C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tanishq heist cracked 
Delhi, UT police arrest 3 from Ghaziabad, jewellery recovered 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
With the arrest of three members of the inter-state gang of dacoits, the UT Police, in a joint effort with the Delhi Police has achieved a major breakthrough in solving the dacoity of Rs 10 crore in Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra.

The police has arrested three members of the gang in a joint operation from Vaishali in Ghaziabad while the rest of the gang members are still absconding. The police has also recovered stolen jewellery from their possession.

Police sources said the arrested accused, one of whom has been identified as Paras, are professionals and have been involved in many robberies in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

The police raided several places in Ghaziabad today from where the accused were arrested, sources said. The police is presently interrogating the accused about the identity and whereabouts of the remaining accused.

Posing as policemen, the armed robbers had struck at Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra and decamped with jewellery worth Rs 10 crore in a short span of 12 minutes. The robbers had stuck at 3.30 am and drugged the two security guards at gunpoint. The guards were handcuffed and were later dumped in the nearby cremation ground. The robbers then entered the showroom in police uniform and fled with the jewellery on display.

“Three persons have been arrested as a result of the joint operation. Hunt is on to arrest the remaining accused,” a senior police official said.



Tanishq Robbery
Police records guard’s statement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The Chandigarh Police today recorded the statement of security guard Dina Nath to get some clue in the Tanishq robbery case.

Dina Nath, a resident of Indira Colony, was one of the two security guards, who were deputed at the showroom when the robbers struck at around 3.30 am on January 13.

Notably, the second security guard, Sarwan Singh has already recorded his statement to the Chandigarh Police.



It’s confidence-building time for UT Police brass 
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
For many residents, it was more than a surprise when they found the top UT police brass comprising the IG, SSP, SPs and all DSPs knocking at their doors spread across the northern and southern sectors today.

But even in this, there was a class distinction. While the senior most officials preferred to visit the elite northern sectors, the junior officials, including the DSPs were dispatched to sectors in the central and southern parts of the city. While the Inspector-General of Police, PK Srivastava, and Senior Superintendent of Police Naunihal Singh visited the posh Sectors 4 and 5, Deputy-Inspector General Alok Kumar visited Sectors 2 and 3 and the SP (Traffic) visited Sectors 8 and 9. In contrast, DSPs were deputed to sectors 11, 18, 24, 27, 33 and 36.

The class distinction apart, the motive behind the step was to imbibe confidence among the city residents, which has been shattered with two successive incidents of crime - the gruesome killing of a kidnapped five-year-old Khushpreet and the heist at Tanishq. Every beat constable up to the rank of IGP was out to meet the residents.

Local businessman and resident of Sector 4, Jaspreet Singh Bhaika, said for him and his family it was a surprise when he saw the IGP along with SSP Naunihal Singh and beat constables knocking at the doors of his house. “The senior officials not only asked about our well being, but also showed concern about the safety measures being taken for the security of our house and colony,” said Bhaika.

The IGP also exhorted the residents to install anti-burglary alarms and other devices at our households and directed the beat officers to visit every house once in fortnight, added Bhaika.

For Anita, another resident of the same sector, the step by the IG was appreciable. She felt that this would make the junior staff of the force more active, accountable and public-friendly. While the IG and the SSP visited Sector 4 and 5, the other officers including SP (Operations), SP (Traffic) and all DSPs went to different localities with the same purpose.

“I think this is very good initiative by Chandigarh Police to bring back the trust of local residents,” said Balram Singh, a local advocate. 

Class distinction

While the Inspector-General of Police, PK Srivastava, and Senior Superintendent of Police Naunihal Singh visited the posh Sectors 4 and 5, Deputy-Inspector General Alok Kumar visited Sectors 2 and 3 and the SP (Traffic) visited Sectors 8 and 9. In contrast, DSPs were deputed to Sectors 11, 18, 24, 27, 33 and 36



Buying a sedan?
Shell out Rs 80,000 or above as road tax
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Planning to buy a luxurious sedan? Be ready to shell out more as the UT Administration is all set to hike the road tax high enough for a customer to buy a small car within that amount. The proposal, which is awaiting clearance from the UT Adviser, is expected to be notified by January-end.

“There will be three slabs based on the cost of the vehicle. This is the first time that the UT Administration is enhancing the road tax on the basis of the cost of the vehicle,” said a senior UT Administration official on the condition of anonymity. “The road tax is expected to be notified after approval from the UT Administrator within a couple of weeks,” he said.

For a vehicle costing up to Rs 6 lakh, car owners will now have to pay 2 per cent road tax. For a vehicle costing between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, the car owners will have to pay 3 per cent of the cost of the vehicle, and for vehicles costing above Rs 20 lakh, owners will have to shell out 4 per cent as road tax.

The proposed hike is on the pattern of the neighbouring states of Punjab, Delhi and Haryana. The proposal was first sent to the UT Administration last September by the Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA), which was revised following the recent hike effected by the neighbouring states.

“There is a variation in the buying capacity of residents. So why should those buying a mid-segment car and those buying luxury cars end up paying the same amount as road tax?” asked a senior official on condition of anonymity.

As of now, the road tax is being charged on the basis of the seating capacity of the four-wheeler. As per the existing tax, owner of a four-seater vehicle has to pay Rs 1,800 while for a five seater vehicles, an owner needs to pay ` 2,100 as road tax and for six seater vehicle, the road tax was Rs 2,400.

Proposed road tax

Up to Rs 6 lakhs: 2 per cent (Up to Rs 12,000)

Rs 6 lakh to Rs 20 lakh: 3 per cent (betwen Rs 12,000 and Rs 60,000)

Over Rs 20 lakh: 4 per cent (Rs 80,000 and above)

Cars registered

Year Value No of cars

2008 Up to Rs 6 lakh 9,337 Rs 6 to 20 lakh 5,047

Over Rs 20 lakh 442

2009 Up to Rs 6 lakh 11,373 Rs 6 to 20 lakh 4,954

Over Rs 20 lakh 538

Tax collected in last two fiscals

2008: Rs 5,38,60,255

2009: Rs 6,28,30,011



All talks no action
Committees formed, but MC fails to notify bylaws 
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
It may sound strange, but for the past four years Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has failed to draft even a single bylaw for which special committees were constituted by the General House.

As per MC records, four special committees had been constituted to draft bylaws for e-waste, malba and debris disposal, global positioning system (GPS) and community centres.

Malba and debris bylaws, 2005: In August last year, MC House had approved the draft of fresh rules proposed by the Malba Committee to deal with the violators.

Present status: The MC authorities have failed to notify the rules for the execution in the city, which were approved five months ago.

In 2009, on the recommendation of MC councillors, a special committee was constituted to draft stringent Act against violators, as the existing Act had several loopholes.

Proposal: The House approved the proposal that if any owner or occupier of the construction site throws malba or construction material on the roadside, the corporation will impose fine of Rs 1,500 for the first time and directions will be given to remove the malba within 72 hours.

If the violator fails to remove the construction material in three days, then the fine will be enhanced to Rs 5,000 until the occupier removes the malba from the site.

If anyone is caught red-handed while throwing malba in any other area than the amount to be charged as penalty will be Rs 10,000 and it will be added to the water bill of the concerned.

e-waste committee: In 2007, a joint committee of officers of the administration and corporation was constituted to work out the modalities to dispose of or manage e-waste, but it has been shelved, as no action has been taken so far.

Present status: The UT Administration and MC have failed to reach the conclusion as to who should deal with the e-waste, due to which no bylaws had been framed.

Proposal: The committee met two years ago and submitted 13 recommendations to the administration, but so far the committee has not received any response from the administration. A committee was constituted for handling e-waste, under the chairmanship of nominated councillor Arshad Khan, along with a member each from the corporation, Chandigarh Pollution Control Board, Chandigarh Administration and an NGO.

Global Positioning System (GPS) Committee: In 2009, a special committee was constituted by the House to work out the modalities of GPS and draft the bylaws for its execution in the corporation.

Present status: The report has not been tabled in the House for discussion till date.

Proposal: The House had suggested that bylaws should be drafted for GPS system execution in the corporation. The committee recommended that through GPS system the authorities could chalk out the draft of the detail mapping of the city.

Community Centre bylaws

In 2010, a special committee was constituted by the House to chalk out fresh bylaws for the functioning of the community centres. The report by the committee was tabled in the House three months ago.

Present status: The House discussed the report twice and suggested some amendments in the report, but so far the bylaws have not been notified.

Proposal: The committee should visit all the 30 community centres and prepare a detailed report. The committee submitted the report stating that a majority of the community centre buildings needed renovation.



House gutted in P’kula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 15
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a fire that broke out at a house belonging to a Food Corporation of India (FCI) official at Sector 10 here this afternoon.

Members of the family were not at home at the time of the incident. By the time fire tenders reached the spot, goods lying in the rooms were gutted. It took two fire tenders more than an hour to control the blaze.

Totally shattered by the incident, family members were not in a position to divulge details about the loss suffered by them.

The fire reportedly spread from a lamp lit at a place of worship in the house.

Fire brigade officials said they got a call at 12.10 pm.

SHO of the Sector 5 Police Station, Inspector Om Prakash, who reached the spot, said family members, including the two children of the FCI official Ashok Manocha had left for their job in the morning. The neighbours noticed the fire around 12 noon and informed the house owner and fire brigade. By that time the fire had spread to other rooms also.

Furniture and goods lying in two rooms had been damaged in the incident, he said.




Railway level crossing closes for 10 days
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 15
The railway level crossing on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway, near Dhakoli, will remain closed to vehicular traffic from tomorrow for at least 10 days due to the ongoing construction of a railway overbridge (ROB) on the highway. Earlier, the railway level crossing was scheduled to close from January 14.

Railway sources said the electric wire has been adjusted as per the height of the ROB. Sources told the construction company of the ROB to start work from tomorrow after the major trains have passed in the morning.

An official of C&C Construction Company, which is undertaking the construction work, said they had taken the permission from the railway authorities to close the level crossing. The official added that the work on setting up girders at the site was under way and the level crossing would remain closed to vehicular traffic for safety reasons.

Traffic officials stated that the traffic would be diverted through alternative routes to avoid snarl-ups. Light vehicles going from Zirakpur to Panchkula would be diverted via Baltana and Dhakoli villages.

Due to congested internal roads heavy vehicles for Kalka and Shimla would be diverted to Mouli Jagran link road to Industrial Area, Panchkula.

The signboards have been installed under the flyover and other approaching areas. Traffic policemen would be deployed at key points to ensure smooth flow of traffic, the official added.



Powercom: Door-to-door billing scheme not fully functional
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, January 15
Power consumers are a disappointed lot with the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) failing to properly implement its scheme to collect payment of electricity bills on their doorstep.

The PSPCL had launched its scheme more than six months ago under which consumers could hand over payments to persons who visited their houses for issuing on-the-spot power bills. Payments up to Rs 1,000 could be given in cash and for any amount through cheque. Consumers were to be given receipts for the payments received by these employees.

As per the terms of the contract carried out with KLG Systel, a private company which has been given the work related to on-the-spot power billing, the contractor was bound to collect at least 15 per cent of the payments on the doorstep failing which he was to be fined. But if he managed to collect more bills than the specified number, he was to be given an incentive of 20 paise per bill.

According to sources, employees of the contractor have not been able to collect more than two per cent of the payments, which is a violation of the terms of agreement. Employees have even refused to collect cheques whenever consumers wanted to hand over the payments to them.

SS Barnala, former councillor from Phase XI, said yesterday that power consumers were very happy to know about the scheme of the PSPCL regarding the collection of payments on doorstep. But they got disappointed when employees, doing the work related to on-the-spot power billing, refused to collect cheques claiming that the authorities concerned had not authorised them to do so.

The matter was even brought to the notice of the chairman of the District Planning Board, NK Sharma, who was asked to take up the issue with the power corporation authorities.

Barnala, however, said that women, in many cases, were reluctant to hand over cash to such employees. Cheques were considered safer, he added.

Hemraj Singla, director of the billing section of the power corporation, however, claimed that residents had not shown a positive response to the scheme as they failed to trust employees given the work of payment collection.

He, however, said employees on duty could not refuse payments if power consumers wanted to hand these over to them. If such complaints were brought to the notice of the authorities concerned, action would be taken against employees who refused the collection of payments, added Singla.



Amended Master Plan 
Wider roads await Zirakpur 
Rajmeet Singh/TNS

Mohali, January 15
In future, there will be more breathing space along roads linking group housing and commercial projects in Zirakpur. While approving the amended master plan for Ziarkpur, the Punjab government has decided to go for greater width roads at the time of approving group housing and commercial projects in the township.

The decisions were taken in a recent meeting of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Board (PRTPB) chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. As per the new norms, applicable only to the new projects, the group housing schemes would come up along roads having a minimum width of 60 feet and for commercial projects, the minimum road width would be 80 feet.

Implementing the provisions of the master plan were pending for the last about one-and-a-half-year. In the past, most of the group housing and commercial projects have come up along narrow roads, resulting in chaotic situation in Peer Muchlala, Dhakoli, Batlana, and in Bhabat area.

While allowing the Zirakpur Municipal Council to follow Building bylaws of the local government while approving the building plans, the government has directed the civic body to adhere to the minimum road width norms laid down in the master plan.

However, bowing to pressure from certain well-placed realtors, the government has allowed the minimum road width of 60 feet in residential areas, especially in case of VIP road. Already, a number of haphazard structures have come within the Zirakpur MC limits and the town-planning scheme of the local government has been a centre of controversy, with the Town and Planning Department objecting to the town-planning scheme. Scores of residential and commercial projects were raised either by residents or promoters in contradiction to the actual construction plans approved by the civic body, bringing the builder-MC staff nexus to the fore.

MC officials claim that more than 75 residential colonies in Zirakpur and surrounding areas had come up before formation of Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat now Zirakpur Municipal Council in 2000. Before formation of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat (MC), all building constructions related matter had taken up by PUDA. Last year, GAMDA had released the list of 91 approved colonies in Mohali district through advertisements in newspapers, which mentioned 24 colonies were approved in Zirakpur with the rest of them being unauthorised.

At Lohgarh, Bhabbat, Baltana and Dhakauli, residents have constructed houses without leaving much space for berms along internal roads in the colonies. At Bhabbat, several godowns and residential structures have come up in violation of rules.

When the Zirakpur master plan was notified in August 2009, the Zirakpur MC had opposed GMADA’s proposed widening of various roads like the VIP road, Lohgarh road, High Grounds road, Dhakoli grid road, Ambala-Gazipur road and Baltana roads as construction on both sides of the roads cannot allow for any expansion. After dabbling over the objections, the board approved the amended master plan on January 7. 



Conservation works wonders for Sukhna sanctuary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The sustained efforts spread over a decade in conserving soil and water in the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary bordering the city have finally bore fruit. The overall tree density in the sanctuary rose from 162 to 450 trees per hectare and the bush density from 5,977 to 8,994 per hectare during the past few years.

This was revealed in the latest study conducted by a city-based NGO, Society for Promotion & Conservation of Environment (SPACE).

Further, due to the thick vegetation, the leaf litter accumulation on the forest floor increased from 2.05 tonnes to 4.4 tonnes per hectare, which also resulted in increase of soil organic carbon.

The wildlife sanctuary, spread over an area of 25.42 square km, is fenced from all sides and was declared a protected sanctuary in March 1998. A variety of butterflies, birds and animals like wild boars, pangolins, mongoose, deer, Indian civets, peacocks, red jungle fowl and snakes like the Indian python and Russell's viper have made this sanctuary their abode.

During the first-ever wildlife census at the sanctuary last month, officials found pugmarks of leopards and have installed a camera there to ascertain the presence of the jungle cat.

The number of tourists visiting the sanctuary has also gone up. In 2009 around 7,500 tourists came to the sanctuary with the number rising to 9,000 in 2010.

Moreover, with over 190 water bodies and an equal number of silt detention dams in the wildlife sanctuary, Chandigarh has been running one of the biggest soil conservation and rainwater harvesting projects for two decades. The study conducted by SPACE has found a sizeable decline in the flow of silt into the Sukhna lake after these dams were constructed.

According to officials of the UT forest & wildlife department, these measures were systematically taken over a period of almost two decades and they have reduced the rate of siltation in the lake from over 140 tonnes per hectare per year to less than five tonnes per hectare per year.



Chill, fog likely to return
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Morning rain and cloudy weather, which kept the sun under wraps through out the day, once again plunged the day temperature by over six degree Celsius and brought the chill back today.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s rising mercury provided the much needed respite to the residents, but today’s maximum temperature dipped to 6.4 degrees compared to the temperature on Friday which was recorded 23.1 degrees.

The minimum temperature today was 12.2, up by four degrees from yesterday’s 8.2 degrees. Met officials predicted that chill, along with fog and rain, is likely to come back in the coming few days.

The city recorded 1.4mm rainfall today, the Met official added. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) director Surender Paul said a western disturbance was causing rain and snowfall in the hills and light rain in the plains. These disturbances are expected to last till weekend. The moisture incursion in the atmosphere due to the western disturbances is expected to cause a fall in the night temperature by a degree or two in the city and in the day temperature by a few degrees due to cloudy weather tomorrow also.

As far as the region is concerned, the Met office said light to moderate rain or thundershowers would occur at several places in Punjab and Haryana during the next 24 hours. Cold wave conditions are likely to prevail in isolated pockets of Punjab and days are likely to be cold in both Punjab and Haryana.

Meanwhile, most of the flights were cancelled between 2 pm and 4 pm, while GoAir Mumbai-Chandigarh and Jet Airways Delhi-Chandigarh flights were diverted when the visibility at the Chandigarh airport was less than 500m. Only two flights-Jammu-Chandigarh and Delhi-Chandigarh of Kingfisher Airlines could land at the city airport.

Passengers had a tough time and were seen running from the airport help desk to airline counters to know the status of their flights.

“I had to go to Mumbai and was asked by the airline to come on time. When I arrived, I was told to wait and was told that the flight was cancelled. The customer care system is a disaster,” said Vinay Chopra, a harried passenger.

The train services were back on track as only one train running between Howrah and Kalka was 22 hours late than its scheduled arrival of 3.20 am.

“The sky will remain cloudy and light rain is expected. Dip in temperature is also expected,” the Met official predicted.

The Met department said the minimum and maximum temperatures were likely to be around 6 degree Celsius and 18 degree Celsius, respectively.



Workshop on hospital laws ends at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Prof AK Gupta, medical superintendent-cum-professor and head, PGI, while speaking on the concluding day of the two-day CME-cum-workshop on “Laws Applicable to Hospitals: Issues, Challenges and Possible Solutions, said: “When workers are hired either on service contract or on manpower contract, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, and other Acts, including the ESI and EPF Acts must be followed. Also, the terms and conditions of the contract should be drafted with the help of the experts to avoid any exploitation.”

The workshop was organised by the department of hospital administration, PGI.

Delegates performed group tasks on bio-medical waste (management and handling) Rules, 1998, Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 1994, Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and PC-PNDT Act, 1994.

The delegates brainstormed on several aspects of these laws and suggested improvements and amendments also.

The valedictory function was chaired by Prof Raj Bahadur, director-principal, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh. He said responsibilities of a health administrator were more difficult than being a clinician unless you have been trained as an administrator. Society is more aware now, and more demanding than ever. Media is also very active and doctors need to be more vigilant while performing their duties, he added.

He advocated that better communication skills should be imparted to doctors to avoid legal complications.



High drama at HDFC Bank
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 15
High drama prevailed at the Sector 8 branch of HDFC Bank here today when its gates were found open at 8 am with no staff visible in the building.

With the recent heist at Tanishq showroom in Mani Majra being fresh in mind, a suspicious passers-by called up the police station in Sector 5. Inspector Om Prakash, who was incidentally near the spot, reached the bank and found it open with all lights switched on with a class IV employee busy sweeping and dusting the office.

The sweeper informed him that the bank manager had handed over the keys to him the previous evening with instructions that he should clean the bank building before the opening time. The bank manger, Aman Sikka, was called from his residence in Mohali and was asked to not take security of his branch casually, the SHO said.



Nobel Laureate visits research institute
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 15
Prof Anthony Leggett, 2003 Nobel Laureate in Physics, visited the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER) in Sector 81 here today and delivered a lecture.

Prof Leggett's lecture was titled "Testing the limits of quantum mechanics: motivation, state of play, prospects".

Prof Leggett's talk focused on the fundamental issue in physics according to which quantum theory allowed objects to be at different places at the same time.

He spoke about the motivation for experiments that generated quantum superpositions of states. He also reviewed state-of-the-art experiments in the areas of free-space molecular diffraction, magnetic biomolecules, quantum optics and superconducting Josephson devices.

Sir Anthony James Leggett, KBE, FRS (born 1938, UK) has been a Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1983. He is a theoretical physicist whose pioneering work on superfluidity was recognised by the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics.

His research interests included normal and superfluid helium liquids and strongly coupled superfluids, quantum physics of macroscopic dissipative systems, the use of condensed matter systems to test the foundations of quantum mechanics and topological quantum computation.

Leggett is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences (foreign member), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK), the American Physical Society, and American Institute of Physics, and Life Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK).

He was knighted (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 and has won the 2002 Wolf Foundation Prize. He was honoured with the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal in 1999. Prof Leggett had extensive interaction with the IISER faculty and students. His visit is sure to give a big boost to the institute's research and teaching programme.



Importance of sanitation highlighted

Chandigarh, January 15
Continuing its campaign to promote the message of all-round cleanliness and adoption of healthy lifestyle, volunteers of Yuvsatta, along with artistes of “Mask Theatre” organised street plays in Mauli Jagran and Indira Colony. The programme was sponsored by WAPCOS Limited.

The artistes presented a street play “Jara Uhii” on sanitation highlighting the importance of adoption of hygiene practices, especially hand washing, segregation of waste, good personal hygiene, use of toilets and conservation of water. — TNS



Kathak recital by Dr Swapnil impresses audience
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 15
Vivacious and versatile young danseuse, Dr Swapnil Karmahe with her nimble footwork and gracious gestures captivated audience in an impressive kathak classical dance recital organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) at the Randhawa Auditorium here today.

Trained under famed classical dance guru, Dr PD Ashirwadam in both Lucknow and Raigarh styles, Swapnil commenced the dance recital with traditional invocatory guru vandana before a dhrupad “Moar mukut natwar” in raga darbari. She delineated various facial and body poses with gestures in executing thaats later aamad, tode, tukde and parans.

In the abhinaya format, Swapnil enacted the dance drama based on ashatpadi “Nirtat dhang” depicting Lord Krishna dancing with gopikas and Radha simultaneously.

She concluded with a composite item “Chaturang” dancing to the vocal syllables of sargama, tarana, beats on tabla and finally a kavit.

Most accomplished musicians, including Vevel Sharma on flute, Memhboob Khan on tabla and pedant, Sunil Sharma on vocal and harmonium and Vinod Pawar on sarangi augmented the level of performance.

ICCR regional official Nalini welcomed the audience and chief guest Ajoy Sharma, IAS, who honoured the artistes.



Sufi soiree enthrals audience
SD Sharma

Mohali, January 15
Noted Sufi singers, Kumar Bandhus, enthralled audience in a special music concert “Ibadat” organised by the Pracheen Kala Kendra at the Koser’s auditorium in Mohali here today.

Kumar Bandhus, namely Anup Kumar and Hemant Kumar, commenced the programme with invocatory Ganesh Vandana “Vakra Tund Mahakaye” before rendering popular Sufiana kaul “Chhap Tilak Sab Chhini”, a famous kalaam of Hazrat Amir Khusro.

The duo bared the mysticism of Baba Bulleh Shah and other mystics in “Ishaq kamaal”, “Saade val mukhra”, besides devotional bhajan of Meera Bai “Main to sanware ke rang rachi” presented in Sufiana style.

They presented Sufi numbers immortalised by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan “Sawan Ki Bheegi Raton Mein”, “Nit Khair Manga”, etc. As expected, they concluded the captivating programme with boisterous famous Sufiana number “Dama Dam Mast Qalander”.

Leading the music ensemble, Anup Kumar established instant rapport with the audience by interspersing the recital with detailed explanations about the philosophical content of lyrics.

Prof Murlidhar Soni on harmonium, Prakash Nepali on flute, Debashish Dhar on tabla and Dharampal on dholak provided soothing accompaniment to the singers.



Khushpreet Murder
Report to be submitted next week
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The magisterial probe report in Khushpreet’s case would be submitted next week.

Talking to The Tribune, PCS ML Sharma, SDM (Central) and director CTU and Sports, who is the Inquiry Officer (IO) in the case, said he is almost ready with the report and would take a few more days to complete it.

According to sources, Sharma has recorded the statements of Khushpreet’s family members, Inspector Uday Pal, Inspector Narinder Patial and other police officials.

“It’s a long process and it would take a few more days to complete the report,” said Sharma.

The magisterial probe was marked by the UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas on January 7 when the family members had refused to take the body of the five-year-old Khushpreet while demanding strict action against the police team, which allegedly botched up the case.

The 10-day deadline for the probe would expire on January 17.



Urdu poet Taseer dead
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 15
“Badde shauq se sunn rha tha zamana, Tum hi so gye dastaan kehte kehte.” The couplet veritably reflects the grief of the literary fraternity, which will henceforth remain bereft of the ornate poetic renditions of RD Sharma ‘Taseer’ (75) who passed away today following a brief illness.

The entire literary world plunged into gloom learning the death of city-based poet. He died at the residence of his daughter in Ambala where he was convalescing after he met with an accident a month ago.

Decorated with the highest Urdu Sahitkar award-2001 by the Punjab government and honoured with lifetime achievement award by Chandigarh Sahitya Academy, Taseer works were more published in Pakistani magazines than in India. Born at Pasnawala village near Gurdaspur, Taseer had his education at Qadian and Delhi. A postgraduate in English with command over many languages, Taseer retied as joint director from the Department of Employment, Punjab.

Credited with 14 publications of merit comprising Urdu poetry, short stories and novel, Tasser remained most sought after poet at mushairas. “His verses were laced with words of wisdom, love, romance. Utter humility, simplicity and uprightness adorned his persona,” said poet Madhav Kaushik. 



Jewell Singh dead
Roopinder Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, January 15
One of the oldest residents of Chandigarh and a much-loved teacher, Jewell Singh, passed away today. She was just shy of 98.

Born in England on January 28, 1913, she got married to Surjeet Singh in 1938. After the couple moved to India, they lived in Shimla, where Surjeet Singh worked as Director, Monitoring Services, All India Radio. He also served as Information Officer to the Government of India.

Jewell shaped many lives in Chandigarh when she taught at Vivek Nursery School, Sector 9, and many of her former students still remember her fondly. “She just had a cup of tea in the evening and passed away peacefully,” said Justice S S Sodhi, former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, and Jewell’s eldest son-in-law.

Jewell is survived by her three daughters Bonny Sodhi, Deepak Crawford and Amrita Nakai.

Her cremation will take place at the Cremation Ground in Sector 25, Chandigarh, and the funeral procession will leave House No 51, Sector 9, at 12 noon. 



Jewell Singh (1913-2011)
Harish Dhillon

I am a forgetful person and particularly hopeless with dates - birthdays and wedding anniversaries in particular. But one date that I do not forget is January 28. I do not forget it because it is Jewell’s birthday. I remembered it again this morning and wondered what I could give her as a birthday present this time because it was going to be her 98th birthday. I decided 98 yellow roses as being most appropriate. I had no way of knowing that those roses would never be sent - Amrita, her youngest daughter telephoned me up, just five minutes ago, to say that she was gone.

I cannot say that I knew Jewell Singh well and yet I cannot help feeling a deep sense of loss. I am sure, as sure as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow, that anyone who had the good fortune to come in contact with her, no matter how briefly will share my sense of loss.

Jewell was born in Middlesex in 1913. After her schooling, she trained to become a nurse. At a dance, she met a young, Sikh law student, Surjeet Singh. It was, as the story books say, love at first sight. But fate intervened; Surjeet had to abandon his studies, returned to India and joined All India Radio. But Jewell was, under her soft exterior, a very determined young lady. She followed Surjeet to India and the two were married on October 24, 1938. Khushwant was to write at a much later date about the three English girls who came out to India about the same time and all married Indians : Jewell married a Sikh, Margaret married a Hindu and Alice married Faiz. The three remained friends for many years and tried to meet as often as they could

It was, to use a cliché again, a marriage that was made in heaven. In a matter of days, she had won Surjeet’s family over and any resistance that they may have harboured to the marriage melted away in the face of her unflinching devotion and love. When I saw them together I was amazed by the fact that while Surjeet was as British as British could be, Jewell had become as Indian as it was possible to be. She always wore a sari and wore it with admirable grace and charm. She observed all the rituals and customs that her new family expected her to and followed them with enthusiasm. So much so that she even danced at weddings, along with all other relatives, as if it was the most natural thing in the world for her to do.

For a few years after her marriage, while Surjeet was out of a job, Jewell put her training to good use and earned a living, by working as a nurse. The couple had three charming daughters: Bonny, Deepak and Amrita and lived a full contented life. Jewell was endowed with a warm endearing nature. She loved and cared for everyone who came into contact with. It was no surprise that her house soon became the centre of a full social life and that her friends and acquaintances loved her with a deep and abiding love. Even people who had met her fleetingly found themselves drawn to her because she always showed such concern for them. I found myself looking forward to my occasional meetings with her because she always exuded such great warmth, such an interest in everything that I was doing and that was happening to me. The very mention of her name had the ability to bring up a surge of affection for her.

Years later, when her children had all gown up, she felt herself at a loose end, she turned to teaching music at Vivek High School. Not surprisingly, she had soon won the hearts of, not only her students but also of all her colleagues. The number of former colleagues who remember Jewell and the number of former students who remember Singh ma’am or grandmother, with the greatest gratitude and affection is legion.

For the last few years of her life, she battled against the ravages of Alzheimer’s, but remained always her gentle, cheerful self. She went as she had lived, gently, softly, without causing anyone any pain.

God bless you Jewell, for all your kindness, your warmth and your care. My life and the lives of all who knew you were enriched from knowing you. When you are carried on your final journey from your home on Sunday, January 16, you will be carrying away with you the gratitude of many like me whose lives you have so deeply touched. 



PU guesthouses not for placement executives
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Non-availability of rooms in Panjab University guesthouses, due to prior bookings made by Senators and university teachers, has now become a problem for placement officers of the university departments.

They are now making alternate lodging arrangements for company executives, who visit the campus to recruit students.

According to sources, a meeting of placement officers would soon address the issue.

Despite better pay packages this year as compared to last few years, students involved in placement activity are having a tough time making reservations for the human resource executives in city guesthouses.

“I was responsible for hospitality of company executives visiting our department. I found that no rooms were available in the university guest house on those dates. The ones that were available were not in good condition. So, I made alternate arrangement in a hotel near by,” said a PU student.

PU placement co-ordinators also suggested that the rooms in PU guest houses must be allotted on priority basis during the placement season, though none of these officials or students were willing to come on record, fearing action from authorities.

“Prior bookings has forced us to make alternate arrangements for company officials. It is tough to commute from hotels to PU every day. Besides, if the company executives are made to stay on campus, they will get to know more about the university,” said a BTech student.

Earlier, PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti had declined to pass any comment, but later said that a meeting with the placement officers of all departments would soon be held.



Free classes for CA students from Jan 27
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 15
A two-day national chartered accountancy students’ convention organised by the Chandigarh branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) began at Shivalik Public School, Mohali.

More than 700 students from various states, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir are attending the convention.

Sarvesh Kaushal, principal secretary, information technology, Punjab, was the chief guest and the guests of honour were TN Singla, a member, Chandigarh VAT Tribunal and director State Bank of India, and Rajan Sharda, former chairman, Chandigarh branch of ICAI.

Balwinder Singh, technical advisor to the convention and former chairman, Chandigarh Branch of ICAI, said the chartered accountancy profession was under re-defining moment. Presently, the CA students are acquiring knowledge in the field of existing laws and statues i.e. income tax, companies act, service tax, VAT, Indian accounting standards, etc.

OPK Singla, chairman, Chandigarh branch of ICAI, said besides acquiring theoretical knowledge, a chartered accountant was required to obtain practical exposure, including general management and communication skills, orientation training and information technology training.

To help the students in preparing with the new pattern of examination, the Chandigarh branch will hold free classes with effect from January 27, which shall be addressed by CA professionals, who have attained excellence and enriched with practical experience.



Foreign students dance to desi tunes
Our Correspondent

Sanghol (Bassi Pathana), January 15
As a part of an exchange programme, a team of two teachers Bev Cripps and Fiona Mullaney, along with two students Sarah Fullton and Stephanie Orr from Ashfield Girls School, Belfast (UK), are studying at Uma Rana Public School (Umarian), Sanghol.

Dr RK Sharma, director, said the programme was supported and financed by Lady Shruti Rana, convener of the Shruti Foundation.

He said teachers were sharing their experiences and giving valuable learning tips to the Umarian teachers, especially concerned with modern technology used at school-level in the UK.

He said Ashfield students were also getting the tips from Umarian teachers. He said both the teachers and students were being trained in Punjabi dance, Rangoli-making and Indian art.

He said they were also made to learn Hindi and Punjabi language. He said the visiting team joined the Lohri celebrations and they danced to the tunes of Punjabi songs.



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