C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Highway Robberies
Cops’ sons among 3 held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The police today claimed to have arrested three members of a gang of highway robbers, including the sons of two cops.The police said the suspects used to pick on lone motorists whom they robbed after intercepting them by ramming their vehicles into those of the target victims.

“They (gang members) have been involved in about a dozen robbery incidents in and around the city. Also, they often don police uniforms for disguise”, said a police officer.

DSP (south) Vijay Kumar said the three suspects, identified as Rajbir Singh, a Sector 38 resident, Kuljit Inder Pal Singh alias Jagroop Singh, a resident of Ferozpore, and Ankit Gautam, a Sector 34 resident, were apprehended at 12:15 am today following a tipoff from the road dividing Sectors 51 and 52. Both Rajbir and Kuljit are in their mid-twenties while Ankit is a 19-year-old whose father is a businessman.

The trio had robbed a local poultry farm owner, Balbir Singh, of his Ford Fiesta car as well as his gold bangle and ring on the Zirakpur-Banur road on July 13 night.

The DSP said a special police team of the south division received information at about 11.30 pm yesterday night that five or six members of a gang of highway robbers were moving around in the city’s southern sectors in a Ford Fiesta car planning to rob lone travellers at night.

“A police team spotted a Ford Fiesta and stopped it. A scrutiny of the vehicle’s documents revealed it was displaying a fake registration number”, he added.

During preliminary interrogation the suspects disclosed they had robbed the car from Balbir and its original registration number was CH03 X5710. They also admitted to have stolen a brand new Suzuki Alto car (number: CH01 AB8354) from Sector 41B on June 27 night.

The police said Rajbir was a graduate and his father, Harmail Singh, retired as inspector from the Chandigarh police, while Kuljit’s father was a head constable in Ferozepur jail.

“Kuljit is an undergraduate and both are unemployed. Ankit is studying in class 12 in Rajpura. The three disclosed during interrogation they had met in a jail and formed their gang there. Their mastermind and other associates are yet to be apprehended. Rajbir was earlier arrested by the Punjab police in a cheating case and was in Ludhiana jail, while Kuljit along with his accomplices was nabbed by the Haryana police in Karnal”, the police said. 



Aerocity project under HC lens
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The much-hyped Aerocity housing project being developed by the Greater Mohali Development Authority (GMADA) has again come under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scrutiny.

Taking up the petition by Ludhiana resident Gurcharan Singh through his son, Justice Surya Kant today issued a notice of motion to GMADA. The petitioner is seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to include the mentally challenged and mentally ill in the category of disabled.

Justice Surya Kant also issued notice to Punjab’s social welfare department, asking them to file before the court their reply on the contentions raised by the petitioner.

Taking up the petition, Justice Surya Kant observed that the matter involved public interest and it should be heard as a public interest litigation (PIL) on the next date of hearing on August 13. With this, it is likely that the petition will be placed before the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal.

As the case came up for hearing this morning, Samarjit Singh, son of petitioner Gurcharan Singh, asserted that an advertisement was issued on June 7 by GMADA for around 4,000 housing units in the Aerocity project. The reservation for the disabled was in violation of Section 43 read with Section 2 (i) of the Persons with Disabilities Act and was arbitrary and illogical, he said.

The petitioner also sought directions to modify the reservation policy for the allotment of houses and plots in the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) by including mentally challenged and mentally ill in the category of the disabled persons, since the Act did not differentiate the physically and mentally disabled so far affirmative actions by the state were concerned.

Aggrieved by the failure of GMADA to provide concession in rates to the physically challenged applicants, another contender had earlier also sought the High Court’s intervention in the plot allotment matter.

Taking note of the issues raised in the petition by visually challenged Sucha Singh, Justice Permod Kohli of the High Court today issued notice of motion to GMADA and directed that the allotment of plots to the physically challenged should be subject to the outcome of the civil writ petition.



‘Phoren’ dreams turn sour
Travel agents dupe 21 youths of Rs 45.8 lakh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 20
The ‘phoren’ dreams of 21 young men from Patiala district turned sour when they landed in Afghanistan only to know they had cheated of lakhs of rupees by their “travel agents” who had assured them lucrative construction jobs there.

The victims, all hailing from Sahnipur Tanda village, had been promised a monthly salary of Rs 1 lakh for construction work in Afghanistan. Each youth gave Rs 1.45 lakh to the agents to secure the job and the full deal was struck for Rs 45.78 lakh at the Franco Hotel in Phase 1 here.

The agents managed to procure visas for the youths who flew to Afghanistan. However, after arriving there they soon realised the assurance of a well-paying job was false. The victims called up their family members back home, who promptly informed the police.

The investigating officer in the case told The Tribune a case under sections 420, 120B and 24 of the Emigration Act had been registered against Baldev Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Neeta Rani and Joginder Devi, all residents of Mastbaghpur near Pehowa in Haryana.

Sources said before being duped the victims had persuaded more youths to sign up with the agents. Police investigations into the matter are on. 



Legal adviser has CHB top bosses divided
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
 Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
A contractual employee has become the bone of contention between two top functionaries of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) these days.

Insiders claim that for the renewal of contract of a specific employee of the board, the two had a virtual split over the matter, so much so that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had expressed in writing his opinion against the utility of the employee.

Expressing his dissatisfaction, it had been alleged that the CEO specifically wrote that since his re-employment, he had hardly given any legal advice that was valuable for the board and therefore, the Chairman could take a call on this matter.

When contacted, CHB Chairman Mohanjit Singh denied difference of opinion with the CEO, but admitted that Rajinder Ghai’s contract had not been renewed this year. “We will take it up at the board meeting and may hire him as consultant,” he said.

Sources claimed that it had happened over the issue of renewal of contract of Ghai as legal adviser. Though he retired in 2006 at the age of 58 as senior law officer, he was re-employed and was serving on the above-said post since.

His contract expired on June 30 and since then, his contract had not been renewed. Interestingly, he was still attending office, signing official papers and attending hearings in the case pertaining to the CHB-Parsavnath tussle before the tribunal in Delhi.

This was despite the fact that his chances of being hired again were bleak in the wake of the guidelines issued by the government, stating that an employee could not be re-employed after the age of 62.

Many in the board also resented his re-employment on the grounds that the board actually did not need his services as the CHB already had two regular law officers, besides a standing counsel.

Moreover, the UT administration also had a senior standing counsel, who represented the board in various cases, besides the UT’s Legal Remembrancer, always at the disposal of the board whenever the need arose.

Keys given, taken back were taken back.

According to sources, the beneficiaries were handed over the keys on Monday but were asked to return the same saying that they would be handed over the keys during a formal ceremony on August 15.

The UT administration was supposed to construct around 25,000 houses under the slum rehabilitation scheme, which was to be supported with the funds from the CHB-Parsavnath deal. However, since that deal failed to kick start, the administration was facing problems on the financial front for the construction of houses under the scheme, sources said.



Schools still at sea over grading system
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
While the Central Board of Secondary Education might be excited about the renaissance expected from the revamped Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE), or the grading system, schools in the city are still in a fix over how to implement it.

The system, which was launched on a pilot basis in Classes 11 and 10 last year, has been revamped and is supposed to be fully implemented by schools. However, educators claim to be clueless about the basic nuts and bolts. While most teachers refused to divulge their names they said they were facing confusion over what to teach and how.

“Its almost three months since the new academic session commenced but the board is yet to provide us with specific details about what to grade the students on. The evaluation was introduced last October and we were bombarded with a list of projects and activities, which had to be hastily conducted due to lack of time. This year if the board could have sent across the details we would have judiciously used the summer vacations,” said a Principal of a Sector 26 based private school.

It may be noted that as per CCE a student will undergo two assessments - a formative one and a summative one, each having 50 percent weightage in the final grades.

While the summative assessment will be done through written examinations the formative one will depend on a student’s co-scholastic performance.

Schools, primarily the government ones, have a tough time in channelising a student’s formative assessment.

“We know all teachers are supposed to organise co-scholastic activities in respective subjects but the details are still awaited. We don’t know how to deal with the nonacademic aspect of a subject like math and how does a class teacher anchor various grades provided by different teachers”, said a principal of a government school.

Meanwhile, CBSE regional director DR Yadav said, “We have already issued a detailed booklet on the evaluation system and even conducted two orientation programmes. We can’t spoon feed the teachers - they have to go by the booklet and implement the system. If still there is any problem they need to coordinate with the district education officer. These are just mere excuses.”

Grey areas

The CBSE has so far only talked about the benefits of evaluation. Its booklet deals with the system only in a superficial way but fails to define the practical aspects. It talks about group discussion but how to conduct it in a subject like mathematics still remains a big question. 


Five new AC buses hit city roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Five heavy-duty air-conditioned buses of the CTU were flagged off by Home Secretary Ram Niwas here today.The buses have been equipped with door sensor, the control of which will be with the driver. These will ensure that the bus does not move until a passenger is safely inside or outside of the vehicle.

More buses will be added to the fleet by August 15. These buses have also been equipped with individual AC ducts, which may be opened or closed as per the convenience of the passenger.

The buses also have a special provision for wheelchairs of handicapped persons and boarding or alighting the bus will be made convenient with the help of a folding platform.

Air curtains at the door will ensure that the interiors of the buses remain dust-free.

Electronic route boards have been placed on three sides of the bus to keep the passengers informed about the route.

The buses come with a seating capacity of 32 persons with adequate space for nearly 40 more to stand.



Cop granted bail

Chandigarh, July 20
CBI Special Judge Darshan Singh yesterday granted bail to sub-inspector Ramesh Chand, who was recently made a co-accused in a corruption case against another police official Sanjeev Kumar. Sanjeev was the in-charge of Neelam police post in 2008.

The CBI had arrested Sanjeev and co-accused Subash Kataria on November 7, 2008 on a complaint lodged by a bookstore owner, Arvind Kumar Pandey, who had alleged that Subash and Sanjiv had demanded Rs 50,000 from him as “kickback” for evicting his “tenant” from his shop in bridge market. — TNS



11 illegal structures removed

Chandigarh, July 20
The UT engineering department, UT estate office and the UT police jointly conducted an anti-encroachment drive near Naya Gaon, behind Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Sector 12, here today.

Initially, confusion prevailed over the territory of the encroached land. It was later found that the land under encroachment fell within the boundary of the Union Territory. Of the 21 illegal structures that had come up on government land, 11 were removed.

These included vegetable vends, carpenter and meat shops, residential units and a religious structure. Eight structures could not be removed as the owners had procured stay orders from a local court, hearing of which was scheduled for July 27. — TNS



Consumer Courts
Rs 2,000 fine slapped on HR
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Not issuing a ticket to a commuter who had a reservation slip has cost Haryana Roadways dearly.

Holding the roadways guilty of deficiency in services, District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked it to pay a Rs 2,000 in compensation to the complainant after he was forced to hire a taxi to reach his destination.

The forum has also asked the roadways to refund Rs 415, paid for booking a seat in Volvo bus, to complainant Jaspal Singh Dhillon, a resident of Sector 38 (West).

Jaspal had stated that he had got tickets booked on December 26, 2009 at the Haryana Roadways Volvo reservation office at the ISBT, Sector 17, for his journey to Delhi.

He got the ticket booked for December 27, 2009 with reservation slip No. 15075 having seat No. 15, for which he paid Rs 410 as fare and Rs 5 as reservation charges.

The bus was to depart at 10.15 pm. On the date of journey, he reached the bus stand at 9.55 pm. As per note No. 5 of the reservation slip, the passenger was required to get the slip exchanged with a regular ticket from the platform window.

However, the official sitting at the platform refused to give the ticket.

The official concerned further insisted that he should not board the bus. He requested the complainant to board some other bus.

Later, Jaspal came to know that the ticket in his name was issued to someone else.

He even wrote a complaint, mentioning the details of the staff present, but the roadways officials refused to sign it.

The officials further refused to give him another ticket.

Jaspal had to hire a taxi to reach Delhi as he had official work the following day.

No one appeared on behalf of the roadways before the forum. Thus ex parte proceedings were initiated.

Pronouncing the orders, the forum held: “The roadways has not come forward to deny the allegations of the complainant and ex parte proceedings were initiated against them, which shows that they have nothing to say. In this manner, it is proved that the opposite party was deficient in rendering service by declining the ticket to the complainant for which he is liable to be compensated as he was not allowed to board the bus despite having reservation slip.” 



Minimum temperature to dip further
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
City residents can look forward to pleasant weather tomorrow, as Met officials have predicted cloudy skies, rain in some parts of the city and further dip in the minimum temperature.

The sky will remain cloudy on Wednesday. There is a possibility of rain in some parts, said an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Rain showers this morning in the tricity, which followed a heavily overcast sky throughout the day, brought down mercury by a few degrees from the maximum of 31.2 °C recorded yesterday to 29.0 °C.

The minimum temperature also dipped by about three degrees from Monday’s 29.0 °C to 26.2 °C.

The Met official said the dip in temperature and cool breeze were because of rain in some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. “We recorded 14.7 mm rainfall in the city in the past 24 hours,” the official added.

Meanwhile, weatherman has forecast generally cloudy sky in the region during the next 24 hours with one or two spells of rain or thundershowers.

The maximum temperature is expected to hover around 30 °C and the minimum of 24 °C. Humidity was recorded at a high of 90 per cent and the minimum of 78 per cent.



Shanties near Air Force station
Team formed to verify legality of structures
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 20
After The Tribune highlighted mushrooming of illegal shanties around Chandigarh Air Force, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) today constituted a team to physically verify the legality of the structures.

GMADA officials have been asked to prepare a list of all such structures that have come up in the last few months. Few days ago, the Air Force authorities had sought intervention of the Mohali Deputy Commissioner in removing illegal structures, including a number of cattle sheds around the Chandigarh Air Force Station.

The violators have been daring enough to raise illegal structures right next to emergency exit gate of the Air Force station. But the regulatory branch of GMADA has failed to take note of the serious issue.

The DC had directed GMADA to take swift action against the encroachers. The Air Force authorities have also sought that any proposal to rehabilitate the slum dwellers near the Air Force base should not be approved without their clearance.



PhD entrance exam exemption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Barring a few exceptions, all exemptions given for PhD entrance examination have been scrapped by Panjab University from the new academic session as per the University Grants Commission.

In the recently released prospectus of the PhD programme offered by the university in various disciplines, the authorities have mentioned that only students who have qualified UGC or CSIR (JRF), SLET and GATE examination will be granted exemption from the test.

Besides, those candidates who are teacher fellowship holders or direct awardees by the Union Government’s department of science and technology (INSPIRE), ICMR, or any national agency will be exempted from the PhD entrance examination.

Others who are exempted include candidates who have joined MPhil on the basis of university entrance test for PhD or MPhil and those foreign students who hold a valid research visa. The entrance examination will be conducted on August 22. 



BCom craze among students
Colleges demand more seats
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The increasing popularity of Bachelors in Commerce (BCom) course has put Panjab University authorities in a peculiar situation.According to sources, after the recent centralised counselling, PU authorities are receiving several requests from affiliated colleges to grant them more seats in commerce stream.

Hundreds of students, whose names didn’t appear in the merit list, didn’t get admission in PU affiliated colleges through this newly introduced centralised counselling.

Colleges, including certain private colleges in Chandigarh, are now pressing the PU authorities to increase the number of seats in BCom course.

During the counselling in PU affiliated colleges in the city, which otherwise turned out to be a huge success, disappointed 1,000 applicants. These students sought admission in city colleges but since the cut out for merit list was high, those who scored below 60 per cent in Class XII examination couldn’t secure a seat in BCom course.

PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti, however, agreed that the university was receiving several applications to increase the number of seats in B.Com in various colleges, but said nothing had been decided so far. “I have forwarded the requests to a committee and no decision has been taken so far. Nothing can be said right now,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, university officials expressed concern on quality teaching if there had to be an increase in the number of seats. “Since the number of applications for BCom course was more as compared to the number of seats, the colleges are making such requests. With centralised counselling, more transparency has been brought into the system and there is no scope for any adjustment,” said Dr Karamjeet Singh, co-ordinator of the BCom centralised counselling.

IInd round of BCom counselling

The second round of BCom centralised counselling will start from August 7 at Gymnasium Hall, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and on August 4 in Ludhiana, said Karamjeet Singh, co-ordinator, centralised BCom counselling 



PUSU members protest outside VC’s office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) today protested outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office on the issue of students staying on guest charges in university hostels.

PUSU president Udey Singh and chairman Cherry Brar led the protest and alleged that those students who were temporarily adjusted last year in the university hostels were not being considered this year.

The PUSU supporters gathered outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office at 1 pm and continued to protest till 2:30 pm.

Udey said: “Students who were residing in both boys and girls hostel last year on temporarily basis or daily charges were not allocated hostel seats for the new academic session due to which the students are suffering.” After an assurance of an action in the matter by Dean Student Welfare (DSW), Naval Kishore, the protestors dissolved.

A committee has also been formed by the DSW. 



VC asks chairpersons to prepare placement brochures
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, held a meeting with chairpersons of various departments at the Senate hall today.

He asked the chairpersons to prepare placement brochures, giving necessary details of students and placement opportunities. Placement officers of various departments are required to submit their brochures on August 15, 2010.

The VC also announced that Central Placement Cell (CPC) would grant funds for this exercise. In order to regulate teaching and examination system, Sobti asked the chairpersons to arrange things in such a way that the results of the coming semesters be declared by January 15, 2011. Similarly, the second semester results should be declared by June 15, 2011. Sounding the cautionary note, the Vice-Chancellor said even dissertation work (MSc, MA and MPhil), along with viva, should be over by June 15, 2011.

In addition, it was announced that all chairpersons should submit attendance record of students to the Dean University Instruction’s office by next month.

To tide over the problem of student unrest over condoning of lectures, Sobti announced that attendance record should be furnished by the department concerned both in soft and hard copies at the DUI’s office.

He said research scholars must submit a quarterly report to the department concerned, a copy of which should go to the warden, if a research scholar stays in a university hostel.

VC told the chairpersons and PU faculty that from now onwards the gazetted UGC notification regarding PhD courses would be implemented at PU.

Taking a serious note of the increasing number of cars and other vehicles on the university campus, the Vice-Chancellor said a committee headed by Rana Nayar would be formed to look into the problem.

Anti-ragging measures

In order to keep a check on ragging, the Vice-Chancellor announced that “Anti-ragging Committees” should be formed at all departments. He said introductory sessions with students should be arranged so that ragging could be prevented. “Introduction” could be held only in the presence of faculty members. 



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