C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Drama in real life
Woman kidnapped near Zirakpur flyover, rescued
She was waylaid along with her husband, who was later dumped by abductors; 3 held
Tribune News Service

Seilja along with her husband after being rescued.
Seilja along with her husband after being rescued.

Zirakpur/Patiala, May 21
In a real-life drama, having all the trappings of a Bollywood thriller, a Hamirpur-based woman — who along with her husband was waylaid by some armed persons near Zirakpur flyover — was rescued by cops after a 12 hour-long hot chase on Thursday.

Robbery was the motive behind the kidnapping, said SSP Mohali JS Aulakh, who said three persons have been arrested in this connection.

“Shekhar Tyagi and Seilja were on their way from Hamirpur in Himachal Pardesh to Meerut. Near the Zirakpur flyover, the couple stopped their Alto car to drink some water. At that moment, three persons, identified as Tarsem, Raju and Praveen, forcibly entered the car, which was taken to Chhatbir village. There, Shekhar (25) was dropped and the accused sped away along with his wife towards Rajpura,” revealed Aulakh.

A kidnapper who was nabbed at Koli village near Patiala on Thursday.
A kidnapper who was nabbed at Koli village near Patiala on Thursday.

Shekhar, somehow, managed to contact the cops, who asked him to make a call to the kidnappers on his mobile phone which was left in the car. The kidnappers demanded Rs one lakh as ransom. The Mohali cops alerted their Patiala counterparts who kept tracking the movement of the accused, while Shekhar kept the abductors engaged on the phone. During the chase, gunshots were exchanged between the cops and the kidnappers, who were finally tracked down to Kauli village. Police managed to arrest the accused and rescue the woman, who told cops that the kidnappers were not harsh to her and even offered her tea and food.

Pre-planned robbery

The three-armed kidnappers had planned to waylay lonely couples moving on the highway. It being early morning hours, the kidnappers found their prey. Posing as policemen who had received information about “suspicious” couple, they managed to sneak entry into the car of the couple, Shekhar Tyagi and Sheilja, and kidnapped them at gunpoint. The kidnappers also carried handcuffs.

Mobile tracking solved case

Luck ran out for kidnappers as one of them answered a call received on the mobile phone of Shekhar (which was in possession of Sheilja) and sought ransom of Rs 1 lakh. The police made Shekhar negotiate with the kidnappers while they did their job.

Kudos for police

Giving the credit of solving the case within 12 hours to the Mohali SSP and his team, IG, Patiala range, G.S. Sahota said timely and planned action helped cracking the case. A visibly shocked Sheilja and her husband was all thanks to the Punjab Police for reuniting them within 12 hours. Family members of the couple, who had also reached Zirakpur by evening, were also praised the cops. The kidnappers, too, showed human face as they offered food and did not touch Sheilja.



Prank call claims Class XII girl’s life
Smriti Sharma & Ramesh Handa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Was it a prank call that claimed the life of bubbly, fun-loving teenager Dilshad Kaur, who was waiting anxiously for her Class XII ICSE results till yesterday?

While shocked family members of the girl, who was a medical student at Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, could not confirm that it was a prank call related to her result. They said since nobody was at home that time, maid inform them that there was a phone call after which she fell unconscious. There were whispers of suspicion about it by those who knew this cheerful student in the school.

Little did anyone know that Dilshad, a keen athlete and national basketball player, would be no more to celebrate her success in the board exams. Being among the above average students of her class, she scored 73.6 per cent marks.

According to sources, 17-year-old Dilshad was at her home in Chandimandir when phone rang. At that time, she was accompanied by her maid while her father, Col T P S Sidhu was at work and her mother, Arvind Kaur Sidhu, a teacher at DPS Pinjore, was away to the school.

Someone informed Dilshad on the phone that she could not clear Class XII exams and, therefore, had flunked. When Dilshad came to know about it, she took it to be true and fainted immediately.

It is being said after hearing the news, she went into the state of coma. Family sources claimed that it was the maid who called up the parents and she was immediately rushed to Command Hospital.

She regained senses for a few moments but she breathed her last following a heart attack at the hospital.

However, it could not be established as who made the call and how the conversation went. Jaswinder Sandhu, deceased’s maternal uncle, said she was a healthy child and never suffered from any ailment and doctors said the cause of death was heart attack.

Meanwhile, following the news of her death, celebrations turned sour for her schoolmates and friends who were rejoicing their results. Her friends and classmates remember her as a girl full of life.



Aashreya: Finally, admn decides to appoint warden
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Tribune expose of the lax security arrangements at Aashreya, a home for orphaned mentally challenged persons, on Wednesday seems to have forced the administration to appoint a warden for the institute, a day after increasing the height of the grills on its boundary walls.

According to GMCH 32 sources, which look after Aashraye, the Home Secretary has ordered to immediately fill the post, which has been lying vacant ever since it was opened. The sources said though the post was created in December 2008, when the home was opened, no one had bothered to fill it so far.

The way this issue has been handled by the administration once again raises question on inauguration of the projects in haste. One really wonders how could the administration shift these vulnerable girls here without even a warden to look after them? Was the administration’s responsibility only confined to filling up of the rooms only? Why did it take this tragic incident for the administration to appoint the warden in such a home?

At present, Aashreya’s social worker and staff nurse doubles up as the warden but only during the daytime.

According to the sources, authorities would consider only woman candidate for the warden’s post, which is being advertised by the GMCH, Sector-32. “Retired educationists, social workers, psychologists who could take care of the mentally challenged would be considered for the post,” said officials of the hospital administration. The appointment would be made on contract basis with Rs 10,000 per month salary.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old mentally challenged girl, who was allegedly raped by sweeper of Nari Niketan, was admitted to GMCH-32 last night after she complained of abdominal pain. According to Dr Vipin Kaushal, Medical Superintendent, GMCH, Sector-32, her condition is better but she has been kept under observation. Jean Rodrigues, wife of Punjab Governor and UT administrator, visited the rape victim at the hospital.



Zail Singh’s grandson, friend assaulted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Harpreet Singh, maternal grandson of former President of India Giani Zail Singh, and his friend sustained injuries after being assaulted by three youths armed with swords and other sharp-edged weapons at his residence in Sector 11, here today morning.

While Harpreet escaped with minor injuries, his friend Gursher Singh was seriously hurt in the assault. They were rushed to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector-16, from where Harpreet was discharged after first aid. Meanwhile, Gursher was referred to the PGI from where he was shifted to a private hospital in Sector 15.

The police is yet to ascertain the reason behind the assault with the victims claiming that they had no clues about the identity of the assailants. They, however, told the police that the assailants were looking for their friend Rupinder Singh, alias Guri, who was not with them at that time.

Narrating the incident Harpreet said, “ The assailants came at around 10 am and enquired about Guri. Before I could reply, one of them pointed his finger towards me saying that I was one of Guri’s friends and they pounced upon me”.

Harpreet said he sustained minor injuries, as he was able to recollect himself and also retaliated. But Gursher, who tried to save him, was badly injured in the attack. They were alone at home. The assailants sped away in white Skoda car. The registration number of the car they had given to the police turned out to be fake.

The police has registered a case of assault, causing grievous injuries, trespassing, and criminal intimidation at Sector 11 police station in this regard.


Admn fails to plug security holes at Snehalya
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
It’s only a five feet boundary wall that seems to epitomise security at Snehalya, a special home for slum kids at Maloya.

Even as the administration is going overboard saying that the security at all such homes is perfect, a visit to Snehalya belies these claims.

Around two months back when The Tribune had reported the daring escape by one of its inmates and raised concerns over security lapses at Snehalya, the Home Secretary had claimed that all was fine. However, he later asked the centre to beef up security. But all that has changed since then is just a boundary wall.

When this correspondent visited the centre, there was no guard either at the main entrance or at the gate. Only one person was sitting outside the boys’ hostel and he was too busy to take a note of the fact that several labourers were lurking around the girl’s hostel.

Even as the wall has been raised, there are still some gaps due to the ongoing construction work that is being used by kids and people alike as a shortcut. The surroundings of this centre are lonely and are only frequented by labourers who have their hutments next to the boundary wall. In such a case, lack of surveillance puts the inmates, especially the girls, at high risk.

Though nothing major has come up, many male inmates revealed that they get to smoke ‘bidis’ with these labourers who have even taught them how to have ‘khaini’.

Meanwhile, any other security reforms, if done, could not be taken note of, all thanks to the ‘iron curtain’ policy adopted by UT administration wherein all questions are answered in just one line “All’s fine”.



Nari Niketan losing objective: Study
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Home for the destitute women - Nari Niketan - has no kitchen, no outings and no vocational training for its inmates, which is contrary to the proposal of the Short Stay Home (SSH) scheme that was supposed to uplift the women.

A study submitted at the Centre for Women Studies and Development, Panjab University, has revealed loopholes in the functioning of the home.

The study revealed that no cooking was done on the premises of Nari Niketan, which was a barrier in meeting the dietary requirements of the inmates. Moreover, there are not many recreational activities on the premises, according to the study.

So far the recreation is concerned, the inmates are allotted some time to watch TV. However, it was observed that no outings were arranged for the inmates. All the festivals were celebrated, but within the premises of Nari Niketan. Otherwise, there is practically no interaction with the outside world.

The study recommended that it was essential to enable the inmates to be self-dependent once she leaves the sheltered premises of Nari Niketan, so outings are essential for them.

While a craft teacher trains the inmates in embroidery, the embroidered pieces are not marketed well and if a few pieces are sold, the money goes to Nari Niketan management rather than to the inmates. Thus, there was need to maintain bank accounts in order to provide professional training to the inmates.

The petition box, which informed the director of the department about the complaints of inmates, is also missing, says the study.



Regularise load or face fine: UT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Chandigarh Administration has appealed to power consumers to get their loads regularised whenever additional loads are added in their houses/buildings system so as to enable the electricity department to upgrade the distribution system.

According to a press note, there is no shortage in the availability of power, as the peak demand is met through overdrawals from the grid. But no power cuts due to lesser availability of power have been imposed or are planned these summers.

The engineering department is receiving various complaints of power failure these days. The breakdowns are a result of overloading of the system, mainly due to the reckless installation of ACs/other electrical appliances without any intimation to the department (as per Coolex report at CII Exhibition, around 15,000 ACs were sold during the summer). The department, therefore, is unable to upgrade the system and, hence, when all these appliances are put to use during peak summers, it leads to the overloading of the system and results in breakdowns.

If the consumers themselves fail to volunteer for load regularisation, the department has asked their neighbours to inform at 9876504199 (enforcement cell, electricity wing of the engineering department), as due to irregular act of a particular resident, the whole area suffers if there is any breakdown.

The department is carrying out a special drive for load checking, and in case any unauthorised load is detected, the consumers shall be penalised with load surcharge and the connection may also be disconnected.



Southern sectors in a shambles
Residents seek package for civic amenities
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Civic amenities in Phase III sectors of the city are completely in shambles, if the lack of planning on the part of the administration or the municipal corporation is any indication.

As majority of group housing societies have either been completed or are on the verge of completion in Sectors 49, 50 and 51, the influx of population has doubled in these sectors. This has put a question mark on the much vaunted amenities, as there is a clear mismatch in demand and supply.

In addition to this, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), which is constructing hundreds of flats in the area, falling between Chandigarh and Mohali, the already-stretched civic amenities is set to be further burdened for want of amenities.

“The area needs a special package for developing civic amenities. Currently, these are in a state of drift and strong administration and political will is required to set the things right,” said AS Shekhawat, a resident of Sector 50.

The area has no public transport system has virtually put thousands of residents to inconvenience. Since the area is located in one corner of Mohali, commuting to places in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula is quite a task for the residents.

Even as the middle class, which pays through its nose for various amenities being provided by the administration, is allegedly being denied basic amenities. The entire focus of the administration seems to be on the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers.

“In fact, our location adjoining the Colony No. 5 seems to be working to our disadvantage. Shifting of the colony from the vicinity it seems could only solve the problem as anti-social elements rule the roost besides giving a shabby look to the scores of cooperative housing societies,” rued Ajay Pahuja, president, Sector 50 society.

Group housing society members allege that it takes months for releasing water, sewerage and electricity connections by the departments’ concerned. Residents allege that the basic infrastructure, including roads, streetlights and parks, which set Chandigarh a class apart from other towns, is lacking.

“This infrastructure, coupled with water and electricity connections should have been in place before people shifted in the area. However, exactly the opposite has been happening in the strategic area, inhabited mostly by the educated middle class, comprising the salaried section and businessmen,” Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Sector 49, complained.

What to talk of the infrastructure, the development of commercial space in this stretch of land seems to be nowhere on the agenda of the authorities concerned. A substantial number of residents have to go to far-off places for purchasing items of daily use, as small markets are yet to be developed.



Traffic Violations
Action taken against habitual offenders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA), Chandigarh, has debarred two habitual traffic rule offenders from holding a driving license for a period six months following recommendations made by the traffic police.

The police said Dharminder Singh of Sector 52 had been issued seven challans from May 5, 2005, to March 20, 2009. Similarly, Gurpreet Singh of Sector 15 had been booked seven times for violating traffic rules and regulations since April 24, 2005, to April 7, 2009. They have been barred from holding a driving license for a period of six months from April 30 and May 22, 2009, respectively, said the police.

Till date, the Chandigarh Traffic Police has recommended 258 cases to the RLA for suspension of driving license out of which 207 habitual offenders had been awarded punishment by the RLA.



RTI fee: NGOs welcome rollback
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The administration’s decision to roll back the fee charged for filing an application under the RTI Act, 2005, has widely been welcomed by social activists. who have termed it as a major victory for transparency in the governance in the city.

“This is a major victory as the reversal of the RTI fee hike is a major step in the direction of ensuring transparency and for fighting corruption,” Hemant Goswami, Burning Brain Society, an NGO, stated.

As per the new order, the applicants will now have to pay Rs 10 for submitting an application and Rs 2 per page for the information received. The application would also be submitted at the same cost in all Sampark and Jan Sampark centres in the city.

Earlier, in February 2008, the administration had decided to increase the RTI fee by five folds using the provisions of Section 28 of the RTI Act citing frivolous applications as an excuse.

After all representations failed, Hemant filed a civil writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Complaints were also forwarded to the Union Home Ministry, Law Ministry, the Law Commission and the Chief Information Commissioner.

The case was listed for today, when the UT administration informed the High Court that it had decided to revert the fee as per the Central government rules.

RK Garg, an RTI activist, said by rolling back the fee the administration had corrected its own decision, which was wrongfully taken “and to also discourage frivolous requests.”

Expressing their happiness over the development, Hitender Jain, president, Resurgence India, and Kamal Anand, People for Transparency, Dr Gaurav Chabbra, Humlog, an NGO, also hailed the decision.



Administrator visits judicial academy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Punjab Governor and UT Administrator SF Rodrigues today visited the State Judicial Academy Complex in Sector 43 and discussed innovative strategies with its Director-General Justice JS Narang, Justice MM Kumar and Justice Permod Kohli, Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to make it a world-class institution for imparting professional training to judicial officers of the region.

Rodrigues went around the complex and took stock of the infrastructural facilities. Constructed by the Engineering Department of the administration at Rs 63 crore in 8.5 acre within 22 months, the Punjab and Haryana High Court project has architecturally sound building and blocks inter-linked with connecting corridors.



Labourers forced to work near CM’s office
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 21
While the Haryana government may claim to have made the state “child-and-bonded labour free”, barely 25 km from the Chief Minister’s office in the Civil Secretariat, the practice, in a slightly modified manner, is going on unabated with at least 100 labourers being forced to work in a kiln near Kanoli village in the district.

A team of lawyers, including RS Bassi and Hirdey Pal Singh from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, under the banner of the Lawyers for Humanity, visited the kiln at the instance of a labourer, Shanker, who had been working here for the past five months against his will. According to Shanker, the owner, Ashok Aggarwal, had not paid his dues worth Rs 20,000 against the work done by him and his family, including wife and two children Guddi (10) and Ravinder (8), for the past five months and had been threatening to keep the same if he quits the job.

Even the Bhattha pathshala, a school launched by the government for labourers working at kilns, was nowhere in sight. The living conditions were pathetic as bathroom was not even available for women as doors of the toilets and attached bathrooms were blocked by bricks to avoid the foul smell emanating from there.

Shanker claimed that Aggarwal had retained money of almost all labourers in a similar fashion and anyone wanting to quit was told to leave without his dues.

Aggarwal while denying allegations leveled against him stated that he never asked the children to work at his kiln. The labourers involve them to earn some more money when the children did not go to school. Moreover, I pay employees on regular basis.

However, it was another matter that Aggarwal did not know the actual wage being paid to his employees.

When asked about the wages, Aggarwal said till December 2008 he was paying Rs 210 per 1,000 bricks. The government fixed this price. The prices for the current year were, however, not in his knowledge.

When lawyers and mediapersons reached the spot labourers poured their woes in the afternoon. While children were busy preparing bricks under scorching heat along with their parents, their younger siblings were playing in the open space.

“We even don’t know what wages would be paid to us after the season comes to end as the owner of kiln keep on avoiding it when we asked him about this, said Birju, who came to the kiln last year with his wife from Bihar. The employer in case of any accident or disease provides no medication, and even not a first aid box is placed at kiln, he added.

“And we can’t leave the place as the owner keeps half of the earnings with him and in case we leave the kiln before the end of season Rs 40,000 would be forfeited,” said Birju.

Panchkula Labour officer RK Nain when contacted said there was no such complaint with him. And there was no reason to believe that the brick kiln owner was withholding the wages of labourers. On the child labour Nain said he did not consider it any lapse on the part of brick kiln owner as children were not directly employed by him and they were merely helping their parents.



Special fund for retired bank officers sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Former general manager of State Bank of Patiala Hardarshan Singh called upon the government and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to allocate special fund for retired officers of public sector banks.

The fund should be allocated from 3 per cent of the net profit of the bank, he said.

Speaking at a meeting organised by the State Bank of Patiala's Retired Officers’ Association here, he rued that though the government had made a suggestion to this effect to the Indian Banks’ Association, the managements of various public sector banks had failed to release any funds for the purpose.

He rued that the retired employees of the public sector banks, who were no less capable, were deprived of the benefits of the state available to the retired government employees.

Speaking on the issue, he said that the Government of India should convey necessary and appropriate directions to the public sector banks to make separate allocation of at least 2 per cent of the net profit with a minimum of Rs 5 crore corpus for the welfare of retirees as there were over 50,000 retired bank officers across India.



Car catches fire after hitting pole
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
A Panjab University student had a narrow escape when her car caught fire after it collided with an electricity pole on the campus.

According to fire officials, they received information about this at about 3 p.m. and a fire tender was pressed into service. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes.

Fire officials said the Zen car (CH O4 F 7006), owned by Jagmeet Kaur, a resident of Sector 45-C and a student of law first year, was driven by her driver Amit Kaith. Both were in the car when the vehicle collided with the electric pole and caught fire.



190 examined at hepatitis camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
To mark the World Hepatitis Day, a special Hepatitis detection camp was organised at Dhavan's Jeevandeep Hospital, Sector 16, here yesterday.

More than 190 patients got the benefit of free screening for Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C.



Burglars make off with cash, jewellery
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 21
Burglars stole valuables worth Rs 2 lakh from a house in Sector 12 here today.

According to owner of the house Sandeep Mittal, while his wife and children were out of station, he left the house in the evening of Wednesday with one of his friends to Chandigarh. However, lock and grill of the house were found broken when he returned in the midnight.

Cash worth Rs 5,000 and jewellery, including a diamond ring, two golden rings, earrings and digital camera, were missing from the house, he said.



Lack of coordination between PU, college
Students fail to take exam at SD College
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Students of psychology honours of SD College, Sector 32, had a harrowing time today as due to lack of coordination between the college authorities and Panjab University, they could not take their examination.

When these students reached the college, they got to know that question papers had not arrived. While the college sited the delayed arrival of papers a reason, claiming that papers reached at 11 am at the university, on other hand, insisted that papers had reached well in time.

“When we reached the college and did not get the papers, we asked them. They said probably because the course had no affiliation to PU, that is why the papers had not arrived, however, later on, they said the papers came late. But when we checked with the university, they told us that the papers reached well in time,” said one of the students.

“Initially, the college told us that because we had no affiliation, so we might not be able to give our examination, but it was later revealed that it was the lack of coordination that ruined our day. We are yet to be informed about the new date of examination,” added another student.

Meanwhile, AK Bhandari, controller examination, PU, could not be contacted for his comments.



NCC organises painting, debate competition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
A debate and a painting competition for cadets from six government and private schools of Chandigarh was organised by No.1 Naval NCC Unit at the Sukhna Lake here today. As many as 36 Naval Wing cadets of the junior division and junior wing took part in the event.

Cadets from Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, Government Model High School, Sector 20, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 23, DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Government High School, Davia and Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16 participated in the competition.

The topic of the debate was “Indo-US Nuclear Deal”. Cadet Rizak Kaur and cadet Jaskaran Singh, both from GNPS-36 School, won the first and second place respectively.

The themes of the painting competition were female foeticide, global warming, no to use of plastic and anti-drugs. Cadet Prabhjot Kaur from GNPS-36 and cadet Vikram Kumar from GMHS Sector 20 bagged the first and second place, respectively.

The winners were felicitated by chief guest Col DR Sharma, Training Officer, NCC Group Headquarters, Chandigarh.



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