feelings of public.

PS Rana Mohali

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Pvt Teachers’ Building Society
Admn initiates probe into irregularities
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The functioning of the Private Teachers’ House Building Society, Sector 49 C, has come under scanner with the Chandigarh administration initiating an inquiry into the construction of flats by the society.

The action has been initiated on the recommendations of Deputy Commissioner-cum-Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS).

In the backdrop of alleged irregularities into the construction of 81 flats, including use of sub-standard material, by the society management, certain members had approached the RCS. It was alleged that the management had violated certain conditions laid down by the Chandigarh Housing Board.

According to members, the first contractor completed 81 flats, including public health and electrical works, for around Rs 6.6 crore. He was paid Rs 5.9 crore on the completion of about 90 per cent of the work.

However, for the remaining 10 per cent work worth Rs 67.7 lakh, another contractor was engaged for a whopping Rs 3.85 crore.

With members alleging financial bungling, Assistant Register Cooperative Societies (ARCS) RS Sangwan, in his preliminary inquiry, recommended to the RCS that a probe should be conducted by a technical person. The RCS has now requested the Secretary (Engineering) to hold an inquiry into the case.

The administration had been requested to conduct an inquiry into the construction work executed in the flats under the specifications contained in tender document. The administration has asked the Punjab Engineering College (PEC) authorities to conduct the inquiry into the matter, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Joint Registrar Cooperative Societies (JRCS) has stayed the expulsion of certain members, including Ranju Singh, Rajni Vij, Ravish Sethi, Joginder Singh and Baltinder Kaur, from the membership of the society.

Their appeal is reportedly pending for adjudication before the JRCS against the decision of arbitrator for deposit of amount with the society. The opportunity of hearing was not afforded to the expelled members, the JRCS order said.

On November 20, a general body meeting had approved the expulsion of the above members from the society.

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Deep Vein Thrombosis
Obese diabetics more prone to risk: Experts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) has become a major risk factor for patients undergoing joint replacements, especially of the hip and knee, and can prove to be fatal if not diagnosed and treated in time. This was stated by Dr Ravul Jindal, consultant, vascular surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, at a symposium held by the Chandigarh Chapter of the Indian Orthopaedic Association here yesterday evening.

About 90 orthopaedicians attended the symposium from the tri-city. Prof Raj Bahadur, director principal, GMCH, and Dr BS Agarwal, chaired the sessions. In his keynote address, Dr Bahadur exhorted the orthopaedicians to focus on DVT and make prophylactic thrombiolitic therapy must for patients undergoing joint replacement surgery.

Talking about DVT, Dr Jindal said, “It is a serious condition characterised by formation of a blood clot in the veins, usually the leg veins or pelvic veins, and may occur in renal vein (kidney vein), liver vein, eye vein or the brain vein.”

The incidence of DVT in India as reported is one percent of the adult population after the age of forty and is 15 to 20 per cent in hospitalised patients. One out of 100 patients who develop DVT die, usually from a blood clot, which travels to the lungs, also called pulmonary embolism.

Talking about the risk factors, Dr Jindal said, “The common risk factors are individuals after the age of forty with prolonged immobilisation such as prolonged bed rest due to respiratory failure, heart failure, paralysis, after fractures, heart attack, trauma, abdominal, thoracic or neurosurgery and in cancer patients. Obese individuals with diabetes are more prone to DVT. Patients with malignancy, smokers and those women who are on oral contraceptive pills are more vulnerable.”

Dr Kumud Rai, senior consultant, vascular surgery, Max Hospital, New Delhi, spoke on “DVT Prophylaxis (Prevention)”.

“Regular physical activity is a must, especially if an individual is immobilised for a long time. The need of DVT prophylaxis cannot be over emphasised. Only 10 per cent of individuals who require DVT prophylaxis actually get it, remaining 90 per cent of individuals are deprived of this because of ignorance, lack of awareness or lack of skill,” she said.

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Court martial of Major for sexual assault
Case referred to convening authority

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The plea to jurisdiction of the general court martial (GCM) trying a Major for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman officer of the same unit, has been referred to the court’s convening authority for its directives. The examination of witnesses and arguments in the case is over and the trial is in its concluding stage.

The defence had contended that the GCM did not have the jurisdiction to try the officer because the alleged offence had taken place in Jammu and Kashmir and hence the charge levelled against him should have been under provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and not the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Major faced charges of improper physical contact with the woman officer who was posted to the same unit. She had also levelled charges of sexual misconduct against her commanding officer also, who was tried by a GCM earlier. The charges against the Colonel could not be proved and the GCM had, in its special findings, reprimanded him for using improper language in the officers’ mess.

The defence also contended that Army Rule 180, which gives an accused officer the right to make a statement in his defence or cross examine witnesses during pre-trial procedures, was not complied with.

The court had reassembled in Tibri near Gurdaspur last month for commencement of proceedings after remaining adjourned for a long time due to the non-availability of the lady member in the court.

The GCM, presided by Col Rupinder Singh from Western Command, had commenced on May 8 last year and had seen several long adjournments due various reasons.

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Hoardings of leaders along roads
Political parties violate law
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali/ Zirakpur, January 18
Political parties, irrespective of their affiliations, are blatantly violating the law when they put up hoardings along highways and other roads in Zirakpur and Mohali.

Moreover, the politicians are not paying a single penny to the respective civic bodies in way of advertisement fee. In Mohali, there is a clear-cut policy on advertisements in green belts and open spaces along the main roads and the fee to be charged.

Political parties manage to put up their hoardings or other publicity material facing the roads and the enforcement staff “intentionally” ignores them, thanks to the political affiliations of the elected councillors. The hoardings also divert the attention of drivers and cause accidents.

Using the home turf, several local political leaders as well as MC councillors have put up big hoardings for wishing New Year to Zirakpur and Mohali residents at intersections and link roads, thereby causing defacement of the town. Supporters of the politicians have also tried to catch the attention of the Bacchus lovers by putting up hoardings on liquor vends along the highways. In Mohali, the Kharar MLA and elected councillors have put up hoardings along the busy road sections without paying any penny to the civic body. Street light poles and trees have been used to put the advertisements.

The scene is equally bad along the Zirakpur-Panchkula highway, Zirakpur-Ambala highway and Zirakpur-Patiala road. Ruling SAD leaders and Zirakpur MC president have put up their hoardings in complete violation of the rules. “The politicians want to congratulate the residents at the cost of the state exchequer. They should pay for advertising their messages,” remarked Surinder Kumar, a resident of Baltana.

It may be mentioned that Mohali district administration recently removed the hoardings that had come up along the National Highway no. 21 passing through the district.

Some of these hoardings even cover the official signposts displaying traffic directions, making the matter even more serious and worthy of intervention of the authorities concerned. There are specific directions against putting up such hoardings and other publicity material facing the roads as these divert the attention of drivers and may cause accidents.

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Lok Sabha Polls
Khanna’s visit triggers speculation
BJP forwards six names from city
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Even as the local BJP recommended six names to the party high command for the Chandigarh parliamentary seat today, the entry of Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna into the local political scene has created ripples in the BJP circles here.

As the state election committee deliberated upon probable names from Chandigarh under the chairmanship of Kiran Ghai, all-India secretary and co-in charge of Punjab and Chandigarh, Khanna used the opportunity to address a rally organised by the Dharam Jagran Manch, an RSS outfit, in the densely-populated colony No. 4 here.

With Hoshiarpur being reserved for the Scheduled Caste category and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announcing DS Cheema as its candidate from the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, Khanna is in search of a constituency and his name is doing rounds for the Chandigarh seat.

Though his name does not figure in the list recommended by the BJP, which has Satya Pal Jain, HL Mahajan, Sanjay Tandon, Ravi Prakash Kansal, Jairam Joshi and Ranjana Shahi as the probable candidates, sources claimed that Khanna was in race from the local seat.

In fact, the party high command has a final say on the candidate’s selection and there have been instances when an “outsider” has contested on the BJP ticket from Chandigarh. In 1999, the party fielded Krishan Lal Sharma, who represented Delhi for a long time, from Chandigarh.

When asked about his desire to contest from the city, Khanna refused to comment, adding that he was a “disciplined soldier of the party”.

Party sources said there was a clamour for fielding a fresh candidate from the city as former MP Satya Pal Jain had already been defeated by Minister of State for Finance Pawan Bansal twice — 1991 and 2004. With the seat becoming a bone of contention for the local party leaders, the seat may well go to an “outsider” and Khanna seems to fit the bill.

The sources said while other probable candidates were lightweight as compared to Jain, Khanna could act as a rallying point for the “anti-Jain” forces.

In fact, the presence of Vineet Joshi, national executive member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), and other leaders not seeing eye to eye with Jain at today’s rally, was a clear indicator of things to come.

Like Jain, the Hoshiarpur MP, who is also a former president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, wields a considerable clout in the party high command. This coupled with his “excellent” equation with senior RSS functionaries may stand him in good stead in the run-up to bagging the ticket from Chandigarh, a senior leader told The Tribune.

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Co-op Scam
Govt drags feet on inquiry report
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 18
The Punjab government is turning a blind eye to the alleged cooperative scam in the recovery of short-term loans from farmers of eleven villages in Mohali district. Officials of the Mohali and Ropar branch of the registrar cooperative societies (RCS) are sitting on the inquiry report in to the irregularities by the secretary of an agri society, lament the farmers.

Running into lakhs of rupees, the Nadiali Cooperative Agri Service Society has fleeced the farmers by charging higher interest rates, the inquiry report has reportedly confirmed. The farmers, who had taken short-term crop loans, continued to payback the instalments at the rate of 11 per cent against a much lesser rate of interest charged by the state cooperative bank.

The loans extended to the members were of short term and had to be returned within six months.

An inquiry into the alleged irregularities conducted by an assistant registrar has yet to see light of the day. While the deputy registrar, Ropar, RS Mann, to whom the inquiry was submitted, told The Tribune that he had sent the findings to the assistant registrar, Mohali, Ramesh, for necessary action, the latter said he was yet to receive the report.

Interestingly, while the cooperative bank has fixed the rate of interest for crop loan at 7 per cent with effect from April 2006, Raghbir Singh, the secretary of the Nadiali Cooperative Agri Service Society, kept on charging higher interest rate. Raghbir, who has been holding the charge for the last 12 years, illegally kept on charging higher rate of interest.

The farmers alleged that an extra amount was charged from the villagers while sanctioning the loan amount. The society covers Bakarpur, Kandala, Dharamgarh, Rurka, Alipur, Nadiali, Safipur, Matra, Jagatpura, Cheoheri and Bari villages. It was not the first time the society had been embroiled in a scam.

A similar scam had been unearthed in 2005. Meanwhile, a senior official from the city office of the RCS was visiting the Nadiali village to probe the matter.

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City to have more community parkings
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Giving a breather to the city, the Chandigarh municipal corporation that had earlier decided to initiate a community parking here, is now ready with more sites for the same.

Earlier, the House, in a recently held meeting had finally cleared the proposal to start the community parking in the city and had even cleared the estimated budget.

While the work is in progress at the site in Burail, it has identified more sites now for the community parking. Five sites have been identified in Sector 45 and two in Sector 19 for this purpose.

A layout plan has already been made and has been sent to the chief architect for approval.

Mayor Kamlesh along with the officers concerned visited Sector 19 to identify the parking space in Sector 19. In fact, she had asked the councillors recently to prepare a list of works, which are ongoing or proposed for their respective wards, and some of them have forwarded proposals to have community parkings in their wards.

It must be mentioned here that another community parking is coming up in one of the southern sectors and the same has been approved by the chief architect last week only.

With the number of vehicles adding up each day in the city, community parking was the only solution to the rising problem of parking in various sectors in the tricity, one of the councillors said.

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Graft Case
CBI drops proceedings against cop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
CBI Special Court of Jagdeep Jain yesterday dropped proceedings against Sub-inspector Diwan Singh, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of bribe.

Sub-inspector Diwan Singh and constable Jasbir Singh were dismissed after they were arrested by the CBI on charges of indulging in corruption.

Thereafter, he had challenged his dismissal in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that had directed to reinstate him in September last year.

He stated that he was posted as in charge of Sector-61 police post, when the CBI arrested him. He stated that on April 22, he was asked for accompanying the electricity-department team for conducting raids in Kajheri village.

A case of electricity-theft was registered against Prem Singh on the complaint of the electricity department.

However, Prem approached the CBI with a complaint that Diwan had been demanding bribe of Rs 20,000 for not arresting him. On the basis of complaint, CBI arrested Diwan and Jasbir under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act on April 25.

Diwan and Jasbir were dismissed from service on April 30.

Diwan and Jasbir argued that the disciplinary authority had applied the provisions of the article 311 by concluding that it was not practicable to hold the inquiry.

It was strange that instead of taking an action against Prem, authorities had used a shortcut method of dismissing them from the service. No such provision was applied in other 25 cases against the other policeman, many of which are very serious in nature.

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Reserve seats for poor, admn tells pvt schools
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 18
The district administration has asked the managements of private schools being run in the district at the land allotted by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to ensure that 10 per cent seats in the schools were reserved for the students from the poor section of society. Another 10 per cent seats should be filled at need-cum-merit base.

Deputy commissioner Rajender Kataria said the schools had been allotted the land at concession and they had the social responsibility to contribute in the progress of the downtrodden. Moreover, they were supposed to include the officials from HUDA as the members of the management. However, it was noticed that majority of private schools in the town were ignoring the terms and conditions and have turned into business houses owing to the hefty school fee and other charges from the parents of students.

The principals of schools in a meeting recently contended that it should be ensured first that who was going to bear the expenses of books and uniforms of the students from poor families to be admitted in their schools, indicating that they were not willing to share this burden, said the deputy commissioner.

However, the principals have sought two-week time to formulate the plan to implement these conditions, he said.

A survey by TNS revealed that it was not only the poor living below poverty line who were deprived of imparting quality education to their wards, even middle class families were finding it difficult to pay the fee being charged by private schools.

The schools in Panchkula are charging anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 for one year as school fee.

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Security Withdrawal
Zila parishad chairman to move High Court
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 18
Zila parishad chairman Umesh Sood, alleged that district administration has withdrawal his security despite threat to his life. Now he would challenge the administration’s move in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said Sood in a press conference here today.

Sood alleged that this decision was politically motivated, as he had joined the INLD recently and said the administration was after his blood after he had a tiff with some officials during a meeting a few months ago following which he changed his party.

Now the local Congress leaders with the connivance administration were lodging police complaints, he alleged.

Sood joined the INLD on October 8 when other members of the Zila parishad were preparing to bring a no-confidence motion against him.

“While he has raised the issue of threat to his life time and again, the administration instead of increasing his security cover has withdrawal the lone security guard provided to him”, said Sood.

Panchkula SP Sandeep Khirwar said, there was noting new in removing a security cover, as agencies concerned assessed the threat perception from time to time.

The security of the Zila parishad chairman was withdrawal only after a report of the CID that he had no threat to his life, he said.

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City records 4.4 mm rain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A spell of rain in the tricity today forced the residents to remain indoors during the morning and the afternoon. The rain also brought down the temperature. Cool breeze prevailed in the city throughout the day.

The city today recorded a maximum of 20.8° C and minimum of 12° C temperature. Surinder Pal, director, metrological department, Chandigarh, said there was light to moderate rain in the city and in the region. The city recorded a rainfall of 4.4 mm today. He added that the spell of rain was good for crops as the winter this year had been warmer, which was affecting the wheat crops in Punjab and Haryana adversely.

According to the met department officials, the rain would bring down the temperature in the city in the coming days. The temperature had been 3° C to 4° C above normal at this time of the year.

Forecasting the weather for the next 24 hours, the met officials said the city would have a partly cloudy sky with the possibility of spell of rain or thunderstorms. The city would also witness fog or mist during the early morning and in the evening hours.

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Medical team visits Dhakoli
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 18
The medical team of the district health department yesterday visited Dhakoli village from where two cases of fever were reported, said Dr Ram Kumar, SMO, Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi.

SMO Ram Kumar said the medical team also inspected the village and distributed the chlorine tablets among the villagers. They took two water samples from the village and rest of the samples would be taken on Monday. He requested the residents to drink boiled water and cover the eatables.

Meanwhile, the residents of Dhakoli village had complained that they were not getting clean water. They alleged the MC officials did not take the matter seriously.

When contacted, Zirakpur MC president Narinder Kumar Sharma said there was no mixture of sewerage water in the direct water supply.

He claimed the new motor pump had been installed and the dust might have mixed with water.

He directed to the department concerned to take remedial measures to solve the problems of the villages.

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Battery players exhibit products
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A three-day International Battery Industry Trade Fair started yesterday here at the exhibition ground in Sector 34. More than 200 battery manufacturers from India and 12 other countries, including the USA, Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, are taking part in this mega event.

Yashpal Kanotra, president, Federation of Indian Small Scale Battery Associations (FISSBA) said, “The trade fair is aimed at providing technical knowledge to the small-scale battery manufacturers of North India. They will also get a platform to voice their concerns and interact with other industrialists during the exhibition.”

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Rain, road repair lead to slush
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The recent rain in the city has yet again played havoc on city roads. Though the rain did not last long, it brought back slush on most of the city roads, posing a threat to the commuters.

The road leading to Mohali, near Sector 52, was full of mud, thanks to the repair work being carried out on that road.

Consequently, the commuters either had to take alternative routes or drive extremely slow to avoid slipping. The residents of the area had several times asked the authorities concerned to complete the needful repair, but in vain.

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Riot victims stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 18
The Riot victims yesterday staged a dharna in Phase 8 here during the vikas yatra rally of the Punjab Chief Minister in protest against the failure of the Chief Minister to give financial help to the victims of the 1984 riots.

Irritated over dilly-dallying tactics of the Akali Government, the protestors brought along a bed-ridden victim, Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Balongi, and placed his bed on the road.

They claimed that no promises made to the riot victim had been fulfilled.

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BSP leaders join Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Several BSP leaders, including vice-president Mehandi Hassan, general secretary of the minority cell Shamshad Ahmed, and secretary of the minority cell Naseer Ali, today joined the Congress in the presence of Pawan Bansal, Minister of state for finance and Parliamentary affairs, and BB Bahl, president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC).

While welcoming the new members in the party, Bansal claimed that the Congress had always worked for the uplift the poor.

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Book on Sikh history released
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 18
Very few books in English, as compared to the vernacular languages, are written in the region and the latest being “A Story of the Sikhs - Pursuit of Sovereignty” was released here yesterday.

Authored and published by septuagenarian writer Har Jagmandar Singh, the book offers a comprehensive appraisal of the Sikhs from the pre-historical period hitherto.

The Shiromani Sahitkar awardee and poet, Phool Chand Manav, introduced the author who delved deep on the thematic content of the book and has given a historical account of the emergence of Sikhs.

The chief guest who is the assistant editor of the Tribune, Roopinder Singh, released the book.

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Letters
Smoking Ban: Hard realities, soft target

This is in reference to the report written by Raveen Thukral in Chandigarh Tribune dated January 11, 2009. The administration had put a ban on smoking, few years ago and the Indian government has banned smoking in India on October 2, 2008.

The lawmakers did not think how such ban would be implemented without the enforcing agencies. But, the administration has registered a case against Ajay Devgun who was smoking in the Airport lounge, when he was here for the shooting of ‘London Dreams’.

Surprisingly, nobody bothers about such a ban in Mohali and Panchkula. There is shortage of enforcing staff for every rule in India.

Tavleen Singh has pointed out the entire picture of the government and Raveen Thukral has rightly said such laws hardly achieve any purpose in our country, except making good news. Basically, education and awareness will help to implement the laws.

M L Garg, Chandigarh

II

I do not agree with the fact that ban on smoking at public places will hardly achieve any purpose. One should not forget that smoking at public places put others in inconvenience, especially those who do not smoke. Also, passive smoking is also injurious to health. With the ban on smoking at public places, the smokers hesitate to smoke to an extent at places like bus stops, restaurants, parks etc. and if they do, people present there have a right to stop and complain to the police. We have to be optimistic, as with time people will get accustomed to this ban and the goal of making the Chandigarh, a smoke-free city, will be accomplished.

Rupinderjeet Pandwala, Dera Bassi

III

The government of India has banned smoking on October 2, 2008 while the UT administration has banned smoking a few years back. The star actors Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan and Salman Khan were caught smoking while they were here for the shooting of ‘London Dreams’ and a case was also registered against Ajay Devgan for smoking in the public place.

Many people daily smoke in offices and open places. Where are the law enforcers? The government never thought that half of the Indian children are malnourished, uneducated and working in hotels.

Sahil Garg, Chandigarh

IV

We need to understand that smoking is very injurious for health. Around 24 lakh people battling cancer in India are due to the intake of tobacco, as per a WHO estimate. Tobacco is known to kill 104 Indians every hour. Four million children below the age of 15 use tobacco regularly. Everybody knows smoking kills but that does not stop thousands from lighting up a cigarette. When the city was declared a smoke- free city, an aggressive campaign was carried out successfully and the public was informed about the penalty for smoking at public places. But now, the ban has gone up in smoke, thanks to the ineffective enforcement by the authorities concerned.

India, the second largest tobacco producer in the world, consumes 80 per cent of the total tobacco used. Thus, there is a greater need to ban production and its distribution though it will cost too much as we get Rs. 10,000 crore from cigarettes as central excise duty.

Till the complete ban on production and its distribution is imposed, certain measures to check this menace are needed.

Most of the tourist spots and the entry points to city have not displayed boards about the ban properly. The administration should install at least two warning boards as prescribed in Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 outside every public place. Irrespective of the size, packs of the tobacco products should carry graphic images of diseased lungs or warnings with the message.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

V

In a country where people do not have resources to live a hygienic life, bans on smoking and polythene are simply a luxury that we can rarely afford. But, India is a country of many laws and contradictions which never get addressed. In the city beautiful, smoking was banned much earlier and it has some effect as banners and hoardings are very commonly found all over the city.

Of course, the desired results are yet to be achieved but still smokers have to find a right place to smoke as smoking at a public place will land him in trouble.

When initially the ban was imposed, power to impose a fine was delegated to many residents, including heads of educational institutions. But, they have rarely exercised their duties. Even the owners of institutions were made responsible to stop smoking in their areas but of no use again. Till the people on their own realise the harms of smoking and chewing the tobacco, such bans will remain on books and hoardings only.

R K Garg, Chandigarh

VI

The ban on smoking at public place needs to be implemented seriously, as it will discourage the youngster in better sense. Use of Paan, Jarda etc are very harmful for health and spitters spoil public property and hence, must be banned at the pubic places. These things need to be educated in schools and colleges and also within the families.

OP Garg, Patiala

VII

I am based in Australia and agree with the fact that more needs to be done to implement smoking ban , I think its another case of bureaucracy gone mad, I want to mention here that few years ago, the Australian government introduced same laws but there are some public places which display the signboards where you can and cannot smoke. I am a smoker and if I am allowed to buy a pack, either I should be told where to smoke or if the government wants to dictate terms then why don’t they stop sales of such products. Even if it generates India a lot of revenue but then what’s the need to making such a law.

Millions of people are overweight , they are still allowed to eat junk food, have we ever seen people/ government telling them not to eat it for it may kill them. Passive smoking is not good but I feel that we can have separate smoke zones (like we usually see on international airports), as it would be more practical.

Tushar Joshi, Melbourne

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at [email protected] or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030

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EDUCATION
 

Moot Court Competition
B’lore law school claims honours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The national rounds of the prestigious Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition organised by University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) and Surana and Surana concluded today. The competition was a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

Out of the 26 participating teams, National Law University, Jodhpur, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Symbiosis Society Law College, Pune, and National Law Institute University, Bhopal, qualified for the semifinals. Justice J S Khehar and Justice KS Garewal, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, along with Dr Balram Gupta, senior advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Dr Manoj K Sinha, director, ISIL, Dr Gurjit Singh, vice-chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi National Law University, Patiala, and Dr C Jairaj from ISIL judged the semifinals.

National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and National Law Institute University, Bhopal, qualified for the final rounds. This was judged by a seven-Judge Bench constituting three sitting Judges of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Justice Markandey Katju, Justice G S Singhvi along with Justice T S Thakur, Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice J L Gupta, Former Chief Justice, Kerala High Court, Dr Manoj K Sinha, director, Indian Society of International Law (ISIL), and Dr C. Jairaj from ISIL.

National Law School of India University, Bangalore emerged victorious and will represent India in the world finals to be held at Washington D.C. in March, 2009. The runner-up team was National Law Institute University, Bhopal. Best memorial was bagged by West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. The second best memorial was given to NLIU, Bhopal, third best memorial was given to NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, and fourth best memorial went to University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS), Panjab University. Niranjan from NLSIU, Bangalore, was declared the best student advocate and the best speaker for the final round was Asmita Singh from NLIU, Bhopal.

The valedictory session and the prize distribution function of the three-day Moot Court Competition, was held at the Law Auditorium. Prof R C Sobti, vice-chancellor, PU, and Prof P S Jaswal, director, UILS, welcomed the esteemed guests. Justice Dalveer Bhandari delivered the valedictory address. The guests of honour were Justice Markandey Katju, Justice G S Singhvi, Justice T S Thakur, Justice J L Gupta (retd).

Dr Shruti Bedi, teacher coordinator, UILS, read out the report of the moot competition. A book titled “Public Interest Lawyering, Legal Aid and Para Legal Services” authored by Ajay Gulati, assistant advocate general, Haryana and co-authored by Dr Jasmeet Kaur, lecturer in University Institute of Legal Studies, published by Central Law Publications, Allahabad, was released by the chief guest.

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Assault !
Education dept to probe case
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 18
Taking serious note of the incident of eight students of Class VIII, who were allegedly beaten by a science teacher for not doing homework, the education department has marked an inquiry into the entire incident.

The District Education Officer (DEO), secondary, today called the principal of the school to inquire into the matter.

The education department officials would go to the school to talk to the victims and their parents tomorrow.

Neranjan Singh, DEO, confirmed that a team of officials will be visiting the Government Senior Secondary School to verify the case and strict action will be taken if any teacher found responsible for the beating of students.

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