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Two girls at Aashray found ‘normal
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
What could further cast a shadow over the working of Nari Niketan, psychological tests conducted on 13 girls shifted from there to Aashray, the home for orphaned mentally challenged children in Sector 47, in the past three months has revealed that at least two of them are “normal.”

According to sources, 13 girls were shifted from Nari Niketan, two on February 27 and the rest on March 13, to Aashray and the medical records of only four carried details about their mental condition (IQ levels). Despite the fact that the record forms of the rest of the girls had no reference about their mental state or social behaviour and only mentioned their names and age, they were still marked as “MR” (mentally retarded) and shifted to Aashray.

The teenaged expectant girl, who has accused Bhupinder Singh, a sweeper of Nari Niketan, of raping her was among the group of 11 girls shifted to Aashray on March 13. 
Expressing surprise over the manner in which these girls were shifted to Aashray without any clinical and psychological tests conducted on them, a few officials said this highlighted the state of mismanagement there. They added that as per the rules yearly psychological tests had to be conducted but it seems these were not done.

They said the tests conducted on nine girls had revealed that Usha (25), a Nepalese citizen, and Krishna (30), were normal. Psychological tests of four girls had been delayed due to communication problem. According to the sources, while the IQ tests are conducted on those who are less than 18 years, elders undergo the social behaviour examination to assess their mental state.

The sources revealed that while Krishna was sent to her native town in Uttar Pradesh on the orders of SDM, Niharika Rai, on April 25 Usha is still staying in Aashray. The sources claimed that Usha might soon be shifted to Nari Niketan.

When contacted for comments, Home Secretary Ram Niwas curtly said he was not willing to talk on the issue. “You contact the DSW,” he said before disconnecting the line. Director, Social Welfare, Amandeep Kaur, said as per their records all 13 inmates were mentally challenged, but she refused to divulge the details further.

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Scooterist hit by PRTC bus, dies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
A scooterist was killed while another riding pillion sustained serious injuries when a speeding roadways bus rammed into their vehicle at traffic light point on the road separating Sectors 31 and 32, here, today evening.

According to the police, the deceased has been identified as 40-year-old Gopal of Phase II, Ram Darbar. He was on his way home with his friend Mandan Lal, who was ridding pillion. They were coming from Sector 32 side when the Patiala-bound PRTC bus (PB-65-E-9232) coming from Sector-46 side rammed into the scooter from the rear side. The impact of the collision was such that Gopal was tossed high in the air. Gopal’s head got crushed while Madan sustained serious internal injuries.

Gopal reportedly died on the spot. A PCR vehicle shifted Madan to Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for treatment. However, Gopal’s body remained lying on the spot for over 45 minutes. He is survived by his wife and two minor children. A carpenter by profession he used to work in Sector 43 furniture market.

The police said the driver who was rashly driving the bus first hit the scooter, then went out of control and rammed into a road divider before screeching to a halt. The bus driver, Kulwant Singh, reportedly fled the spot but was caught later on.

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Fire in Sec 26 godown, tragedy averted
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
A major tragedy was averted after a fire broke out in a shop-cum-godown storing disposable plastic catering materials and petroleum products in Sector-26 grain market, here today evening. Though no causality was reported, as there wasn’t anybody in the godown for today being Sunday, yet goods worth lakh of rupees were gutted, claimed Satish Garg, the shopkeeper.

According to fire officials, the fire spread as the highly combustible material was stored in the shop-cum-godown, where no fire safety measures were in place. The godown was packed to its capacity and the fire fighters made strenuous efforts to gain entry into the building, as it was closed. The windows were too small and they had to break glasses and wade through the burning inflammable articles.

According to the eyewitnesses, though the fire tenders reached the spot within minutes, but the firemen had a tough time controlling the blaze. ML Sharma, station fire officer, Sector-17 Fire Station, told TNS “The firemen initially tried to douse the flames by using water splash having no idea of what sort of material was stored inside. It was only later that they came to know that disposable catering articles, glasses, plates, fire cakes, other highly inflammable material were stored in the godown that they used foam to extinguish the flames”.

Advocate Anil Aggarwal, who has his office next to the Garg Traders said he spotted the smoke bellowing out of the first floor of the building at around 5.30 pm and immediately informed the fire department. He called municipal corporation officials to drain out the water from his office and the moment they left he saw the godown in flames.

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Rain, hailstorm lash Chandigarh
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Prevailing dry and hot weather conditions made the day cool and pleasant after untimely but heavy rain lashed the city today afternoon. This led to the considerable drop in the temperature. As against the maximum temperature of 41.6 degrees Celsius recorded on May 20, today’s temperature stood at 37 degrees Celsius, two degrees below normal. 

The city recorded 9 mm of rain today. Some parts of the city also received hailstorms thus bringing respite for the residents from the sizzling sun. The rain continued to pour for two hours.

The fall in mercury started yesterday soon after moderate velocity winds began to blow through the city.

The dust blanket also began to settle once the weather phenomena altered. Meanwhile, with the city’s first brush with untimely rain today exposed the municipal corporation’s tall claims for its preparedness to deal with the ensuing monsoon, with many a road of the city waterlogged. Consequently the vehicular traffic was affected in several parts of the city.

Contrary to municipal authorities claim to have made appropriate arrangements for the monsoon with proper rain water and storm water drainage system in place, the claims fell flat when the residents of many low- lying areas had to bear with the heavy downpour that nearly clogged the roads in southern parts of the city.

The situation was particularly tough for those living in Sector 26 when water entered two to three shops and offices. Finally, municipal corporation’s fire wing was called to drain out the water. But it was not much of help as the official’s after reaching the spot, as the water level was too low for the machine to suck it out.

Meanwhile on Monday, the meteorological department has predicted partly cloudy sky with a spell of light rain or thundershowers. Appreciable fall in the day temperature has also been forecasted with maximum temperature of 34 degree Celsius and minimum temperature of 25 degree Celsius.

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Bound by MHA directive
Rodrigues orders recast of advisory council
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
UT Administrator SF Rodrigues, it seems, acts only under the directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Close on the heels of restoration of the annual confidential report (ACR)-writing powers of Adviser Pradip Mehra on ministry’s stern directions, Rodrigues has “complied with” another MHA directive on the reconstitution of Adminstrator’s Advisory Council (AAC).

Apparently bowing to a recent MHA directive that “in future such initiatives (land acquisition) should be vetted by the coordination committee and the AAC having representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development and the MHA”, the Administrator recently ordered the reconstitution of the council and convening of its early meeting.

Though the administration plans to recast the AAC with good intention, the “sudden decision” seems to have surprised observers. In the backdrop of the fact that Rodrigues had failed to convene even a single meeting of the AAC after its constitution on February 9, 2007, questions are being raised at its reconstitution at the fag end of Rodrigues’ tenure.

In fact, the two-year tenure of the council elapsed without even a single meeting, the first time in the history of Chandigarh.

The last meeting of the AAC was held on May 7, 2006. However, for reasons best known to the Administrator, the meeting was never called subsequently with a cross-section of the society crying foul and dubbing the act the “undemocratic”.

“The non-convening of the meeting shows Rodrigues’ undemocratic style of functioning,” alleged Devi Dayal Sharma, who has been a member of the council for over 25 years.

Sharma said during the tenure of previous Administrators, council meetings were held at least twice a year or even more regularly. However, the May 7, 2006, meeting called by the Administrator merely turned out to be an official show with various members only discussing non-issues and toeing the official line, members alleged.

The AAC with Administrator as chairman and Adviser as the vice-chairman, has senior bureaucrats and public representatives, including administrative secretaries, IGP, SSP, MC Commissioner, Mayor, Deputy Commissioner, chairmen of zila parishad and panchayat samiti, as the ex-officio members. Besides, other members consisted of eminent persons from all walks of life and representatives of major political parties.

Its mandate includes advising the administration on various policy matters and development issues. In the past meetings, several valuable suggestions have come from the council, which have gone a long way in the formulation of the policy decisions affecting the common citizen.

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MSc question papers stolen from govt college
Hemant Kumar

Kalka, May 24
Question papers of MSc (geography) examination being conducted by Kurukshetra University were stolen from the local Government Postgraduate College last night. The examination is scheduled for tomorrow.

The theft came to light this morning when around 15 locks of various offices in the college were found broken.

Official sources in the college said the miscreants broke the locks of principal’s office, administration block, bursar room, NCC office, steno room, geography department, university cell and home science room.

The sources added that thieves also broke the locks of around 10 almirahs, where question papers were kept.

However, the miscreants left the 16 computers kept in the college’s computer room untouched. The computers had recently been brought to the college.

Lukai Ram and Gurmukh, both peons, learnt about the theft in the morning and informed the college administration.

The sources added that as the college principal was out of station, a complaint in this regard was lodged at the Kalka police station by officiating principal KK Kaushik.

The local police visited the college and took stock of the situation. DSP Daya Nand said the police was investigating the matter after registering a case.

Examinations of second and fourth semester of postgraduate classes are going on these days. The examinations, which started on May 20, will conclude on June 28.

At least 25 students of MSc (geography) are taking the examinations.

The college administration has informed the university about the theft of question papers by sending a fax, the sources added.

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Insensitivity is not the answer
Raveen Thukral

Do you remember Nikhil Kumar? If not, here's a recap to refresh your memories - he was the former Police Commissioner of Delhi who later joined politics and became a Congress MP from Bihar in the last Lok Sabha.

He re-contested the elections this year but lost. I really don't know how good a politician he is but as a cop, he had a decent reputation. However, he had an unceremonious exit from the Delhi police in 1997 following a shootout in Connaught Place in which two innocent businessmen, presumed to be hardened gangsters, were shot dead by a team of crime branch officials, led by ACP, S S Rathi, who is now undergoing a life term.

What took Nikhil's job wasn't the shootout as such but his reaction to it. The ‘shots’ of the Delhi Police Commissioner, smiling in front of cameras while dubbing the incident as a simple case of “mistaken identity”, that were beamed to the drawing rooms of millions of Indians throughout the country offended every right thinking person and evoked a strong reaction. He was sacked immediately.

Now, you must be wondering why I am talking about Nikhil Kumar and what does he have to do with this column. Well I have to thank some city bureaucrats whose reactions or rather insensitivities to the recent rape of a mentally challenged teenaged girl at Nari Niketan have reminded me of the former Delhi Police Commissioner.

Per se one cannot draw parallels between the two incidents, one being a cold blooded murder and the other a rape, but the remarks of a certain city bureaucrat that what happened at Nari Niketan was a manifestation of a social problem and “part of the society” exposes his insensitivity to the crime in no lesser terms than the comments of a smiling Nikhil Kumar. While rape may be part of a society, the crime becomes all the more serious when the victim is mentally challenged and is in the custody of the state.

The administration or those responsible for the safety of the girl at the Nari Niketan cannot shrug off their responsibility by making such remarks. Here, I am reminded of the last year's judgment of the apex court which allowed the prosecution of the former Director of Hewlett Packard Global Software Ltd., Som Mittal, in the case of rape and murder of Pratibha Srikant Murthy, a BPO employee, by a cab driver contracted by the company. The court had observed that the Director was responsible for the safety and the protection of the employee.

Frankly speaking, the way the investigations are going on, I have my doubts on the UT administration's seriousness, and for that matter intentions too, to deal with the issue and expose the truth. It's almost a week since the main accused, Bhupinder Singh, was arrested but no action has been initiated against officials who were directly responsible for the safety and the protection of the girl.

Instead of doing what is right, the officials seem busy beating around the bush by indulging in a blame game and confusing the issue by raising doubts over the place of occurrence of the crime - Nari Niketan or Aashray, the home for destitute and mentally challenged people in Sec 47. The ultra sound test conducted on the girl on May 18 confirmed that she was nine weeks pregnant on May 18, indicating that she was raped at Nari Niketan and not Aashray where she was shifted on March 13.

The UT administration's ostensible plea that action against others would be initiated after investigations are complete is nothing but sham since police inquiries, which are now hinging on a DNA test, would only reveal whether Bhupinder is the rapist or not. The rape, as such, is confirmed so I fail to understand the delay in sacking those who were responsible to ensure her safety.

I am somewhat surprised and angered at the wisdom of those responsible for the working of Nari Niketan, or for that matter any such institute, for allowing unsupervised access of males to mentally challenged young women. While the administration has now announced that no males would be allowed there, the fact that it takes a rape of an innocent girl to make the babus at the civil secretariat realize such small things speaks volumes on their competence and concern for the security of the inmates.

Now coming to Aashray, I feel that this is a well conceived but a shoddily implemented project. The idiom, putting the cart before the horse, aptly describes the way this project has been implemented in haste by the administration ostensibly to please the powers that be.

When The Tribune recently exposed the lack of security measures there, I got calls from a couple of IAS officers in the city accusing me of “sensationalizing” the issue by printing photographs of our correspondent jumping the wall of the home. “Even our houses have small boundary walls and that too can be scaled so what's the big deal,” they asked telling me in all their wisdom that having “tall walls” was not a panacea for this “social problem”.

I could not but smile at their advice and wondered if they too allowed unquestioned access to their bedrooms to those who can “scale” the walls of their houses as was done to our correspondent who managed to reach the first floor where some mentally challenged women were lodged. And as for the “tall walls” not being a panacea, these bureaucrats perhaps forget that like prevention is be better than cure, deterrence is the only plausible solution to crime. Insensitivity and the ‘hota rehta hai attitude’ to such crimes is not the answer.

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com

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Welfare Programmes
Admn to seek social bodies’ help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
The UT administration is planning to invite Chandigarh-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social activists and voluntary organisations committed to the cause of various social issues to be a partner in various social initiative programmes launched by the government.

At a meeting held recently under the chairmanship of Home Secretary Ram Niwas, which was attended by director, health services, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, director, social welfare, medical officer of health department and conservator of forests, it was decided that such NGOs and individual social activists, retired educationist volunteers, doctors and other voluntary organisations will have to register themselves with various coordinators of these programmes by June 5.

The proposal, called the “partnership initiative programme” will cover areas such as imparting education to children, who have not been able to join schools or are school dropouts, partnership in the area of drug de-addiction programme, partnership in the area of female foeticide, environmental protection, partnership in sanitation and garbage removal programme, partnership in tree plantation programme and partnership for the rehabilitation of differently-abled persons.

The education department is running “194 alternate school education centres” in various government buildings in the afternoon for four hours. The cooperation of the voluntary organisations is sought for effective supervision, monitoring and identification of the dropouts, for mobilising them to the schools, teaching and engaging them in various socio-cultural and sports activities.

The voluntary agencies, which are desirous to take part in the drug-de-addiction programme are expected to discharge the functions of identification of the drug addicts in the areas, which will be earmarked for them, mobilise such addicts to the drug de-addiction centres established by the government, working as counsellors.

Voluntary organisations desirous of joining hands with the government in the field of female foeticide are expected to identify task group, organise celebration of birthdays of the second-girl child on the occasion of Lohri and other festivals, providing them incentives, monitoring the overall programme and creating awareness generation in the vulnerable areas through various awareness generation programmes.

Voluntary agencies and resident welfare associations, interested in partnership with the government for the sanitation and garbage removal programme, are expected to work as sensitisation activists and to form small cooperatives for garbage removal.

The voluntary organisations, which are interested to work in the field of tree-plantation are expected to obtain trees from the forest department and initiate plantation programmes in their neighbourhood, parks, schools, hospitals etc and to adopt these trees for their proper upkeep.

The voluntary organisations, which are interested to work in the field of rehabilitation of differently-abled people are expected to join hands with the administration to provide services of counsellors, medical practitioners and supervisors.

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Grain Market Fire
No lesson learnt from past
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
It seems no lesson has been learnt from incidents of the past - more recently the death of four persons in Sector 22 in April this year - for nothing else can explain the situation at the grain market in Sector 26, where a fire broke out this evening. While a major tragedy was averted after the fire broke out in a godown-cum-shop containing combustible materials, no apparent safety measures were in place to prevent a fire.

A visit to the market revealed that huge stacks of articles, some over 7 to 8 feet high, were stored outside shops. The stacks were piled in long, congested lanes.

The space between the stacks was so little that no more than two persons could pass. Oil products and ghee containers were also stored outside shops, thus blocking the passage.

The stacks prevented fire tenders from getting close to the building where the fire broke out and were forced to use additional hoses to cover the distance.

“The shopkeeper had also unauthorisedly stored highly combustible material in the shop, where safety measures were missing. The shop was packed to capacity and fire-fighters had a tough time making their way through the goods packed in the godown. One needs permission to store such chemicals having potential of causing fire. However, this was not done in this case. The shopkeeper, on the contrary, was not forthcoming in providing information about the material stored in the shop,” said a fireman.

While the magisterial inquiry conducted by Additional Deputy Commissioner PS Shergill into the Sector-22 blaze held the fire department guilty of reaching late at the scene, it was not the case this time.

However, the factors responsible for the delay, apart from laxity of the fire department, were conspicuously there today. “Had it not been a Sunday, the fire tenders could not have reached in time this time also.

On weekdays, encroachment, illegal squatters and vendors block the roads inside the market, leaving no space for vehicles to pass through,” said a fire official.

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Building, traffic violations galore at iron market
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Iron merchants at the iron and steel market in Sector 29 have not only encroached upon the government land but also posed a serious threat to human lives by dumping their material on the road.

Loads of iron bars and sheets lying on the road and blocking the passage is commonplace at the market. Protruding iron bars, around 20 feet long, and iron sheets on horse-drawn carts pose a serious hazard to motorists.

Insiders say majority of iron traders in the market are owners and, defying architectural norms, have made illegal constructions inside their plots only to rent these out further.

“According to the drawings, the central portion of the plot has to be kept open for storing steel sheets and iron bars but merchants have made illegal construction on their premises. With the result, iron bars are kept on the road itself,” he said.

Sources added that except for challaning them “regularly”, the municipal corporation has turned a blind eye to this gross violation.

“MC officials pay a fortnight visit to the market and fine them just Rs 500. Even if they come four times a month, iron traders do not mind paying a regular fine of Rs 2,000 as they get Rs 35 to 40 per sq ft rental income from illegal construction on their premises. Nobody checks that,” said the sources.

SE (roads) Yogesh Gupta said: “It is illegal to unload iron bars on the road. I will check this violation.”

Nevertheless, the road between roundabout of Sectors 29-30-32-31 and Tribune Chowk is one of the most accident-prone stretches due to the location of the iron market.

A visit to the market revealed that at least five to six horse-drawn carts, proceeding towards the market, preferred “wrong-side shortcut” to reach the market through Sector 29-30-31-32 roundabout to deliver or lift iron sheets and bars from the market.

The other route these carts usually take is from a V5 road between the iron market and The Tribune office.

Several people have lost their lives and many have suffered grievous injuries from iron bars or steel sheet being ferried on these carts. However such accidents involving carts or rehris are taken to be quirk of fate.

Though there are provisions in the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 to make the roads safe, these are seldom applied to vehicles drawn by humans or animals.

Usually, a cart has a capacity to carry a maximum weight of 7 quintal, but traders and, sometimes, customers, as cart riders claim, urge them to carry more weight, up to 10 quintals, for a little more money.

Some horse-cart riders said: “There is a challan of Rs 500 for overloading the cart but the traffic police can be dodged easily because they hardly have measuring equipment to judge overloading.”

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Construction of Plots
Want extension? Be ready to shell out Rs 2 lakh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 24
Those planning to get an extension on construction of their plots till December 31, 2009, will have to pay an extension fee at the rate of four per cent of the plots’ market value for the year.

Since the prevailing allotment rate is Rs 10,000/sq yard, the extension fee for a one-kanal plot would be around Rs 2 lakh.

Similarly, the extension fee for ten-marla and eight-marla plots is Rs one lakh and Rs 80,000, respectively. Though the new extension-fee policy had been decided before the elections, the formal announcement was made after the elections.

Those who pay the fee now, would commence the construction before December 31, 2009.

The one-year extension has been given to those, whose deadlines to raise the construction ended on December 31, 2008.

Though GMADA officials said this would be the last extension, sources said the GMADA had been giving extensions regularly as it generated revenues to the authority.

The policy allows eight years to raise an extension on their plots and till now, the extension has been given thrice. This will benefit those who did not start the construction by December 31, 2008, which was the deadline last set by the GMADA.

Justifying the hike, the GMADA officials said the rates had been increased last year from Rs 7,950 per sq yard to Rs 10,000 per sq yard for plots sized 100 sq yard and above. For plots sized less than 100 sq yard, the rates had been increased from Rs 3,150 per sq yard to Rs 5,000 per sq yard, they added.

Reacting to the new fee structure, the Mohali Property Dealers Association has sought at least a five-year extension after levying of a nominal fee. 

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BSF to march on Rahman’s song
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
AR RahmanThe Border Security Force (BSF) will now be marching to the tune of AR Rahman. The eminent musician has composed a theme song for the BSF, which is the first of its kind for any para-military force in the country.

The song was formally released at a function held in New Delhi this week, which was attended by the BSF top brass. According to BSF officers, the project was initiated by former BSF Director General and Governor of Meghalaya RS Mooshahary. As a goodwill gesture for the men guarding the frontiers, Rahman reportedly composed the song without charging anything from the force.

Opening up with "Hum Seema Suraksha Bal, veeron ka hai ye dal…", the five-minute song highlights the strength and valour of the force. It also touches upon the emotions and sentiments of the jawans deployed in remote areas away from their family. The video accompanying the song shows the varied life and deployment of BSF personnel, including the world famous Retreat at Wagah.

Once described by Time magazine as the "Mozart of Madras", Oscar- winning Rahman has had his brush with the forces and patriotic themes. He was the music composer for the film Roja, which was set in Kashmir and had a strong element of the Army.

He composed the title song "Jaya He" for the Indian Navy for the International Feet Review 2001. In 1997 he made an album Vande Mataram to commemorate, Besides directing the video Jana Gana Mana, a conglomeration of performances by many leading exponents of Indian classical music.

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Molestation
Cops lock horn over jurisdiction
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Mani Majra and Sector -11 police stations locked horns over the jurisdiction for hours instead of taking action against an elderly man, who had allegedly molested a minor girl throughout the day. Officials at both police stations kept on passing the buck to each other till late in the night, when ultimately Mani Majra police station relented and registered the case.

Man was caught after a few persons saw a minor girl, in his custody, crying. People got more suspicious after the man failed to explain his relationship with the girl. The seven-year-old girl told the people that the man had taken her for a ride on his Scooty after picking her up from Panjab University this afternoon. He took her to a secluded place and carried out the “filthy acts.” She also alleged that the man took her to Shastri Nagar in Mani Majra and tried force himself upon her.

The incident came to light at around 8 pm when passers-by noticed the girl crying on the roadside. The man stopped there after his vehicle conked off. Bipin Kumar saw the girl crying, who told him that the man had tried to molest her. Bipin called the police. But, before the police could reach people started thrashing the man.

The girl was so hungry that when someone offered her his tiffin box, she grabbed the box and started eating it. Assistant sub-inspector Skatar Singh of Mani Majra police station, who reached the spot, told TNS that the man had been identified as Sita Ram (60) is a resident of Indira Colony. He, however, claimed that he was related to the girl.

The police said the victim was a daughter of a labourer from the university. The Mani Majra police initially tried to persuade their Sector 11 counterparts to proceed into the matter as the crime occurred there. But the Sector 11 SHO Sukhbir Rana held that they had received no complaint regarding this, hence they could do nothing in the matter.

In the end, the Mani Majra police station SHO said a case of molestation had been registered and the accused arrested. 

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2 trapped in lift, rescued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Two persons were trapped in a lift on the second floor of malaria office in Sector 9 here today.

According to fire officials, they received information that two persons had been trapped in the building around 11.30 am.A fire tender from the fire station in Sector 17 was pressed into service. The two were rescued within 15 minutes.

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British Library holds workshop for 
IELTS instructors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
As a part of the British Library organisational membership, The British Library today organised a workshop for IELTS trainers, which was attended by about 35 participants.

The title of the workshop was “Teaching grammar and building vocabulary”. Prof Deepti Gupta from department of English, Panjab University, was the resource person.

“Without grammar, we are left with a jumble of words which make no sense. Grammar is divided into two main areas, one dealing with the analysis of words and the other with the analysis of sentences. The study of the form and structure of words is called morphology. The study of the form and structure of sentences is called syntax,” she explained.

“Knowing grammar is similar to knowing any other subject. When one learns biology, one learns a way of looking at living things, one learns how to describe them, and one also learns the technical terms. It is the same case with grammar, too,” she stressed.

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SBoP revises interest rates

Patiala, May 24
The State Bank of Patiala has revised interest rates on domestic term deposits from yesterday. The interest rate from 15 to 45 days have been fixed at 3.25 per cent per annum. For the deposits from 46 to 90 days at 4.25 per cent, 91 to 180 days at 5.50 per cent, 181 days to less than one year at 6.75 per cent, one year to less than 500 days at 7.50 per cent, for 500 days’ deposit at 8 per cent and 501 days to 10 years at 8 per cent.

The senior citizens will be given interest on domestic term deposits at the rate of 8.50 per cent for a period of one year and above. — TNS

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Alcoholic Anonymous completes 13 yrs
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 24
Achieving another milestone in the illustrious history of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), a worldwide fellowship of recovering alcoholics, the Samparpan Group of the AA today completed 13 years of bringing smile back on the faces of the suffering alcoholics, their families and friends.

In fact, scores of the recovering alcoholics and their family members got together at Sood Bhavan, Sector 10, here, for a thanksgiving open meeting in an endeavour to pass on the message to the still-suffering alcoholics to come out of the fatal disease.

Sharing their experiences at the anniversary bash, a "sober" alcoholic said alcoholism was a three-fold -- physical, mental and spiritual -- disease. Though there is no known cure for the disease, yet AA's simple 12-step programme could go a long way in arresting the disease "one day at a time". The initial programme involves attending AA's meetings held throughout the week in the tricity, where the recovering alcoholics share their experience, strength and hope with the newcomers.

Sarvmeet (name changed), who became sober on the very first day of attending AA meeting, informed that alcohol had virtually become his master for almost 20 years. Losing jobs, family separation and ostracism from the society could not make him quit drinking. "I desperately wanted to leave alcohol. Completely sozzled at night, I swore on the head of my children that I would never touch that deadly drink again. However, the "morning madness" returned again and I started drinking early in the morning," he shared as his eyes welled up.

One fine day, he continued, a family friend, also an AA member, passed on the message to him to try the AA programme. Sitting among jubilant strangers, I related to their life stories for the first time in my life. "Regular meetings coupled with AA's life-giving programme saw me being a part of society again. My old employers hired me again and my family is back -- happy and contented," he said with a broad smile on the face.

Similarly, another member said the life would be meaningless without the liquor. Starting as social drinker, alcohol soon overpowered him with the result that by the age of 23, he was at the mercy of the stuff. Rehabilitation centres and counselling proved futile.

However, AA meetings which he came to know through the AA helpline (94170-37358) helped with the result that he was sober for a little over three months now." I am sober and happy," declared the young man.

Got drinking problem?

Any problem drinker desirous of becoming sober can dial the 24-hour AA Helpline at 94170-37358. For more information, log on the official website of the Alcoholic Anonymous: www.aa.org

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‘Matka’ dance moves audience
SD Sharma

Panchkula, May 24
The splendour of Bharatnatyam and Kathak classical dances pervaded the arena of Bhavan Vidyalaya auditorium, as over 50 girl students performed in a dance bonanza titled ‘Abhinay Darpan’ here today.
Students of Bhavan Vidyalaya present a classical dance in Panchkula on Sunday.
Students of Bhavan Vidyalaya present a classical dance in Panchkula on Sunday. Tribune photo: S Chandan

Attired in costumes as per the themes, students (five to 15 years of age) kicked off the show with a namaskar and a Ganesh Vandana.

After the traditional Pushpanjali dance, the artistes presented various forms of dances, including Alirippu, Varnam and Thillana.

An episode from Ramayana and a Raasleela of Lord Krishna with Gopikas were well received. Children (five to seven years of age) danced on a song ‘Piya tohe naina laage re’. However, the audience was moved by a vibrant Matka dance, in which the performers danced on pitchers by holding candles in hands and on their heads.

The artistes joined instructor Rahul Gupta who made the grand finale a success.

School principal Shashi Banerjee disclosed that the students were imparted a training in classical dances from a dance school, Bhavans Kalyam.

She welcomed chief guest IAS Ramesh Krishan, who traced the evolution of classical dance pioneered by Bharat Muni in the Vedic period.

He appreciated the school management for promoting our cultural heritage.

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City Scope Letters
Right blend clicked for Congress

This refers to the City Scope “The Congress has it!” (May 18) by Raveen Thukral in which he has rightly said -The Congress has it.

Really, for the first time since 1991, the party got clear majority, which was not expected this time. Though Congress is likely to provide us a stable government, I still fear if it would be able to deliver the expected.

We have to discuss what brought the Congress to power. Apart from Modi and Karat there were several other factors too. I think this is a negative vote towards opposition and regional parties. They arm-twisted and never worked or allowed to work. So part of the blame comes on Karat and others. But minus the Red parties will the Congress perform? What Mamta has done in Bengal if done elsewhere, will it not hinder the progress?

We should be happy that the Congress has got a better share of votes. The real deciphering of the election result is still due. We should also wait to see whether Sonia would be able to control the party and deliver for the welfare of the people.

In the present circumstances, rising prices, meltdown and corruption are the major challenges for the Congress. I feel that there are chances that this government might tilt either way- it could be a big failure or a complete success.

Kumar Gaurav, Chandigarh

II

The heading of this week City Scope should be “The people have it” instead of “The Congress has it”. It is not the Congress but the people who have done it.

After many years of testing, people have rejected the leaders of fragmented regional parties, who claimed to be ruling the nation by a proxy presence.

The results are simply unbelievable. All those who were putting Manmohan Sarkar to ransom have been thrown away. Though the Congress has thrown out Lalu and Karat, still Mamta and DMK are there to nail them.

After twenty years people have voted for a single party and we hope that the party politics will stay here.

The young factor has played well in the election. People have shown their faith for a stable government.

Keshav, Chandigarh

III

People of India have given a clear mandate to the UPA to put an end to the political instability.

The exit polls by the electronic media became a futile exercise. The Indian voters became wise while casting their votes for the right candidate. They rejected the national, regional parties, the third and the fourth front.

The UPA government should think about growth by providing more jobs. The government must think of ways to control population so as to curb poverty. It should also check the price rise of essential commodities especially those of domestic use.

The left parties, SP and other allies of the UPA should support the new government. People had lost confidence in the left parties and the BJP. They wanted to see good governance and better quality of life. The government should consider the predictions of the World Bank, which has warned that people would live under extreme poverty, in 2015. Dr Manmohan Singh who is considered a great economist has thus several challenges to meet.

M L Garg, Chandigarh

IV

It’s aptly analysed that the middle class, the youth and the Muslim vote that has helped the Congress and the UPA to emerge winners. Thus, proving all the exit polls and the poll pundits wrong. No one, including the players- the Congress and its allies- had an inclination that the pre-poll alliance would emerge strongly.

Several other factors played a crucial role too. The Congress could muster the youth support because of Rahul Gandhi. The middle class polled for the honesty of Dr Manmohan Singh and trusted him to deal with the economic slowdown, safeguard the economy and pave way for growth and development.

The Communists because of their outdated policies and programmes failed to protect the interests of the poor, weaker and the middle class. Their opposition of the Indo-US nuclear deal, too, went against them and thus their middle class and youth vote bank went against them.

Harbans Singh Chopra, Mohali

V

The results of this year’s elections are unexpected. Since 1991, elections had been opting for fractured majority that created an impression that coalition governments would stay and power of regional parties was increasing.

Things took a bad shape to an extent that disgruntled politicians played the worst politics. But, our democracy is strong and hence, the voters have shown the door to all sorts of manipulators.

It has been mentioned by the writer that Modi and Karat factors eased the situation for the Congress. The Varun factor, blame game and Advani’s greed to capturing the highest post has led to the BJP’s downfall. The criticism of the Prime Minister has also worked in favour of the congress. The UPA is now in full force and I am sure that it will work. A wise man rightly said Manmohan SinghS would keep the seat hot for about two years and then the young leader would come.

The Sonia factor will work and people are likely to get relief in the future. Rahul once said only ten paise out of one rupee reaches the right place, so will the UPA help the people to get more out of remaining 90 paise.

As prices of routine products have increased, will the UPA be able to reduce the Consumer Price Index. They should learn that if they do not perform then the coming elections will be hard to win.

R K Garg, Chandigarh

VI

Ideology and practice led to debacles of the BJP and Left parties. Mr Thukral has rightly said the figure of 260 seats for the Congress-led UPA was not predicted by any of the exit polls. Such a victory, especially when prices of essential commodities are skyrocketing, was not expected by the Congress or the UPA allies.

The victory of the UPA de facto is not the victory of the Congress but is complete polarisation of politics in the BJP and the Left, particularly at the expense of regional parties.

The communal cards of the BJP and the Leftists’ hide and seek policy led to their debacles. The BJP and the Left failed as their ideologies did not reflect aspirations of the voters and the tactics they followed during the campaign alienated their supporters as well. Also, the mandate has discarded the regional parties and parties like the LJP, the PDP, the MNS and the RPI could not open their accounts.

The parties have not announced any concrete national policies and programmes for the people, moreover, all parties indulged in mudslinging.

Though Varun Gandhi attained victory in Pilibhit, it was an overall defeat for the BJP . The corruption crisis in the Kerala unit of the CPM has been unprecedented. The Left Front governments in West Bengal and Kerala claim that private investment is required to generate jobs.

Nandigram and Singur have raised serious doubts about the Left Front governments’ ability to attract private investment to West Bengal. The party leadership has all these years educated its cadre that private capital is inimical to the interests of the people and should be resisted at all costs. How long can a party remain trapped by the contradiction between ideology and practice. Further, the Left unsuccessfully tried to form a Third Alternative with those parties which were a part of the NDA under the BJP earlier.

In the last general elections, when the NDA sought votes on the “Indian Shining” slogan, this led the next UPA government to focus on inclusive growth. Booming stock markets or upbeat economic data do not reflect the true picture of the country. Poverty alleviation requires long-term planning, increased spending on education, health and infrastructure and political commitment. Benefits of growth have to be evenly shared. This is a time for introspection, not only for the BJP/Left but for the Congress as well. The BJP and the Left, hopefully, will reformulate their politics to offer a constructive opposition in the Parliament. It is the time to consolidate the gains for the Congress.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

VII

Mr. Raveen has rightly highlighted the reasons that have brought in unexpected did not take the arrogance and obstinacy exhibited by Karat and his comrades on the issue of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal and the sustained, irrational opposition to the reforms that the Prime Minister wanted to usher in. Karat basically tried to create hurdles for the UPA as their party even propped up Mayawati’s name as the ‘next’ Prime Minister, knowing well that she has a dubious reputation for collecting funds. The BJP, also, did not help its own cause by tearing in to Manmohan Singh at a personal level. The Opposition, it seemed had no issues other than personal hatred for the Gandhi family and a scholarly and a dignified Prime Minister. The electorate, has very rightly, given them the boot !

M K Bajaj, Chandigarh

VIII

I do agree that “it is combination of the middle class, the youth and the Muslim vote that has done the trick for the Congress and the UPA”. People had taught a bitter lesson to the Communists this year who had stabbed the government over the issue of the nuclear deal by withdrawing their support at the crucial time.

The voters had not forgotten the ugly episode and paid them back the same coin by routing them from the political field entirely. This gave an advantage to the Congress. Moreover, the BJP lost its reputation due to the fielding of LK Advani as its prime ministerial candidate, who indulged in unnecessary war-of-words with Manmohan Singh. Also, due to the communal policies of the BJP, the public had felt disgusted that was again an advantage for the Congress. Whereas, the Modi factor did tilt the Muslim votes in favour of the Congress and the UPA. The “Third Front” was certainly ‘hub of power-hungry politicians’ who wanted to take over the reigns of the country, as has been aptly described by Mr. Thukral. This factor had turned the voters, especially the youth in favour of the Congress and the UPA. In totality, the voters were more educated than the politicians who wisely voted for a stable and a strong government at the Centre.

R K Kapoor, Chandigarh

(To be continued)

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PU cooks to hone culinary skills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
The cooks at the Panjab University hostels are likely to undergo a training in culinary hygiene and skills from Dr BR Ambedkar Hotel Management Institute. The proposal has been recommended by the recently-formed committee looking into the complaints of supply of sub standard meals in the hostels.

It is yet to be decided by the university whether the training would be done in phases or not.

“The students complained about poor quality of the food being served in the hostels, and thus, we formed a committee to look into the matter. The cooks will be trained in order to hone their culinary skills,” dean, Students Welfare, Panjab University, Naval Kishore, said.

According to information, the university had proposed to buy basic commodities like oil, flour and rice from ‘Markfed’ to bring a uniformity in purchases and get the best deals at a reasonable price.

“The main problem was the use of sub standard products by contractors. So, by training the cooks we shall be able to provide quality food to the students,” an official said.

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