C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Unsafe Tricity
Long arm of law? Hardly
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
It seems criminals -- murderers, dacoits, snatchers and kidnappers -- are calling the shots in the tricity. Considered to be a safe haven owing to its demographic profile, criminals have been striking in the tricity at will, throwing a challenge to the police force.

Fear psychosis prevails among residents who don’t feel safe to venture out on the roads. “It is nothing less than curfew. No one knows from where a snatcher would strike and disappear. The police, which has still to put its house in order, usually takes a lot of time to follow up and the matter gets lost in red tape,” Manjeet Sethi, a resident of Phase 3 B1, Mohali, said.

Be it Chandigarh, where murderers are setting new records, or Panchkula where kidnappers and robbers are laughing their way to the bank or Mohali where snatchers have thrown a challenge to the police by attempting daring snatchings — it is the same old story of the police’s repeated failure to tackle criminals.

Faster modes of transport and gizmos have only made it easier for the criminals. Admitting there were flaws in policing, senior police officials pointed that criminals opted for heinous crimes to sustain their lifestyle and often got caught in the vicious cycle of crime.

And what encourages the criminals is police failure to bring them to book.



Most heinous crime cases not cracked
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Though the local police has claimed to have solved the murder case of Harjinder Singh Dhillon, who was gunned down in his Sector 20 office yesterday, a majority of heinous crimes like murder and robbery have not been cracked so far.

The local police has failed miserably to crack heinous crime cases, including the murder of Sham Mall owner Amarjit Singh in May this year, the robbery of a woman on gun-point in Sector 35 in August, the gruesome killing of an elderly woman in Sector 42 the same month and the blind murder of inspector Kashmir Singh in August last year.

The ever-deteriorating law and situation in the city in the wake of incidents of heinous crimes had trigged panic among residents. The incidents also indicated that the city was fast emerging as a safe haven for criminals, despite the fact that the police had launched special servant/tenant verification drives in the past.

The arrest of highway robbers had revealed that their kingpin used to stay in the city in rented accommodation. The gang members stayed at various places in the city after committing crimes in Punjab and Haryana.

Anmarjit Singh was gunned down outside his residence in Sector 35 by unidentified motorcyclists, who sped away from the heart of the city after committing the murder.

Similarly, preceding the murder, some unidentified robbers had snatched a bag containing several lakhs from Deepak, owner of Mochi shoes in Sector 17, from near his residence in Sector 34. Santosh Kumari was electrocuted at her residence on August 3 and like Amarjit Singh’s murder case, the police had failed to achieve any breakthrough.

Leave apart the sporadic incidents of robbery, in which victims were stabbed and looted on gun-point or knife-point during late-night hours, the city also witnessed a daylight robbery this year.

Nirmal Kaur of Sector 35 was gagged and tied on gun-point by robbers, who took away Rs 5 lakh from her after thoroughly searching her house for hours.

The police had also not been able to track down the killer of inspector Kasmir Singh, who was bludgeoned to death in Dadu Majra Colony last year.

Similarly, the police had been groping in the dark in the murder case of an unidentified woman, whose charred body was found near the railway track in Ram Darbar in 2008.



Police probes lack incisiveness
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 26
With the local police failing to prove charges in the court in numerous cases, most of the accused have been acquitted of heinous crimes, leaving little room for letup in their activity here.

Recently, three persons accused of murdering an Army havildar were acquitted after the police failed to gather enough evidence against them. Similarly, a large number of theft accused were acquitted during the past month due to the failure of the police to prove charges against them in the court.

Also, the infamous gang rape case last year and murder of a student of Government College were among many cases where the local police had been found wanting in its approach.

With the police failing to solve a long list of cases, most have been dumped for unspecified period.

The police has remained clueless to the gang of kidnappers involved in the kidnapping of a two-year-old child last month. Also, the police is finding it hard to get any clue to the whereabouts of realtor Deepak Rai Sagar, who has been missing from the town since June 1.

In addition to it, the police has failed to make any headway in the financier-son murder case as well as the Dr Sumit Sofat case. With the police failing to instill any confidence in residents, the latter have been forced to either live under the fear of crime or make their own security arrangements.

Shopkeepers have already deputed batteries of watchmen in markets to protect their properties. “Residents should also think of hiring the services of private security agencies that can be deployed in localities round the clock,” says BB Kochhar, vice-president of the Beopar Mandal.



No fear of law
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 26
With the district emerging as the new centre of infrastructural growth, the influx of population is changing the profile of the crime scene here. Incidents of snatching and car theft are common and have been on the rise.

There was also been an increase in the cases of burglary during the daytime and also after sunset. What is alarming is the steep increase in the incidents of snatching. In the past few weeks, snatchers have been daring enough to enter houses to target their victims.

Police officials admit that the shortage of police force was telling on the law and order situation in the town. Despite night dominance drives and rigorous checking by the police, criminals seem to be having an upper hand.

An analysis of those arrested in the incidents of snatching so far has revealed that the snatchers are mostly drug addicts who commit the crime for want of money.

The second highest incidents of crime are related to vehicle theft. Despite security gates being put up at entry points to the town, there has has been no deterrent to car thieves.

Resident welfare associations, in coordination with the police, have failed to depute security guards to man the security gates so far.



Remembering 26/11 victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Residents paid homage to the victims of 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks by lighting candles at Sukhna Lake here today.

The initiative was taken by a cellular company whose “talk for India” saw thousands of residents remembering the victims and praying for them.

“I hardly come to the lake, but today I decided to come here and do my bit as an Indian. Before this incident, terrorism never really moved me so much. I remember that hour when I could not get in touch with my daughter who worked in the same area. I was so anxious about her well being and it made me realise the pain of those who lost their loved ones to terror,” Suhel Singh, a retired government official, said.

A majority of visitors included youngsters and students for whom it was a way to show that they understand their responsibility. “I realise what is my duty and dignity as an Indian. Last year when I was seeing all this on TV it was not just anxiety or pain, but anger against those who played with so many innocent lives. It’s time now and the new India would not take any more of such activities. We will stand up for the dignity of our country and get justice for our countrymen.” a PU student, Ruchika Bhasin, said.

Even children and school students came to be part of the endeavour and schools organised small functions to sensitise them against terrorism.



Drunk cops bash up Bansal’s nephew
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Two inebriated policemen allegedly barged into the house of the nephew of union cabinet minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in Sector 27 here and thrashed him late last night.

The victim, Akshay Goel, told The Tribune that he had a minor argument with the policemen who were driving recklessly in the Sector 28 market around 11.15 pm. He then drove away, but the policemen chased him and assaulted him.

Goel said he was returning home after dropping his acquaintances in Panchkula when his car nearly collided with a Maruti Alto in which three persons were travelling. They chased him and entered his house. One of them hurled a brick at him while the others used foul language. Hearing the commotion, his neighbours rushed for help and managed to nab two cops.

The police was informed about the incident and took the duo in custody. The police later tracked down the other accused also. The SSP, SS Srivastva, reached the house of the victim and supervised the proceedings to ensure a fair probe. It is learnt that the SSP stayed with the family for about three hours and left in the wee hours.

The accused have been identified as head constables Varinder Singh and Jagdish Chand. The police also arrested Varinder’s son who had fled from the scene.

The police took the victim and the accused to hospital, where doctors confirmed that the policemen were drunk. The victim sustained simple blunt injuries in the assault.

A case has been registered against the accused.



Businessman’s Murder
Police zeroes in on prime accused
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The police claims to have solved the murder of Harjinder Singh Dhillon who was shot by unidentified assailants in his Sector 20 office yesterday. Investigators have zeroed in on the prime accused, Davinder Singh, alias Whiskey.

Insiders said Whiskey had several names and had a number of hideouts, making the task of tracing him difficult. Whiskey is said to be involved in several incidents of crime in Punjab and is wanted by the police.

The police has put a number of mobile phones, supposedly used by him, on surveillance. It is also trying to get call details to nab his associates who may provide some information about his whereabouts.

The investigation into the case has been transferred to the special crime investigation cell of the police.

Whiskey had obtained a passport by furnishing fake documents to flee abroad with a nurse on a “couple visa”. The police came to know about it and initiated proceedings due to which he dropped the idea. He had also been impersonating as Davinder Singh, son of Amrik Singh of Samrala. The police raided the house and learnt that he had been using the name of Davinder Singh to conceal his identity.

The police found a fake driving licence, registration certificate and a PAN card in his name.

On the basis of information provided by the lone eyewitness in the case, Simmi Sharma, an employee of Dhillon, the police stated that a dispute over the possession of a Ford Fiesta was the reason behind the killing. The assailants, accompanied by Whiskey, had a heated argument with Dhillon over the car.

A police officer said the investigation so far hinted that Whiskey had got the car financed by a bank. He might have later stopped paying the instalments and sold the car to Dhillon after taking earnest money. Dhillon had reportedly promised to pay the outstanding amount later.

Meanwhile, Whiskey, who is said to be associated with Ravinder Singh who was allegedly involved in the killing of a Patiala jail warden, went underground.

Taking advantage of his long absence, Dhillon got the ownership of the car transferred in his name. Whiskey had been of late approaching Dhillon to pay him back his money, but the latter kept dilly-dallying the issue.

“The crime scene and the conversation between Dhillon and Whiskey also indicated that the murder was not planned and the shot was fired in the heat of the moment. Dhillon raised the alarm when Whiskey tried to take away the keys of the car. Whiskey fired a single shot which hit Dhillon in the chest, resulting in instant death,” a police officer added.


Disproportionate Assets Case
Former UT XEN convicted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The CBI special court of Darshan Singh today convicted a former executive engineer of the UT Public Health Department 16 years after the CBI booked him in a disproportionate assets case.

The court held RD Joshi guilty under different sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The quantum of the sentence would be pronounced on November 30.

It was in 1993 that the CBI had conducted a raid at the residence of Joshi after getting information about his amassed wealth and investments in property in his name as well as his family members’ name beyond his known sources of income.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet in this case in 1996 for the period from 1976 to 1993. The CBI had raided his house in September 1993 in connection with another case of fraud against him.

Joshi was found to be in possession of a plot in Panchkula’s Sector 17 in his name, agricultural land in Solan and 18 kanal of land in Mani Majra in his wife’s name, besides a 16-marla plot in his wife’s name in Mani Majra.

He had also constructed a house in Panchkula’s Sector 17, again in his wife’s name. He also had an industrial plot in Panchkula’s Phase I in his son’s name, besides the share of an SCO in his son’s name.

As per the CBI case, his annual income during the period from June 14, 1976, to March 24, 1993, was around Rs 11 lakh.

His movable and immovable assets amounted to more than Rs 54 lakh, CBI’s special public prosecutor Pawan Kumar Dogra had stated in the court.

Joshi had come on deputation from Punjab in 1968 and had joined as SDO. He, however, rose to the rank of executive engineer in 1976.

During proceedings, Joshi had claimed that the income was generated through his son’s earnings, through a construction material factory owned by him in the name of JVR, which was found to be bogus during investigations.



Forest department’s efforts revive Sukhna Lake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The vegetative and engineering methods adopted by the Chandigarh administration’s forest department to bring Sukhna lake back to life appear to have paid rich dividends.

According to UT forest-cum-finance secretary, these measures had succeeded in meeting the challenges posed by the rampaging silt in the lake. He added they had also helped conserve soil and moisture in the 26 sq km hilly catchment area known as the Sukhna wild sanctuary, besides throwing up a good forest cover that has begun to invite and attract fauna and wildlife.

Until recently, the danger of the lake drying up looked for real. It had been rapidly swallowing sediments, constricting its storage capacity from 8,710 acre-feet in 1958 to about 2,600 acre-feet at present.

“In order to put a stop to the silt menace and save the lake, the forest department has constructed 190 silt retention dams, supplemented by over 200 check dams, spurs, revetments and brushwood structures, to conserve soil and retain the silt in the water bodies created behind the silt retention dams”, said Kumar.

Thanks to the steps taken by the department over the years, UT conservator of forests Ishwar Singh said the rate of siltation of the lake had reduced drastically from 156 metric tons per hectare per year to five metric tons per hectare per year.

Up to 1988 66 per cent of the original water holding capacity of the lake had been lost due to siltation. “In 2003-04, the depth of the lake decreased by one inch to 1.5 inches as compared to more than three inches in the preceding years,” said Singh.

“Water bodies created in the area have helped in regeneration of forests and proliferation of wildlife. Consequent to the soil and moisture conservation and forest activities, the area has become an abode of numerous varieties of wildlife. So much so, the big cat (leopard) has become a visiting guest to the sanctuary”, Singh added.

Besides those in the catchment area of the Sukhna lake, the forest department has constructed three water bodies in Patiala Ki Rao forest, four in the botanical garden, two in Sukhna ‘choe’ reserve forest, two in the lake reserve forest behind the lake and one in the IT park forest to provide drinking water to animals and birds in their habitats and to help retain the underground water level, Singh stated.



Violence at HC ‘shameful’
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
In what can be termed as a mockery of law right at the place where it is supposed to be enforced, yesterday’s incident, wherein a section of lawyers indulged in violence on the premises of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, forced citizens to ponder over the currently out-of-hand law and order situation.

While it all started with a minor argument between the brother of a girl, who married a boy against the wishes of members of her family, and a lawyer, the unruly scenes that were witnessed later could force the legal fraternity to hang its head in shame.

Said PC Sanghi, chairman of the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC), “Although both parties are to be held responsible for the unfortunate incident, the onus lies more on lawyers as they represent an educated class. If such a thing can happen on the premises of the high court, it indicates the end of law and order. No doubt, the step taken by the lawyers was provocative and they were unnecessarily offended by members of the family.”

Terming the episode as a very unfortunate one, Sukhjinder Behl, president of Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, said nobody’s action was justified, neither of the lawyers, nor of the members of the family of the girl, adding that such a things should not happen in the future.

However, differing with others on the issue, Paramjit Singh Jaswal, chairman of the department of laws, Panjab University, said the lawyer was provoked to take such a step, though the action could not be justified, asserting that one should see both the sides of the coin and see that the boundaries were not crossed by anyone.



Homage paid to Mumbai terror victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The staff and students of the Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42, today observed a two-minute silence to pay homage to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Students not only saluted the brave soldiers but also the hotel staff that stood up to the ideals and ethics of their profession.

Traders condemn terror strikes

Traders from across the city assembled near the Anand Theatre, Sector 17 and observed silence to condemn last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The assembly, which was led by Kamaljit Singh Panchhi, prayed for the victims of the attacks.

Communal harmony programme ends

The weeklong ‘Communal Harmony’ programme, a regular activity under the National Service Scheme of the ministry of youth affairs & sports, government of India, concluded at Government Home Science College, Sector 10. The weeklong activities included classroom teaching and a paper reading contest. The chief guest, Bikram Rana, state liaison officer, NSS cell, asked the NSS volunteers to be more vigilant against communal forces.

Open house debate on ‘India post 26/11’

An open house debate on ‘Is India any safer post 26/11’ was held today at Chitkara School of Mass Communication. The panel of judges included Sarabjit Pandher, president of the Chandigarh Press Club, Sawaraj Chauhan, former BBC trainer and international columnist, and Abhijit Chatterjee, former news editor at The Tribune. Vandana Nalwa and Gaurav Shukla of the masters program (final year) were adjudged the ‘best debating team’, with the former being adjudged the ‘best debator’. Among the audience Seeza was given the ‘best question’ award.

Drawing contest at Kundan School

Kundan International School held an intraschool drawing competition on the topic ‘Peace…Reminiscing on 26/11’ today to pay homage to the victims of last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai. About 150 students of grades I through VI participated in the event and made posters that were not only a reminder of the black day but also inspired the young minds. 



Tributes paid to terror victims
Tribune News Service

Residents take part in a candlelit vigil in the memory of Mumbai terror attack victims in Patiala on Thursday.
Residents take part in a candlelit vigil in the memory of Mumbai terror attack victims in Patiala on Thursday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, November 26
Various organisations and educational institutions organised a candlelit vigil and functions to pay tributes to the victims of Mumbai terror attacks.

Around 200 boys and girls belonging to NCC Cadets and NSS unit, and Rotract of Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology, Mohali, carried placards depicting the need for peace, solidarity, harmony and brotherhood.

At Saupin’s School, students paid tributes to the martyrs of 26/11 on the school premises. Children lit a candle to commemorate one year of the attacks.

Children expressed their grief by joining hands through a special message campaign, “Join the hands together”, organised by a TV channel.

They also paid tributes to Mohali-based families who had also lost their loved ones in the terror attacks.

Karambir Singh Kang, general manager, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai, lost his wife Niti (40) and both sons, Uday (14) and Samara (5), in the attack.

Kang is currently in Mumbai along with his parents, Maj-Gen Jagtar Singh Bains (retd) and Kamaljit Kaur.

Another family lost their 22-year-old-daughter, who was a hotel management trainee at Hotel Oberoi-Trident.

Jasmine was among the first victims of indiscriminate firing by heavily armed terrorists on November 26, 2008.

Her parents, Maninder Singh Bhurji, serving DIG of the Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP), and Deep Kaur, live in Phase 9 here.

Website launched

Indo Global Colleges, Abhipur, launched a website, www.pledgeforindia.org, to pay tributes to the victims of the last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, in 
Chandigarh today.

Udai Kumar Sinha, Editor of Amar Ujala Publications, was the chief guest. Dr Parijat De, director NITTTR, and Ajay Kumar Srivastava, joint director, STPI, Mohali, were the guests of honour.

The website will provide a platform to youngsters to express their views on national integration, need to combat militancy and effective means to tackling the menace.

Candlelit vigil

Patiala: Patiala residents took part in a candlelit vigil, led by senior civil and police administration officers, to remember the Mumbai terror attack victims, here today.

Patiala Divisional Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir, IGP Paramjit Singh Grewal and DIP SK Asthana led the march, which started from the historic Sheranwala Gate.

The participants took a pledge to fight terror and paid homage to the heroes of the 26/11 attack, which left a trail of death and destruction.

The march was organised in the memory of 166 persons who were killed in the 60-hour terror strikes last year.

The march went past some of the city’s landmarks in a show of solidarity.



Poor women get training in livelihood trades
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,November 26
Though not of the magnitude of the ‘Lijjat Papad’ endeavour, a somewhat similar success story is being scripted by the Empowerment Centre set up by the UT administration in Sector 19. This first-of-its-kind initiative enables women belonging to the economically weaker sections of society to stand on their own feet by providing them a means of livelihood.

Equipped with one overlocking, 20 sewing and 17 embroidery machines, the centre seeks to combine training with jobs. It not only provides employment to women from slums and colonies but also imparts them product-oriented training in streams ranging from stitching, embroidery and dress designing to beauty culture. Part of one self-help group or the other, women residing in villages bordering the city as well as in its slum colonies have now been brought under the centre’s umbrella.

Till now 22 girls have successfully completed the embroidery course that was started at the centre in October 2008. Of these nine have opened their own boutiques and five are working with employers. In beauty culture about 220 women have been trained and 30 of them have opened their own beauty parlours, 55 have got employment with private parlours and another 55 are running parlours from their homes.

“The course in dress designing is much sought after and, so far, 52 women have been trained. While one is now working in Australia, seven got employment with private firms and four have started their own dress designing business”, said Rajni Gupta, in charge of the centre.

Pushpa, who passed out of the tailoring course, is now making a living on the income from tailoring after her husband died of cancer. She is not the only one. There are many such women who have benefited from the administration’s initiative.

With a view to facilitate marketing of their products, a stall is being built at the centre. The social welfare director has set up a corpus of funds amounting to Rs 1 lakh, which is being used to pay for the raw materials needed at the centre. 



Building bridges between China, India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The Tibetan spiritual guru His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not the bone of contention that prevents a cordial relationship between India and China. This was stated by Lin Yi, Director General of Asia-Africa Department of Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Lin Yi is the member of the three-member delegation sent by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) to India to further cement the relations between the CPAFFC and the Friends of China Association (FCA) as well as other Indian counterparts of the CPAFFC. Interacting with mediapersons, Yi said: “We may have disputes with different countries but our government officials are working to remove them so that there is peace in this region.” She commented that the general public in China is in favor of friendly relations with India.

When asked about the Tibet issue, Yi said that it is an internal matter of China. Different organisations across the country may have different views but the stand of the Chinese government has always been the same, that is, Tibet remains an integral part of China. Meanwhile, Yi said that during its 15-day visit to India, the delegation would meet several organisations in Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi to plan activities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and India.

She said that the delegation would also work for the promotion of friendship between two countries through organising debates, a youth-exchange programme and medical missions to enhance bilateral understanding and, more importantly, to benefit the people of both the countries.



Price Watch
Tomatoes, peas get dearer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Commonly used vegetables like tomatoes and peas are turning into luxuries for the common man. A massive price rise in prices of these vegetables has hit household budgets in the past few days.

The short supply in the market is blamed for an unprecendented hike in vegetable prices. “With vegetable supplies dwindling, we have been forced to hike prices,” says Ram Samaj, a vendor in Sector 20.

In fact, a huge hike in prices of cereals have made the life of the common man difficult. What to talk of the low-income groups, even the middle class has been hit hard by the sudden spurt in the vegetable prices.



Bhatti’s spoof on rising prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Madarts-Jaspal Bhatti Film School plans to set up a ‘Filmi Madness Check Centre’ at the Chandigarh carnival, where film related talents will not only be tested free but 100 grams of vegetables, pulses or ghee would be given away to the winners every hour.

The spoof on rising prices of essential commodities will be done in Bhatti’s unique style. Students of Madarts will also stage a hilarious street play, ‘Thekeon Theke’, on the menace of drugs and liquor.

“If you have a ‘filmi keeda’(film bug) inside you, it will be measured and a certificate will be issued to you”, said a Madarts press note.



Certificates lost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
A visually challenged man, Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Nabha village in Mohali, has lodged a complaint with the Sector 26 police station that while coming from the Sector 16 hospital, he lost his certificates, including qualification certificate, character certificate and blind certificate issued by the Blind Institute, Sector 26, besides appointment letter for the post of peon with the Chandigarh Housing Board.

A DDR has been lodged in this regard. He requested that since he required his certificates to get the job he may be informed at mobile nos. 9815347705/ 9463585663 if anyone found them.



Rakhi, Rinki first in science exhibition
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 26
Rakhi and Rinki of BA III stood first in psychology science exhibition held at Government College for Girls, Sector 14, here recently. The exhibition was inaugurated by principal Lily Rishi.

Indu and Sheetal stood second, while Ritu and Kamini bagged third position. More than 40 students participated in the exhibition. Students of psychology prepared models on skin senses, health management and drug addiction. Students of computer science presented projects on “Real world Application Using Animation and Artificial Intelligence”. 

Monika Sangwan and Neetu Saini of BA III secured first position and Sarita and Sugandhi bagged second position in geography, while Navita and Ritika stood first in computer science.



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