C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


2-day police remand for Babla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
High drama was witnessed in the Districts Courts here today when defence counsel of Devinder Singh Babla raised vociferous objections to UT senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta appearing as public prosecutor.

High drama in District Courts

Defence counsel of Babla raised vociferous objections to UT senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta appearing as public prosecutor. The moment Anupam Gupta started the argument, the defence counsel, backed by other District Courts lawyers, maintained that given the fact that he was not appointed as the public prosecutor in the case, he had no right to argue in the court. Enraged, Gupta said, “A senior standing counsel is equivalent to the Advocate-General of the UT and needs no official appointment to argue from their side. Moreover, I have been associated with this case, as earlier I had been the public prosecutor when Babla’s anticipatory case was discussed in the high court.” The drama continued for a long time when Babla intervened and announced that he had no objections to Gupta being the public prosecutor

Babla was presented before a local court this afternoon. The moment Anupam Gupta started the argument, the defence counsel, backed by other District Courts lawyers, maintained that given the fact that he was not appointed as the public prosecutor in the case, he had no right to argue in the court.

Enraged, Gupta said, “A senior standing counsel is equivalent to the Advocate-General of the UT and needs no official appointment to argue from their side. Moreover, I have been associated with this case, as earlier I had been the public prosecutor when Babla’s anticipatory case was discussed in the high court.”

The drama continued for a long time when Babla intervened and announced that he had no objections to Gupta being the public prosecutor. It was after this that the court sent him to police remand for two days. The police had sought 10 days of his police custody to interrogate him in the cheating case as well as in the inquiry of recruitment of Rajesh Kumar as auction recorder.

The police today produced Babla in the courts amidst tight security and had cordoned off the entry point of the courts. Pleading for remand, the police held that it wanted to find out what sort of irregularities were committed in the allotment of the sheds in Sector 26 Grain Market and how much money was involved in the scam and who were the benefiting parties.

The police maintained that Babla was an influential person and could adversely affect the probe and manipulate the matter if bailed out.

Sources said the police had learnt that an inquiry had been conducted by the SDM (South) into the alleged recruitment scam and the investigators from the specials crime investigation cell would seek the report to find out the details of the matter.

Babla had surrendered before the Chandigarh police last night after being on the run for over four months. The Chandigarh police had transferred the probe into the matter to the special cell on December 19, as the issue of Babla’s arrest had drawn flak on the functioning of the police.



Peace march held on Ruchika’s death anniversary
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, December 29
While former DGP SPS Rathore was booked under different Sections of the CrPC by the Panchkula police today on the 16th death anniversary of Ruchika, the family of Anand Prakash and residents of Panchkula held a peace march up to the old residence of Girhotras, where Ruchika committed suicide on December 29, 1993.

Many persons joined them on the way and reached the plot No. 363, where construction work had been started by the new owner by demolishing the old building. Subhash Chander Girhotra had sold his house after the death of Ruchika to escape the wrath of Rathore and went underground.

Led by Anand Prakash and Madhu Prakash, they observed a two-minute silence in front of the old house of Ruchika and Aradhana lit a candle in memory of her dear friend.

Meanwhile, with Anand and Madhu Prakash becoming the new middle-class icons, various forums and organisations from across the city are trying their level best to help the cause by creating a strong public opinion for it.

People and organisations from almost every nook and corner of city are out on roads to show their solidarity by holding marches, lighting candles etc. Some of them had gone a step forward to award the Prakashs for being so courageous however they might have to change plans, with Anand Prakash’s latest denial to accept any honour till the battle is won.

All of them have one same goal and that is to mobilise public opinion against the grave injustice. Arun Dhiman, a senior school teacher, said, “At the moment, it does not make a difference whether all voices were united on a common platform. The issue has garnered enough public support to shake the authorities into action.”

The tricity has been witness to a number of organisations coming forward to raise their voice against the crime. Certain prominent included the Citizens Forum on Human Rights, Lawyers for Human Rights, besides several resident welfare associations.



Punjab move on repatriation of doctors
UT works overtime to have its way
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Punjab government’s move to seek repatriation of its 10 doctors, working here for decades, has got the UT health authorities working overtime to find “lacunae” in the system to retain them.

As the Punjab government has practically left no option for the UT administration since it has forwarded a panel of 10 doctors for the replacement of those who are to be repatriated, the babus in the Health Department, in league with the well connected and “settled” doctors, are trying to find discrepancies on grounds of “experience” of those who are slated to go and those in the line-up to replace them.

According to sources, the Health Department is preparing a report to justify the retention of some the repatriated doctors on grounds that those replacing them do not hold the equivalent experience.

“An attempt is on to create an impression, at least on file, that the repatriation will disrupt the health services in the city,” said a senior official. Expressing surprise at the administration’s logic, a senior official who has been privy to the ongoing developments, said the doctors who are to be repatriated too came to the city with limited experience and gained expertise here only. “So why should they oppose the less experienced now,” he added.

The administration’s move to create the bogey of disruption of health services if the repatriation happens also does no logic in light of the fact that several senior doctors from the PGI too have left for avenues in the private sector, but the services at the institute remain unaffected. “In their zeal to retain these well-connected doctors, the administration seems to forget that that it’s the institution and not individuals who matter,” said a doctor, reminding that the city had functioned for over 100 days without much problems when the Home Secretary, who incidentally is also the Health Secretary now, was not appointed.

Another doctor pointed out that the gloomy picture that the Health Department is attempting to prepare has no logic in the face of the fact that 10 Haryana doctors were repatriated in 1997 and the services functioned smoothly.

As per the list sent by the Punjab government, the doctors who are slated to be repatriated are Dr Jatinder, Dr Nirlep and Dr Suneet Walia (all gynaecologists), Paediatrician, Dr Paramjeet, physician Dr Vinay Ved Vyas and radiologist Dr Neelam from Sector 16 Hospital. Others on the list are Dr Suryakant, Dr Rajeev Sethi, Dr Anita Sethi and Dr Vimla Agarwal.



His vote hangs in balance
Aarti Kapur/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla is planning to file a request in the District Courts on December 31 for permission to allow him to cast his vote in the coming mayoral election scheduled for January 1, 2010, but his councillorship of the Municipal Corporation is still uncertain, as his exemption request has not been approved by the house so far.

According to the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, a councillor could not be absent from the house meetings for three consecutive months without informing or permission of the house. Even though Babla had sent a formal request for exemption of three months till December 28 to the house, the request could not be considered by the house.

On the other hand, the administration has also sent Babla’s case for the legal opinion to know whether he could be given exemption. For this, the report is awaited.

According to legal experts, there is a possibility that the local government would cancel the councillorship of Babla before getting the confirmation of minutes of those meetings in which the house passed it in November on the grounds that he has already been absent for the past five meetings, which is against the Act. Experts opine that if before January 1, 2010, the administration cancels the councillorship of Babla, he would not able to cast his vote in the mayoral elections.

Meanwhile, in a press release issued today, Shiromani Akali Dal demanded that Babla should not be allowed to cast his vote in the coming elections and should be disqualified from the councillorship also.

Similarly, RJD president Ravinder Krishan said the administration should set an example by cancelling the councillorship of Babla so that such persons are not allowed to represent the public in the house, who remain absconding due to corruption charges against them.



Student Council president as ex-officio member of Senate
PU VC writes to Chancellor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
In an unprecedented move, Panjab University has written to the Chancellor’s office demanding immediate permission to make Student Council president ex-officio member of the Senate.

The revelation was made by the Vice-Chancellor in front of the UGC-fund deficit committee visiting Panjab University, wherein he claimed that the recommendation had been made to increase student participation in decision-making process.

“It was a long-pending demand of students who wanted to have a say in matters related to them. So after working out all details, we have sent everything for the approval of the Chancellor,” said a PU official.

It may be noted the last year, members of SOPU had spearheaded this cause by protesting in front of the Senate.

“The decision will change the very facet of student leadership in Panjab University. Till now there has always been a huge gap in what a student wants and what is provided to them. With Student Council president entering the senate, the university students will gain an all-new strength and importance and it will also help us to meet student’s expectations,” concluded senator Dayal Pratap Singh Randhawa.



Retirement age of Profs likely to be raised
Sumedha Sharma/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
In line with other union territories the retirement age for Panjab University’s professors might be raised to 65 soon. As per official sources, the Vice-Chancellor made the declaration today in front of the UGC Committee. He said he had already received a formal communication regarding the same from the Ministry of Human Resource and Development. The move would be implemented from the next year.

“It’s of course a great news for us all. We put our heart into our work and this is the true reward for it. It will be good for both professors and varsity,” said a senior professor.

“The professors have been demanding this for quite a long time. The decision will not only elate them but also help the university as our competent faculty will be serving us for more years now, thereby reducing the staff crunch problem,” said a senior official.



Allegations mark MC meeting at Mohali
Our Correspondent

Municipal councillors exchange heated arguments during a meeting of the Mohali MC on Tuesday.
Municipal councillors exchange heated arguments during a meeting of the Mohali MC on Tuesday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, December 29
Heated arguments over various issues and trading of allegations marked the meeting of the Municipal Council here today even as a controversy arose over the clearing of estimates for development works worth over Rs 5 crore with opposition councillors adopting a pick and choose policy and the ruling group opposing such a move, which adversely affected the development of the town.

Heated arguments among councillors of the ruling group and those of the opposition arose as soon as the meeting started. But tempers ran high when councillors of the opposition group said they would not clear all estimates prepared for development works but only those related to their wards because the agenda, which was prepared for the meeting that was to be held last month was changed by authorities concerned.

They even refused to clear estimates prepared for developing market areas, which were in a state of neglect. It was after much persuation that the opposition councillors relented and cleared estimates for developing market areas.

As soon as the meeting started, BB Maini wanted to know as to why footpaths were broken by the civic body without taking any permission from the House before these were constructed again leading to loss worth crores of rupees.

To this an official of the engineering wing replied that estimates for all works undertaken by the council were cleared at the meetings of the civic body and these were prepared according to the wishes of the councillors. Even the council president Rajinder Singh Rana said works were being done in accordance with the system that was prevailing over the past many years.

The opposition councillors said illegal rehris and other encroachments could not be removed by the council because employees allegedly took bribes on a monthly basis to which the council president and certain councillors said that proof should be provided while levelling such charges.

Kuljit Singh Bedi pointed out that security gates installed in various parts of the town had only become a medium of displaying advertisements and the purpose for which they were set up had been defeated as there were no guards to man these gates at night.

Kulwant Singh said the gates installed were of poor quality and did not have a proper design, which could have added to the beauty of the town. It appeared that the engineering wing had not given any design or specifications to the contractor, who undertook the work. Kuljit Singh Aulakh said some areas, which needed more security were left out while setting up these gates. It was suggested that advertisements should be removed till security guards were arranged by the contractor.

Later while talking to mediapersons, Kharar MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu , who is an ex-officio member of the civic body , said the councillors of the opposition group had adopted a very offensive attitude at the meeting and had not even cleared estimates for the development of the town. Certain items on the agenda were changed to cover a bigger area. He said the ruling group would take a legal opinion and ensure that all items were considered approved. If need be they could even go to a court in the interest of the public, added Sidhu.



Looking Ahead
City cultural scene set to be lively
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 29
May be the essence of Dr Nafas Ambalvi’s couplet “Yeh Izitrab (Impatience) ragon mein bahut zaruri hai/uthho safr ke naye raaste talaash karo?” have inspired the UT administration, cultural akademies and artistes to plan and scale new heights in their respective realms.

Here we share the tentative (officially) projects they will likely be taking up in 2010.

Apart from extending financial support to amateur theatre groups, the UT administration and department of cultural affairs, Haryana, have chalked out several new plans in order to give a new look to existing annual functions in the city.

BS Balhara, project director, Haryana Cultural Affairs, said the events to be held for the first time included a seven-day festival of Haryanavi films at the Randhawa Auditorium in February, a fashion show, in which Haryanavi youths would flaunt three different regional costumes on the ramp, a music workshop of 15 to 20 budding singers.

In addition, a five-year scholarship will be given to outstanding Haryanavi students, who are undergoing training at FTTI, Pune, or other similar institutes.

Besides, annual events like a three-day yuva saang fest, raagini festival, professional’s saang fest, Hindi and Haryanavi kavi sammelan and drama festivals will be organised in Panchkula and Chandigarh.

A three-day heritage fest, Chandigarh Carnival, theatre fest and a week-long national TFT drama fest, 10-day craft mela and regular cultural shows will be organised at Plaza lake Club.

“For the first time, the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy in collaboration with Central Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi, will present a historic bonanza of Indian classical, folk music and dances by artistes of national eminence,” said Kamal Tewari, akademy chairperson.

A musical tribute “Yadon ki kasak” by well known artistes will be given to late SK Sharma, president ESI.

Acclaimed classical maestros Kewalyal Gaurav and Dr Nivedita Singh will embellish “Basant Panchmi Utsav”, while Indian classical dance recital by a national artiste will be held in February.

The fifth six-day Chandigarh Theatre fest from November 11 to 16 and twelve shows of socially relevant plays will be staged in nearby villages besides regular workshops in music dance and drama in slums and schools.

“We will hold a special programme in collaboration with local Sahitya Academy and Lalit Kala Academy,” said Tewari.

The Chandigarh Sahitya Akademy will organise a three-day international conference on literary pursuits, in which around 250 writers from India and abroad will participate.

Literary awards to writers in Hindi, Punjabi and English are on the agenda. Besides, regular creative writing competitions and workshops will be held.

“The Lalit Kala Akademy has undertaken new endeavour like bringing out a book to document the aesthetic contribution of artists,” said Diwan Manna.

A multimedia workshop featuring painters poets, dancers, musicians, theatre personalities in close interaction, besides a lively dialogue between a painter and a poet before audience, a talk and slide show by legends like Krishan Khanna and Gulam Mohammad Shaeikh and an exhibition of miniature paintings are on the agenda.

“In addition, there will be a national-level workshop in association with National Lalit Kala Akademy in January as part of 101 birth anniversary celebrations of Dr MS Randhwa, a great visionary, scholar and scientist,” said Dewan Manna.

Ghazal king Jagjit Singh will give a thrilling performance in March on the invitation of Durga Dass Foundation.

Besides, performances by top Indian classical maestros and thespians like Lution Dubey and more classic programmes are on the anvil.

Pracheen kala Kendra will present over 20 programmes and hold their annual convocation.

Other theatre groups like Adakar Manch, Suchetka Rang Manch and Theatre for Theatre will hold regular festivals and Abhinet too will stage a production.



Crime Against Women
Amendment in IPC provisions sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
City-based advocate and convener of the RTI Users Association HC Arora has, in a memorandum to the Union Home Minister P Chaidambram, called for an amendment in the provisions of the Indian Penal Code that deal with crime against women.

“Amend all provisions of the IPC dealing with crime against women, including Section 354 of the IPC, to provide for minimum sentence. There cannot be a more rarest of the rare case under Section 354 of IPC than molestation of a minor girl by a senior police officer. It was the fittest case for imposing a sentence of two years, maximum provided under this Section. I would, therefore, suggest that in order to effectively deal with persons accused of crime against women, provisions like that of Section 354 IPC be amended to provide for some adequate minimum sentence, with no upper limit for sentence. To illustrate, Section 354 of the IPC should provide for sentence which shall not be less than two years,” he wrote.

He added that special courts should be constituted exclusively for trying crime against women. “A reasonable number of Special Courts be set up in every district exclusively for trial of crimes against women.

That would be a tribute to Ruchika and a small award for her friend, Aradhna, and some respite for all victims of crime against women, and a gesture of respect to womanhood by the government,” he said.

He further pointed out that there was a need to amend Section 432 Cr PC for prohibiting state governments from granting remissions in sentence to the persons convicted of crime against women.

Hundreds of prisoners convicted of rape are being released pre-maturely by Punjab on every auspicious occasion, like Republic Day, Independence Day etc.

“I would request you to kindly amend Section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, so as to denude the state governments of the power to remit the sentence of prisoners convicted of crime against women,” he concluded.



2 more fall prey to H1N1 virus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Two more person succumbed to swine flu in the city today, raising the death toll so far to 50. The number of H1N1 patients has also risen to 320, with new cases being reported during the day. Of these, two were from Haryana and one from Punjab.

Two women died this morning at PGI today. “Harpreet Kaur (29) from Kurushetra and 30 year old Parminder from Patiala died today due to swine flu. Both were tested positive for the virus,” said HC Gera, UT Nodal Officer for swine flu.

The victim who were tested positive for swine flu are 15 year old girl from Nabha, another woman (24) from Ambala and 37 year old person from Jagadhari.

So far, 50 people have died of swine flu in city hospitals, including 7 from Chandigarh, 23 from Punjab and 14 from Haryana and others from the Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Over 320 people have tested positive, including 153 from Chandigarh, 83 from Punjab and 75 from Haryana and 8 from Himachal Pradesh and others from UP.

Meanwhile, the UT health department revealed the name of 10 private doctors who are authorized to give treatment for swine flu. They are from various sectors in city. 



Sham Mall Case
Victim’s family announces Rs 2 lakh reward
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
As the police has failed to achieve any breakthrough in the sensational Sham Fashion Mall owner Amarjit Singh’s murder case during the past seven months, the victim’s family today announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh to anyone providing a clue about the killers.

Amarjit’s son Gagandeep Singh Khurana flanked by his uncles Harjinder Singh, Devinder Singh, Surjit Singh and others told mediapersons that the family had not yet been able to come to terms with the tragedy. They were living in a state of shock and had even asked the police to provide them a security cover, but the latter did not pay any heed to their pleas.

Disheartened at the tardy police probe, Surjit Singh, the victim’s brother-in-law, said the police was still clueless.

They had met UT IG SK Jain a month ago to inquire about the status of the probe, but got only assurances.

They family asserted that if the UT police failed to achieve any breakthrough in the case within two months, they would request the administration to transfer the probe to the CBI.

“The police never approached us to apprise us about the status of the case. The entire family is living under a constant fear. The police had subjected the security guard, Raj Kamal, to narco-test about two months ago, but they had not told us about the report,” Surjit Singh lamented.

The family, however, once again maintained that they did not have any family, property or financial dispute with anyone. They said they had given whatever clues they had to the police. In the absence of any security cover provided by the police, they had made their own arrangements and enhanced their security at shop and at home as well.



Ruchika Molestation Case
Cong seeks action against school
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Congress today sought action against Sacred Heart Convent School for expelling Ruchika Girhotra from its rolls, which he claimed added to her trauma and ultimate death.

In a letter addressed to Chandigarh Administrator Lt Gen SF Rodrigues, party national spokesman and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari said: “Had the school behaved in a humane manner, probably Ruchika Girhotra who did not ostensibly have the moral support of a mother, may have not been driven to commit suicide”

He demanded that the Chandigarh Administration must set up a committee of eminent citizens to go into the conduct of the school and recommend as to what appropriate action should be taken against it, besides examining as what measures need to be put into place to deal with such an eventuality in educational institutions like schools, colleges and universities were it to ever arise in future.

Tewari said: “When you hear the story of the shabby treatment meted out to Ruchika as narrated by her father you recoil in horror that a school rather than empathising with the plight of Ruchika brazenly colluded with DGP Rathore and compelled her to leave the school as her presence had became an embarrassment for the DGP’s daughter.

Condemning the attitude to the school management, Tewari said, “The school has been adding insult to injury by dismissing the matter in a very cavalier manner as an old issue”. Seeking strong action against the school, he said, “it is my strong belief that a school which was given acres of subsidized or free land by the Chandigarh administration to set itself up should not be allowed to get away which such an outrage”.



Dr SM Bose awarded

Chandigarh, December 29
Dr SM Bose, an eminent cancer surgeon, was awarded the prestigious Brig Dr Ganguly Oration by the Association of Surgeons of India at its annual conference, “ASICON 2009” at Coimbatore.

His lecture on “Is Breast Conservation for breast cancer feasible in India?” was highly appreciated.

He also delivered a Continuing Medical Education (CME) lecture on locally advanced breast cancer at the conference, which was attended by more than 4,000 delegates from all over India and by foreign delegates also.

Dr Bose, former Senior Professor and Head of Surgery of the PGI and past president of the Association of Surgeons of India, was recently awarded the highest award by the Indian Chapter of International College of Surgeons. — TNS



Industrialists rue poor water supply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Industrialists in Phase I of the Industrial Area are perturbed over the low water pressure for the past more than six months.

Arun Mahajan, president of the Industries Association of Chandigarh, in a letter to the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, said plot numbers 184 to 189, 217 to 367 and 136 to 140 had been facing the problem of low water pressure for the past more than six months.

Despite a representation to the municipal authorities, there has been no improvement in the water supply.



Clothes donated

Chandigarh, December 29
The donated clothes received by the Sahayata Kendra in the Indian Red Cross Society, Karuna Sadan, Sector 11, were donated today to the children and their parents belonging to weaker section of the society of Colony No.5.

The articles distributed were shirts, pants, sweaters, ladies suits, blankets, towels, coats, jackets and shawls. Lieut Col. RS Bedi of YTTS and Dr Deepti of the Sai Tara Ummat Foundation, Director, Social Welfare, and Mr Ahuja from the Indian Red Cross Society distributed these articles, according to a press note issued here. — TNS



Pension adalat for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
As many as 500 ex-servicemen attended the Defence Pension Adalat that began at Patiala today. The adalat would serve as a platform to resolve pension-related grievances of veterans on the spot as representatives of the decision-making authorities concerned, banks and the Defence Ministry would also be present there.

Being organised under the aegis of the Controller-General of Defence Accounts, Western Command, the adalat was inaugurated by Lieut-Gen VK Chaturvedi, Director-General Manpower Planning, Army Headquarters. This is the 96th such adalat to be held in the country.



Student counsellors open branch
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Studying in the UK and finding the right course and college is a complex process and a student needs to take the help of counsellors, who can guide him to make the right choice.

This was stated by Anil Kundra, managing director of Icon-The Kundras, student agent of the UK, on the occasion of the opening of the maiden branch in North India at the Raffles Educity, Sector 34-A, here. He said the agency was responsible for the regulation of entry to and settlement in the UK.

Swaran Singh, managing director, Raffles Educity, said the emphasis was on honest and transparent guidance to the student community that was being mislead by unscrupulous agencies.



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