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Swine Flu
Alert sounded, but no case yet
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
In view of the threat of swine flu that has spread to 20 countries and claimed 150-odd lives, the Chandigarh administration has reportedly alerted the health and the animal husbandry department to watch out for cases of influenza and unnatural deaths of animals. The flu was declared a global medical emergency by the WHO today.

While senior officials of the administration were tightlipped about the development, sources said the issue was discussed, albeit briefly, during a meeting of health officials chaired by Health Secretary Ram Niwas this afternoon. However, they said there was no cause of panic yet.

The discussion reportedly revolved around “introducing” the disease to officials and since no case had been reported yet, it was decided that a general alert should be issued to the health and animal husbandry departments, as was done in case of bird flu earlier, the sources said.

Ram Niwas claimed that nothing much was discussed. The meeting took up various public health issues, including diseases like dengue.

The news of about six cases being confirmed in Canada has fuelled fears in the region since a lot of Punjabis are settled there. Though the health ministry has recommended round-the-clock stationing of doctors at international airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, Jaipur and Goa, and recommended special checks for people arriving from the affected countries, it was not immediately known whether such instructions had been issued for Raja Sansi Airport.

The union government has also issued an advisory to avoid travel to swine flu-affected New Zealand, Mexico, the US, Canada, Spain, France and Britain.

While the flu remained a hot topic of discussion among doctors at city hospitals, including the PGI, no extra precautions have been taken yet. Though some doctors at the PGI’s internal medicine departments claimed that they were keeping an eye on patients suffering from influenza, there was no official confirmation on it. Medical Superintendent AK Gupta said no alert had been issued so far.

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Poor security at malkhanas
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The seizure of arms and ammunition from the house of head constable Balbir Singh yesterday, along with other stolen case properties, has exposed poor security arrangements at the malkhana of the city police.

Though the malkhanas are checked regularly by supervisory officers, the theft of such a huge amount of arms and ammunition, besides other articles from the malkhana of the Sector 17 police, has become a source of embarrassment to the police.

Not only the police, but also the local unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau drew flak over their functioning after former NCB director Saji Mohan and malkhana in charge were booked for misappropriation of over Rs 13 lakh kept as case property in the malkhana.

The police has claimed to have recovered three revolvers, three pistols, 83 cartridges, five cameras, two camera flashes, three ceiling fans and 70 sundry items that were case properties from the Sector 23 official house of the head constable.

A visit to police stations revealed that the malkhanas, have no extra security arrangements. The malkhanas, in which case properties worth crores of rupees, including arms, contraband, cash and jewellery is kept, are not even equipped with CCTV cameras.

The access of police personnel entering these “strongrooms” is also not monitored. A retired police officer said in developed countries, police stations were equipped with strongrooms with biometric access system, through which only authorised persons could enter. But here, the malkhanas are protected with ordinary locks. As far as fixing of responsibility is concerned, a police officer of the rank of head constable is posted as in charge of the malkhanas.

As per rules, an additional Station House Officer has to inspect the malkhanas after a fortnight and record its status in a daily diary report. The SHO remains the supervisory authority and can check the malkhana any time. Even the sub-divisional police officer has to inspect the malkhana frequently.

A police officer said if the weapons were stolen from the malkhana by tampering with the records, it reflected a serious lapse on the part of the supervising officers.

The IGP, SK Jain, however, said adequate security measures were in place and they were following Punjab police rules. It was an isolated incident and they would check the records of all stations to find if there was any such discrepancy there.

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Recovery suit against Badal
Wife, daughter-in-law summoned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Surinder Kaur, and his daughter-in-law, Harsimrat Kaur, have been summoned as prosecution witness in a recovery suit against the CM and his son Sukhbir Singh.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, JS Sidhu, has summoned them for May 4 in the recovery suit filed by the former Additional Director, Information and Public Relations Department, Punjab, Jagdip Singh Chowhan. He had filed the case in November 2001.

The other prosecution witness is the OSD to Badal, Kirpal Singh Badungar, among five others.

The plaintiff had allegedly spent Rs 82,032 after an oral agreement with the CM on the campaign of his son in 1998 and 1999 from the Faridkot and Bathinda parliamentary constituency.

He stated in the suit that in 1998, he was working as the Deputy Director and later as the Additional Director in the PR department and Badal was the CM at the time. He was asked by the CM to undertake publicity campaign for his son, who was contesting the elections from Faridkot.

He claimed that for undertaking the publicity, he was provided with a vehicle from a travel agency, the owner of which was a contractor with the PR department and was asked to arrange audio-video coverage in the electronic media and still photographs for the print media.

During the political war between Badal and the late GS Tohra in 1998-1999, Badal had (through his OSD) got a book titled “Majuda Panthak Sankat” printed at a cost of Rs 40,000, which was still pending.

Chowhan claimed that he had been falsely implicated in a case in which he was later acquitted.

He has also filed a suit for damages to the tune of Rs 21.43 lakh against the CM which is pending in the Supreme Court following an appeal by the government.

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Jilted tavern owner held for woman’s murder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
In a twist to the mysterious death of Sonia Suman, the police today arrested her “jilted lover” Ashok Kumar, a father of three, on charges of murdering her.

According to the ASP (central), Madhur Verma, 37-year-old Ashok Kumar was tracked down on the basis of his mobile call details. Kumar, owner of a tavern in Sector 20, was found to be a frequent caller as per the mobile call details of Sonia.

The police was keeping an eye on his movement for the past couple of days. The police also gathered information from eyewitnesses who saw him dumping the woman at the Sukhna Lake.

The police said the accused today confessed to his crime and said he had met Sonia that day and took her in his car on the pretext of a ride. She had some medical complication and he was aware of it. He bought some pesticide and offered it to her as medicine. He told her that the medicine would taste bitter but she should swallow it. After consuming it, she felt dizzy and began losing consciousness. He threw her out of the car near the regulator end of the lake when her condition deteriorated and fled.

Sonia’s marriage was fixed for May 3 and the police believed that he killed her as she was going to marry someone else. The police said though it had been questioning the accused for the past two-three days, but he was evading queries, raising suspicion.

Sonia was found in a semi-conscious condition at the lake on Friday evening. She was taken to hospital by the police, but she died during treatment after some hours. Her family had said her purse and mobile phone were missing.

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Case registered in Ram Darbar incident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The police today registered a case of rioting and damaging property into the incident of hooliganism that was witnessed at Ram Darbar on Sunday night.

The police said a case had been registered against Satpal, a history-sheeter, and other unidentified persons.

Police inaction against the miscreants had drawn flak. The police had earlier said as no formal complaint had been lodged, it could not register a case in this connection.

The police said efforts were on to trace the miscreants and action would be taken against the guilty. The accused carrying swords, rods and batons pelted stones and smashed windowpanes of cars following an alleged dispute between miscreants of Phases I and II of the locality.

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Fire in Sector 35 house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Household articles and furniture were destroyed in a fire that broke out at a place of worship in a Sector-35 house. Though no one was reportedly injured in the mishap, the smoke and the temperature caused by the fire on the first floor of the house damaged electrical appliances on the second floor.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out around 10.30 am and they noticed smoke billowing out of the first floor of the house.

People assembled outside the house as panic gripped the area. The police and the fire department were informed and they reached the scene.

Household articles and furniture lying in a portion of the first floor of the house, occupied by Ravi Prakash on rent, were completely reduced to ashes.

A double bed, a divan, refrigerator, fans, tables, mattresses were destroyed in the fire.

The high temperature damaged electronic appliances and a computer on the second floor of the house.

Prakash’s wife Rani Devi told the police that she had lighted a puja lamp and after offering prayers had gone to the other portion of house rented out to two paying guests.

Prakash said his wife was not well and was alone in the house, while he had gone for work. Their three sons were off to school.

Satish Kumar, a paying guest in the house, said he saw smoke come out of the house and alerted Rani.

They rushed out to inquire and saw flames erupt from the altar.

“Rani rushed in and tried to pull the furniture out even as the flames spread. As she tried to save the articles, I forcibly pulled her out of the house, which was soon engulfed in flames,” he said.

A fire department official said two fire tenders from Sector 17 and another from Sector 38 fire stations were sent to the scene to douse the blaze.

The occupant of the top floor of the house, which was taken on rent by an astrologer, said they closed the door to prevent the fire from spreading to their portion. They scaled the common wall on the terrace of the house to escape the blaze.

Sources in the fire department said over 200 incidents of fire, including those in jungle areas, have been reported from various parts of the city this year and six persons have lost their lives.

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COMMUNITY

Women more prone to addiction: Study
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
A recent study has shown that women who venture into drugs or alcohol should be cautious, as they are more susceptible to get addicted than male counterparts. This is not only restricted to alcohol or drugs like marijuana and heroin but also painkillers and tranquilizers.

According to additional professor at the psychiatry department, PGI, and co-author of the study Dr D Basu, “Although men get more opportunities than women to venture into drugs, unfortunately it is the fairer sex that gets more addicted. ”

The study conducted on 35 women addicts revealed nearly 60 per cent of them had started taking opioids to cure pain but became addicted to it. Interestingly, three of them were doctors and one was a nurse.

Dr Basu said, “Opioid analgesics should be used for the shortest duration and for specific purposes only”. He said the most common used opioid was Pentazocine and 19 of the 21 addicts were addicted to it.

While the study indicated the women were as vulnerable as men to getting addicted to drugs like cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, tobacco and inhalants, they were more likely to fall prey to alcohol and marijuana (ganja).

“Women addicts mainly suffer from alcoholic liver diseases and recurrent cough or co-morbid psychiatric disorders,” Dr Basu said, adding that 12 of the 35 patients suffered co-morbid physical illness.

According to a city-based neurosurgeon, substance abuse could turn fatal when an abuser overshoots her capacity and when the substances are mixed with medication, alcohol or other drugs.

The mix of chemicals has a direct effect on the body’s autonomic system that controls reflex actions, blood pressure and heart rate. If not controlled in time, it could also make the person brain dead,” neurosurgeon warned.

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Maya woos Sikhs, Muslims
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Taking populism to new heights, BSP supremo and UP Chief Minister Mayawati today targeted the crucial votes of religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Sikhs, by promising quota in government jobs for them.

Addressing a rally in support of BSP candidate from Chandigarh, Harmohan Dhawan, here today, she claimed that the quota for economically-weaker sections among the forward castes and the religious minorities would go a long way in the creation of a classless and casteless society.

Coming down heavily on the UPA government’s failure to implement the Sachar Committee for the welfare of Muslims, she alleged that the party was following a discriminatory policy with regard to minorities.

Terming the Congress and the BJP as the two faces of the same coin that had given a raw deal to the “bahujan samaj”, the BSP leader claimed that only a BSP government at the Centre could live up the expectations of all sections of society.

Making an appeal to the electorate to vote the BSP to power at the Centre, she alleged that the policies and programmes of all other parties were influenced by big capitalists. The success of UP’s social engineering formula had demonstrated that only the BSP was capable of pursuing economic policies tailored to meet the needs of the common man, she claimed.

While listing his achievements during his tenure as the minister in the Chandra Sekhar government, Dhawan promised the construction of a Purvanchal bhavan in the city, besides the setting up of an IIM, IIT and a central university at Chandigarh.

Media under fire

Both Mayawati and Dhawan trained their guns at a section of the electronic and print media, alleging that it was biased in the coverage of the BSP. “Commercial interests” have taken centrestage with impartiality in reporting taking a toll on campaigning, they alleged.

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Factionalism, low turnout cause anxiety
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Factionalism and low attendance at BSP supremo Mayawati’s much-touted rally in support of Chandigarh candidate Harmohan Dhawan here today kept the party leadership on toes throughout the day.

While sudden outburst of Kartar Kalyan, a Balmiki Samaj leader, against BSP general secretary Mann Singh Manheda, who was conducting the stage, stunned the local leadership, Mayawati’s late arrival by over three hours took its toll on the attendance at the rally.

Kalyan, who was specially given chance to speak at the rally, began his tirade against Manheda and dubbed him “anti-Dalit” much to Dhawan’s embarrassment.

However, he was forcibly taken off stage just before the arrival of Mayawati.

Kalyan’s diatribe against him later prompted Manheda to allege that certain “Congress elements” were trying to vitiate the rally atmosphere.

Meanwhile, with Mayawati arriving around 6.45 pm against scheduled time of 3.30 pm, the crowd, particularly women and children, became restive in the sultry weather. In fact, in the backdrop of shortage of drinking water at the rally venue, the audience was left high and dry inside the pandal.

There was a virtual scramble for water as limited quantity of mineral water bottles were brought to the pandal for the media and VIPs.

The usual enthusiasm at the rally was missing in the humid weather with audience feebly responding to slogans eugolising the BSP supremo.

Even Manheda’s slogans like “UP hui hamari hai, ab Dilli ki bari hai” (We rule UP, now its Delhi’s turn) and “Bharat ki majboori hai, Mayawati zarooi hai” (Mayawati is indispensible for India) failed to attract the attention of the indifferent crowd.

Even before Mayawati could finish her speech, a substantial number of participants could be seen trooping out the pandal giving the organisers anxious moments. As dawn set in, rallyists were seen searching for transportation indicating that most of the crowd was managed.

In fact, crowds from colonies far outnumber sector residents.

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War of words between Bansal, Jain
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The war of words between Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal and BJP candidate Satya Pal Jain intensified today with both leaders taking potshots at one another.

While Bansal came down heavily on the BJP for spearheading a false and malicious campaign on bringing down the price of wheat to Rs 2 per kg, Jain trained his guns at his bête noire with a scathing attack on financial mismanagement of funds collected by the Chandigarh municipal corporation and the Chandigarh Housing Board.

Dubbing BJP’s claims an example of economic ignorance, political dishonesty and intellectual bankruptcy, Bansal alleged that the party was misleading people into believing something that could not just happen.

The minimum support price on wheat given to farmers during its tenure was Rs 603, which was raised to Rs 1,080 soon after Congress-led UPA came into power, Bansal claimed.

However, Jain claimed that even though the poor had been burdened with heavy taxes of over Rs 1,400 crore, collected through taxes or from sale of real estate assets, which had been lying idle in the banks in fixed deposit accounts.

He questioned the commitment of Congress MP from Chandigarh to the city and asked how can he be ignorant about funds to the tune of hundreds of crores kept as fixed deposits by Congress-controlled corporation controlled by his party and the board.

Bansal hit back saying that Rs 500 crore in the municipal corporation coffers and another Rs 900 crore with board would be utilised in a proper way and it was prerogative of the authorities concerned to use it judiciously.

Every money spent is accounted for by the audit department so the apprehension that money has been swindled by Congress is a far-fetched theory, which again proves BJP and Jain’s half-baked knowledge on important matters, Bansal stated.

The BJP candidate said the plans like construction of underpasses, urban transport, a metro, economical housing to make Chandigarh a slum-free city are the need of the hour.

Questioning the wisdom of the government behaving like a capitalist who works for amassing money and making profits, he held the Congress MP responsible for the government agencies sitting over huge funds while common paid heavy taxes.

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CAT
STA told to finish probe against asst secy

Chandigarh, April 28
The Central Administrative Tribunal has directed the State Transport Authority (STA) to finish an inquiry pending against its assistant secretary Vinod Kumar Sharma.

In the chargesheet, applicant Sharma has been accused of not discharging his duty and committing misconduct in an unfair manner. Earlier, he had a criminal case registered against him and was under suspension from December 25, 1995 to March 6, 1996. However, the entire period of suspension was treated as spent on duty and the applicant claimed that there was nothing against him. He alleged that the chargesheet had been issued to him with a malafide intention, as the tribunal had passed strictures against him in a case filed by Sharma. He said the chargesheet was issued against him after six years of his discharge by the court and deserves to be quashed on grounds of delay and latches.

The tribunal held: “It has been explained by the respondents that the file pertaining to the chargesheet was not routed through this respondent. The Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Transport and Ashok Sangwan, former Joint Secretary, home and transport were held guilty of malafide by this court doesn’t not make us believe that they would always act with a sense of ill-will or vindictiveness. They would rather be more vigilant and careful in future and it cannot be said that once guilty is always a guilty unless guilt is proved on record.” — TNS

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Single-window service for campaigning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
As per the orders passed by the Returning Officer-cum-District Magistrate, UT, a single-window service has been set up at the ground floor of the Estate Office building for the grant of permission to use the ground and loudspeaker by the contesting candidates/political parties for electioneering purpose.

According to a press note, P.S. Shergill, Additional Deputy Commissioner, will be the nodal officer of the single window and in his absence Abhishek Dev, Assistant Commissioner, will issue the permissions.

It has also been decided that for corner meetings, assistant returning officer (ARO) under intimation to the DSP concerned, will issue permission. However, permission for holding large political functions/rallies will be issued by the single-window service.

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Shatabdi delayed by three hours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at the Chandigarh railway station today courtesy delay in morning Shatabdi by more than two hours 45 minutes due to a technical fault.

The clueless passengers queued up at the enquiry to seek information about the time of its arrival. While some of them had important meetings scheduled in Delhi today, there were others who had to catch a flight at the Delhi International Airport.

Another passenger Mukesh Sharma said: “We could not find officials at the station and there was a lot of confusion, as nobody knew what to do.”

The confusion reigned at the station till the news poured in that there was a technical fault in the engine, and hence, it would be changed.

The Shatabdi Express that reaches Chandigarh at 6:55 am finally arrived at about 9:37 pm. Station superintendent RK Dutta said: “There was a technical fault discovered when the train was near Pinjore and an alternate engine had to be called. I am on leave today and in Jammu at the moment.”

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Cong, Akalis trade charges

Zirakpur/Mohali, April 28
Taking a dig at the SAD, chairman of the Congress campaign committee, Captain Amarinder Singh, today stated that after coming to power, all the past and present shady land transactions allegedly executed at the behest of Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Badal, and his close associates in the Zirakpur and Derbassi area would be probed.

Congress candidate, Preneet Kaur, said Badal wanted to threaten her by registering false cases. “We will probe all the cases and the reveal the truth to the public,” he claimed. Nineteen members of the Zirakpur BJP Mandal announced to resign and join the Congress. Meanwhile, the secretary of the SAD and candidate of the SAD-BJP alliance from the Anandpur Sahib constituency, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, today said the Congress had accepted defeat of its candidates in the election. — TNS

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CTU, HR assurance on free plying of buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking and the Haryana Roadways buses will operate freely in each other’s territory and no disruption will be permitted.

The UT administration and the state of Haryana gave an assurance to this effect before the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the hearing of a public interest litigation by a lawyer, Arvind Seth.

He was seeking directions to end to the tussle between the employees’ unions of the CTU and the Haryana Roadways over route connecting Ramgarh in Panchkula district with the PGI in Chandigarh.

The undertaking to ensure free flow of traffic was given to the Bench of the Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Uma Nath Singh.

Taking up the matter, the Bench has issued notice of motion for April 30 to respondents — the Adviser to the UT Administrator, CTU Director and others.

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GMSH: De-addiction centre by May
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, is set to start a drug de-addiction centre from the next month.

UT home-cum-health secretary, Ram Niwas said: “The centre will become operational by next month.” The centre will be equipped with modern facilities and techniques, he said.

“The drug de-addiction centre will have a 12-bed ward with restricted entry to avoid free access to outsiders during the period of detoxification,” said Dr SK Bhandari, joint medical superintendent at GMSH-16.

“De-addiction will be carried out by a team of psychiatrists, clinical psychiatrists, psychiatry social workers and trained staff nurses,” said UT health officials.

The various laboratory tests for assessing abused substances will also be carried out at the centre. This step has been taken to further boost the initiative that has already been undertaken by the PGI, added officials.

The PGI is already running a drug de-addiction centre.

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Quiz to mark Book Day

Chandigarh, April 28
To mark the International Book Day, Central Library of GMCH-32, organised a quiz and medical books exhibition at the hospital today.

Director-principal Prof Raj Bahadur was the chief guest and inaugurated the exhibition.

Prof Balbir Singh, chairman, the Library Committee, elaborated the progress, activities and future plans of the library. Har Kaur, a librarian, GMCH, apprised audience about the importance of books.

She emphasised that Internet could never replace the books. A quiz was also organised for the audience on the subject of services, collection, various biggest libraries of the world.

The GMCH library is catering to the needs of GMCH students and faculty. Recently the GMCH library has got the membership of NML consortia. — TNS

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EDUCATION
 

PU Notes
PU don gets UGC fellowship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Prof I M Govil of the Physics department, Panjab University, has been awarded the University Grants Commission emeritus fellowship for two years. A communique has been received from joint secretary of the UGC Dr M V Krishnaswamy.

Prof. Govil is known for his work in the field of nuclear physics. and has been awarded CSIR Emeritus Scientist position for his work in Nuclear Fusion - Fission Dynamics that has direct relevance to the Nuclear Energy Research.

He has been recently invited to present two papers in the international conference on application of the Accelerators in Research and Industry (CAARI-2008) in the US.

Seminar

While inaugurating a seminar on 9th World Intellectual Property Day here today, Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University Prof RC Sobti said the university would start a Diploma in Intellectual Property Rights.

The seminar was organised by the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Cell under the aegis of Centre for Industry Institute Partnership Programme (CIIPP).

Sobti said the property rights should become a part of all academic courses.

Nodal officer of the cell Dr Parikshit Bansal advised the researchers to apply for the patent before announcing a research in public. He further highlighted the role of the property rights in social, economic and cultural development.

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Graduation ceremony
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 28
A graduation ceremony for students of kindergarten was organised at Manav Mangal Smart School here today.

The students of the kindergarten section were awarded graduation scrolls and medals. Principal of KB DAV Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh, distributed the prizes to the students for their excellent performance.

School director Sanjay Sardana said the graduation ceremony was organised to encourage the students.

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A correction

Mohali: The management of Sant Ishar Singh Public School, Phase VII, today clarified that the school has a doctor on roll and in his absence a receptionist, who has undergone first-aid training, handles the medical care of schoolchildren.

It was inadvertently carried in the news item published yesterday under heading “Medicare at schools ailing”, that the school has tied up with the doctor and the school staff handled day-to-day ailments. — TNS

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