C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tanishq Robbery
Police still groping in dark
Robbers conducted recce two days before heist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Two days after dacoits decamped with jewellery worth Rs 10 crore from Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra, the police continues to grope in the dark. While a team comprising around 30 cops was sent to Dehradun, the police is yet to get any clue of the robbers.

The CCTV footage obtained from Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra confirms that uniformed robbers had taken a mere 12 minutes to hoard gold jewellery worth over Rs 10 crore on January 11. Four robbers had entered the showroom at 3.35 am and after laying a blanket near the entrance, collected the gold jewellery in it and made an exit at 3.47 am.

Police sources said the gang of dacoits had conducted a reconnaissance of the showroom two days prior to committing the heist. The police is also scrutinising the CCTV footage of the showroom on January 9 and 10 to look for any suspicious persons in the showroom during these days.

Besides, the police had obtained eight cell phone numbers after careful scrutiny of the dump data of call details around showrooms in Mani Majra on the night of the heist. It was found that the mobile phones were active and calls were made to Jalalabad in Uttar Pradesh. Although the Chandigarh Police dispatched a team to the place, it is learnt to have been unable to find any concrete lead. A joint team of the cyber and the operation cells (anti-terrorist cell) of the UT Police are conduction the investigation. The police said it was coordinating with both the UP Police and the Haryana Police.

SHO of the Mani Majra police station Inspector Rajesh Shukla said the CCTV footage was being sent to the Central Forensic Scientific Laboratory in Sector 36 for obtaining a sharper vision of the pictures. “We have questioned several persons, including showroom employees and watchmen, but no concrete lead has been obtained from their interrogation so far,” he said.

Banks send police in a tizzy

The police was on its toes on Friday when the police control room received a call from two different banks within a span of half-an-hour reporting that there had been a robbery and a fire incident in their respective banks. The calls were made deliberately by bank officials who were checking the security alarm system and its dialler connectivity with the police control room following which computerised calls were made to the police.

The first call was received from the Bank of India in Sector 32 at 1.22 pm, informing the police of a fire incident. The police reached the spot within two minutes and found it to be a testing call.

The second call was received at 1.33 pm from the Punjab National Bank branch in Sector 23, informing the police that a robbery had occurred. The police was on a high alert and the Assistant Superintendent of Police (Central) along with the Station House Officer of the Sector 17 police station reached the spot with around two-dozen cops. Three PCR vehicles also reached the spot within a span of three minutes. The manager of the bank, Ajay Kumar, then informed that they were checking the connectivity of their security alarm system with the control room.

Punjab, Haryana, UT to share information

Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula will soon be exchanging information and data related to crime and criminals on regular basis. The decision seems to have been taken following the two recent high profile crime incidents, including Khushpreet’s kidnapping case and gruesome murder and the heist at a jewellery store in Mani Majra

Blood samples of watchmen sent for testing

The police said it has sent the blood samples of the two watchmen — Dina Nath and Swaran Singh — for chemical examination to ascertain the exact nature of the drug they had been forced to consume by the robbers on the night they committed the robbery. The two security guards said the robbers had asked them to consume drugs at gunpoint and then tied their hands and legs.



Testing day for cops
Accidental gunshot sparks panic; 7 hurt
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 14
A single shot fired accidentally from a gun by a security guard at the PC Jewellers store here today had bystanders running for cover after what was perceived to be a sequel to the robbery at the Tanishq jewellery showroom in Manimajra on Wednesday. Seven people, all labourers, were injured in the incident, with four of them admitted with gunshot wounds at the emergency ward of the General Hospital in Sector 6.

Incidentally, this is the same jewellery store where robbers carried out a Rs 2.1 crore heist two years ago. A heavy police force including deputy superintendent of police Iqbal Kaur and Sector 14 police station SHO inspector Aman Kumar rushed to the scene after being informed about the incident. “We couldn’t have taken any risk after the robbery in the store’s vicinity”, said a police officer later.

However, the incident turned out to be a case of an accidental firing by the security guard, Brij Mohan, who, eyewitnesses said, was seated near the store’s entrance when his double barrel gun slipped from his lap at around 2:15 pm. They said as he tried to regain control of the gun his hand was caught in the trigger, which set the gun off.

Luckily the gun was facing the floor. However, splinters from the cartridge hit some labourers who were eating lunch in the verandah of a nearby store under construction. Three of the injured were discharged from the hospital after being administered first aid. The remaining four - Sulender, Okil, Mittoo and Sitaram — were admitted to the hospital.



Child plays truant, over 60 policemen go into overdrive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
A child who played truant with his parents sent the police into a two-hour-long overdrive today. The incident occurred when a mother, fearing that her son had been kidnapped, called the police control room informing that her 11-year-old son had gone missing in the Sector 23 market.

Following the call, a team of over 60 UT policemen descended at the Sector 23 market to look for the missing child. Unknown to the frantic policemen and the mother, the child, who had gone into a sulk, walked all the way to his house in Sector 33, a distance of about 3 to 4 km.

It was later revealed that the child had had an argument with his mother, a government schoolteacher, after the latter refused to allow him to have spring rolls. Four PCR vehicles immediately reached the spot, cordoned off the area and carried out an extensive search for the child.

High drama was witnessed after the hapless mother, Gurvinder Kaur, broke down saying that her child had been kidnapped. After a two-hour search operation, it was finally discovered that the child had reached home in Sector 33.

The mother told the police that her son was insisting on eating spring rolls. She then walked off in a huff when the boy kept insisting. However, when she returned a few moments later, she found her son missing which led her to press the panic button.



Finally, metro rail project moves forward
UT, Punjab, Haryana agree to share DPR cost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Plans for constructing a metro rail transit system in the city to ease traffic congestion today moved a step closer to realization with the chief secretaries of the two neighbouring states, Punjab and Haryana, along with the advisor to the UT administration agreeing in principle to share the cost of drawing up a detailed project report (DPR) by Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC).

Earlier, the administration had faced considerable embarrassment when the central government refused to fund the DPR, saying it did not have a separate budget for the purpose. Instead, the urban development ministry asked the administration to generate the funds required on its own.

The estimated cost as quoted by DMRC of preparing the DPR for the project’s first phase, comprising 33 kilometres, is Rs 2.5 crore. An additional fee of Rs 8 lakh per km will be charged in addition to the specified length.

According to the agreement, 50 per cent of the cost will be borne by the UT administration and 25 per cent each by Punjab and Haryana. This figured at the meeting today where officials discussed the terms of reference submitted by DMRC pertaining to what it terms the Chandigarh urban complex, which comprises Panchkula in Haryana and Mohali in Punjab.

To ensure proper coordination between the governments and various agencies, nodal officers have been appointed for the respective states. The Panchkula senior town planner was designated as the nodal officer for Haryana while the chief administrator of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority has been designated as the nodal officers for Punjab for the mass rapid transit system project.

The detailed project report, to be prepared by DMRC, is expected within four to five months after incorporating the extended routes that were decided on today. The meeting was attended by Punjab chief secretary SC Aggrawal and Haryana chief secretary Urvashi Gulati. The UT administration was represented by advisor Pradip Mehra, home secretary Ram Niwas, finance secretary, Chandigarh municipal corporation commissioner, joint home secretary, chief architect and chief engineer. The chief town planners of Punjab and Haryana were also present. In addition, DMRC and RITES were represented by their joint general managers.

Proposed routes

l Line I will run through Sector 20 (Panchkula) to Mullanpur via Sarangpur through Sectors 5 &15 (Panchkula), Dhillon complex, Mani Majra, Chandigarh railway station, Transport Nagar, Sector 19, Chandigarh, PGI and Panjab University. The total length of this line will be approx. 19 km, including 7 km underground and 12 km elevated

l Line II will run through the UT secretariat to Sector 75 in Mohali via the Rock Garden, Sector 9, Aroma Hotel chowk, Sector 43 and Sectors 62 & 72 (Mohali) with underground line of 8.7 km and an elevated line of 5.3 km.


Mercury rises after unexpected rain lashes city
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
City residents today woke up to a rainy morning with the clouds clearing up later on, which led to an increase in the day temperature. However in the afternoon there was another spell of rain accompanied by hail in some areas.

The day had begun on a pleasant note with the minimum temperature rising to 8.2 degrees Celsius compared to 5.2 degrees recorded on Thursday. The maximum also rose to 23.1 from Thursday’s 21.6 degrees.

According to meteorological department officials, the rain started around 5 am with a light drizzle, which then led to a downpour lasting about an hour. ''Till 8:30 in the morning we recorded a temperature of 21 degrees C in the city. Similar conditions are likely on Saturday too. This rainfall is due to an incoming western disturbance,'' said a Met official.

The Met has predicted similar weather conditions for tomorrow with a generally cloudy sky with a few spells of rain or thundershowers. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 20 degrees C.

Various areas of Punjab, Haryana also had isolated spells of rain today. The weatherman has forecast light to moderate rain or thundershowers in scattered areas in these states during the next 48 hours.

Though some people complained of the evening being windy, the Met office reported wind speed was normal, adding reports of hail in some areas of the tricity in the afternoon had also been received. ''However there might have been incidents of hail in some parts of the city as the rain was very scattered,'' the Met official stated.

Meanwhile, the municipal corporation claimed there was no waterlogging or traffic jams in the city.

Farmers in adjoining Punjab and Haryana were delighted over today’s light to moderate rainfall that agricultural experts said was good for the wheat crop.

DS Bains, an agro meteorological expert, said: “The rain has brought respite to all, including animals, plants, crops and vegetables”

A farmer in Banur said the leaves of the wheat crop had begun turning yellow during the past few days due to foggy and frosty conditions, which could have affected the wheat and other crops badly if they had continued for another couple of weeks.

However, some respite is expected tomorrow as the Met has predicted a rise in temperatures but coupled with light rain. “The sky will remain partly cloudy and light rain is expected. We’re expecting this to lead to a rise in temperatures,” the official said.

Meanwhile, flights to and from the city, which had been grounded for the past eight days, resumed today. Though most of the flights arrived late, Kingfisher Airlines’ Jammu-Chandigarh and Delhi-Chandigarh flights remained cancelled today.

Rail traffic, which has been struggling to operate on schedule, saw no improvement with trains continuing to run late by several hours.



Tricity to have integrated development plan
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
If all goes well, the tricity may soon have additional routes for commuting, an integrated water management system as well as integrated sewage disposal system, besides other important things.

The Union government took decades to intervene and pull up the authorities concerned to come up with an integrated development plan for the tricity.

The Union government had directed the three states at a high-level meeting, attended by top brass of the three administrations, held in Delhi on January 10, to have a co-ordinated approach for the development plan for Panchkula, Chandigarh and Mohali.

At a meeting held today it was decided that the tricity should come up with a co-ordinated water management plan so that the problem of drinking water could be solved.

In order to ease out the pressure on city’s premier health institutes, including the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32 and the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital in Sector 16, it was observed that there was a need to create counter magnet health facilities in Panchkula and Mohali to reduce the existing burden from Chandigarh.

Considering the traffic chaos especially at the entry points in Zirakpur, Panchkula etc, while Metro rail is one alternative, it was decided to chalk out alternate route plans to ease out traffic congestion from these entry points.



Law and order situation
Business council submits memo to Home Secy

Chandigarh, January 14
Expressing concern at the deteriorating law and order situation in the city, the Chandigarh Business Council (CBC) yesterday submitted a memorandum to UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas.

The memorandum demanded that the police presence should be streamlined in all the markets of the city round-the-clock. — TNS



Residents protest against dumping of waste

Chandigarh, January 14
Residents of Dadu Majra today staged a protest against foul smell emanating from the dumping ground due to disposal of slaughter waste there.

Residents protested for over an hour and blocked the gate of the dumping ground and didn’t allow the municipal corporation (MC) vehicles to enter and throw the garbage there.

Residents alleged that for the past few days, the municipal corporation vehicles were dumping slaughter waste near their locality resulting in foul smell.

Residents also said for the last few days they had been complaining to the authorities concerned about the foul smell emanating in their area, but no action was taken by them. Due to which they were forced them to protest by staging a dharna in front of the plant.

MC medical health officer Dr G Dewan said he got a report from his inspector that the vehicle carrying slaughter waste, which was parked near the dumping ground, belonged to Haryana.

The department has registered a case against the vehicle owner for trespass. — TNS



Contemporary Australian art impresses visitors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese inaugurated “Balgo: Contemporary Australian art from the Balgo Hills” at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, today.

The exhibition has an impressive collection of the desert art from the Aborigines.

“This art form from one of the oldest continuing civilisations of Balgo Hills exhibits the connection that Aborigine artists have with their land,” said Varghese.

Twentyfive vibrant frames at the exhibition, some acrylic on canvas/linen and others etchings on paper are simple in form, vivid in colours and loaded with symbols and dreamtime.

The exhibition garnered excellent response from city’s art lovers. Amongst those present at the occasion were Justice SS Sodhi, a member of the Tribune Trust; NPS Randhawa, museum director; art historian BN Goswamy and artist Shiv Singh.

“It’s after long that such a different work has come to the city,” said Shiv Singh.

Rumina Sethi, a professor in English department shared, “It is a scintillating collection of colours, vivid, bright and at the same time stark as the desert.” Impressed by the way people could relate to the exhibition, BN Goswamy called the exhibition “timeless”.

Chandigarh is the second city to host this international touring exhibition after New Delhi.

The exhibition is open to public at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, till January 23.



NRI Sabha elections
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 14
In the elections to the Mohali District NRI Sabha, Amarjeet Singh Virk was unanimously elected the president of the district unit.

A total of 353 voters casted their ballot in the elections conducted by SDM, Mohali, Amit Talwar at Gyan Jyoti Public School.



MBBS course at PGI draws flak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The air over starting an MBBS course at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has created a flutter among faculty members.

A general body meeting of the faculty association of the PGI held today has decided to oppose the move stating that it was against the character of the institution.

The association’s reaction followed the reports that the academic committee of the PGIMER is to discuss the issue of starting MBBS course at its meeting scheduled to be held on January 17.

“In fact, a committee formed for this purpose rejected the proposal outright stating that the institute had neither the facilities nor infrastructure to carry out this course,” said a press note.

It came to the notice of the general body meeting that the administration had then made another makeshift committee and got the proposal approved in a hurry to suit their whims and fancies, said the association.



Khushpreet scholarship for tiny tots
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Ajit Karam Singh International Public School (AKSIPS), Sector 45, while paying tributes to its deceased student Khushpreet Singh, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered recently, has decided to start a scholarship in his name for the pre-primary section of the school.

The school has also decided to ward off the fee of his elder brother. “Nothing can compensate the loss of the family, but such gestures are a way to pay tributes to Khushpreet,” said school principal Harpreet Kaur.

“Each time we enter into khushpreet’s classroom and see his seat vacant, we get disturbed. These young children are so innocent that you get emotionally attached to them. He couldn’t eat on his own and had to be persuaded a lot, so lunch break brings back his memories,” added another teacher.

The school also organised a “Paath” for him and has decided to handover his notebooks to his family on January 17.



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