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Sec 22 Fire Incident
Emotions take backseat as admn gets officious
Kin reluctant on postmortem, but agree later
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Compensation announced, probe ordered

The Administration today decided to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to each to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 15,000 each to the seriously injured persons. The compensation has been released by the District Magistrate out of the District Relief Fund. RK Rao, District Magistrate, Chandigarh, has also ordered a magisterial inquiry. It will be conducted by PS Shergill, ADC-SDM(Central), UT. The report will be submitted within 10 days.

Chandigarh, April 10
Emotions ultimately had to take a backseat to officiousness today. After failing to get the possession of his 22-year-old son, Manoj Kumar’s body without getting the postmortem done due to official formalities, Mahipal reluctantly gave his consent to do so “as per the law”.

Hounsla Prasad, father of Mahesh, who too died in the tragedy, was found pleading before the cops at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector-16, to hand over his son’s body, but again “official formalities” demanded “due time”.

“I am being made to run between Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, and Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector-16, to complete the paper work for getting his son’s body. On reaching there, I was told that the body would be handed over to me only after conducting the postmortem at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32 only,” rued Haunsla Prasad.

Manoj, Mahesh, Shiv Kumar and Sandeep Kumar Sunny, the four youths in their mid-twenties, had died due to the asphyxiation in yesterday’s devastating fire in shop No. 1026-27 at Sector 22 market.

It was a chaotic scene at the mortuary of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, when Mahipal and his family members and relatives urged the cops to handover Manoj’s body without getting the postmortem done. On the other hand, the cops were adamant that the families took the requisite permission from their seniors to this effect.

“Right from 8 am we have been running from one office to another for getting the obligatory sanction of senior authorities for releasing the body. The SDM (Central) spoke to a cop on phone and assured us that it would be done as per our wish but reaching here they were again found to be wanting”, told Manoj’s inconsolable mother.

In the end, Mahipal had to give up and convinced the inconsolable family members that they will have to carry out the required formalities of the process.

While Manoj, Mahesh and Shiv used to work with Indian Movies, a shop in Sector 22 dealing in photography for the past three to four months, Sandeep was learning lamination art at New Sood Lamination located in the same wing for the past three years. All were getting a monthly salary between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000.

Unfortunately, the guardians of the four youths were unaware about the exact shop where their kin used to work and none of them had contact numbers of the owners.

Haunsla Prasad, an employee with the maintenance department, UT Secretariat, was ignorant of the location of the photography shop where his son Mahesh used to learn photography skills.

“I tried to contact Mahesh on his cell phone on numerous occasions yesterday but no one picked up the phone. Then I along with one of my relative went to Sector 22 market but could hardly inquire about him because I did not know the name of the shop. Then we went to Sector 16 General Hospital to know about my son’s fate,” narrated Haunsla Prasad.

Shiv’s father came to know about the unfortunate incident in the morning only, when one of his relative, Harinder, a Home Guard deputed in the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, informed him.

Sandeep’s father, Om Prakash, could not control his tears after getting the possession of his son’s body. “I kept on dialing his mobile number yesterday but no one responded from the other side”, he added.

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Goods worth Rs 5-cr gutted
60 wedding videos believed to be lost

Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Not only the shopkeepers, but scores of petty professionals lost their livelihood in yesterday’s fire that broke out in Sector 22-B market.

Astounded by the loss worth crores, the shopkeepers watched the smoke bellowing out of the smoldering shops till early morning. Narinder Singh, owner of the Sheetal Video Mixing, said even though it appeared that everything was lost in the fire, he did not leave the place hoping against the hope.

“I went home at 5 am and came back again at 7 am, when heard that the fire again broke out there. The fire brigade was also called up but it was later confirmed that there was no fire”.

Owner of Deshmesh Digital Lab Daljit Singh Saini said he had lost whatever he earned during the years. He had been running the lab for the past six years and had invested everything he had to flourish his business. He lost his developing machines worth over Rs 60 lakh, besides the photo papers stocked in the shop worth Rs 50 lakh that were reduced to ashes. “Not only me, the tragedy had affected around 200 families, which were earning their livelihood from these nine shops. Goods worth at least Rs 5 crore had gutted in the fire in just two hours”, he lamented.

Owner of Shimla Traders Shaminder Singh said he lost watches and mobile phones worth Rs 15 lakh in the fire. He, however, took a sigh of relief saying he had a narrow escape, as he along with his father, two brothers and a worker jumped from their first floor shop. Similarly, Rajiv Gulati of 21st Century Greetings and Gifts, who was away to Shimla at the time of the incident, pinned his loss to around Rs 20 lakh. Narinder Singh of Sheetal Video Mixing said around 60 videos of marriages and other functions might have lost due to the tragedy.

Similar were the losses in other shops, where customers had come to inquire about their photographs and movies and returned without asking anything on seeing the devastated shops.

A Nahan-based photographer, who had given two cameras for repairs, had come to the city to inquire about his cameras. He said there was no point asking about his cameras after seeing the shops.

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Lack of coordination among rescuers
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
As photography equipment, including sophisticated machines and goods, worth about Rs 5 crore were gutted in the fire that broke in Sector 22-B on Thursday, survivors of the tragedy alleged unnecessary delay, lack of coordination between rescuing teams resulting in loss of four lives.

Narrating the experience of the tragic times, the survivors said the four victims, who lost their lives owing to asphyxia, remained entrapped for over two hours in smoke on the second floor of the SCO 1026-1027.

They alleged that a lot of time was lost when the ill-equipped fire fighters and rescuers did not dare to go inside the shops afraid of conflagration.

One of the survivors, Sandeep of Indian Movie, who had lost his three co-workers, told TNS that the firemen failed to react in time. Despite the fact that they were crying hoarse informing officials that their three men were entrapped in the smoke-filled room, no one reacted.

They added that they hared cries of the companions from inside and rushed for their help. “We asked the firemen that there was no fire inside, but our pleas had no affect on them and they only entered into the compartment after a lapse of two hours,” said Sandeep breaking into tears at the unfortunate death of his co-workers, Mahesh, Shiva and Manoj.

The survivors said the fire was only at the first floor while the second floor was filled with smoke, which claimed fours lives. Besides Indian Movies, New Sood Lamination lost their worker Sunny due to toxic smokes. Had the firefighters were equipped properly to suck out the smoke, the four precious lives of young bread winners could have been saved, said the lamenting shopkeepers.

They also alleged that the first fire tender ran out of water soon while the next one following it came after a lapse of 20 minutes.

Pritam Singh, a watchman of the chief conservator of forests, Punjab, in the adjacent building where the fire broke out said the panic-stricken shopkeepers not only jumped to ground, but also broke windowpanes of their office to escape the wrath of fire.

Around 16 persons, including three of a family, jumped while around a dozen people smashed windowpanes and broke open the door of the forest officer’s cabin and got themselves injured in the process.

Blood spots were seen on the windowsill of the office, where shattered pieces of glass were strewn.

The survivors said the fire brigade got delayed as their passage was blocked with haphazardly parked vehicles in the parking lots. The police did not use the public address system to warn motorists to take away the vehicles from there to provide clear passage to the fire tenders.

The police even failed to keep away the heavy rush of onlookers around the area, which also created hassles, alleged a fireman.

A fire official when asked about the delay blamed the police, which did not clear the passage for the fire tenders. He said they had three traffic lights on their way from the fire station in Sector 17 to Sector 22-B and at each light point one of their team members had to disembark from the vehicle to make way.

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Shops had encroached upon verandahs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Disaster in waiting! Façades blocked with billboards and glazing has turned the Sector 22-B market into a tinderbox, where a fire claimed four lives on last night.

A visit to the market, which was dotted with grave violations, was enough to suggest the reason behind the huge loss caused by the fire. The facades of the entire market was not only the eyesores to beholders, but are also posing a grave threat to the shops. Apart from a few government buildings housed in the market, all private shops have encroached the open space left in the verandahs.

The shopkeepers had encroached upon the verandahs on the first and second floors of the market by fixing glazing and grills. To further worsening the safety of the buildings, they had installed huge billboards on the face of the building, blocking the air. Whatever little space was left on the windowsills, the shopkeepers had fixed the other parts of the split air conditioners there. Verandahs of some of the shops were covered with tin sheets.

Heavy iron grills were installed in the façades of the devastated shops, which the firefighters could not remove despite efforts. “Such violations had caused delay in the rescue operation. The shops were congested and there was less empty space left for movement there,” said a fire official.

The fire officer added that the photo labs containing highly inflammable material, including chemicals, film roles and photo papers in huge quantities, false ceiling, plywood and other decorative materials were highly inflammables. On the contrary, they do not meet the least fire-safety measures. There was a way from the roof to enter these shops. They dropped fire fighters with hydraulic lift, but to no use.

Assistant estate officer Ashwani Kumar told The Tribune that they had served notices to the shopkeepers several times and it seemed that the notices failed to yield the desired results. He said they would keep a strict vigil on such violations from now onwards.

About the billboards, he maintained that the matters came under the corporation, but they would try to take it from them and initiate action against the violators endangering lives of their own and as well as others. He added that the buildings of the violators could be resumed if they failed to comply with the rules.

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Firemen braved flames to rescue those stuck
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Display of courage by fire brigade personnel led to save many lives in the fire incident of Sector 22 here yesterday night.

Though a majority of the personnel involved in the operation suffered minor injuries, all of them had satisfaction on their faces.

The firemen present on the spot worked in coordination aiming at minimising the loss of life forgetting about their own safety, said Sandeep, who was admitted to the PGI after he fell unconscious but not before evacuating at least six persons trapped at the third floor.

Sandeep was discharged from the hospital after his condition improved today morning.

The main problem, which the firemen faced while fighting fire, was that cabins were built inside the building in such a way that even in normal circumstances one could not find the way without light. And the building was full of smoke making the visibility poor, said Sandeep.

“We were trying to extinguish the fire at the first floor when we were told that many persons were trapped at the top floor,” said Sandeep.

“Though we were able to evacuate all six persons, I started losing consciousness and fell down while going downstairs resulting in injuries on the back,” he added.

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Disproportionate Assets
Ex-Chief Engineer Jerath convicted
Tribune News Service

Timeline:

  • November 20, 1997: Income Tax raid at Jerath’s house
  • January 15, 1998: CBI raid at Jerath’s house
  • September 6, 2004: Court frames charges

Chandigarh, April 10
CBI’s Special Court of Jagdeep Jain has convicted former Chief Engineer, KK Jerath, for possessing wealth disproportionate to his known source of income after 10 years trial.

The investigating officer had given some benefits to the accused on which the court observed, “The investigating officer is not to conduct the inquiry but to collect the evidence. It is the court which has to adjudicate and consider the facts pertaining to the case.”

The case was registered against the former Chief Engineer in January 1998 following a raid conducted by the Income Tax (IT) Department on November 20, 1997. The Income Tax Department had recovered Rs 6.29 lakh from the Jerath’s residence and Rs 5 lakh from his locker.

Besides the recovered money, the IT Department also found property in the name of the accused’s wife and sons. He had documents showing that his wife used to take music classes from which his earning had increased.

The investigating officer had given some benefits to the accused wherein he had mentioned that Jerath had received Rs 2.45 lakh from his father-in- law. The court had convicted him under Section 13 (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The quantum on the sentence will be pronounced tomorrow.

Meanwhile, among various cases registered against KK Jerath, the engineering department kickback case is pending in the court of Additional and Sessions Judge Raj Rahul Garg

The charges were levelled against him and five others in this case on October 10, 2007.

The accused was booked under Sections 13 (1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case was registered in October 1998 against Jerath, AS Dhingra and SS Bhatti, who were executive engineers, SC Katyal, superintendent engineer, late Nand Ram, superintendent, and Kans Raj, dealing assistant. As per the charges framed the accused have been alleged of breach of trust by the public servant, forgery of valuable security and for the purpose of cheating, using a genuine document which the accused know or has reason to believe are fraud and punishment of criminal conspiracy.

According to an FIR, the accused were booked under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC but these sections have been dropped.

The charges that have been dropped refer to the criminal breach of trust by the carrier and cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.

Jerath, repatriated executive engineer AS Dhingra and civil contractor Tarsem Lal Singla besides others were arrested due to serious irregularities committed in the allotment of various works of the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital.

The enquiry committee’s report established “undue favours” to an electrical contractor who was enlisted by the then chief engineer as civil contractor and allotted civil works of the medical college project to the tune of Rs 11 crore and other serious irregularities, resulting in undue benefit to the contractor at the cost of the state exchequer. Also, civil contractor, Tarsem Lal Singla lacked the pre-qualifications that required for him as per the official guidelines.

But the accused still gave him the charge of the project of building of Government Hospital, Sector 32. Jerath has several cases pending against him with number of them being registered by the Vigilance Department.

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Rodrigues, Kidwai not registered voters
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
With Punjab and Haryana Raj Bhawans, Sector 6 happens to be an all-important location in the City Beautiful. This sector is virtually the symbol of the country’s vibrant democracy as governors of the two states reside here, but surprisingly it doesn’t have a single registered voter, if one goes by the official website of the UT Election Commission.

It may be surprising but its true that though the Governors of Punjab, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd) and Haryana, AR Kidwai, have been residing here for the past four years, none of them have been registered as voters from this sector. Even the better half of General Rodrigues, Jean Rodrigues, is not on the list.

Besides being the head of the Punjab government, Rodrigues, is holds the city’s top job of the Administrator.

A cursory glance of the city voters’ list on the official website of the Chandigarh Election commission <http://www.ceochandigarh.nic.in> reveals that there is not even a single voter registered here. The website otherwise has details of all registered voters from colonies, villages, and sectors and even the booths on the address of which the voter I-cards have been issued to the voters.

When contacted Chandigarh Election Commission’s Joint Election Commissioner, Hargunjit Kaur, said she had no clue about this. “I’ll have to check on this,” she stated. Besides, Raj Bhawans, Sector-6, otherwise only has the UT Guest House and the Golf Club.

According a senior city-based expert of constitutional affairs, every citizen has a right to get registered as a voter where he or she is residing for the past six months. So why these two first citizens of the city, who have been here for several years, have not bothered to do so remains anyone’s guess.

“They seem to be joining the league of the city elites who don’t believe in exercising their franchise,” said the expert while pointing out that the voters turn out has always remained low from the northern sectors.

Efforts to contact both governors for their comments proved futile. Hence it could not be ascertained whether they continue to be registered voters in their hometowns or not. But one things seem certain that these bigwigs will not be able to caste their votes as with election round the corner it might not be possible for them to leave headquarters.

General Rodrigues, during his Army stint, had strongly opposed the system of voting rights through postal ballots for the forces.

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Capt Kanwaljit’s protege Sharma joins SAD
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, April 10
Late Capt Kanwaljit Singh’s family may be further cut to size in the Punjab politics with Zirakpur MC president NK Sharma formally joining the SAD in presence of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal at a rally here today.

NK Sharma, the protégé-turned-foe of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was in clear terms projected by the SAD as the party’s new face who could brighten prospects of winning the Patiala parliamentary seat and that too by using the political legacy of the late SAD leader. Other party leaders, Prem Singh Chandumajra, candidate from the Patiala seat, Ujjagar Singh Wadali, Morinda MLA and Kiran Bir Singh Kang, SAD Youth President, also refrained from even mentioning the name of Jasjit Singh Bunny.

On being asked about the role of Bunny on his “home-coming”, the junior Badal averted a direct reply by saying he would campaign for the party in Patiala, Zirakpur, Kharar and Mohali. However, Jasjit Singh Bunny and his supporters were conspicuous by their absence.

Bunny said he and his father had old relations with NK Sharma and it was shot in the arm of the party with the latter joining the SAD. Speaking in the same tone, he said Sharma would campaign for the party in the Banur area. Regarding the by-elections for the Banur seat, he kept everyone guessing by saying that decision would be taken by the party’s core committee.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Sukhbir talked of carrying forward the dream of late Capt Kanwaljit by turning Zirakpur in to a world class city. Political analyst believe that by not clearing the air about the prospective candidate from the Banur seat, chances are of him contesting from the seat with the active support of NK Sharma. The MC president could be the best person to finally prepare the ground for Badal family to take over the reins of the legacy.

Thanking Sukhbir for visiting Zirakpur, NK Sharma tried to convert the rally in to show of strength and give a clear massage to those siding with family of late Capt Kanwaljit.

“If given a chance to serve Lalru, Dera Bassi and Banur areas, we would ensure a big victory margin for the SAD,” he said. Two of Zirakpur municipal councilors and some supporters of late Capt Kanwaljit also sided with Sharma.

Interestingly, Sharma was expelled from the SAD for his anti-party activities on the insistence of late Capt Kanwaljit. All the while the minister was at the helm of affairs, Sharma was kept at bay.

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Company told to replace defective vehicle
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Selling a defective car has cost General Motors in Gurgaon dear. Holding the motor company guilty of deficiency in services, the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the company to pay compensation for Rs 50,000 with directions to replace the vehicle as well.

Petitioner, Preet Mohinder Singh Bedi, a resident of Sector-15, stated in the complaint that he had bought the car for Rs 6.57 lakh from the company with a warranty of two years. Immediately after the purchase, the complainant noticed that the car made unusual sound besides oil was leaking from its engine. He then took it to Dynamic Motors in Industrial Area. The company’s service station got the car serviced and assured that defect has been rectified.

However, the defect appeared time and again despite several visits to the service station. The employees at the service station did not open a job card inspite of complainant’s insistence to prepare the same.

Bedi also complained that even after replacement of the drive shaft and repeated inspections, the mechanics and technical team failed to get the defect rectified. The forum directed that the vehicle be replaced and either a new vehicle be given or the money refunded. The forum asked the General Motors and Dynamic Motors to jointly pay Rs 50,000 to the complainant as a compensation for selling the defective vehicle.

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Auto-rickshaw operators hold agitation
Hundreds of commuters left high and dry

Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh\Mohali\Panchkula, April 10
Hundreds of commuters were left high and dry as auto-rickshaw operators, as a mark of protest, did not pick people and organised a protest rally near the Sector 17 parade ground in Chandigarh.

The auto-rickshaw operators from Panchkula, Mohali and Chandigarh jointly participated in the rally before giving a 24-hour deadline to the Chandigarh Administration.

While handing over a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), the joint action committee of auto-rickshaw drivers of Mohali, Panchkula and Chandigarh demanded that the impounded autos be released without any fine, said Sarabjit Singh, vice-chairman of the joint action committee.

The administration, on its part, said that it had been observed that the outstation auto-rickshaws of Haryana and Punjab were plying in the UT without any permits and valid registrations illegally, thus causing a huge revenue loss to the state exchequer.

It has been decided by the Chandigarh Administration not to allow such illegal operation in the Union Territory of Chandigarh with immediate effect. It is also made clear that the ban is not on the registered autorickshaws of Chandigarh, whether plying on petrol/diesel/LPG.

The autorickshaw operators of Haryana and Punjab have been advised not to ply their auto-rickshaws in UT unless they get valid permits from the State Transport Authority, Chandigarh. Any violation will be strictly dealt with and the vehicles will be impounded. It was the second day of UT action, as another 20 autos were impounded. Throughout the day, hundreds of commuters, including schoolchildren, were left high and dry in the absence of any alternative mode of transport. With the public transport system of the CTU in a shambles, the commuters found it hard to reach their destinations.

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Parties plan to invite political bigwigs
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Political bigwigs are set to add spice to the otherwise dull election campaign in the city.

Even as the poll campaign picks up, the BJP and the BSP have chalked put an elaborate plan to invite senior leaders in a bid to woo the voters.

The Congress, however, is yet to finalise its star campaigners, saying that they would campaign in the city along with Punjab when the state goes to the polls on May 7 and May 13.

While BSP supremo and UP chief minister Mayawati will try to replicate the success of her social engineering formula in the comparatively prosperous and educated Chandigarh on April 28, her close confidant Satish Chandra Mishra will woo the upper castes at a Brahmin sammelan at the Parshuram Bhavan in Sector 37 on April 12.

"The presence of the two most-recognised faces of the BSP will naturally give a boost to the election campaign of the party which stands for casteless and classless socieity," BSP's candidate from Chandigarh Harmohan Dhawan said.

Not to be left behind, the BJP has roped in party general secretary Arun Jaitley for its workers' convention on April 12 where the senior leaders would mesmerise the audience with his characteristic oratory.

Another "star campaigner" for the party would be Prem Kumar Dhumal, Himachal chief minister, who would try to woo the large number of Himachalis in the city though much cannot be written about his oratory.

Senior leaders of all political parties were busy with the election campaigning for the first three phases on April 16,23 and 30 in the rest of the country.Since elections in Chandigarh and Punjab are being held in the last two phases on May 7 and 13, most of the senior leaders would be coming to the city in the last week of April or the first week of May.

While the Congress was keen to get AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandi, the BJP will try to rope in its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, party president Rajnath Singh besides film star Dharmendra and "dream girl" Hema Malini.

A poll manager said the presence of the star campaigners went a long way in pulling crowds to the elections rallies in an "apolitical" city like Chandigarh.In fact, the senior leaders were essential to break the monopoly of the election campaigning in the city.

It may be recalled that for the past about two decade the city has witnessed the battle royale among the same three contenders - Pawan Bansal, Satya Pal Jain and Harmhan Dhawan.

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Politicians must address real issues

Rather than focussing on real issues, politicians are busy commenting on each other. The issues like global meltdown, state education, unemployment and accountability have never been dealt. Privatisation had been benefitting the society but making the education industry dependent on private players has led to a sorry state.

Professional courses have turned the poor people out of race. It is high time that politicians should understand the genuine problems of the public.

Professor, Manjit Singh

Dire need to follow traffic rules

Traffic problem is the most crucial issue in the city nowadays. Most of the residents spend a lot of time on roads while commuting. If the traffic rules are not implemented on time, there is no point calling this city a place for the elite. Crores of rupees have been spent on constructing cycle tracks across the city but I rarely find anyone on these tracks. It creates a nuisance for other vehicles and obstructs them.

With the number of accidents increasing everyday, politicians should take an immediate action. Two other important issues concerning the city are ground water and shrinking Sukhna Lake.

Ashwini Kumar Bansal, Advocate

Sports a neglected area

The city should have a clean administration. Promises made by the politicians should be fulfilled. They should listen to the grievances of the public and in a compact city like Chandigarh, the system can be managed efficiently.

There is a scope for the development of sports in Chandigarh, unfortunately that has been never considered earlier. Money should be utilised for the residents and the administration and politicians should not become a puppet in the hands of Haryana and Punjab.

DP Azad, Dronacharya awardee and cricket coach

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FIRST TIME VOTERS
Communal violence must be condemned

Communal violence should be condemned in my opinion. The prevailing government has given a clean chit to those who have hurt the sentiments of people. Principles of equality have to be followed and communal politics has to be erased completely in order to let the real democracy function.

Economic reforms need to be emphasised immediately. Every party today is following a zero ideology formula. What will they do when they come to power? The candidates should be able to put forth the views of its constituency in the Parliament.

Varun Goyal

Grant central status to PU

I wish to vote for the patry that helps in granting a Central status to the Panjab University. The government’s first priority should be the security of the nation. When we go out of our homes, we are not sure if we will return safely or not. The economic growth needs to be emphasised and education should be given a priority. The main issue concerning the nation today is infiltration. Many Bangladeshi nationals enter the country each day, and hence, the internal security is at stake.

Prashant Shrama

No place for candidates having criminal records

The candidates who are involved in any criminal case should not be allowed to contest in the elections. Secondly, he should be familiar with the ground realities and people should be well versed with the person. Everything should be transparent as far as the record of the candidates is concerned.

Kunal Kumar

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Jain criticises proposal to impose house tax
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The BJP candidate from Chandigarh, Satya Pal Jain, yesterday criticised the proposal to impose house tax in Chandigarh on the advice of the Finance Commission in spite of the fact that the Chandigarh Municipal Council has Rs 500 crore in its bank account.

Addressing a press conference here, he regretted the fact that the Chandigarh Housing Board also had a cash balance of Rs 300 crore. And this huge amount was not being spent on the development of the city.

Meanwhile, president of the local unit of the Trinamool Congress, Shambu Banerjee, yesterday denied that the party would support the Congress in the elections. Banerjee said the party could also field its candidate for the elections.

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Professionals launch ‘let’s vote’ campaign
Membership crosses three digits

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 10
With an aim to work as a pressure group to stem the rot in the governance in the country, the initiative taken by a local youth has started taking shape as the “Nav Bharat Jan Jaagran Manch”. This social organisation, with a campaign on “Let’s Vote” in same direction to add on to the mark in activity has already crossed the figure of three digits of its membership.

The organisation floated by Rahul Bhartiya, an engineer- cum-MBA, who launched his website with blogs and six networking sites for creating awareness among the masses about the value of their vote has Secunderabd, Bangalore, Lucknow, Delhi and Jaipur, on its map.

Rahul, while interacting with mediapersons said here yesterday that the organisation believed in clean, green, educated, economically sound, secured, with strong infrastructure, corruption-free India. “And in an effort to set right the rot in governance, we, a group of professionals from all over India working at senior levels have joined one platform,” he added.

For first time in India, we have adopted an eligibility criterion for people willing to join as a member of the organisation. In our opinion, in today’s scenario, people not just from society but also from system for society are required to take the responsibility in the system, he added.

While the “Nav Bharat Jan Jaagran Manch” will work as a platform for the people who have any kind of grievances with the system for which they have been struggling hard from long to get resolved, on same platform, “The New India Republican Party” is constituted in the electoral fray seeking a renewed mandate.

We have been aiming at the 40 per cent of population, which don’t vote during elections, he added.

From collected figures via various sources and survey done in many cities, It has been observed that most of the people who don’t vote are educated people.

And the campaign is to make them understand the power of their valuable “vote”, he added.

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Complainant roughed up by drunk power dept staff
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Troubled by power failure at your place in the late night hours! Think many times before going to seek help from the UT electricity department’s complaint centres. Chances are that you get hurled at choicest of abuses, roughed up and detained there by drunken officials.

In one such incident, a city resident of Sector 45 had a harrowing time at the Sector-43 complaint centre, sub-division no 9, UT electricity department, on Wednesday night. The role of the police was nothing less than adding insult to the injury as the policeman, instead of taking action against the drunk persons, allowed them in clearing the liquor bottles, glasses and eatables from there.

Preferring anonymity, the victim told The Tribune that power supply was disrupted at his residence at round 9 pm. As no one was answering the phone, he informed the XEN, who sent two linemen at his residence. Both the men were heavily drunk and went away saying that they could repair the damage in morning.

Learning that the linemen did nothing, he went to the complaint centre. He found the linemen along with six others drinking in a room adjacent to the complaint centre. When he asked about the men who visited his house, they got annoyed.

“A junior engineer asked his men to lock the room and ordered them to take off my clothes to teach me a lesson. They locked the room and were about to assault me, when one of them opened the door and I came out”, alleged the complainant.

He called the police at 12:18 am and an assistant sub-inspector, accompanied by a constable and a home guard, reached there. Instead of taking immediate action against the errant officials, the policemen allowed them to clear the bottles and glasses from there.

Encouraged by the police’s reaction, one of the drunken men hit the complainant in the chest and began hurling abuses at him again. The policemen caught hold of the man, but did nothing beyond that. The drama went on for about three hours with the policemen giving time to other party to reach a compromise.

It was only after the matter was taken up with the senior officials that he took the accused for medical examination, which confirmed that they were drunk.

The SHO of the Sector 36 police station inspector Anokh Singh said the matter was being investigated. He had submitted the report with the UT SSP for further action. About the role of the policeman, the police said they were examining his role and action would be taken against him if found guilty.

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Police mock drill takes residents by surprise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
What seemed to be a reaction to Home Minister’s recent advice to beef up its act, the UT police took the entire city by surprise today in the due course of its mock drill of a drafted contingency programme.

Panic gripped the tricity with a rumour of terrorist attack on the Police Training and Recruitment Centre in Sector 26. The information that was flashed as part of the mock drill even took the khaki brigade with surprise that flung into action immediately.

Around 11 o’clock, information about 5 terrorists of the Fidayeen group having infiltrated the training centre at the Police Lines was flashed. The UT police, along with that of Mohali and Panchkula, and units from the ITBP and the CRPF and fire brigade rushed to the spot. Reportedly after cross firing, around 200 people were rescued but 40 were taken captives. After a couple of hours, the terrorists were reported to have escaped and taken refuge in Shastri market, Sector 22 and Ram Darbar school. Cops chased them there and overpowered them after a round of cross-firing.

Meanwhile, the police established a continuous communication with the city hospitals. Speculating a contingency, a special team of doctors from GMSH, Sector 16, was immediately deputed to the spot.

At the PGI, while security arrangements were tightened, the team of doctors was put on alert. The medical experts and administrative officials were deputed on the entrance of the emergency so that the treatment to any injured reaching at the hospital does not get delayed. The security staff had asked the relatives of the patients to vacate the waiting hall so that more space could be made available to accommodate the patients.

Rigorous checking of vehicles was done at city’s borders and all this, along with soaring sirens across the city roads, panicked one and all. The roads got deserted by afternoon and residents started getting fanatic calls about their well-being and warned each other of not straying anywhere near sector 22 and 26.

All senior officials of the police were present during the entire drill and according to them, it was only a few of them who knew that it was a drill. The police videographed the entire operation and would review it to identify and rectify the lapses.

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Stinking court complex cries for attention
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
A visit to the courts complex, Sector 17, and one finds it difficult to walk through the stinking corridors with a whiff of urine, broken toilet seats, pathetic state of drinking water and no electricity in toilets, all in all the sorry state of affairs leaves one astounded.

The condition of the campus toilets compels one to believe that the sweepers and toilet attendants turn a blind eye to the condition of toilets. Moreover, the naked wires hanging from the ceiling add to the repentant state of the washrooms.

“If this is the state of courts in Chandigarh, one can imagine the situation in other cities,” adds a senior lawyer.

Naked wires hanging from the ceiling and (right) cans of garbage inside the toilet at the courts complex, Sector 17, Chandigarh
Naked wires hanging from the ceiling and (right) cans of garbage inside the toilet at the courts complex, Sector 17, Chandigarh. Tribune photographs

Reflecting on years when he started his practice, he said: “There is no change in the condition of toilets or the canteen over the years. The state is extremely shabby and the stink in the corridors is unbearable. Even the drinking water is a casualty.”

Sources revealed that there was hardly any up-gradation in the quality of food and facilities in the complex.

Though the number of advocates had increased, the quantity of chambers had not risen proportionally.

“I have been seeing these dirt filled curtain since seven years now. We fight for justice for other people, at least basic amenities should be provided to us,” a public prosecutor on condition of anonymity said.

Another lawyer added, “It is suffocating to work in such inhumane conditions. It is a site worth watching during rains when the water clogs and it is impossible to stand in the foul-smelling corridors.”

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Theft cases on the rise in public parks
MC plans to hire private security

Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 10
The Municipal Council authorities are worried over increasing number of thefts in public parks and are drawing up a plan to hire private security to check thefts.

Theft of streetlights and metal grills from the parks had been going on for the past sometime, but thieves had now also started targeting fountains installed in green belts and the parks which had become a matter of great concern for the civic body.

The council authorities requested the police to nab the thieves but failed to get any response.

Sources said in a letter to the SHO of the Phase I police station, the executive officer (EO) of the council stated that the thefts had taken place in the green belt of the Industrial Area, Phase V, and mango belt falling in the Industrial Area, Phase III.

The thieves had decamped with 27 fountain lights, 27 streetlights, seven fountain brass nozzles, five metal grills and a ring of lights from the green belt in Phase V while 25 streetlights and 25 locks were stolen from the mango belt.

In a letter to the police, the EO requested that a case be registered against the thieves after which strict action be initiated in this regard. He also suggested that the police patrolling should be increased at night near the parks and green belts so that such incidents did not take place.

When the civic body failed to get any response from the SHO, another letter dated March 16 was written to the SSP in which a request for action against the thieves was made once again.

The council authorities are now drawing up a proposal to hire private guards at its own level to tackle the cases of thefts in the parks, which had been provided with costly equipment. The proposal would be presented in the general house for clearance.

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Police issues notice to construction co
Seeks documents regarding safety norms

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 10
A day after the fall of a bus into a gorge at Pinjore, the district police has issued a notice to the construction company for negligence in maintaining the road, here today.

The police has also sought documents pertaining to safety norms on the road from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the construction company was supposed to follow during the construction being carried out in the area by the company.

A BEd student from Pinjore was killed while over 60 were injured in the accident when a Haryana Roadways fell into the deep gorge after the alternate road constructed in the area caved in yesterday.

While a case was already registered, the notice has been issued to the company today asking them to join the investigations, said Superintendent of Police Amitabh Dhillon.

The NHAI has also been asked to provide the documents regarding the safety norms, he said.

The construction company on the other hand, find the fault with driver of the bus, who took the bus to the edge of the road.

The driver of the bus took the bus to the edge of the road in order to overtake a JCB machine and the edge of the alternate road which might have caved in due to incessant rain for the last two days in the region led to the tragedy, said an official from the company.

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4-day expo on AC, refrigeration begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
An exposition on air conditioning and refrigeration, Coolex 2009, was inaugurated by Kamlesh Banarsi Das, Mayor of Chandigarh at Kisan Bhawan, here this evening.

As many as 15 exhibitors are showcasing their niche products during this four-day exhibition. This is the 12th such exhibition in the series and presents a wide range of the latest products in refrigeration and air conditioning with varied cooling solutions to counter the soaring mercury levels.

Amongst the companies that are exhibiting their products, Voltas has introduced a whole new range of five star-rated air conditioners, while Hitachi is unveiling its new range of air conditioners, ACE Follow Me and ACE Cutout, which adjusts automatically according to human movements.

LG Electronics is showcasing its star-rated air conditioner models and arrow comfort technology models, with which ceiling fan and air conditioner can be operated by single remote. Samsung is all lined up with its new range of 16 split and eight window AC models to beat the heat this summer. Other companies participating this year includes Samsung Videocon, Onida, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Carrier, Whirlpool, ETA General, Fedders Lloyd, Godrej, Sidwal Refrigeration and Symphony.

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Ghazal maestro enthrals senior citizens
SD Sharma

Vinod Sehgal performs at Randhawa auditorium
Vinod Sehgal performs at Randhawa auditorium

Chandigarh, April 10
Senior citizens relished ghazals and songs by playback singer Vinod Sehgal at Radhawa auditorium here today. Many of them, defying their age, even ventured to dance as the Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association celebrated its raising day.

The musical soiree, organised by the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy and the State Bank of India, got a majestic start with Sufi invocatory “Sunn maalka”. Switching over to ghazals, he rendered “Hein aur bhi duniyan mein” and “Agar talaash karun”. Sehgal enraptured the audience with his Punjabi film numbers and his hit song “Chhod aye voh galian” from film “Maachis”.

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Training seminar for Rotarians begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
A two-day training seminar for the presidents and secretaries of the 72 Rotary Clubs of Punjab, Haryana, Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh organised by the Rotary International District 3080 began today at Hotel Park Inn.

Ex-president RK Saboo, Rotary International, was the chief guest.

Addressing the gathering, Saboo asked Rotarians to encourage challenges posed to them in literacy, hunger and health programmes.

He advised them to become the tools of services for the poor.

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Ex-DC seeks to set aside transfer orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Rajender Kumar Kataria, former Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Panchkula has filed an application before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) wherein he has sought for setting aside the orders of his transfer from the post of DC, Panchkula.

Kataria was asked to leave the charge of DC and transferred to the post of director primary education in Haryana on April 7.

Kataria stated in the application that following the announcement of the general elections to the Parliament Model Code of Conduct came into force, which would remain in force till May 28, 2009. The applicant came to know about an alleged banner showing that Phool Chand Mullana, president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, father-in-law of the applicant, would perform puja of Navratra on March 31 and name of the applicant also figured in the said banner.

Kataria stated in the application that he got the said matter investigated after issuing a show cause notice to the alleged trust and sought their explanation, who denied the display of the said banner and intimated the removal and destruction of the banner.

Even a news article appeared in an English daily following which the applicant informed the Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, about the inquiry got conducted by him in this regard with letter dated March 29, 2009.

Kataria claimed that two complaints have been filed against him yet nothing adverse has been found against him still he has been removed from the post of DC. He alleged that the said removal would have an adverse affect on his career

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40 city students to join IIM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Over 40 students from the city got final admission calls from IIMs today, with the girls outshining the boys.

The students have secured a seat in the Indian Institute of Management situated in seven cities Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode and Shillong. The six IIMs, except Shillong, have declared their final lists.

“Balancing my studies at the college along with coaching classes was tough but I am glad that I could do it. I am thankful to my parents and teachers for their support,” said a student of PEC, Anu Dogra, who has got a call from all IIMs.

“The girls have outclassed boys in the final selection,” said Hirdesh Madan, head North, Bulls Eye.

“The result is wonderful and many students have received calls from all IIMs .It is encouraging for teachers as well,” Suneel Gupta, business head at Pace Setter, said.

Out of total 2.75 lakh students from India, around 14,000 appeared for the Common Entrance Test (CAT) in the city.

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Students protest laptop thefts

Chandigarh, April 10
The ABVP protested against the repeated laptop thefts in hostels at Panjab University. Around 80 students, participating in the protest, demanded beefing up of security arrangements and compensation for the victims.

“When the university is liable to make security claims for us then it has to take responsibility of these things also,” said a student. Meanwhile, dean student welfare Naval Kishore claimed that the authorities had already solved the cases to a large extent and promised to give financial help to the victims if the culprits are not caught in two weeks. — TNS

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