C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Hit-and-run suspect gives herself up
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Police hamhandedness

Though a team of policemen led by Sector 3 police station SHO inspector Mahavir Singh went to the Sector 36 home of the suspect at midnight, he failed to enter the house due to reasons best known to him. After pressed the doorbell twice he returned after getting no response. He later gave a lame excuse that the cops could not enter the house as it would have amounted to trespassing

Suspect in 3-hour custody

Police released Sukhmani on bail in the evening after confiscating her passport and taking a photocopy of her driver’s licence. She remained in police custody and faced questioning for about three hours.

Reporter detained at police station

Staff at the Sector 3 police station locked the senior staff correspondent of the Indian Express, Aneesha Sareen, who had gone to fill a bottle from a water cooler at the police station without seeking permission from them. It was only after the intervention of other media persons that the door was opened. Aneesha has lodged a complaint addressed to the UT IGP seeking action against the erring policemen.

Protest by NGO

Harman Sidhu, head of a local road safety NGO ArriveSAFE, along with road safety activists held a silent march outside the Sector 36 home of Sukhmani’s grandfather, a retired army officer, demanding the family to accept their responsibility instead of doing their best to protect their wards. Sidhu said it was “unbecoming for army officers known for protecting the country are in stead protecting an accused whose act of reckless driving snuffed out two young lives”.

Commenting on the case, Sidhu said the police should register a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the suspect.
Members of ArriveSafe protest in front of the house of the suspect at Sector 36, Chandigarh, on Wednesday.
Members of ArriveSafe protest in front of the house of the suspect at Sector 36, Chandigarh, on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Incident “unfortunate”

Sukhmani’s uncle, BS Brar, an army colonel posted in Ranchi in Jharkhand, termed the incident as “unfortunate" and said they were “sorry for it though their words could not bring solace to the family”. He, however, said it was an accident and “nobody does it deliberately”.

Chandigarh, August 18
After being on the run for over 20 hours after her car allegedly crushed two cousins to death in a road accident yesterday, the suspect, identified as Sukhmani Brar alias Amanat, 19, who is said to belong to a “high profile” business family, surrendered at the Sector 3 police station here today.

Sources close to the police said the girl, who is reportedly studying in the United States, fled to Delhi this morning after the accident and arrived there by 10:40 am. She was forced to return to the city and gave herself up after the police exerted pressure on her family. Her father, Jagwinder Singh, is a businessman based in Dubai.

The police has registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC on a statement recorded by an eyewitness, Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Khuda Ali Sher, who alleged that the girl was drunk.

The sources said after the collision at about 7:30 pm on Tuesday between Sukhmani’s Honda Accord car (registration no: CH03 R0018) and the motorcycle on which the two cousins - Sukhwinder Singh, 21, and Harpreet Singh alias Goldy, 7 - were riding, she called up her friends for help. They arrived at the scene in a Maruti Swift car.

The boys, Armanraj Singh, a Sector 40 resident, and Rahul Gaur, a resident of Mohali, evacuated Sukhmani and her co-passenger - another girl, Harsimran, who resides in Sector 2, from the car. The girls were stuck in the car after its airbags became bloated. The two boys pierced them to evacuate the girls. The boys said they along with the girls were coming from a restaurant in Sector 9 and later parted ways.

The two boys, whom the police detained early this morning, narrated the entire sequence of events after the mishap. They admitted to have driven the girls in their car toward Chandigarh Club where Sukhmani called her old schoolmate, who came and drove them first to Sector 2 where they dropped Harsimran and then left Sukhmani in Sector 10. The latter then walked to her relatives’ Sector 9 home from there.

The boys told the police they found both victims gasping for breath. They said they were panic stricken and sped away from there.

Earlier during the day Sukhmani’s family members claimed their driver, not Sukhmani, was driving the car. However, later they admitted she was driving the car and produced her before the police.

Meanwhile, heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the victims’ homes in Kansal village near here when their bodies were brought there. A pall of gloom descended over the village with not only the immediate family members but also women from the village wailing at the unfortunate death of the two cousins.

Villagers gather in front of the residences of the victims on the arrival of their bodies at Kansal village in Mohali district on Wednesday.

The victims’ fathers, Ravinder Singh and Dalbir Singh, demanded severe punishment for the suspect. Soon after coming to now that the suspect had given herself up they arrived at the Sector 3 police station along with villagers to see the face of the girl who had struck two families with a tragedy.

DSP (central) Jagbir Singh said the police had taken the suspect’s passport into their possession and would take her for a medical examination where her blood samples would be taken to confirm whether she was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. The police had also asked her family members to produce her driver’s licence.

The police said no one except Sukhmani was directly involved in the crime and hence they did not intend to take action against any one else at this stage.

Villagers gather in front of the residences of the victims on the arrival of their bodies at Kansal village in Mohali district on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan



8 persons have died on ‘killer stretch’
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
With no traffic lights and roundabouts, the road from the Sukhna Lake to the roundabout near the Punjab Civil Secretariat is a killer stretch. This is confirmed by the accident figures. The death of two cousins from Kansal village — 21-year-old Sukhwinder Singh and seven-year-old Harpreet Singh — last night is a grim reminder of other fatal accidents.

Arjun Singh, former sarpanch of Kansal, said at least eight persons from the village had lost their lives on this stretch in the recent past. A BSc student of the village, Davinder Kaur, had died on this stretch in 2005. Her father Darshan Singh said he got the news about the mishap around 8.20 am that day, minutes after she left on her scooter for college. A speeding Ford Endeavour knocked her down and dragged her to a distance. Though the driver was nabbed on the spot, a case is still on.

Kulwant Kaur, mother of another accident victim, 20-year-old Balwinder Singh Bajwa, has vivid memory of the fateful day even after 13 years of the accident.

Kulwant Kaur, whose another son is not mentally sound, said her son left for college on his motorcycle on December 11, 1997, to never come back.

Though eyewitnesses told them that an escort vehicle coming from the Haryana CM’s residence rammed into the motorcycle, the police said another motorcycle had hit the bike.

Arjun Singh said among the victims of the road accidents were several families of migrant labourers who left the city after losing their breadwinners. Residents of nearby villages had taken up the issue with the UT Administration, but to no avail.



Admn told to keep off St John’s principal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
In a hard hitting directive, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions has asked the UT administrator to “issue appropriate directions restraining the home secretary, Ram Niwas, and the district Education Officer from harassing Kavita C Dass, principal of St John’s High School, till the disposal of the case by the commission”.

The panel observed there was prima facie evidence that “pressure” was being exerted on the Chandigarh police to harass the principal and that antedated notices were being issued to the school threatening to withdraw the recognition granted to it.

The order follows an application by Dass to the commission pointing out that the UT administration was harassing her. The controversy had arisen after a parent had accused an arts teacher at the school, Michelangelo Francis, of “promoting pornography" among students. School officials, who have vehemently refuted the charge, filed a complaint with the panel.

The commission’s chairman, justice MSA Siddiqui, and members Mohinder Singh and Cyriac Thomas noted that “on June 6, 2010, counsel for the UT administration had given an oral assurance to the commission that its official machinery shall not be used in harassing the principal of the petitioner school.”

However, in its latest application, school officials have asserted that despite this assurance the home secretary’s office shot off a letter to the Chandigarh inspector general of police calling for the report regarding a complaint filed against the school principal.

Citing another incident, the school stated its provisional recognition was due for renewal and an inspection was conducted by the UT education department on May 4, 2010. The inspecting team pointed out no major discrepancies, the school said.

However after the hearing before the commission on June 9, 2010, a notice was received by the school on June 28, 2010, which referred to certain discrepancies noticed during the inspection. Though the notice was dated June 6,2010 it was delivered to the school only on June 28, 2010 despite school representatives regularly visiting the education department office every Monday and Thursday.

In another instance education department officials deliberately avoided supplying information sought under the Right to Information Act. It was also clarified that a report carried in a section of the media on the prime minister’s office demanding a fresh inquiry into the matter be instituted against the school was totally false.

The PMO had issued no such order till date, it was stated.



Bulbul Case
HS sends probe report for legal opinion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
UT Additional Deputy Commissioner PS Shergill and Dr Raj Bahadur, director-principal of the GMCH-32, submitted an inquiry report pertaining to the death of a newborn at the Government Multi Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, to the Home Secretary (HS) here today.

Though the contents of the report could not be known, it is understood that the report has pinpointed certain “criminal negligence” on the part of the GMSH staff, including four doctors.

Home Secretary Ram Niwas, who is also Health Secretary, has sent the report to the legal remembrancer for opinion.

On July 21, Bulbul was forced to move from one room to another at the GMSH while in labour, following which she delivered at the OPD counter and the head of the baby reportedly hit the floor, causing instant death.

On July 27, the inquiry conducted by the GMSH authorities termed the incident as an outcome of technical and system failure. Ram Niwas rejected the report stating that it was “sketchy with gaping holes”. He ordered another probe.

Poonam, an eyewitness, standing in a queue with Bulbul had alleged that the baby fell on the floor and died. Doctors, however, claimed that the baby was born dead.

The preliminary report of the postmortem of the baby mentioned a blood clot in the head and the report of the histopathology test confirmed that baby was born alive.



Slum rehab project way behind schedule
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Why the delay?

l Non-accrual of about Rs 1,600 crore from the Prideasia project

l Slow pace of release of grants from the Central Government

l Burgeoning slum population due to political patronage

l Administrative apathy towards the project

Chandigarh, August 18
The UT Administration has finally conceded that its Rs 1,187-crore ambitious slum resettlement project to rehabilitate around 25,000 families is running behind schedule, giving a jolt to the dream of becoming the first slum-free city in the country.

The admission came from Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Shivraj Patil during a ceremonial speech on Independence Day.

“Under the slum rehabilitation programme, approximately 25,000 small flats are being constructed. Within the next two years, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) will be completing more than 11,000 flats for slum dwellers, who have been identified in the biometric survey,” Patil said.

In other words, the UT Administration would only be completing 44 per cent of the total dwelling units, belying the claims of the administration that the project was “well on track”.

Already the tug of war between the CHB and Parsvnath over the Prideasia luxury mini township in the IT park has taken a toll on the slum rehabilitation project. Formulated as part of the administration’s “social commitment”, besides freeing prime commercial land in the city from illegal squatters, Rs 1,600 crore accruals from the Prideasia project were to go a long way in completing the project.

According to a biometric survey, about 23,841 families are to be rehabilitated in 18 colonies in eight locations across the city. The administration had earmarked about 356 acres (20 per cent) of the available 2,811 acres for the project.

Sources said with each passing day, the project was becoming infeasible as the number of slum dwellers continued to increase. Though the administration had made a provision for the resettlment of over 1 lakh slum dwellers, it is known that the number of existing slum dwellers was much more.

With the election to the municipal corporation (MC) due next year, the number of illegal squatters is set to rise again. In the past, the number of slum dwellers usually increased in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and MC elections.

However, official sources claimed that since the project was substantially funded by the Central Government, it would pick up momentum with the release of the enhanced amount of Rs 190 crore in the 2010-2011 UT Budget.



CHB has to battle it out alone
Admn washes hands off board’s legal affairs
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chief Engineer may not return soon

CHB Chief Engineer SK Jain, presently on deputation to the Delhi Multi-Integrated Transit System (DMITS), may get another extension of two years on the same project. He is due to complete his three-year deputation on September 24. Sources claim that officials of the DMITS have written to the CHB Chairman for his extension for two years.

Chandigarh, August 18
Facing a severe financial crisis after the recent swoop by the income tax department, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) today also lost the support of the UT administration, which cleared in strong words its stand that it would not be a party to its legal affairs.

What made the development more interesting was the fact that the administration had spearheaded the drive for all major projects, some of which ran into controversy later, including the Parsavnath-CHB deal.

An official letter was sent to the board by the office of the Finance Secretary today (memo number 65 61-17.8.2010), wherein it was stated that after deliberations and discussions, it had been decided that in any matter of the board pertaining to court, the UT administration should not be made a party to it.

Sources claimed that when the board was in arbitration proceedings regarding the Parsavnath deal, the administration had cleared its stand, stating that it would not bear costs of arbitration, though the administration that had made the CHB the nodal agency in the deal.

In fact, the board had recently got a stay from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, on its own, after 20 of its bank accounts were sealed over non-payment of income tax. Now the board could utilise the amount only for important purposes, and that too, after seeking due permission from the income tax department.

In 2005, the UT administration allotted nearly 123 acres to Parsavnath for a commercial-cum-housing project near the IT Park for Rs 821 crore after making the CHB the nodal agency. At that time, it was announced that the project would be a great example of the public-private partnership model, with the government agency as partner in making profit.

However, the realtor had only paid Rs 517 crore. Later, when the scheme turned controversial, the UT administration sealed the escrow account of the CHB and the realtor, which had the amount of Rs 517 crore.

In fact, in 2008, when the IT department served a noticed on the board to pay Rs 328 crore as income tax on an amount which the board never had in its account. The sources claimed that since then, the board had been writing to the finance department, seeking opinion on income tax, but it always got the reply that the money belonged to the government and no income tax could be deducted.

At the same time, employees of the board had been demanding a CBI inquiry into the issue, questioning the basis on which Parsvanath was the lone bidder in the project, due to come up near the IT Park, while others were rejected.

The employees also said when it came to accepting awards, including the one by the Centre which praised the small-flat scheme, officials of the UT administration were the first ones to fetch those, but now, when the board needed support, higher officials washed their hands off it.



1,250 blankets dispatched for Leh victims

Chandigarh, August 18
Expressing solidarity with the victims of the flash floods in the Leh subdivision of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, along with fellow judges, dispatched the first consignment of 1,250 blankets.

The blankets were handed over to assistant resident commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir Vidushi Kapoor, posted at Chandigarh. A decision was taken in the meeting of the judges held recently to extend complete help to the Leh victims.

The Chief Justice also made an appeal to the High Court Bar Association, judicial officers posted in the state of Punjab and Haryana and also the High Court employees to contribute for the cause.

So far, the employees union has promised to contribute Rs 2 lakh. Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association president GS Attariwala and the office bearers have also promised to contribute Rs 10 lakh to start with, while the judicial officers have decided that they would render maximum help for the victims of the calamity. — TNS


Narrow escape for two schoolgirls
An overloaded bus overtook a tractor and applied brakes in the middle of the road. The girls who were standing on the front side of the trailer lost balance and fell down
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 18
Two schoolgirls had a miraculous escape as they fell down from a tractor trailer after an overloaded Haryana Roadways bus applied brakes in front of the tractor near Azad Colony in Sector 21 here today.

The two girls identified as Matlesh (15) and Sarabjit (16), residents of Tharva village, near Raipur Rani, had received internal injuries and were referred to General Hospital, Sector 6, where they were stated to be out of danger. The two were members of the school team who had come to participate in the kho-kho games at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Sector 3.

The driver of the tractor trailer (HYE 9102) said he was on his way to Raipur Rani when the overloaded bus (HR-68-7234) overtook him and immediately applied brakes in the middle of the road. He said the two girls who were standing on the front side of the trailer lost balance and fell down.

The girls got unconscious and were removed from the site by the residents of the Azad Colony who had gathered on the spot.

Some colony residents gheraoed the bus and did not allow the bus driver to take away the bus from the site of the incident. They also informed the police after which the PCR van immediately reached the site.

However, no case was registered against the bus driver by the police as both the parties reached a compromise.

No arrangement was made to take the schoolgirls back to their village till 6 pm. The hapless students could be seen waiting in the trolley as its driver had taken the tractor away to the workshop for necessary repairs.



Slapgate at Karsan school
Teachers voice anger
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
With two incidents of outsiders slapping teachers of Government High School, Karsan, having been reported in the past 15 days, schoolteachers today protested against the lack of security.

“We are giving our hundred per cent to our job. If this is the price that we have pay for maintaining discipline we will not ensure any discipline. We cannot have students half our age slapping and thrashing us,” said one of the teachers.

District Education Officer Chanchal Singh reached the school and assured teachers of prioritising their security over everything else. He promised to get the culprits booked at the earliest.

The teachers though resumed work, they didn’t seem to be too contended.

“We will be taking up the matter at a larger scale. Every time a teacher suffers and all we get is sympathy and promise. No such thing is ever reported from private schools, as they know how to value their staff,” added another teacher.

Yesterday Naresh, an SSA teacher of the school, was beaten up by four youths after school hours. Prior to this, an outsider slapped a teacher of the same school when he was asked to give a reason for roaming in the school.



Overburdened PGI sounds SOS
Hospitals urged to limit referrals
Tribune News Service


Over 1,200 senior and junior resident doctors besides faculty members, nurses, paramedical and other staff work round the clock at the hospital. It provides consultancy to doctors of 20 hospitals in UP, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab through telemedicine. At any given time, at least 40 patients are on respiratory support in the hospital.

Chandigarh, August 18
Finding it hard to cope with increasing workload, especially in the emergency ward, the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has made an appeal to health institutions in the city and its neighbouring states to strengthen their infrastructure and try to minimise the number of referrals to the hospital.

While long queues are commonplace in all OPDs at the PGI, its emergency ward with a capacity of 100 beds accommodates over 300 patients on any given day.

The load has not only affected the quality of work at the health institute, it has also forced the staff to work under heavy stress, feel the authorities.

The appeal said the overcrowded emergency ward put burden beyond the maximum handling capacity on investigative, diagnostic and therapeutic facilities at the hospital.

To ensure proper, thorough, prompt and best medical care to deserving sick patients, it was essential that hospitals and other healthcare facilities in and around the city i.e. Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh referred only those patients who required care and support expected from a tertiary care hospital.

This will help the hospital concentrate adequately on critically sick patients who need care in the PGI emergency.

Even in his Independence Day speech at the PGI, Director Dr KK Talwar had said that due to lack of hi-tech medical facilities in the neighbouring states, there was a constant flow of patients to the hospital.



Sellers of second-hand books at Sector 15
27 shed owners get notices over rent
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Municipal Corporation has served show-cause notices on 27 owners of second-hand bookseller sheds, who have not been paying their monthly rent to the authorities.

According to records of the corporation, 27 of the 36 owners at Sector 15 are not paying their monthly rent regularly to the authorities.

Nine booksellers have not been paying their monthly rent of Rs 750 for more than seven months and 18 of them have not been paying it for the last three months, due to which lakhs are pending towards them as rent.

A senior official confirmed that these shopkeepers were not paying their monthly rent on time, for which show-cause notices were issued to them last week.

As per a clause of the show-cause notices, if the defaulter shopkeeper did not deposit the pending amount of rent to the corporation within three days, strict action would be initiated against them.

Sources revealed that according to the agreement under which these sheds were allotted to 36 shopkeepers for five years from 2007 to 2012, if any shopkeeper did not pay rent for five months continuously, their allotment could be cancelled.

The sources revealed that the authorities had also received 13 complaints of subletting by the allottees and notices were being sent to them to clarify the status of their ownership.

Officials said if shopkeepers were found selling new books, action would be taken against them because clear instructions had been issued during allotment that they could only sell old books.

During a visit, it was also found that some of the shopkeepers had encroached upon the passage in front of their sheds.

The then Punjab Governor, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), inaugurated these sheds on May 14 last year.



Sale of unhygienic food unabated
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
As if the viral infections in the rainy season were not enough to play havoc with the health of people, the local administration here seems to be compounding the problem with its criminal negligence and failure to check the sale of unhygienic food.

Despite the ban on the sale of some food items marked unhygienic by the administration, their sale continues unabated, thus putting the health of people at risk.

“The notification banning the sale of ‘kulcha-chana’ and other eatables, which attract flies, openly is a mere formality for the local administration in the wake of the threat of monsoon ailments,” says Partap Singh, a Sector-20 resident.

There is hardly any check on those who flout the ban, he adds.

As per the notification, the sale of open eatables exposed to flies and dust is to be stopped with immediate effect. However, the health department is yet to take any step.

A vendor selling “kulcha-chana” near the computer market in Sector 20, while pleading anonymity, said: “We have to pay a monthly fee to officials concerned for not disturbing our business.”

Though “checking and raids” can happen, they do not affect their business, says a vendor while driving away flies from an open “channa” container lying on a rehri.

“When things are brought to the media’s notice, the authorities concerned wake up and harass us, but after some days the situation becomes normal again,” he adds.

Last week, three employees of a computer shop in Sector 20 started vomiting after eating “kulcha-chana” and had to be hospitalised in the GMCH, Sector 32.

They were discharged in the evening after being administered drip.

“I have fallen ill many times after consuming food from such vendors,” said Surinder Bhardwaj, a student of class X hailing from Solan.

Pankaj, another student, also felt that the authorities concerned had failed to check the menace.

Suraj, a vendor in Industrial Area, Phase-I, expressed surprise at the presence of a notification banning the sale of ‘kulcha-chana’ openly.

“No, I don’t know of any such rule and no one has ever told me to stop selling ‘kulcha-chana’. I have been doing this business for the past several years,” he said.

Another vendor near the cloth market in Sector 20 said: “We have a well-wired network in the city. Whenever (and this is not very often) a raid is conducted by the authorities, our friends from the area inform us on mobile and we make our exit hurriedly.”

The local health authorities said food inspectors of various areas would be directed to conduct raids from time to time.

A health inspector said: “We confiscate and destroy foodstuff that is unfit for consumption.”

Moreover, he said it was the duty of the local municipal corporation to crack down on such vendors who were out to play with the lives of people.



Hallo Majra’s cremation ground needs resurrection
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Residents of Hallo Majra village are finding it hard to cremate their dead these days. For, the village cremation ground is shrouded in bushes and wild grass, making it difficult for them to access the place and carry out the rituals.

The residents claim they have taken up the matter with the authorities concerned a number of times, but to no avail.

The cremation ground presents a picture of neglect with its entrance hard to find due to wild growth.

The residents say it is dangerous to venture into the cremation ground, as the threat of snakebite is real.

Even a room constructed at the entrance is in dilapidated condition. They allege during night, the room turns into a den of drunkards and gamblers.

There is no facility for water as the ground even lacks a hand pump. Since water is important for the ablution of body, people have to fetch it from the nearby government tubewell.

Also, there is no arrangement for storing wood to carry out the last rites for the dead.

This has forced people to fetch wood from the village, which is around half a kilometre away.

Those who cannot afford it collect wood from the nearby forest area or use cow dung cakes to cremate the bodies.

The cremation ground is spread over an area of around three acre but has just one shelter for cremating bodies. In case of cremation of more than one body, it has to be carried out in the open.

Sunil Tiwari, a resident, says: “There is no seating arrangement for the relatives of the bereaved family and other villagers. Things get really bad during the rainy season.”

Villagers even allege that due to lack of basic facilities, bodies cremated in the open remain half-burnt sometimes.

Also, in the absence of a helper or a watchman, villagers often have to clear the space, meant for cremating the body, themselves as there is no one to clear the ashes.

Village councillor Ram Lal says the local municipal corporation has already sanctioned Rs 24 lakh for the renovation of the cremation ground.

He says all civic amenities, including water, toilets, etc. and two sheds facilitating seating for men and women will come up soon. Besides, five new sheds for cremation will also be set up.

The ground will be cleared of wild growth within a fortnight, he adds.

The renovation work of the ground, which was to start in November last year, got delayed due to some technical reasons, he adds.



Minor fire at PGI parking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
A minor fire broke out at the basement of the multi-level parking of the PGI in front of the new OPD building here today. No loss was reported. Labourers spotted the fire in the basement around 3:30 pm, while construction work was in progress for the expansion of the parking. The fire was extinguished before it could spread.

A PGI spokesperson said Central Public Works Department workers were welding and electricity wires, which could not take the load, got burnt. On August 12, electricity wires in a duct caught fire and the labour room was filled with smoke, following which 39 patients were shifted.



Emotion in motion
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, August 18
After a two-decade hiatus, the Daya Drishti Rang Manch made a majestic comeback with the staging of emotional drama “Fandi ” at the Randhawa auditorium here today. The play written by Dr Shanker Sesh and directed by veteran actor director Charan Dass debated the issue of mercy killing with conviction.

The protagonist Fandi, a truck driver, is accused of killing his father suffering from cancer. A devout and faithful Fandi exhausted all his finances and property in an effort to relieve his aged sick father from the piercing pain caused by the deadly disease. Finding his son Fandi and his family driven by acute poverty and himself writhing in pain, he begs for his death and unable to bear the agony, Fandi strangulates his ailing father to a peaceful death. The lively and thought-provoking debate on the issue whether the killing was justified or not, that ensued, brought the adroit theatrical skills with elegance of lead actors Yogesh Arora (lawyer) and Kapil Kalyan (accused). Their eloquent but measured stage movements, emotional expressions and instantaneous shifts to various characters with consummate ease in the court room drama, enlivened the otherwise potent script. The arguments and situations were potential enough to sustain the inherent conflict between the validity of the mercy killing by Fandi and law of the land. Rajiv Mehta, Anshula, Pankish and Bharat Bhushan formed the supporting cast with music by HM Singh.

Chief guest was Mayor Anu Chatrath. Film actor director Jaspal Bhatti and others graced the function. Jagmail Singh, caretaker of the Punjab Arts Council, was honoured on the occasion.



250 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 18
In view of the rapid increase in viral skin diseases a special camp was organised at National Skin Hospital (NSH) in Mansa Devi Complex here today.

More than 250 patients were examined during the day-long camp and many patients were diagnosed to be suffering from disorders like varicella, verrucae, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, molluscum contagiosum, genital warts, viral STDs and AIDS.

Dr Vikas Sharma, head of dermatology department, NSH, said: “It is vital that we better understand how environmental factors, including man’s activities, affect the spread of infectious diseases.” He added that, “If we continue to ignore this important preventive measure then human population would continue to be at risk from pandemic diseases.”

Dr Sharma further explained that the virus was a microscopic organism consisting of genetic material (RNA or DNA) surrounded by a protein, lipid (fat), or glycoprotein coat.

He said as viruses use the machinery of a host cell to reproduce and reside within them, they were difficult to eliminate without killing the host cell. The most effective medical approaches to viral diseases so far were vaccinations to provide resistance to infection and antiviral drugs.



Women front does a vanishing act
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Exactly one year after the launch of Panjab University Women Front (PUWF), the panel does not have even a single major activity to its credit.

A brainchild of student leaders, the front was designed to impress voters during election but eventually became untraceable soon after election.

PUWF was announced with much fanfare on August 31, 2009, at a press conference held by student leader Deepika Thakur and her team of girls from various hostels, who were girls’ representatives. The girls were assigned the task of highlighting the problems faced by girls residing in hostels.

Deepika later contested for the post of general secretary of Panjab University Campus Student’s Council (PUCSC) representing Indian National Students’ Organisation (INSO) and even won the election with a substantial margin of votes.

Barring a few events like campaigning against female foeticide at student centre, poster-making contest and submitting memorandums to Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti, there was no major activity by the girls team.

“Such publicity stunts by student leaders and their parties is common on the campus just before student election each year. But they must at least continue to serve the purpose they were created for,” said Mehak Dutta, a girls’ hostel resident in PU.

Not only this, when the front was launched, there was a controversy that it was a first-of-its kind platform for the girls on the campus.

After the launch of the front, certain supporters of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidhayarti Parishad (ABVP) claimed that the first women front belonged to their party and it had been actively working on social issues concerning women, although it was never publicised.



PhD entrance exam goof-up
PEC officials admit loopholes
Tribune News Service

Director speaks

Our PhD programme is new and we have asked for a feedback on the entrance test from HOD’s, who conducted the exam for each department individually. We will review it.
— Manoj Datta

We do not have a job and to wait for another six months for the next entrance exam is a nightmare for us, especially when we are not at fault.
— Students

Chandigarh, August 18
Senior officials of the PEC University of Technology today stated that they did not inform candidates about the syllabi of PhD entrance test, in which five out of nine candidates in the civil engineering department boycotted the exam two days ago.

The students, who highlighted the issue, today claimed that they were under “extreme stress” due to the state of affairs.

They claimed that they were “depressed due to the politics”, which was ruining their career.

Alleging that the entrance examination question paper was leaked a day before the test by a teacher of the department to an influential candidate, these students today also submitted two separate letters to PEC director Manoj Datta pleading him and the PEC senate to intervene in the matter and give them justice.

“We are toppers of our the electronics batch. Now, the department is shrugging off its responsibility and our future is being put at stake. We do not have a job and to wait for another six months for the next entrance exam is a nightmare for us, especially when we are not at fault,” said a pass out of PEC. Two days ago, the students had alleged that they were not made to appear in the environment engineering exam, instead were made to appear in a common exam with other students.

These students have specialisation in environment engineering.

Out of aggrieved students, two girls have written to the PEC authorities that they belong to the “first generation graduate rural families”, whom even the Government of India supports for higher studies.

When contacted, the PEC director said, “We have a helpful attitude towards students and the matter would be taken up with the senate. The complaint will not go unchecked.”

He added that heads of various departments in PEC had been asked to give a feedback on the entrance exam. “We will review the feedback and take necessary steps for improvement,” said Datta.



Outsiders create ruckus at college
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Four outsiders today entered the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, and misbehaved with a student of the college.

The miscreants were in an inebriated state. Principal of the college BS Pabla has ordered a probe into the incident and has called the security officer for questioning on Thursday.

The boys, who entered the campus on the pretext of enquiring about the admission process, parked their Elantra car and a bike in the college and then misbehaved with a fourth year student of the college. The boy has reportedly suffered injuries.

“It is admission time and we cannot stop people from entering the campus. But we will take up the matter seriously with the security officer and I have summoned him tomorrow to discuss the issue. A case has not been registered with the police,” said Pabla.

He added that it was a minor incident and would be resolved by the college on Thursday.

Meanwhile, certain students said the outsiders were drunk and unnecessarily harassed a boy standing in the parking. They had hockey sticks, with which they created nuisance on the campus for quite some time, till they fled in their vehicles. The outsiders did not know anybody on the campus and the injured boy claimed that he did not know the boys so there was no question of having any rivalry with them.



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