C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


3 more students down with H1N1
St John’s closes for a week
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Three more students, including two from St John’s School, Sector 26, and one from Rayan International, tested positive for H1N1 virus today, making the total number of confirmed swine flu cases in the city rise to 107.

After students of class I and class III from St John’s tested positive for H1N1 today, the school has been closed for a week. Rayan International School authorities too have been officially directed to suspend class VII C for a week as one of its student tested positive.

The UT Nodal Officer for swine flu, HC Gera, said, “The victims along with their family members have been “quarantined at home”. Tamiflu had been administered to all members of the family. A team of doctors and paramedical staff will conduct a home check-up on them and observe their condition on a daily basis.

Experts believe the exposure to the carriers of the virus followed by lack of immunity form the basis of the H1N1 infection. “Exposure to the virus is a paramount factor for the progression of the infection. Hence the working class and people, who are on the move, those meeting people, or schoolchildren are most prone to get infected,” a doctor said.

So far, over 473 suspected cases of swine flu have come to city hospitals, of which 107 have tested positive, including three fresh cases for H1N1 reported today. Of the positive cases, over 20 were doctors and around 45 were students, including school children and college going youths. Four deaths due to the virus have been reported in the region.



Three Mohali kids test positive
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 17
Three more students living in Mohali have been confirmed positive for swine flu. Dr Deepak Bhatia, Punjab nodal officer, said throat swabs of six persons were sent for tests to the PGI, Chandigarh, out of which three tested positive for the virus.

They were Anmol Singh, a student of St John’s School, Chandigarh, who lives in Phase III B 2, Mehar Bhatia, a student of the DPS and lives in Sector 70, and a nine-year-old child Navpreet.

District Health Officer SP Surila said the treatment of Anmol had started yesterday and there were seven persons in contact with him who were also given the required medicines. The treatment of the other patients would also be started today.



Attendance in schools drops by 30pc
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
With more students falling prey to swine flu, city schools recorded a drop in attendance by 30 per cent today. Parents as a precautionary measure chose to keep their wards at home.

While three schools have already shut down with St. John’s being the latest one, many have suspended some classes while many others are recording a low attendance.

According to health department officials, while almost 300 students were recorded absent from SD School, Sector 32,the figure was 150 each at Ryan International and Harkishan Public School. According to principals of schools in the city, today few students were sent back after the initial screening. Many children with cough and flu stayed back at home.

All city private schools have been told to screen students on a daily basis and submit a report about general health of the students.

Health department officials said precautionary measures will help in preventing the spread of swine flu.



Schoolboy booked for making obscene MMS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The police today booked a class 10 student of a government school residing in Ram Darbar on charges of making an obscene MMS clip of a schoolgirl. According to UT SP (City) Madur Verma, a case has been registered against the minor boy under section 67 of the Information Technology Act and section 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 after taking a legal opinion.

The police said it had been able to identify the boy from the CD while the victim was yet to be identified. Efforts were on to trace the suspect. This is not an isolated case of school students being involved in making obscene MMS clips as the cops had filed a similar case earlier this year.

Giving details of the case, sources said the police received a complaint lodged under a seemingly fictitious name, ‘Ram Rakha, along with the CD. In the typed complaint it was alleged the CD was filmed in a school involving students. The complaint was filed about two months ago.

A police officer told TNS the investigators first tried to trace the complaint but in vain. Later the cops verified the contents of the CD and found obscene elements in it. In the CD a student was shown making an MMS of a nude girl aged about 14 years on his mobile phone in a school classroom.

Another student was making an MMS clip of both the girl and a boy. He later hand over his cellphone to the boy, who was making the MMS clip of the girl, and began indulging in obscene acts with the girl. The same was captured on the mobile phone by the first boy.

The sources said after examining the CD’s contents the police hesitated to proceed in the matter in the absence of any complainant. The investigating officials then sought legal opinion in the matter.

According to the sources the matter came to light when the boys sent the CD to the girl’s home. Unconfirmed reports said the girl’s family had alleged she was being blackmailed and was eventually raped.

However, the police said they had yet to trace the victim and could not say anything about her being blackmailed and later raped. A police officer added once the girl is traced and her statement is recorded the charges could be subsequently added on the basis of the contents of her statement.



Seven-year jail term for rape
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Holding the accused guilty, court of Additional District And Sessions Judge, Ravi Kumar Sondhi today sentenced an accused to seven years of imprisonment for raping a minor girl. The accused, Sonu, was convicted yesterday under Sections 376,366 and 506 of the IPC by the court.

The court has sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment and has slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 under Sections 376, three years imprisonment along with Rs 3,000 fine under Section 366 and Rs 2,000 fine along with two years imprisonment under Section 506.

Pronouncing the orders, it was stated that it will be a mockery of justice to permit the accused to escape the extreme penalty of law when faced with such evidence and such cruel acts.

Sonu, a resident of Burail, took the victim, a student of class IX, to Himachal Guest House on January 10, this year, in the area and thereafter, raped her.



Babla seeks exemption from attending house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Absconding Congress party councillor Devinder Singh Babla today sought permission from municipal corporation officials to be excused from attending the civic body’s general house meetings till December due to personal reasons. The police had booked him recently in a case involving allotment of compensatory sheds in the grain market to ineligible applicants.

According to sources, Babla had in a letter sent to MC mayor Kamlesh stated as he had to go out of town due to “some personal reasons” it would not be possible for him to attend the MC’s general house meetings and, hence, should be allowed to remain absent.

When contacted, Kamlesh confirmed she had received a request from Babla for being excused from attending the meetings for the next two months. She said she had forwarded the letter to MC commissioner Roshan Unkaria for tabling it at the next house meeting as such exemptions had to be decided by the house.

Experts said according the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act if any councillor is unable to attend the MC’s house meeting he or she has to inform the civic body. They added if any councillor remained absent from the house for three consecutive months without informing the MC the latter could cancel his or her membership of the house.

It may be recalled Babla had last attended the MC house meeting in August in which the councillors had unanimously passed an “unwritten” resolution supporting him. They had also demanded an inquiry against Chandigarh administration officials who were part of the process of allotting the market committee sheds.

The experts further said the house has no concern with the action that has been initiated by the police against Babla till the allegations made against him were proved. They said as per the Act the councillorship of any elected member could not be cancelled on the basis of any pending case.

Congress councillor Pardeep Chhabra opined the MC house has the right in permitting any councillor not to attend it if the councillor sends a request to this effect.



Woman whose ears were chopped still in shock
Cops yet to trace assailant

Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Traumatised after both her ears were cut off by an unidentified stalker when she had gone for her morning walk a few days ago, 71-year-old Vimla Vinayak is yet to recover from the horror of the attack even as the police does its best to help the victim and her husband regain confidence.

The cops’ failure to trace the assailant has been giving sleepless nights to the elderly couple, who shuddered at the very thought of venturing out of their house in the vicinity of the terraced garden in Sector 33 where the horrific incident took place on November 8.

As the days pass the emotional as well as the physical pain is gradually increasing. Only today the victim came to know about the severity of the injuries inflicted on her with one of her ears showing over 35 stitches. The approaching cold weather threatens to further worsen her condition as infections have already begun taking their toll on the old woman’s health.

“More than the physical pain it is the mental and the emotional anguish that keeps us confined to the four walls of our house”, said RD Vinayak, the victim’s husband. He said they were grateful to everyone who had stood with them in their hour of need, including their neighbours who had offered to help them by providing them food.

The panic stricken victim had even requested her husband, an air force officer who had been awarded with the Vashisht Seva medal, not to venture out of the house. “After the shocking incident she naturally fears for my safety and insists we should stay confined in our house”, said Vinayak.

On the action taken by the cops after the incident, he stated after it had been highlighted by the media a police officer called him up on November 10 to inform him that the DSP (South) would visit them. “However, the latter did not turn up and instead the investigating officer, Jai Bhawan, came”, said Vinayak. He added the officer told him he wanted to take his wife to the scene of the incident to reconstruct the sequence of events and for spot identification.

“My wife was not able to walk so we took her in a car and she narrated the incident and identified the spot where she was attacked while sitting in the car. The police officer had offered to show her pictures of various criminals in the police records, but she refused saying she had not seen the assailant’s face.

Vinayak said inspector Sher Singh, in charge of the crime branch, visited them one day, assuring them the police had deployed personnel in plain clothes in the area and hence they could resume their morning and evening strolls. However, going out in the dark is the last thing on the minds of the elderly couple.


Intensify anti-encroachment drive: Home Secy
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
In a bid to tighten noose around encroachers on government land, Home Secretary Ram Niwas during a weekly meeting today has directed the Municipal Corporation to launch more anti-encroachment drives in the city.

The MC officials said in the next phase of the drive, pocket No 8 at Mani Majra would be surveyed for the removal of encroachments.

An anti-encroachment drive will also be taken up at Colony No 5 where the engineering department has to construct a 100-ft road. Hutments, which will be covered under the bio-metric survey will be allotted alternative sites. However, those out of the bio-metric survey will be removed.

Official said the administration had removed encroachments in various sectors, including Sector 38 (West), where 25 acres were freed from the encroachments.

Similarly, 46 acre of prime land has been freed from encroachment at Palsora village. As per reports of the inspecting staff, no further encroachments have been made so far.

Officials of the administration, MC, housing, education department and engineering department attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh estate office launched an anti-encroachment drive at Babu Dham Colony today.



Jan Aushadhi store opens at PGI
To provide medicines at cheaper rates

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The first Jan Aushadhi generic drug store was inaugurated at the PGI by Dr Ajay Sehgal, Deputy Director (Admn), PGI, yesterday.

The store, which opened in the Old Shopping Centre (behind Oral Health Science Block), Nehru Hospital, would have no holiday. Dr AK Gupta, medical superintendent, JR Garg, SHE, and other senior officials of the institute were also present on the occasion. The PGI has provided a rent-free shop and infrastructure for the drug store. The store will be managed by Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd, as per the scheme and guidelines of the Bureau of Pharma (BPPI) for generic drug stores in India .

The department of pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the Government of India initiative, it has been set up with an aim to providing cheaper generic (unbranded) medicines to the poor and needy.

Some of the medicines to cost less at this store will be:

An ampule of injection meropenam-1gram, which is sold for Rs 1,350 in the market, is available at Rs 760 at the Jan Aushdhi store. The ial of injection cefoperazone -1 gram will cost only Rs 34 instead of Rs 300; 10 tablets of ciprofloxacin-250mg Rs 11.10 instead of Rs 35; cetrizine-10 mg Rs 2.75 instead of Rs 20 in the market.

Though the PGI authorities have claimed to provide cheaper medicines to the masses through a jan aushadhi store, the one operational at Panchkula since February has failed to fulfil its objective, as most medicines are not being supplied to the store. The staff deputed at the store said earlier the average footfall recorded was around 150 per day, which has reduced to only between 15 and 20 as people have stopped visiting the store following the unavailability of medicines.



Experts dwell on childhood cancers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
On the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Conference at Advanced Paediatric Centre, PGI, various types of childhood cancers were discussed.

Over 200 delegates and faculty members from all over India and abroad are attending the conference. Paediatric Haematology and Oncology oration was delivered by Professor Alan Craft from the UK. He is also a pioneer in childhood cancer research. He said survival of childhood cancer up to the extent of 70-80 per cent could be improved, as it was treatable in most of the cases.

Prof Alan said it was important to diagnose cancer at an early stage.

He also highlighted the genetic basis and various gene therapies to prevent cancers, which are under research. Training programme facilities in India and other developing countries were also discussed.

The next session was on various brain tumours in children. Brain tumours have a varied presentation starting from headache, vomiting and difficulty in vision and walking. Various therapeutic options of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery were discussed.

Thalassemia, a major haemolytic disorder, which is prevalent in this part of the country was discussed at length. Nearly 25 patients per day receive blood transfusion at the day care facility of paediatric OPD in PGI. Excess iron deposition in the body is a significant side effect of repeated blood transfusion and therapies to crease the iron load was discussed.

In the later part of the day, several childhood cancers, including eyes, bones and other tissues were discussed.



‘No unauthorised construction on govt land’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Consequent to the orders of the Supreme Court of India on the issue of encroachment on the government land in the name of religion, the Chandigarh Administration has firmly stated that no unauthorised construction shall be permitted on the government land in the name of temple, church, mosque, gurdwara or any other religious places.

This was disclosed at a meeting held today under the chairmanship of Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar.

Taking a serious view on the issue, he said that the Deputy Commissioner(DC) would ensure compliance of the above directions and any person knowing of any such illegal structure can inform the DC.

He also made clear that any illegal construction on the name of religion on the government land would be removed and suitable actions would be initiated against the encroachers as per the orders of the Supreme Court.

As per the order of the Supreme Court, all states and UTs have been directed to take immediate steps for removal of encroachment of religious structures on the public space without any discrimination and submit their reports. The next date of hearing at the Supreme Court has been fixed on December 7, 2009.



Cops not able to identify accused in KFC Case
CCTV cameras fail to provide clear footage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Though the Chandigarh police procured the CCTV footage from the KFC in Sector 35, where a youth was stabbed last evening, but it failed to help the police in identifying the accused.

It is not the first time the CCTV cameras have failed to provide clear footage of the crime scene or the persons involved in the incident.

The SHO of the Sector 36 police station said they had procured the CCTV footage from the restaurant, but the assailant was not properly visible and he could not be identified. He was seen talking to three boys and two girls and also heading toward the victim and running away from the crime scene. However, he was not captured on camera while stabbing the victim, as the area was not cover under the camera. The police had called students and student leaders from various educational institutions to identify the accused or his associates, but they were of no help.

The police said the condition of the 21-year-old victim, Harash Bhardwaj, of a private institute. His condition is stated to be normal now though the doctors termed his condition as critical last night. Harash was stabbed by an unidentified youth in the restaurant last evening when he was sitting there with three girls, including his friend.



Movable houses proposed for slum-dwellers
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
To ensure that dwelling units allotted to slum-dwellers are not sold out, PUDA Executive Engineer NS Kalsi has come out with an innovative idea of movable houses.

“It would ensure that the facility is not misused and houses can be moved from one place to another,” said the engineer. The houses would be helpful to accommodate slum-dwellers in case of their sudden displacement. The structure consists of bed box and two berths, one folded and another fixed. It takes seven days to prepare and can be shifted from one place to another with the help of a crane.

The design has been submitted to the PUDA Chief Engineer for approval. NS Kalsi said, “The slum-dwellers encroach upon a land and even after their rehabilitation, they sell it further. The process continues and it becomes hard to get the land vacated.”

The design has a provision of double-storeyed rooms. Around 90 such structures can be set up on an acre along with a common toilet and bath facility. He said one such structure would cost around Rs 74,000 and this could be recovered by renting out the house to the migrant population. He said this would help in maintaining a detailed record of people coming from other states, as rooms would be rented only after documents were submitted. The rooms would be airy and structurally safe.



Tribune Impact
PHRC seeks govt report on unfinished bridge
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
A day after a news item ‘Snapped Bridge Link Leaves Villagers High and Dry’ appeared in these columns, the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) took suo motu cognisance of the matter and sought a report from the Punjab government through the PWD chief engineer. In its order today the commission, comprising justices RS Mongia (chairperson), Avinash Rai Khanna, KK Bhatnagar and Baldev Singh, while calling for the report to be filed by January 6, sought to know as to why it was taking so long to complete the construction of the bridge, especially when a large segment of the area’s populace was being put to great inconvenience due to the delay.

It was reported the temporary bridge provided by the PWD linking Dairi village with the nearest village, Manauli, and other villages in the periphery of Mohali had been washed away in the rains, as a result of which residents of these villages had to travel another 7 km to reach Manauli for their daily tasks. As this bridge was the lifeline of the area the PWD was then again entrusted the work of constructing a new bridge. However, even six months after the work started the new bridge is nowhere near completion.



Rodrigues listens to people’s grievances
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), listened to grievances of individuals and groups of people at the UT Secretariat during the Public Hearing Session here yesterday.

Interestingly, yesterday was the last official day in his office in his current appointment. However, he holds the office till further orders.

A number of problems were straightened out at the floor of the meeting room and the remaining issues, which need examination at different levels, were assured to be expedited within the rules and procedures by the departments concerned. Employees of the Chandigarh Housing Board employees gave a representation seeking a workable pension scheme.

Jean Rodrigues, lady Governor, also accompanied the Administrator during the Public Hearing Session. Senior officials, including Ram Niwas, Home Secretary, MP Singh, Secretary to Governor, Sanjay Kumar, Finance Secretary, Roshan Sankaria, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, and Brijendra Singh, Deputy Commissioner, were present on the occasion.



Immigration procedure simplified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
With ageing population and impending labour problem, this year Canada is accepting the highest ever number of immigrants from across the globe.

Stating this to the media here yesterday, Lt Col BS Sandhu, chairman and managing director, World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services, revealed that with the introduction of fast track immigration, the entire procedure had grown simpler for the immigrants, who could seek immigration under different categories of skilled worker category, federal investor category and Quebec investor category.

Sandhu said the Canadian government had implemented major changes to ease the influx of talented and hard working immigrants to fill shortage in its labour market, therefore, applicants falling under Canada’s 38 priority occupation list (POL) and Australia’s critical skill list (CSL) were processed on the fast track system and the aspiring candidates got decision within a short span of 6-12 months. He said businessmen could easily make it to their dream destination as permanent residents under the Canadian Federal Investor Programme and Quebec Investor Programme without worrying about clearing IELTS.

With just two years business experience and having net worth equivalent to CDN 8,00,000, the businessmen qualify for this opportunity enabling their entire family to immigrate, he added.



SP sent on deputation
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 17
Panchkula Superintendent of Police Amitabh Dhillon has been appointed as Superintendent of Police in the Central Bureau of Investigation on deputation. He was relieved of his duties at Panchkula today though the CBI had already issued orders a fortnight ago in this reard.

He has to report for duty to the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi, following which his place of posting will be decided. AIG Charu bali has been given the additional charge of Panchukla Superintendent of Police.



Karnataka Rajyotsava celebrated
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
The Kannada Sangha, Chandigarh, in collaboration with the information department, the Government of Karnataka and Karnataka Media Centre, New Delhi, celebrated Karnataka Rajyotsava-2009.

The function was held at the Pracheen Kala Kendra, Sector 71, recently.

BR Jayaramaraje Urs, secretary for Kannada and culture, information department, Government of Karnataka, presided over the function and NK Sharma, chairman, District Planning Board, inaugurated the function.

Dhananjaya Kumar, former Union Minister, presently special representative of the Government of Karnataka, NR Vishukumar, director information department, Bangalore, RM Kummar, general manager, Haryana, NABARD, were guests of honour.

Delhi-Kannada children performed a play, “Gode- The wall”, directed by Veena Sharma.

The local Kannada children also performed a patriotic play, “August Kranti”.

Over 200 Kannada families residing in the tricity along with other dignitaries and local residents attended the function.



Admn to issue show-cause notice to St John’s
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The UT administration is all set to serve a show-cause notice to St John’s School, Sector 26, after being found lacking on parameters like prescribed pupil-teacher ratio, requisite qualifications of staff, various building violations and non-maintenance of reserve funds.

The school fifth in the list to have been found guilty is being taken to task based on the months-old survey conducted by the education department in collaboration with MCC representatives, estate office, STA, fire department and finance officials.

While according to many, it was an effort to pull up the school authorities for questioning the administration’s act of marking an inquiry into an internal complaint against a teacher for instigating students to view adult sites.

“It is not a new decision, like many other schools, this school was also found lacking on these parameters during the survey and was asked to explain the reasons for same and rectify it, however, when they failed to do so within a prescribed limit, we had to notify them.

There are certain fixed norms, which all schools have to follow from this session and if they failed, they will face the music,” said one of the officials.

It may be noted that prior to this, four other city schools were served a similar notice around two weeks back, the reply of which are still awaited.



Cadets visit school for visually challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
As part of the NCC week commemoration, about 100 NCC cadets visited the Institute for the Blind and Old Age Home, thereby conveying a message of social responsibility of younger generation towards special children and elders here today.

The cadets distributed fruits among children of the blind school and spent some emotionally binding moments with inmates of the Old Age Home. The cadets also presented musical items.

A painting competition on themes of female foeticide, global warming and energy conservation was also organised, where a large number of cadets from various schools and colleges of Chandigarh participated.

Jagwinder Kaur of MCM DAV College, Sector 36, won the first place in the senior category, while Akanksha Sharma of Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, bagged the first prize in the junior category.



Celebrations end at Eurokids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The week-long Children's Day celebrations at Eurokids pre-schools have concluded in Chandigarh and Panchkula.

Fun activities were organised which were enjoyed by both children and parents.

Schoolchildren participated in art events, fun-food party in-house carnival and special music and dance activities.

An exclusive drive was also initiated by teachers and parents, in which donations were made in the form of toys, clothes, books and children's items, which were distributed among street children by the teachers.

A special feast was organised by the schools on the premises to conclude the event.



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