C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tanishq heist: Another egg on cops’ face
70 pc cops were meant to be on roads as part of a special drive
42 barriers were in place from 1 am to 5 am
A PCR Gypsy was at a stone’s throw from the showroom
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The dacoity of gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 10 crore at Tanishq Jewellers, located on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway, in the wee hours today occurred at a time when almost 70 per cent of the police force was meant to be on the city’s roads as part of a “special drive” to check anti-social elements. On directions from senior officers, the police had laid a total of 42 barriers in the entire city from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. this morning, the very hours during which the heist occurred.

To top it all, a Police Control Room (PCR) Gypsy was stationed at the Housing Board traffic lights located at a stone’s throw from the showroom where the dacoity took place even as the Station House Officer of the Mani Majra police station Inspector Rajesh Shukla, who had only recently been “rehabilitated” after earlier being suspended, was supposedly patrolling his jurisdiction.

Both the presence of PCR vehicles and the over three dozen police barriers proved to be a futile exercise as the robbers managed to commit a major heist, and, in the process, ended up setting a record in the history of Chandigarh.

Cops inspect ‘police uniforms’ left by the robbers after the crime near the showroom at Mani Majra on Wednesday.
Cops inspect ‘police uniforms’ left by the robbers after the crime near the showroom at Mani Majra on Wednesday. Tribune photos: Nitin Mittal

Raising a question mark on the police patrolling system as well as the security of unarmed security guards themselves, the dacoity also exposed the failure of the police force.

Ever since UT SSP Naunihal Singh assumed charge in September last year, his focus has mostly been on strengthening the police control room system and response. However, last night when dacoits were busy committing the heist, these very PCRs were nowhere to be seen.

The dacoity comes as a huge embarrassment to the UT police, which has been left red faced in the recent past for its inability to solve sensational robbery cases.

These include the robbery at a Tanishq outlet in Sector 17 in November last year and the daylight robbing of a Western Union franchisee owner in Sector 35 last October.

The police learnt of the dacoity from the owner of the showroom almost four hours later at 7.03 a.m.

“The PCR van was stationed at the Housing Board Light point and the entire incident occurred in a quick span of 12 minutes. It is difficult for us be present at each and every place,” said DSP (PCR) Roshan Lal.

Biggest loot

  • Biggest heist of Rs 10 crore in the history of the city
  • Police recovered three caps, a khaki shirt and a badge reading head constable Sunil, UP Police
  • Robbers entered the showroom at 3.35 am and fled at 3.47 am



Tanishq, PC Jewellers heists strikingly similar
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 12
The heist at Tanishq jewellery showroom in Mani Majra is not the first-of-its-kind incident in the tricity. Two years ago, on January 27, 2009, a gang of six robbers, one of whom was dressed in Haryana Police uniform, took away jewellery worth Rs 2.1 crore in a daring daylight robbery from PC Jewellers in Sector 14 here.

Employing a unique modus operandi, one robber dressed in police uniform had arrived at the jewellery shop at 10.45 am with a handcuffed “prisoner” saying he had brought along the “prisoner’ to conduct investigations relating to a case of jewellery theft. They were apparently able to convincingly sell their story to the guard who allowed them entry into the reception area.

The guard had subsequently gone to inform the chief manager, who unsuspectingly came out to meet the so-called police team.

By then, the two had been joined by four other gang members, all of them armed, who then forced the chief manager and the guard to take them into the showroom.

The gang ordered the staff members to lie on the floor at gunpoint and left the scene within a few minutes after taking along several jewellery boxes.

Incidentally, the distance between PC Jewellers, Panchkula, and Tanishq Jewellers, Mani Majra, where the robbery was committed today, is a mere 4 km.

While there is nothing to substantiate that it is the handiwork of the same gang, it is clear that the heist today has been patterned in part on the robbery that occurred two years ago.

Five of the six accused in the PC Jewellery dacoity case have already been arrested, the sixth member, the police say, is believed to be active in criminal activities in Uttar Pradesh.

It may, therefore, be more than a coincidence that five of the robbers involved in today’s heist at Tanishq were wearing Uttar Pradesh Police uniforms.

Similarities in modus operandi

  • The modus operandi of gang members wearing police uniform was akin to a similar incident two years ago when on January 27, 2009, a gang of robbers made good with jewellery worth Rs 2.1 crore from PC Jewellers in Panchkula.
  • Incidentally, Rajesh, alias Badri, one of the main accused in the PC Jewellers heist case, is believed to be actively involved in Uttar Pradesh. The fact that the robbers today used UP Police uniforms to rob Tanishq may more than just be a coincidence.
  • At PC Jewellers, the criminals diverted the attention of security guards on the pretext of police investigation. At Tanishq, the attention of security guards was diverted by being told that there was a shootout on the rear of the shop.



Jewellers shocked, feel unsafe
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Bollywood-style dacoity at the Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra has sent shock waves among many top jewellers in the city, which they term as being no more safe for either living or business purposes.

“It seems that we are living in a crime-prone city akin to those in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. It seems that criminals have no fear of law and order here,” said Arun Talwar, proprietor of Talwar Jewellers and Sons, Sector 17, pointing to the recent episode involving the kidnapping and gruesome murder of five-year-old Khushpreet. “Today, I am beginning to feel scared while sitting in my shop,” he added.

Chandigarh Jewellers’ Association president Vinod Talwar said he foresaw no solution unless the Chandigarh Police woke up from its deep slumber. “It seems that Chandigarh has no cops. Criminals are roaming free here and no one is there to check them. This is what today’s incident at Tanishq indicates,” he observed.

“Since morning, I have been receiving many phone calls from my fraternity and all are worried about their business. Not only the jewellers, but Chandigarh residents have lost faith in the police,” said Vinod Talwar, adding the association would soon meet top officials of the Chandigarh Police to discuss their concerns.

Kamal Jain, proprietor of Nikka Mal Babu Ram Jewellers in Sector 22 and Vinod Verma, franchisee of Zaira Diamonds in Sector 17, said the jewellers should be issued arms licences on a priority basis. “The officials concerned throw tantrums when we apply for arms licences,” said Jain. Vinod Verma asserted that there was no worthwhile police patrolling even during daytime in the area. “Police officials always cry that they have no force. It this is so, then why don’t they remove policemen from VIP duties and depute them on roads for public safety?” was the common question raised by most jewellers.

Adviser directs cops to pull up socks

Taking a serious note of the deteriorating law and order situation in the city, UT Adviser directed Inspector-General of Police P.K. Srivastava to intensify patrolling in vulnerable areas and take effective steps to make the city safer. Banks, jewellery shops and petrol pump owners have been advised to install security alarms on their premises within a month.



Third robbery at Tanishq in three years

The dacoity is the third at a Tanishq outlet in the past three years. There have been two previous incidents involving thefts and robbery at a Tanishq outlet, both at the same Tanishq showroom in Sector 17. Thieves had also made an unsuccessful attempt at a Tanishq outlet in Mohali four years ago.

November 4, 2010: Three armed youths fired shots and snatched a bag from a female employee of a Tanishq store in Sector 17. The case remains unsolved.

April 20, 2008: A group of three persons, including a middle-aged woman, managed to decamp with ornaments worth Rs 6 lakh from the company’s showroom in Sector 17. The trio had posed as customers and the woman managed to sneak away jewellery in her sari.

Forensic investigation lasts over 10 hours

A team of forensic experts from Madhuban was also called to examine the spot as they found far too many fingerprints. The scientific examination of the scene by forensic experts and the Chandigarh Police lasted over 10 hours today. The shop remained closed throughout the day causing inconvenience to customers who were hoping to collect their orders.

100 pc rise in robbery cases

The number of robbery cases in Chandigarh has registered a 100 per cent increase during the past five years. From 34 cases of robbery committed in 2006, the figure jumped to 67 in 2010. Around 70 per cent of these cases remain unsolved.

Market closed in protest

The market in Mani Majra, including all shops adjoining the showroom, were closed as a mark of protest. A number of politicians, members of market associations as well as non-government organisations raised slogans in protest against the deteriorating law and order situation in the city.



Jobless linemen gate-crash sangat darshan venue
Caned, rounded up by police after protest
Our Correspondent

Unemployed linemen of powercom being ruoughed up by the Punjab Police during the sangat darshan programme of Chief Minister of Punjab in Mohali on Wednesday.
Unemployed linemen of powercom being ruoughed up by the Punjab Police during the sangat darshan programme of Chief Minister of Punjab in Mohali on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, January 12
The police beat up and rounded up members of the Unemployed Linemen’s Union as they staged a protest during a sangat darshan programme of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today. The unemployed linemen, who turned up all of a sudden at the marriage palace near Landran, where the Chief Minister was listening to the grievances of people, raised slogans against the state government.

The police, which was apparently caught unawares, rushed towards the protesting linemen and resorted to a mild lathi-charge.

The protesters were roughed up and taken away in police vehicles. In the melee, turbans of some protesters fell and at least one person was seen bleeding after the police action.

SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, even asked a photographer, who tried to take pictures of protesters sitting in a police vehicle, to keep away, failing which his camera would be taken away.

Bahadur Singh, a protesters, said they had come all the way from Sunam in the foggy weather, as they had not been given employment as promised by the Chief Minister.

He said union members had thrice been assured by Badal of creating 5,000 jobs in the power corporation but the promise had not been kept.

A protest in this regard had already been going on outside the office of the power corporation at Patiala for the past three months, he added.

At least 14 persons were booked by the police under Sections 353 and 186 of the IPC in this regard.



Official crunch stares Chandigarh in face
2 PCS officers to be repatriated to parent cadre
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Official crunch is staring Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana and the administrative headquarters of the Union Territory, in the face with two senior Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers being repatriated to their parent cadre.

While ADC PS Shergill will go back to Punjab tomorrow, another official NPS Randhawa, Director of Museum and Art Gallery, will go back to his parent cadre next week. With no replacement coming in till now, the administration would have a tough time in managing the routine functioning of the key departments. Besides the ADC, Shergill also holds the charge of SDM (Central). It is not for the first time that the administration is faced with acute shortage of officials from Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh, which virtually acted as “El Dorado” for the state civil servants from the neighbouring states in the past, no longer enjoys that status.

With controversies surrounding the mega projects for alleged irregularities in the land allotment and every major decision coming under scrutiny of the Central government agencies, deputation to Chandigarh is not an attractive proposition now, sources said.

There is no longer a scramble among senior PCS and HCS officers for posting in the city unlike in the past when they lobbied hard to get a deputation to the Union Territory.

Haryana amends rules

Taking note of the official crunch, the Haryana government recently amended the HCS (Executive Branch) Rules, 2008, with a view to send more HCS officers to Chandigarh. Under the new rules, prior consent of HCS officers for deputation to Chandigarh will no longer be required. The decision seems to be an upshot of unwillingness expressed by a large number of HCS officers to be deputed to the city, resulting in UT posts in the Haryana quota remaining vacant. However, that is not the case with Punjab officials. In fact, MM Sabharwal, the last PCS officer to come to Chandigarh on deputation, was a comparatively a junior official.

FS to join on Jan 14

The new UT Finance Secretary, VK Singh, who was expected to join the administration on Wednesday, will now join on January 14. On the first day of his joining, Singh will attend two important meetings — one on the Metro project and another on the integrated development of Chandigarh’s periphery — with senior officials of Punjab and Haryana. The finance secretary is the coordinating officer for the Metro project.



Fog grips city again
Chandigarh night colder than Shimla; plains of Punjab, Haryana also colder
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Hazy Wednesday:
On way to their classroom, students walk through the fog in front of the Gandhi Bhavan in Panjab University on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Kuldip Dhiman

A woman wades through heavy fog on her scooter.
A woman wades through heavy fog on her scooter. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, January 12
After a day of bright sunshine, Chandigarh and its surrounding areas were again surrounded by a thick fog this morning that disrupted road, rail and air traffic. The city’s Tuesday night at 3.7 degrees Celsius was cooler compared to Shimla’s minimum of 6.0 degrees. Not only the city was cooler than Shimla, Punjab’s major towns also registered lower temperatures as against city’s 3.7.

Freezing cold and harsh weather conditions continued to make things difficult for residents, with a minimum temperature at 3.7 degrees Celsius. The mercury remained below normal in almost all parts of Punjab and Haryana today. The maximum also dipped marginally at 16.8 as against 17 degrees recorded on Tuesday.

Amritsar in Punjab was the coldest in the region today. It recorded a minimum temperature of 1.6 degrees Celsius that was three notches below normal. It was followed by Ludhiana, which shivered at 1.9 degrees, again three degrees below average.

Patiala recorded a low of 3.3 degrees today, while Hisar and Karnal in Haryana recorded 2.8 and 3.0 degrees C, respectively.

"A dense cover of fog had enveloped most parts of the city and neighbouring Punjab, Haryana this morning. Visibility was reduced to zero at various places, disrupting road traffic," said a Met official here today. "Mercury also remained below normal at all places in this region. Similar conditions will prevail for the next one or two days," he added.

The Chandigarh airport was opened yesterday after a closure of six days from January 5 to January10 due to dense fog, and a couple of flights resumed operations. Even after the installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the airport, none of the flights could land or take off today too.

The dense night fog with extreme low visibility restricted the movement of vehicular traffic and most of the vehicles were seen plying with their headlights on in the morning.

Meanwhile, the fog havoc seems to be far from over. The Met department predicts a return of long spells of very low visibility till the end of the month.

The Railways has lost crores due to fog this January, while the city airport has seen a whopping 209 cancellations till today.

The constant worsening weather has been wreaking havoc on health of people, especially elderly and people suffering from joint pains and breathing problems.

The Met office has predicted a partly cloudy sky in the region in the next 24 hours and mist or fog during night and morning. Temperatures are likely to hover between 5 and 18 degrees C on Thursday. In addition to disruption in air traffic, rail movement was also severely affected in the region.



Spruce-Up time
ITBP to upgrade its medical wing, multi-speciality hospitals on cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The medical wing of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) is in for expansion and upgradation. Apart from establishing a chain of multi-speciality composite hospitals in different parts of the country, it is establishing an ultra-modern research and referral college in New Delhi.

Medical director of ITBP, Dr T Ravi Prashad, discussed the future plans of the ITBP at the force’s annual medical officers’ conference organised today. He also discussed, the modernisation drive being undertaken to upgrade the existing medical facilities and equipment in the force.

In his address, IG of the North-West Frontier, Rajdeep Singh, stressed upon the need for a modern health-care system in the ITBP. He expressed satisfaction over the functioning of the force’s medical wing, which was in a inhospitable terrain and harsh climate in the Himalayas. Director-General of the ITBP, RK Bhatia, Director Health and Family Welfare, Punjab and faculty from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh were among those present on the occasion.

Technical sessions were also held where medical officers made clinical presentations. These included papers on coronary syndrome, eye injuries, cold weather injuries, musculo-skeletal injuries during training and in sports, medical examination during recruitment, bio-medical waste management and alcohol dependence syndrome.



PGI deputy director fails to join office

Chandigarh, January 12
High drama was witnessed at the PGI when armed with orders from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) relating to the quashing of his repatriation, the former Deputy Director, Administration (DDA), Ajay Sehgal reached to join again his office here today.

Sehgal, an Indian Forest Services officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, joined the PGI on September 1, 2009, on deputation for a period of four years. However, he was repatriated on September 30 2010, following which he moved to Principal Bench of the Delhi Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Disposing of his application, the CAT quashed his repatriation and ordered the PGI to reinstate him on the same post. Today, carrying orders of the CAT, Sehgal reached the administrative block of the institute and sought an appointment with PGI Director Dr KK Talwar, only to be told that the director was in the OPD. Leaving a copy of the CAT orders at the director’s office, he went towards his old office and found it locked. The staff deputed there told him that the keys of the room were with the officiating DDA. Waiting for more than an hour in the Kairon Block, Sehgal ultimately left the PGI.

Though Sehgal refused to comment on the issue, PGI spokesperson Manju Wadwalkar said the PGI was following directions of the CAT. — TNS



Girls nail it this time
Achieve top two positions in CAT
Tribune News Service

CAT toppers in a cheerful mood in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
CAT toppers in a cheerful mood in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, January 12
Breaking the stereotype of boys excelling in competitive exams in the region and setting a new benchmark, the best and second best percentile scorers in Common Admission Test (CAT) this year are girls. Arshdeep Kaur (99.98 percentile) and Vrinda Suri (99.94 percentile) have topped in the region.

The CAT results were announced post midnight on Tuesday and more than 28 students from the region have received calls from five out of the 11 Indian Institutes of Management, including IIM-Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Shillong and Ranchi. Cut-off list of IIM-Bangalore, which is one of the most sought-after business schools in the country, and five other IIMs is yet to be announced. These include Indore, Kozikode, Rohtak, Shillong and Trichi.

Experts claim that it is for the first time in the region’s history that girls have bagged the top two positions.

This year the number of engineering students receiving calls for interviews from the IIMs was more although not many fresh graduates enrolled in commerce or arts faculty were called, they added.

“A more balanced approach has been witnessed this year,”said the experts. They said students with a consistently good academic record, including Class X, XII and college-level marks, had been given a preference over those who had a better percentile, but not a good academic record.

Sectional balance of marks between quantitative aptitude, verbal reasoning and data interpretation was also given a preference by most IIMs.

“It is for the first time in the past 12 years that the two top percentile holders are girls. Nearly 11,000 students appeared in the exam this year from Chandigarh region. More than 100 business schools in the country accept CAT score. Percentage of IT professionals clearing CAT from the region has also gone up,” said Hridesh Madan, head, Bull’s Eye.

Citing example of a student who scored 99.01 percentile, but did not receive a single IIM call, Ashutosh Jerath, associate vice-president, Career Launcher, Chandigarh, said, “IIMs have called students for interviews with a balanced approach this year. The overall academic record of students is being taken into consideration by most business schools.”

Over 1.86 lakh candidates appeared in CAT- 2010, which was held between October 27 and November 24. Students also faced a harrowing time due to crash down of CAT website. “We received more than 800 calls at our helpline numbers for CAT result, but due to a technical snag, a few students could actually see their result,” said Anshu Kataria, a city-based educationist.

Website crashes

The official website of Common Admission Test crashed due to excessive load. Even though the result was declared at midnight, students were unable to see their score till afternoon. By the end of the day, out of the 11 IIMs, only five-Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow, Shillong and Ranchi had released the list.



Topper high on confidence
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
She is a perfect example of being an all-rounder with a “consistent” academic record and a successful record as a sprinter. 20-year-old Arshdeep Kaur, a student of BE (electronics final year) at PEC University of Technology, has scored 99.98 percentile and is this year’s city topper in Common Admission Test (CAT).

Arshdeep has already received calls from five of the 11 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), including IIM-Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ranchi and Shillong.

Her advice

  • Read all questions properly during exam
  • Go through diverse topics during preparation
  • Don’t exhaust yourself with mock CATs
  • Keep stress at bay

A passout of St Anne’s Convent School, Sector 32, Arshdeep has not only fared well, but has also managed to get a terrific break up in each section of CAT- 99.29 in quantitative aptitude, 99.26 in verbal reasoning and 99.97 data interpretation.

High on confidence and having focused only on cracking CAT, Arshdeep did not appear in the recruitment drive on the PEC campus.

“I always wanted to make it to a good business school,” said Arshdeep, who has also received calls from FMS and IIFT.

Determined to convert her interview calls into actual selection, she said, “I am now focusing on group discussion and personal interview.”

When asked if coaching helped her crack CAT, she said, “It brings about discipline in one’s routine. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of preparing for the test. My friends and family were a firm support,” said Arshdeep.

Not only has she been among the top three rank holders in her class throughout her academic career, she has also bagged the title of second best athlete (girls) in BE (first year) at PEC.



Be sensitive to students, CBSE tells schools
Sumedha Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, January 12
In the wake of reports of increasing stress among school students, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked affiliated schools to treat students with sensitivity and dignity. Signed by CBSE chairperson Vineet Joshi, the Board's first circular this year directs schools to keep in mind that young students have sensitive and impressionable minds and thus, all students -- irrespective of differences in physical, social and economic status -- should be dealt with in a dignified manner. Schools have also been told to respect child rights and ensure that no child is subject to corporal punishment.

“No school should mistreat any student or parent under the guise of enforcing discipline. This must be strictly observed and enforced. The Board would like to request educational institutions to remember that schools are ideological institutions, not factories. They must treat children as sensitive individuals who need to be protected at any cost,” said the circular.

The board has also developed a continuous and comprehensive evaluation system to ensure school learning is more holistic and stress free. “More than academic performance or classroom discipline, it’s the holistic development that should be the priority of institutions. Despite repeated instructions, we keep getting complaints of corporal punishments, which defeat the very purpose of education,” said a senior CBSE official.



UGC members term PU a ‘legendary’ institution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
On the concluding day of inspection by a University Grants Commission team at Panjab University, experts interacted with students. The experts while referring to the composition of teaching and non-teaching staff, termed the university as “Geographically heterogeneous but academically homogeneous”.

Prof M Madiah, former Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University, who led the team, said, “Just like the growth of each tree in a forest is important, smaller departments also have the potential for growth.”

The team was on a three-day physical assessment of PU’s potential for excellence, for which the university had earlier submitted a report to the UGC. Out of the 10 universities shortlisted by the UGC in the country, five will be awarded Rs 50 crore for development and project work.

Members of the team termed PU as a “legendary” institution and said academic discipline and perfect harmony among teaching and non-teaching departments had impressed them.

Expressing his views on the resentment of certain PU teachers, who claimed on Tuesday that they were not given enough time to present their case, Madiah said the team members had assessed the university objectively after having taken sufficient time to go through voluminous proposals running into thousands of pages regarding the work done by the PU departments.

Team members Prof AM Pathan, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Karnataka, and Prof Abdul Wahid, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir, appreciated the efforts of Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti.



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