C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Thieves strike at 3 places in Panchkula
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 18
In a spate of robberies and thefts in the town, thieves struck at three places in broad daylight and decamped with cash and jewellery worth around Rs 4 lakh here today.

The town has witnessed more than half dozen robberies and more than two dozen thefts in this year alone. On Wednesday, robbers looted Rs 25,000 from a petrol station at Mansa Devi Complex, followed by a heist of Rs 2.5 lakh at a petrol station of Sector 5 on Saturday night.

At one of the houses, two thieves had a scuffle with the landlord in Sector 12-A before they fled.

The owner of the house, Jatinder Kumar, said he was sleeping around 11.15 am and his mother Meenakshi had gone to a temple, locking the house from outside at 9 am.

“Only both of us live in the house. I heard some noise outside and thought she had returned and the maid was sweeping the house. As the door of my room was closed, I could not see who was in the lobby but I knew someone was in the house. When I heard the doors of a cupboard being opened near my room, I got suspicious and came out of the room, only to find two persons collecting things,” he said.

“They were shocked to see me and tried to flee. I grappled with one of them, who pulled out a revolver and followed his accomplice who had started the motorcycle parked a few yards away,” he said. A sum of Rs 40,000 and jewellery worth around Rs 2 lakh was missing from the house.

A woman who saw the accused flee said they seemed to be in their early 30s and fled on a black motorcycle.

Though some labourers were white-washing a house nearby, no one noticed the thieves break into the house as trees along the boundary wall of the house provided good cover.

“I rang up 6532958, but nobody responded, following which I called 2582100 (control room number) at 12.07 pm. A PCR van reached the spot at 12.30 pm,” he said.

Meanwhile, when the police teams from the CIA staff and the Sector 14 police station were busy investigating the matter at Sector 12, their counterparts at the Chandimandir police station rushed to Sectors 26 and 21 where thieves had struck. They stole cash and jewellery worth Rs 1.20 lakh from a house in Sector 26 while the loss at another house in Sector 21 is being ascertained.

Also, an incident of snatching was reported from Sector 19.

A major chunk of the police force had been deployed along the national highway to provide security cover and regulate traffic as some BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Rajnath Singh and Bihar deputy CM Sushil Modi, were to leave by road for a party meeting at Shimla.



Dell employee found dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Mystery shrouds the death of Varinder, alias Veeru, a 27-year-old Dell employee, who was found dead in a semi-clad condition in the bathroom of his PG accommodation at Sector 37 here this morning. He was from Rampur in Shimla.

His colleague told the police that Veeru had been complaining of breathlessness and fever for the past few days, following which the suspicion of him suffering from swine flu spread.

The police has recovered some medicines from his belongings, which were later found to be painkillers and antibiotics. His postmortem report said the victim was not infected with swine flu.

The body was found lying face down in the bathroom. It did not have any external injury marks. His roommate, Jhujhar Singh of Patiala, said he came around 7.30 pm last night and found the bathroom locked from inside. He heard the water flowing and thought Veeru was taking bath. He used the other bathroom and went to bed. He woke up around 5.45 am and still found the bathroom locked. He got suspicious and after failing to get any response from inside, he informed his landlord, Ranjit Singh who called the police.

The police informed his father Jiya Lal, an assistant controller in the food and supplies department, Himachal Pradesh.

The victim’s friend, Vikram, reached the spot and said Veeru was working as a technical care executive at Dell and had been complaining of uneasiness and fever on Monday. Veeru also told him that he wanted to go home early. He had joined Dell a week ago after shifting from Gurgaon.

Ranjit Singh said Veeru had given him Rs 500 in advance and had told him that he wanted to shift elsewhere.

The SHO of the Sector 39 police station, inspector Janak Rana, ruled out any foul play behind the death and said the bathroom was locked from inside and there was no other entry point.

Meanwhile, NK Arora, medical superintendent of Government Multi Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, said the viscera had been sent for a chemical examination to ascertain the exact cause of the death. “There can be many reasons for the death under such circumstances, including cardiac arrest and epilepsy. However, there is no reason to believe that he was suffering from swine flu,” he said.



‘I was also slapped in school’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
In a statement that could add to the embarrassment of St John’s High School, Sector 26, union minister for human resource development Kapil Sibal today announced at a press conference that he was slapped several times when he was studying at St John’s.

Reacting to the recent case of corporal punishment in the school, he expressed his disapproval of such an act and made his stand clear on zero tolerance to corporal punishment.

Though the school authorities could not be contacted for comments, the statement has put the school management in a spot.

It is reported that some former students of the school were accused of pressuring the UT administration to drop the inquiry and even questioned the motive behind the administration’s speedy trial in the case.

Some members of St John’s ex-students association had been mounting pressure on the administration to preserve the tarnished image of the school, which, however, proved futile.

A Class III student had been repeatedly slapped and humiliated in front of his classmates. The inquiry was conducted by the SDM, who pronounced the teacher guilty and her services were terminated.

But now with the minister himself saying that he had been a victim of the wrath of teachers, the message could go a long way in curbing corporal punishment and serve as a deterrent for teachers.

Panchkula: Pushing his agenda for making Class X board examinations optional in the first phase, Sibal held an interactive session at Panchkula in a bid to evolve consensus on examination reforms.

Sibal said 10th graders who intended to continue in the same school should be free to take a school-conducted exam instead of the board exam.

CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi highlighted the inclusion of a systematic question bank that it would provide to schools for Class X examinations and the scheme of allotting marks.

Revealing his plan to gradually abolish the exam in the second phase, the minister answered queries of students and teachers, even as confusion prevailed over the matter.

“There is still confusion over the criteria for students to sit in this optional board exam. It will become an added burden for teachers to evaluate a student,” a principal said.

Nearly 450 participants, including students, teachers, parents and principals of schools affiliated to the CBSE, were present.

The session began with Sibal giving an overview of the right to education Bill and an insight into plans to bring about widespread reforms in school education.

The main points of discussion were adoption of a comprehensive counselling and evaluation system in schools to check the holistic development of a child; focus on more counsellors in schools; online test (on demand) whose result would be available in a week; vocational degrees to students by the CBSE; and improving the quality of teachers.

Hinting at another modification to gradually switch over to a common competitive entrance exam for Class XII science stream students, the minister assured students that they would not be burdened with several entrance examinations to seek admission to professional colleges.

He also said schools which did not fulfill the infrastructure requirement or had shortcomings, would eventually be shut down. He also expressed his firm stand against corporal punishment.

Earlier in the day, he visited schools at Manekya village and Ramgarh of Panchkula to get an account of the problems being faced by students and teachers.

The Haryana government has been asked to provide toilets in all schools, for which the centre would provide sufficient funds. In addition to this, all schools in the country would be inter-connected during the next three years.

A recurring grant of Rs 50,000 was announced for every school. Out of this, Rs 10,000 would be spent on school libraries.



Mayor’s brother sets bad example
Fellow shopkeepers too indulge in encroachments

GS Paul
Tribune News Service

The rear view of the shop of Mayor Kamlesh’s brother at Dadu Majra. Tribune photo: Pardeep Tewari

Chandigarh, August 18
While Mayor Kamlesh has been trying to convince people to vacate public land encroached by them, her own family seems to be leading the encroachers’ brigade at Dadumajra, which incidentally is her ward.

Encouraged by the Mayor’s brother, Jagdish, who extended his commercial premises on public land at Dadumajra, several shopkeepers have followed suit by encroaching on a large chunk of land.

Another shopkeeper, Satwant Singh, supposedly having political connections, has constructed two shops on the green space adjoining his shop and has been enjoying rent for over two decades. His tenant, who runs an auto repair shop, said he was paying Rs 2,500 as rent and had been there for 15 years.

The secretary, engineering, Sanjay Kumar, when apprised of this blatant violation, said: “It is strange that such violations escaped the notice of the enforcement wing. I will direct the estate office to get the survey of the area done.”

Jagdish’s father said he was the father of the Mayor and that they had been running a sweet shop for the past over 40 years.

The Mayor confessed that the shop belonged to her brother, but showed little concern about the violations. “I know violations have been committed by several shopkeepers,” she said. Asked if any action had been taken, she said: “Whatever action is necessary, it would be the same for all,” she retorted, before saying that she had other important issues to take care of. “I am at present busy solving the problem of the garbage dumping ground in Sector 38,” she added.

MPS Chawla, chairman, MC enforcement committee, said: “It is surprising that the Mayor, who should be setting an example for other residents to emulate, has been violating norms and shielding encroachers. She should do something about it at the earliest,” he said.


Shifting of telephone exchange
Several BSNL numbers out of order
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 18
Unmindful of the harassment faced by hundreds of telephone subscribers, the Punjab circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) seems to be in a hurry to shift over 5,000 telephone numbers from the telephone exchange in Phase X to another telephone exchange in Phase XI, here.

As a result, a number of telephone connections have been out of order for different durations, ranging from 15 days to one month. The Tribune team came across several such harried subscribers. For the reasons best known to the officials concerned, no public notice was given to announce the shifting (crossover in parlance of the department).

Instead of putting the horse before the cart, around 2,500 telephone numbers have been “officially” shifted out from the Phase X exchange without putting the necessary equipment in place at the Phase XI exchange.

A telephone number at the residence of VK Mahajan in Phase XI remained out of order on different occasions. Arun Kumar of Phase XI, a subscriber, shared a similar experience.

In the hurry to vacate the Phase X exchange building running from a rented accommodation, workers of a private contractor engaged by the department first disconnect the numbers and then take the exchange-related equipment from the Phase X exchange to Phase XI exchange. After being disconnected from the Phase X exchange, the cable of the numbers concerned was not traceable in the Phase XI exchange.

Sources reveal that the acceptance testing (AT) report for the Phase XI exchange was never taken. Instead of putting a senior level official at the Phase XI exchange, a Class III and a Class IV employee, a suspended junior accounts officer, Balwant Singh, along with men of the contractor, were handling the work as far as the indoor exchange was concerned.

The SDO at the Phase IV exchange, Prithpal Singh has been given additional work.

Demanding a vigilance probe into the entire wrongdoing at the cost of the subscribers, a number of affected telephone users said the entire exercise was raising many an eyebrows.

At present there was no senior official to supervise the outdoor work of cable jointing. The untrained men of the contractor were not following the proper procedure in jointing the cables after the crossover. As a result a number of shifted telephone numbers had again gone out of order.

An official, while defending the shifting, said it would save the department from paying the rent as the department owned the building of the Phase XI exchange. Interestingly, the Phase XI exchange with an E10B and OCB exchanges had been there for the last few years and the JTO remained posted there. But the exchange was never shifted.

The move of shifting the exchange when no official was available has raised many eyebrows.

The divisional engineer (outdoor), RC Rekhi, said some of the telephone numbers were out of order due to rains. He denied that the department was not listening to the problems of subscribers.



Objections to removal of security tents
MC to take up issue with admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Municipal corporation officials have decided to table the issue of removal of security tents of VIPs from the corporation land at the coordination committee meeting of the UT and MC scheduled for tomorrow.

During a recent campaign, objections were raised by prominent persons, including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front president Maninderjeet Singh Bitta and family members of the former Chief Minister Beant Singh, to the removal of security tents from the vicinity of their residences.

After the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the removal of security tents from the government land, the corporation had conducted a two-day drive to remove these across the city.

Under the drive, the corporation’s enforcement wing removed 31 security tents from outside the residences of officers and VIPs.

During the drive, affected officials had objected to the move stating that the authorities should first remove tents from the vicinity of the residences of judges.

Officials in the corporation said they would put up all cases, in which officers or security personnel of VIPs made objections, at the meeting so that clear-cut instructions could be sought from the authorities in this regard.

A senior official in the administration said the authorities were going to request the Punjab and Haryana High Court to issue a separate notice for the removal of security tents from the residence of judges so as to free public land there also.

They were also planning to write a letter to the security in-charge of prominent persons to shift their security tents on the residential premises of VIPs and vacate the government land, as the authorities had no objection to their security.

Additional Commissioner PK Sharma said they would request the administration to frame a clear-cut policy on the removal of security tents of prominent persons in the city.



Overloaded auto-rickshaws go unchecked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Unchecked overloaded auto-rickshaws carrying schoolchildren has become a familiar site on city roads off late. Despite restriction of carrying more than five students in these auto-rickshaws, rules are openly being flouted.

This is in stark violation of an earlier agreement between the UT administration and the auto-rickshaw drivers, under which not more than five children could be accommodated, keeping in view the safety of children.

A site of congested auto-rickshaws is common on school routes in morning and afternoon hours, though the matter is of grave concern since it is related to the safety of children.

While the transporters advocate that those found guilty and violating the norms should be challanned, the sloppy attitude of the administration has failed to check the menace.

“We had been given the notification permitting maximum of five children in auto-rickshaws. It is for the administration to check the implementation part. As per the rules, action should be taken against the violators,” said Kamla Kant, president of the Chandigarh-Panchkula-Mohali Auto-rickshaw Joint Action Committee.

While parents express their concern over the safety of their children, the violators go unchecked on roads. “We have been repeatedly telling the driver to reduce the number of students in his auto-richshaw, but in vain. Our only concern is the safety of our children,” said Shweta, a parent.



Stench prompts Mayor to visit garbage plant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
With a large number of residents complaining of foul smell in their areas today, Mayor Kamlesh accompanied by a number of councillors visited the garbage processing plant located at Dadu Majra to take stock of the situation.

Talking to the TNS, Kamlesh said she received phone calls from a large number of councillors about foul smell in their sectors due to burning of garbage in some parts of the city.

She said after surveying the sectors from where the complaints were reported, it was found that most of them were located near the garbage plant.

She said during their visit, they found the plant not operational and the foul smell in the area around the plant was the result of accumulation of garbage there.

Former mayor Subhash Chawla, who resides in Sector 23, said residents had been unable to come out of their houses due to foul smell since evening.

He said he had received similar complaints from other sectors also. He added that it was strange that the authorities were not taking action against the company that had set up the plant. Similarly, former mayor Pardeep Chhabra, who resides in Sector 22, said residents had complained of foul smell in their area.



Swine flu awareness seminar
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 18
A seminar was organised in Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Landran, to make staff and students aware of the Swine Flu. Dr Bhanu Partap from Ivy Hospital, Mohali, gave detailed information about the disease.

Bhanu said the disease had been first located in America in 1918, when pigs and people started dying. It was not clear whether virus travelled from pigs to people or vice versa. In 1930, one man having similar symptoms died. Again in 1956, one lady complained of sore throat etc after visiting a zoo. The lady finally died though her husband was saved. In 1976, two soldiers showed similar symptoms and one of them died. He described various causes, symptoms and preventive measures, which should be taken for avoiding this problem.

He told the students not to be unnecessarily scared of the disease as the mortality rate of the patients having this had been less than one per cent. Out of two lakh patients in the world less than 1,900 countries had died so far. In India, out of 280 reported patients, 27 had died. Those who died were suffering from problems like heart, diabetes, lung problems, old age or very young kids, who had less resistance.



229 structures razed at Ram Darbar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
In a major demolition drive, the enforcement wing of the Chandigarh municipal corporation removed 229 structures at Ram Darbar today. The drive was conducted under the supervision of MC Additional Commissioner PK Sharma.

The authorities reclaimed the corporation land by removing a multi-storey building, bathrooms, stairs constructed on corporation land. The drive lasted from morning till evening and passed off without any untoward incident.

Officials said the corporation officials had made announcements for two days prior to the demolition asking them to remove the encroached structures themselves lest the department should remove these in a special drive.

Officials said prior notices were also served on residents about encroachment.

The squad was assisted by a contingent of police headed by DSP(S) Jaswant Singh and over 100 labourers equipped with demolition tools.

Six JCB machines took part in the drive. Enforcement staff of the estate office also assisted workers in the drive.



Road safety workshop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Chandigarh traffic police organised a road safety workshop at Banyan Tree School in Sector 48-B here today.

More than 100 students of the school, along with Ravinder Talwar, the director and Jyoti Asija, the principal of the school, participated in the workshop. UT SP (Traffic) HS Doon, Inspector Prem Singh Dalal, sub-inspetcor Asha Sharma, in charge of the Children Traffic Park, Sector 23, delivered lectures on road safety and gave tips for safe driving to the students.



Student Polls
Protests at Panjab University
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
While Panjab University campus, blanketed in the spirits of upcoming student council elections, is running high on the expectations regarding campaigning, the student groups seem to have nothing but mere protests to offer.

If today’s day is anything to go by, then it seems that the groups that have been raising relevant issues and perusing them endlessly in the past, are still retorting to the long-practised trend of holding protests for the heck of it with doubtful choice of issues.

“We respect their demands but even they have to watch them. We had students protesting in the morning against denial of right to vote to UIAMS students irrespective of the fact that taking a cognisance of a similar memorandum submitted by their rival group, we have already constituted a committee that will meet soon. Similarly, breaking of divider allowing a turn at the UIET is a long-pending demand of these students, we have already clarified that it is administration’s decision, not ours, and even forwarded their demand to adviser, but these students sat on a protest in night. Not only this, fearing to be left out the other group also sat on a dharna on the same issue on another site,” said Naval Kishore, DSW, Panjab University.

It may be noted according to some of the PU long-timers more than anything else, these things are a reflection on Panjab University’s student politics.

“Student politics is a cradle for future leaders and all that we infer from this kind of campaigning is that these student groups mistake instant publicity to be a key of success. These boys have a lot of vigour, but need proper direction. They need to sit and understand student issues that need to be adhered to and then take an apt way to do so.

For example, for divider, thing knowing the fact that PU is helpless, these students, if really serious, should approach administration and follow it up with them. It is high time they break away from confines of campus and follow up issues not considering publicity as ultimate goal,” said a former student leader.



Five students to get scholarships
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The UT education department has decided to award scholarships under the Government of India scheme of scholarships to students from the non-Hindi speaking states for post-matric students in Hindi.

Five scholarships will be awarded. The scholarships will be given for the recognised full-time courses of education for study of Hindi as one of the elective subjects on the basis of the result of “examination next below” conducted by a board of education, a university or a voluntary Hindi organisation.

The courses include pre-university, pre-degree, intermediate and equivalent examination on the basis of the matriculation or equivalent examination, the first year of the three-year degree course and equivalent (pass and honours) courses on the basis of higher secondary examination, India School Certificate Examination and Intermediate or an equivalent examination and MA (Hindi) on the basis of BA, BSc and BCom (Pass and Honours) or on equivalent examination. The other examinations covered will be Pre-PhD, MLitt (Hindi) on the basis of MA (Hindi) examination or an equivalent examination and PhD (Hindi) on the basis of the qualification leading to the admission to the PhD degree.

The students, who have passed the last university or board examination not before 2009 with not less than 60 per cent marks, are eligible for the scholarship. The eligible and interested candidates can obtain application forms from the office of director, higher education, UT, Sector 9, Chandigarh. September 30 is the last date for submission of application.



15 contestants for PU teachers’ body polls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Following the scrutiny of nominations for several offices of Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA), over all 15 contestants have come to fore.

As speculated earlier, while for the post of president, the contenders are Tankeshwar Kumar of computer sciences, Rajan Gaur of anthropology and Manjit Singh of sociology. For the post of vice-president, it will be a fight among Ashok Sabarwal of Hindi, Navdeep Goel of physics, Jaspal Kaur Kaang of USOL and GS Gill of geology.

Devender Singh of law, Jatinder Grover of USOL, Akshay Kumar of English and Mohammad Khalid of DES will contest for the post of secretary. Two candidates each will contest for the posts of joint secretary and treasurer with MC Sidhu of botany and Kuldeep Puri of USOL contesting for the former and Naresh Kumar of UIET and Mohammad Khalid of DES for the latter.

For the executive, there are eight contenders for four posts in group 1, in group 2, the number is seven for four posts. The group three that comprises of three posts has seven nominations and in group 4 and 5, it is three and two nominations each for single posts.



School centenary celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
As part of the school centenary, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Ambala Cantt, staged a ballet "Vayam Rakshamah" (protection of forests).

Haryana minister for tourism and forests Kiran Choudhary was the chief guest.

The ballet was based on the true story taken from Rajasthan and based on the book "Hugging of the Trees" by Thomas Weber. The theme highlights the need to conserve the environment.



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