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Bank heists at P’kula, Naraingarh
Rs 9.57 lakh robbed from SBoP branch
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 12
Belying the police’s claims of making adequate security arrangements, armed robbers struck at the State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) branch in the busy Sector-15 market at 3 pm and took away Rs 9.57 lakh.

This is second such incident here within a fortnight. On January 27, five youths had robbed ornaments worth Rs 2 crore from a jewellery store in adjoining Sector 14.

Recent Robberies

January 18, 2008: Three men rob cashier and driver of Berkeley Automobiles, Industrial Area, of Rs 5.16 lakh near Amartex point

March 7: Four turbaned youths in a white Zen snatch Rs 45,000 from two employees of Vishal Mega Mart

July 27: Car-borne youths rob Rs 7 lakh from two persons near Sector-4 petrol pump

January 3, 2009: Two youths attempt to snatch bag full of cash from businessman in Sector 14. His son is shot

January 4: Watchman found murdered a day after robbery bid in Sector-8 post office

January 22: Two workers of Amritsar-based jeweller drugged and robbed of jewellery worth Rs 30 lakh.

January 27: Five men rob jewellery worth Rs 2 crore from PC Jewellers’ showroom in Sector 14.

The bank had no adequate security arrangements and was devoid of CCTV cameras. Also, the security guard deputed at the bank was not equipped with any firearm.

The two policemen deputed in the market two days ago also proved ineffective as they learned about the incident only when one of the staff members sounded the alarm. However, the robbers had already left the building by that time.

According to security guard Hardyal Singh, a youth entered the bank around 3 pm and trained a pistol at him asking him not to move.

Another youth, armed with a pistol, followed him and collected the cash lying on the counter of the cashier and fled the scene.

The cashier was arranging currency to put it in the ATM installed in the building.

The guard and another employee sounded the siren as soon as the robbers left the bank and followed them to the rear of the market where the two had parked their Pulsar motor cycle. The bike bore no registration number, claimed Hardyal.

There were no clients in the bank as the bank was closed for lunch break till 3 pm. According to branch manager Vandna Singhal, four employees were there in the bank at the time of the incident. She was on her way to the bank after having her lunch at home.

Eyewitnesses said while one of the youths, who were in their mid-20s, was sporting long hair, the other was stoutly built.

Assistant general manager of SBoP VK Gupta said while work on installing CCTV cameras at the branch was in progress, no arms were provided to security guards at those banks where the limit of cash retention was less than Rs 10 lakh. This branch could hold Rs 5 lakh after working hours, he said.

Knee-jerk reaction?

Going into overdrive after the incident, the Panchkula police rounded up three youths riding a Pulsar motor cycle near Amartex Chowk after they failed to pull over. The three were allegedly thrashed on suspicion of being behind the heist. However, they were let off in the evening.

3 gangs active

Police sources said three gangs had been active in Panchkula for the past one year. While one gang was involved in robberies in Industrial Area and Sector 5 last year and used a white Maruti car, another gang robbed the shop of PC Jewellers using police uniform. Today’s incident was the handiwork of neither of these gangs, said the police.

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Rs 15.64 lakh gone from SBI; 5 hurt
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Ambala, February 12
Five employees of the State Bank of India were injured when some robbers struck at the SBI Pathreri Branch on the Shazadpur-Chandigarh National Highway in Naraingarh this evening. The robbers decamped with 15.64 lakh from the bank. Eight employees were present in the branch at the time of the robbery.

The injured have been admitted to Civil Hospital, Shazadpur.

According to information, four youths entered the bank at 4:55 pm. The youths, said to be in their twenties, were dressed in jeans and shirts and had covered their faces with a cloth.

While one youth stood guard outside, three youths entered the bank. They were armed with revolvers. After entering the bank, they first turned off the alarm, snapped the phone lines and broke the CCTV cameras.

They then asked all employees to sit on the floor and took away their mobiles. They then checked the cash register and asked bank managed Raj Kumar to open the strong room where the cash is kept. He refused and stated that the head cashier was on leave and they did not have the keys. They then beaten up the employees sitting on the floor and made one of them call the head cashier Prem and asked him to come to the bank on some pretext.

When Prem came to the bank, he was forced to open the strong room and hand over the cash.

They took the cash and left the bank at about 6:30 pm and escaped in an Indica car which belonged to a field officer of the SBI. The car was found abandoned a few kilometres away on the highway towards Shazadpur. Once the thieves left, the employees came out of the bank and raised an alarm.

The manager stated that the robbers knew their way around and spoke to each other in English. They also were well-built and well-dressed. “They gave us no time to think. They threatened and abused us and hit us.”

According to the SBI officials, the branch is on the outskirts of Pathreri and is isolated.

According to Arvind Gupta, regional manager, SBI, their security officer was on his way to Pathreri and he could comment only once the situation was assessed. The police, meanwhile, had reached the spot and were assessing the situation. None of the senior officers were, however, available for comment.

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Medicity project back to square one
UT to invite expression of interest again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Chandigarh administration’s ambitious move to set up a well-equipped and ultra-modern Medicity is back to square one.

In poor health for over two years now, it will take some more time for the scheme to take off as the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that fresh expression of interest was required to be invited as the project had been relocated from Raipur Kalan to a place near the Rajiv Gandhi IT Park.

As a public interest litigation challenging the project came up for hearing before the Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta, the counsel for the Administration initially sought some time to seek instructions on re-inviting the expression of interest. He informed the Bench that the Administration would now be inviting fresh the expression of interest.

The Bench also asked the administration to take into consideration the suggestions and objections put forth by the petitioner. Disposing of the petition, the Bench also gave liberty to the petitioner to challenge the fresh invitation for expression of interest, if so desired.

The petitioner, a High Court advocate, Harmeet Singh Grewal, had earlier stated that there was no need to set up the Medicity, as the project, in its present form, was not in the public interest. He had sought directions for quashing an advertisement issued by the Chandigarh Administration inviting expression of interest for setting up and developing the proposed Medicity.

The city already has a well-equipped Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32 and General Hospital in Sector 16, besides a number of other privately run healthcare facilities, said the petitioner.

The proposed Medicity was to have a medical college and hospital, a dental college and hospital, two other hospitals, nursing college and a research centre, the petitioner pointed out, while referring to the UT Administration advertisement.

Quoting Medical Council of India (MCI) norms and guidelines, he added these specified provision of 25 acres for setting up a medical college, five acres for a dental college. On the other hand, much less land was likely to be provided for these units in proposed Medicity.

In an attempt to assert public-private partnership concept was not practical in its present form of Medicity, the petitioner also referred to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) viewpoint based on its experience of countries.

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3 convicted in triple murder case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Pawandeep Singh, who had masterminded the gruesome murder of his parents - Group Captain T.P. Singh and Shibani Singh, a teacher at Bhavan Vidyalaya - and aunt Ajit Kaur, was finally convicted today, three years after the cold-blooded crime that shook the city in 2006.

The court Additional District and Sessions Judge Raj Rahul Garg also convicted two of his associates - Ravi Tyagi and Anil Tyagi - in the case. The quantum of sentence is likely to be announced on February 14.

The suspects had killed the trio in their Sector 34 house on February 7, 2006. While they had shot dead Group Captain T.P. Singh, Shivani was repeatedly stabbed in the chest. Ajit Kaur was battered to death with a blunt weapon.

The murder was detected after the servant and the neighbours informed the police that they had heard cries from the house at night, which was locked from outside. Ajay, the servant, who was in the house when the crime was committed, was initially arrested for being the prime suspect.

The police became suspicious about Pawandeep’s involvement when he didn’t turn up for the funeral of his parents. Subsequently, the police recovered his bloodstained jacket from his Gurgaon apartment. The Group Captain’s car, allegedly used by the killers to get away, was also recovered. The police had subsequently arrested Pawandeep Singh from a remote village in Nagaland on February 13, 2006. During the trial, public prosecutor Manu Kakkar had argued the case on circumstantial evidence.

Pawandeep was brought to city on February 16 and gave a statement to mediapersons that his parents deserved to die. While he had no remorse about their death, he regretted the brutality with which they were killed.

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Homeland security begins with neighbourhood security: Expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
A lecture on “Police Discipline and Accountability: Problems and Solutions” was organised today by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) in association with the Punjab IPS Association at IDC, Sector 38.

Prof. David Bayley from the School of Criminal Justice University at Albany State University, New York, USA, was the main speaker. NPS Aulakh, DGP, Punjab, among other senior officers was present on the occasion.

Bayley identified as many as five external and 13 internal mechanisms, which if implemented, would bring about the major changes in the police. Giving an example, Bayley said, “In the US at least 80 per cent complaints were against only 15 per cent of police officers. Giving another example of New York City, he said the police had to pay $ 150 million as compensation for abuse by the police.”

In the post 7/7 scenario in the UK, Bayley said, “Homeland security begins with neighbourhood security” where the police personnel had to be well-trained and equipped to interact with people or communities they are policing.

Dr. Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC, while stressing upon the need to work together for equitable social and economic transformation said, “There is a need to harmonise the norms of professional conduct of the police with legal statutes and social codes. The increasing intra-state conflicts and human rights violations entail the need for a greater transparency in internal accountability.”

Though various states have started taking measures in the desired direction a lot still needs to be done, he further added.

J.P. Birdi, IPS, president, Punjab IPS Association, while congratulating IDC for organising the lecture said such efforts go a long way in building a bridge between different ethnic groups, communities, classes, regions and professions. The dialogue which has been initiated must be taken forward.”

He also informed the gathering that Punjab was the only state in India that had legislated its Police Act and formulated a strategic plan for the next five years.

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Analysis
Setback to hospital unions
HC raps employees’ bodies for ‘ruining’ PGI
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to dismiss the petition challenging the extension granted to PGI Director Dr K.K. Talwar and its observations that politics of class III and IV employees had “ruined’ the institution has come as a severe setback to the hospital unions.

The observations are also being viewed as a severe castigation of the unionisation within PGI. While hearing a petition filed by a retired employee, Satpal Bhardwaj, Justice Surya Kant had recently observed: “These class III and IV employees have created a havoc in the PGI. These people have no respect for a good and renowned doctor, nor do they respect those who serve the society.” He had also stated that he would have imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on the petitioner if he was not a retired employee.

The scathing remarks are a setback to the unions in the PGI who have been lobbying against Dr Talwar for quite some time. Bhardwaj is the former president of the PGI Employees’ Union who is actively supporting the ongoing agitation of the hospital’s technologists. He is said to be in league with Ashwani Munjal, the president of the Medical Technologist Association.

According to sources, the petition challenging Talwar’s extension was a brainchild of Munjal since he is facing an inquiry for making false allegation made against the working of the institute in year 2006. The unions had reportedly tried to corner Dr Talwar by circulating letters to the union health ministry that 18 vigilance cases were pending against him. Incidentally, most of these cases turned out to be baseless.

The factionalism within the PGI unions over Dr Talwar is evident from the fact that a section of technologist are openly accusing Munjal for pursuing baseless issues for his personal interest. “He is misleading the technicians and has called for mass casual leave to pressurize the authorities for withdrawing the chargesheet against him,” said R.K. Khainchi, a PGI medical technologist.

Interestingly, in his observations, Justice Surya Kant has also stated: “I know who is behind this petition. He thinks he is the dada of the union. He has a nasty mind.”

When contacted, Munjal refused to comment on this issue on a plea that he would first like to see the court order. 

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INLD rally spells chaos on roads
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, February 12
The “Janakrosh Padyatra” of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) at circus ground, Sector 17, this afternoon left traffic bottlenecks and jams on all major roads of the city, causing harassment to commuters.
Traffic moves at snail’s pace at the Sector 29-30-31-32 rotary in Chandigarh on Thursday evening.
Traffic moves at snail’s pace at the Sector 29-30-31-32 rotary in Chandigarh on Thursday evening. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

The situation worsened in the evening when the rally concluded as commuters were left stranded for hours at several places, including Madhya Marg and roads around Sectors 16, 17, 31, 32, 34 and 35.

The traffic moved at snail’s pace and commuters were seen taking alternative routes near Sectors 17, 20, 21 but in vain, as inner roads were also blocked.

The situation was worst at the rotary of the ISBT, Sector 17, as buses blocked the road and commuters had to wait in long queues.

Earlier in the day, INLD activists reached the city in hundreds of vehicles. Interestingly, some vehicles did not even bear registration numbers and the police remained a mute spectator.

A senior police official said it was a common scene during rallies, but smooth flow of traffic was restored after some time. He said it was not possible to issue challans when roads were swollen with vehicles.

While a posse of police force was deputed in and around the venue, people were seen flouting norms by smoking cigarettes and hookahs at public place.

Some activists even pooled money to buy liquor cases and later distributed bottles among themselves. Liquor cases disappeared in no time and bottles were taken away in carry bags from liquor shops in Sectors 17 and 22.

One such group said: “Liquor is cheaper here than in Haryana. We are carrying liquor bottles but will not consume it here.”

Even roadside vendors, including juice-cum-fruit sellers and tea vendors, did brisk business, as activists preferred thronging these over taking meal.

Some activists were seen wandering at the Sector 17 plaza and Rose Garden late into the evening.

UT ASP (Central) Madhur Verma said a large number of policemen were deployed at various points in city but the rally passed off peacefully.

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Terror
Farcical drill at airport
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
A mock drill conducted at the Chandigarh airport this morning to assess the preparedness of various security agencies, including the Army, in case of a bomb threat, turned out to be a farce. The way the exercise went about, one could only but heave a sigh of relief that it was indeed a mock drill.

The body language of security personnel and their casual approach towards the situation was enough to reveal their (un)preparedness in handling such situations, especially in the wake of 26/11.

(Clockwise) The bomb disposal squad of the Army at the terminal building of Chandigarh Airport on Thursday; a policeman rescues an “injured” person; and a policeman takes position behind a post while another searches the area with a sniffer dog.
(Clockwise) The bomb disposal squad of the Army at the terminal building of Chandigarh Airport on Thursday; a policeman rescues an “injured” person; and a policeman takes position behind a post while another searches the area with a sniffer dog. Tribune photos: Kamal Kishore

The dummy bomb was detected around 8.55 am and in spite of sounding of alert almost soon after, experts from the Army’s bomb disposal squad from Chandi Mandir arrived way past 10 am.

By the time they arrived, the local police and the airport authorities, who had earlier evacuated the arrival hall, had allowed people back in.

While bomb disposal experts dressed up in their protective suits defused the “bomb”, it was life as usual in the vicinity, with labourers resuming work and passengers going about their business. The “suspicious” object was, however, covered with sandbags.

After the purported detection of a suspected object in the arrival hall of the terminal building around 9 am, a team of Army personnel reached the scene around 10 am.

With no arrangement to transport them to the scene, they had to walk all the way from the parking lot to the terminal building carrying their paraphernalia.

The Army personnel strolled down the corridors leading to the terminal showing little sense of urgency.

Amid the goings-on, the airline staff that apparently had prior information of the drill enjoyed the proceedings with stewardesses posing to the media for photographs.

An officer told the TNS that drills were a routine affair at the airport and they were supposed to conduct these twice or thrice a year.

Seriousness among authorities about the drill was evident from the fact that press releases were handed out to the media even as the drill was under way.

Skirting mention of lapses or areas of improvement, the release said the drill was called off within an hour, even as it lasted beyond 11 am.

It was observed that there were no stretchers or wheelchairs available at the airport to carry the injured or ailing persons.

Airport controller Suneel Dutt maintained that no lapses were seen during the drill.

On delay in the arrival of Army team at the scene, he said the team was caught in traffic jams caused by a political rally.

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Judge’s son traced in Pune
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Saurabh, a 20-year-old-son of a Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, who had reportedly gone missing since Tuesday night, today traced in Pune.

UT SSP SS Srivastva told TNS that the police received information that Saurabh had been traced in Pune. He was safe there. The family would go to Pune to take him back.

Sources in the police said Saurabh was going to some ashram in Pune. The police had alerted all railway stations in the country regarding him and got information about him.

Saurabh reportedly left his residence in Sector 24 on Tuesday night without informing anyone in the family. The family informed the police about the matter, which launched manhunt after recording a daily diary report in this connection. 

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Only 2 SAARC countries take part
South-Asian Youth Festival begins at PU
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Though the 4th South Asian Universities Youth Festival being held at Panjab University, here, is an important event, only two SAARC countries turned up to participate in the festival.
A five-day 4th South-Asian Universities Youth Festival (SAUFEST) was inaugurated at Panjab University by vice-chancellor, Panjab University, R C Sobti, here today. The pageant of colourful items like folk orchestra, group song, Afghani dance, Haryanvi dance, Giddha was presented by the participants. Dayanand Dongaonkar, secretary-general, AIU, was also present at the occasion

As per the schedule of the festival, seven countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India were reportedly participating, but only 14 representatives from Nepal and 21 from Bangladesh took part in the festival.

Interestingly, the students of SAARC countries, which are presently doing academic courses in India, participated in the programme.

One of the students from Nepal said the third youth festival was organised in Nepal, where not only SAARC countries but many other countries also participated. He said it was strange that this year, there was hardly any representation from the SAARC countries.

Referring to the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks, he said the students representatives of the SAARC countries could not easily get clearance from the embassies to participate in this event this year.

Another student from Afghanistan, who is presently studying in one of the city colleges, said it happened every year that due to the long clearance process for the visa, students had to drop the idea of participating in such cultural exchange events.

He further said the SAARC countries should streamline the process of clearance of students visa at the earliest.

He said the festival was a concept of the Association of Indian Universities to promote active collaboration and a mutual understanding among the South Asian countries in educational, social, cultural and economic fields.

It also aimed at bringing the youth of these countries together to share views, experiences, innovations and common ideas. But, it is useless till the students would able to participate in it.

Youth Welfare director S M Kant said the students of various countries, which were doing an academic course in India, were representing their countries in this cultural exchange programme so that their presence could be registered in the event.

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Memo to Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
INLD workers led by Ajay Chautala today submitted a memorandum to Haryana Governor Dr A.R.Kidwai, highlighting the misdeeds of the Congress government in the state. Later addressing the Jan Akrosh Rally at the Circus ground in Sector 17, he said during his padyatra, he had met people from all walks of life and felt their pain due to non redressal of grievances.

Former MP of the BJP from Chandigarh, Satya Pal Jain, expressed confidence that the BJP and its allies would have a clean sweep in the coming Lok Sabha elections, winning all seats of Punjab, Haryana , Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

Others who addressed the rally included Haryana BJP president Atam Parkash Manchanda, senior BJP leader Rattan Lal Kataria, INLD leader Sampat Singh, Haryana INLD MLA Sushil Indora. Also present were BJP leader Capt Abhimanyu, Gian Chand Gupta and leaders from the INLD as well. 

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150 units of blood donated
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 12
Around 150 units of blood were donated for cancer patients at Doaba Group of Colleges today. A team of doctors from General Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh, led by Dr Saroj Aggarwal, head of the blood bank of the hospital, conducted a blood donation camp on the premises.

The camp was inaugurated by Inderpal Bains, wife of Harcharan Singh Bains, media advisor to the Punjab government.

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From Schools & Colleges
Annual function at city school
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Annual function of PML SD Public School, Sector 32, was celebrated with lot of fanfare and gusto on the school premises. Chief guest DR Yadav, joint secretary, regional officer, the CBSE, presided ovr the function.

Students put a spectacular programme depicting dances of different states, demonstration on boxing, a ballet on environment with a message to save earth. The highlight of the day was “Taare zamin par”, a touching item put by the students belonging to the economically weaker sections with a clear message to prevent child labour.

Blood donation

A blood donation camp was organised in GC-46 in collaboration with PGIMER, Sector 14, today. Around 127 students as well as staff members donated blood for the social cause. Dr KS Saluja, principal of the college, also motivated the students to donate blood for serving humanity.

Lecture

The department of English organised a lecture on “Documentary film making”. A newsletter was launched and a lecture was also organsied by the sociology department of GC-46.

Science fest

Science faculty of MCM DAV College for Women hosted a spectacular science and technology fest today. Innovative effort of the college was designed to mark the birth anniversary of famous anthropologist Charles Darwin. The event showcased a panoramic view of careers in science streams to the students. In the college’s attempt to broaden the horizon and scope of the event, the students from schools as well as colleges were invited to benefit from the event. 

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‘UGC pay scale for PU teachers within week’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Punjab government assured the agitating teachers of universities, government colleges and non-government colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh to implement the UGC pay scales with in a week.

An assurance to this affect was given to the teacher’s delegation, which meets the Punjab chief secretary, Ramesh Chander Singh, here today. Under this, the government of India will bear 80 per cent of the financial burden arising out of the pay revision of university and college teachers and 20 per cent by the Punjab government. 

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Workshop on software engineering
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
A workshop on software engineering was organised at IET, Bhaddal campus. Dr Hardeep Singh, professor and head of the department of computer science and engineering, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, delivered an expert lecture on the said topic to faculty and students of B Tech, CSE, IT and MCA.

Dr Singh focused on major issues like software measurement and metrics, software quality and the recent trends in software engineering. "Software engineering is a continuous, systematic and disciplined approach to developing software for the welfare and betterment of societies," said Dr Singh.

Stressing upon the need of quality of product, he elaborated various steps to be followed to get a better quality software product.

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