C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU: One hunger strike ends, another begins
* 2 students rushed to hospital by police
* PU denies any decision
* No end to strike in sight
Tribune News Service

Syndicate meet today

The report of an inquiry committee set up by the PU to verify charges levelled against the dental college director by an intern will be tabled before a meeting of the PU syndicate on Monday. The syndics would take a final decision in the matter, said a varsity official.

Chandigarh, February 6
The ongoing student agitation on the Panjab University campus, seeking ouster of the director of dental college, ended today for a brief time after students were convinced that their demand had been met.

However, realising soon that “there was nothing official about the assurance”, another group occupied the dharna site, while the first group was rushed to hospital for its deteriorating health.

PU officials denied having made any commitment to the students, saying a final decision on the dental college director would be taken at the Syndicate meeting scheduled for Monday.

The dharna by PUSU members was joined in by students of the dental college in the evening. At the same time, Vikramjeet Singh, campus president, Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), said, “We will shut down the university on Monday if the authorities do not give justice to the dental college students.”

After the restarting of the agitation, Manmeet Sidhu, PUSU press secretary, said, “The university officials assured us that Gauba will be removed from his post.”

In a dramatic end to the five-day hunger strike by three Panjab University students who had sought the removal of the dental college’s director, students were picked from the site and rushed to hospital after PUSU leaders said they had been assured of removal of the director from his post.

PU Dean, Student Welfare, Naval Kishore, said the students had been told “justice would be delivered to them after a thorough probe”. Importantly, the students have been assured of justice since the first day of their strike, but no specific commitment has been made to remove the (dental college) director by any university official till date. The students, meanwhile, are committed towards his removal from the post.

Heated arguments took place between the Dean and representatives of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) today outside the VC’s office when university officials attempted to convince students to end their strike.

When the condition of two students who were on the hunger strike, Rajdeep Singh Brar and Prabhjeet Singh, both members of PUSU, began to deteriorate, Kishore called for an ambulance and the students were rushed to hospital. While Rajdeep and Prabhjeet, who had high fever, were forcibly made to drink water by members of their union, the police later took the third student on hunger strike, Sukjit Singh Brar, who is also PUSU campus president, to the hospital.

The dental college students, who were on a chain hunger strike, were also taken away from the scene. However, these students later claimed to have resumed their chain strike in the evening.

Fed up by what they called the “stubbornness” of students, Kishore said the students were putting their health at risk because of the strike. He quoted examples in which student leaders who had gone on protest strikes earlier had damaged their internal organs by not eating and drinking.

“We’ve been assured Gauba would not continue as the (dental college’s) director,” said Manmeet Sidhu of PUSU.



PGI strike ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The operation theatre (OT) technologists of the Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here called off their four-day-old strike after a late night meeting with acting director of the institute Dr Amod Gupta.

The administration has assured us of addressing our grievances within six weeks and we have agreed to join the work tomorrow morning, said Manoj Kumar, general secretary of the OT Technologists Association after the meeting.

The association, however, will resort to strike in case the PGI administration fails to fulfil its promise, he said. More than 100 operation theatre technicians had gone on strike on Thursday, demanding parity in pay on lines with their counterparts in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Since then, more than 100 scheduled surgical operations had been postponed. Since beginning, the PGI authorities had been telling the union leaders that they were supportive for their demands, but the matter pertained to the Union ministries of Health and Finance and efforts were being made in this direction. The technicians were adamant on a written assurance with a timeframe for the implementation of their demands. A PGI spokesperson confirmed that the OT technicians had agreed to resume their work from tomorrow.



Basic policing a casualty in city
50 pc posts of constables, head constables vacant
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Even as the crime graph of the city is on a steady rise, 11 police stations here are grappling with the problem of staff shortage thereby reflecting their inability to deal with the burgeoning demand.

Information procured through the Right to Information (RTI) Act filed by Chandigarh Tribune has revealed that about 50 per cent of the posts of constables as well as head constables in the police stations are lying vacant.

Constables and head constables serve as a vital link between the police and public, as being foot soldiers they are entrusted with managing most of the groundwork and are key to basic policing. Their work includes the critical task of serving ‘the beat’, investigating cases, performing law and order duties and also carrying court summons in addition to a long list of other work.

A study of police stations conducted by the Union government’s Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) in December last year had recommended posting of a total of 2,066 policemen ranging from an inspector to a constable at the city’s 11 police stations. But in contrast, the police stations have only 1,042 policemen.

Adjudged as one of the top three police stations in Asia in 2010, the city’s Sector 17 police station has only 65 constables against a sanctioned strength of 117, 28 head constables against a sanctioned strength of 46 and only five Assistant Sub Inspectors of Police (ASI) against a sanctioned strength of 14.

Same is the case with other police stations.

“Apart from being demoralised and being under tremendous work pressure, discontent is brewing among policemen as they are unable to keep pace with the work. Many policemen suffer from stress-induced ailments,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

UT SSP Naunihal Singh admitted that staff, otherwise meant to be posted at police stations, has been diverted to the Police Control Room and other specialised wings such as the Crime Branch, Cyber Crime Cell, Operations Cell and Economic Offences Wing among others to reduce work pressure in these departments.

“We needed more staff which was the reason why staff from police stations had been diverted,” he added.



Provisions of consumer Act being misused
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Penalty for frivolous complaints

During the past four years (2007-10), over 50 frivolous complaints have been detected by Chandigarh’s two district forums. Costs have been imposed on the complainants to deter others from misusing provisions of the Act. The Consumer Protection Act provides penalties for frivolous complaints and these do act as a deterrent.

Chandigarh, February 6
If you thought consumer courts were being used only by genuinely harassed customers to seek compensation from companies which had failed to provide services/products as promised, you could be wrong.

It might sound strange but the truth is that many people have been using provisions of the Consumer Protection Act with the intention of settling personal scores or delaying payments.

During the past four years (2007-10), over 50 such “frivolous” complaints have been detected by the city’s two district forums and costs have been imposed on the complainants to deter others from misusing provisions of the Act. “Yes we often come across complaints that outrightly appear to be motivated”, admitted Jagroop Singh Mahal, member of a consumer panel.

He said the Act provides penalties for such frivolous complaints and these do act as a deterrent. “Sometimes one look at the complaint and the supporting documents is enough to establish that there is no merit in the case and the same has been filed as a tactic to delay the payment and dragging the other party into unwanted and unwarranted litigation”, he added.

Earlier this month, the District Forum -I, Chandigarh, had directed the complainant Manoj Sharma to pay costs of Rs 10,000 to the SBI for unnecessarily making them a party in his complaint against PH Housing. Though the bank was dragged into the litigation, there was no allegation of any deficiency of services against it in the entire complaint. While the bank was compensated, the complaint against PH Housing was allowed.

Interestingly, Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, was also directed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission last week to pay Rs 10,000 (the maximum cost) to a supplier, Anupam Metals. The Commission rejected the hospital’s appeal and upheld the decision of the District Forum to dismiss its earlier plea for compensation from the supplier on grounds of supply of defective steel beds.

Lawyers dealing with consumer cases reveal that appeals against orders of district forums relating to medical negligence and insurance claims, where deficiency is primarily proved by evidence, are subject to high costs. They say the main reason for this is the presumption that companies have a fair idea about the presence of ‘no merit’ in their cases but still they drag consumers into unnecessary further litigation.

Pankaj Chandgothia, president, Chandigarh Consumer Courts Bar Association, said the provision for imposing costs was added in 1993 by an amendment to the Act after it was found that people were resorting to frivolous litigation under the Consumer Protection Act while taking advantage of the fact that there was no court fee at that time.

He said costs, however, cannot be imposed in routine or merely if the complaint is dismissed. Chandgothia said the provisions in the Act require the court to record reasons in writing before imposing any costs under Section 26.



No policy on laying pavement blocks
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Quality check

Former Mayor Anu Chatrath had asked the authorities to frame a policy for proper quality check of development works and include a clause of fining the erring contractors

Lifespan of blocks

During the first month of the current year, the MC approved 30 agendas for laying of pavement blocks in various sectors costing around Rs 12 crore. In fact, no agenda item had the details when the pavement blocks will be installed by the authorities and what will be its lifespan

Chandigarh, February 6
Though the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is spending crores of rupees on laying pavement blocks annually, it is clueless about its quality as there is no policy to monitor it.

The authorities are apparently inclined to fritter public money on laying pavement blocks in those sectors also where the existing footpaths are in the perfect condition and were laid short time ago.

In a classic example of wasting public money, pavement blocks are being laid in Sector 28 by replacing old tiles, which were laid only a year ago. Kuldip Singh Walia, a resident of Sector 27, has sent a written complaint to the authorities in this regard as the existing footpaths were in a prefect condition.

In Ram Darbar, too, the authorities had decided to replace the tiles, which were laid only two years ago, with the pavement blocks.

Interestingly, the authorities have no data about how many works are monitored monthly by the department concerned. As per corporation’s manual, after the work is completed, the officials of the department concerned have to visit the site and issue a certificate to the contractor. However, this norm is apparently lying buried in the files of the corporation.

In the general House meeting, Chief Engineer SS Bidda said random checking of quality of works of the ongoing projects was done by the authorities.

During a visit to various sectors, including Sectors 19, 22, 28, 29, 34 and 51, and Industrial Area’s Phase I and II, it was found that pavement blocks, which were laid a year ago, have either broken or caved in.

In some sectors, the contractor had laid pavement blocks of different sizes. As per MC manual, the compressive strength of pavement blocks has to be checked by the registered institution with the MC.

Former Mayor and SAD councillor Harjinder Kaur said when the MC had an annual budget of Rs 100 crore for road works and laying of pavement blocks, why couldn’t it establish its own quality check laboratory.



UT undertakes not to recover Rs 39 cr from DLF
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
In a major relief to DLF Info City Developers (Chandigarh) Limited, the Chandigarh Administration has undertaken before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it shall not insist on recovering Rs 39 crore for “misuse” during the pendency of the company’s appeal.

The undertaking comes about two years after a notice was issued to the DLF for the recovery of the amount on the ground that non-information technology companies were its tenants in the IT Park building.

DLF counsel Aashish Chopra, in the petition, had contended that the tenants were indeed IT-based companies; and the administration’s assertion was in fact contrary to its own stand initially.

Appearing before Justice Ranjit Singh, the UT Administration admitted DLF’s appeal against the proceedings could not be taken up for hearing due to “reshuffling of the authorities” dealing with the matter.

The Administration also undertook to decide within 10 days DLF’s request for interim relief against recovery, and the appeal within a month of receiving the order’s copy.

Taking up the DLF’s petition against the Advisor, Union Territory, Chandigarh, and other respondents, Justice Ranjit Singh observed, “The short submission made is that the appeal filed by the petitioner is not being taken up for hearing and the petitioner, in meanwhile, is being pressed for recovery of charges for misuse, which are over 39 crores.”

“In response to notice of motion, Sanjay Kaushal, senior standing counsel has appeared on behalf of the Union Territory, Chandigarh. As per the counsel, the appeal could not be taken up for hearing on account of reshuffling of the authorities dealing with appeal.

“Counsel further submits that request for interim relief of the petitioner shall be considered and decided within 10 days and the appeal, ultimately, would be decided within a period of one month from the date of receipt of copy of this order”.

Taking a note of the undertaking, Justice Ranjit Singh concluded: “In view of the statement made, the present writ petition is disposed of with the direction to the respondents to decide the appeal filed by the petitioner within a period as submitted above.

“The counsel for UT has also submitted that till the decision of the appeal, recovery shall not be effected/insisted upon from the petitioner”.



Open House
Night Food Street needs a revamp
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Floated as the local answer to Lahore’s famed Food Street, the Night Food Street in Sector 14 of the city has failed to live up to public expectations. Families fear going to the food outlets, adjoining the boundary wall of Panjab University and opposite the PGIMER, for the simple reason that they don't feel secure at the venue which is a witness to drunken brawls very often.

Street fights are common and naturally is the most quoted reason by the public as to why they avoided going there, particularly, with their families. Not just as the talk in the city circles, several posts on different Internet sites have flouted “lacking security” as the main reason why the Night Food Street was not a big attraction. The script read that the place “offered nothing great”, had “poor lighting”, “served rather average food” and more importantly “had an unfriendly crowd”. Most of the visitors here are the students or those accompanying patients in the PGI.

Started in December 2008, during the tenure of Pradeep Chhabra, as the Mayor, the food outlets here have not been able to sustain the public interest after the first year. The kiosk runners have their long tale of woes as to why they were unable to give the quality services at their shops. Things have come to the point that only four of the total eight are open at the moment.

The venue offering seating arrangement in the open, fails to sustain the rush for visitors uniformly throughout the year. Like, during the winters, the public presence was abysmally low as it was during monsoons. The stalls need a massive repair work. The toilets are not clean and the venue also has illegal pan and juice shops.

The venue lacks a sense of security. My friend gave me a classic example, he said, “Last month, I walked out of the tea stall after making my payment around midnight. I did not witness any unruly scene or any high-pitched noises from any group of youngsters who were high on their evening drinks. When I was opening my car window, I saw a huge scratch mark on the bonnet of my recently purchased car. Interestingly, this had not been the first time. The same had happened, in October 2009, when I had come here with my new Zen.”


The gate of Panjab University, adjoining the night food street, is etched strongly in memories of students who have studied on the campus and affiliated colleges in the city over the past more than four decades. This was the venue to “paranthawalas” who fed the students studying late and even those who were on late night “gehdis”. Visitors to the PGI, too, had an alternate for getting their food and late night tea.

In fact, for hundreds of students on the university campus, a visit to the roadside kiosks was always an important part of their daily routine. Things changed after the MC decided to uplift the existing facilities and give better food and sitting place to visitors who till then were eating from a stove on the road side while sitting on the road berm.

Faulty planning

In the first year, the MC decided to give the stalls on secret bids. The stalls went as cheap as Rs 6,000 and the highest one paid Rs 31,000 per month. The following year, during the tenure of Kamlesh, as the city Mayor, the corporation thought that the stalls were doing a roaring business. The house decided to auction the stalls. There was an inherent fault in auctioning the stalls because the basic concept of the night street was not to make it a profit venture. It was seen as a way to promote late evening outings for the city residents.

In the first auction, the kiosks went for a price as high as Rs 70,000 and even Rs 1 lakh per month. One of the stall owners never opened his shop. The house next year decided to fix a reserve price of Rs 40,000 per month and once again go in for the bidding with an annual increase of 10 per cent. Even this time the shops went for a price as high as Rs 60,000.

Shopkeepers complained that they were not making any great profits. They complained of poor business returns as the reason for the poor quality. Importantly, at the moment, only four stalls out of the total eight are open. At the same time we have certain premises being used illegally.

To complicate the matters further, the MC was also thinking to fix the reserve price of the stalls on basis of an average of the prices of shops in Panjab University market and “Rehri Market”, Sector 11. It needs to be understood that there is no similarity in the prices between the shops on PU campus and the stalls in Sector 11. The university shops are much cheaper. The rate needs to be suitably worked out because it involves the benefit of the general public.

Inherent problems

The stalls have no covers. The walls are crumbling. The toilets are not clean and the entire venue, sometimes, bears a repulsive stink. The lighting is not adequate at the venue. The list of missing facilities can draw much longer in case one was to add the problem of the drinking menace and the accompanying law and order ramifications.

The CCTV cameras, at the spot, have served no purpose because no action seems to have been taken against defaulters and in case any action had been taken the same had not been adequately publicised.

The structures are simple structures and have not been adequately taken care off. At least the cover for inclement weather was a basic necessity. Interestingly, the plan of taking care of the kiosks has to come from the architecture department. There is no report of the department making any revamp plans of covering the area and upgrading the existing sitting facilities.

Possible solution

One of the possible solutions could be fix the rates for different rates after a study of the ground market price. The shops then should be allotted after a draw of lots. The corporation should fix the price of tea and price of routine eatables for students and hospital visitors at nominal prices. Those coming in to eat non-vegetarian or certain specialities should be ready to shelve out more cash. The arrangement should be able to give a fair deal to the shopkeepers and clients. Without any argument, the security at the site, too, needs a revamp.

There is nothing denying the fact that the ambitious project of the Night Food Street is in doldrums. It had even come to a near closure at one point of time. Write your experience giving reasons why the concept of Night Food Street has not caught up with the local public, along with possible suggestions for an improvement to the openhouse@tribunemail.com


Quiet burial for mega projects
60-acre Sarangpur land given to Indian Reserve Battalion
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service


  • IRB battalion gets a large chunk of land earmarked earlier for mega projects
  • State-of-the-art “green” IRB complex to come up on 60 acres
  • IRB battalion comprising 1,200 personnel to augment police strength
  • More force to take care of the growing policing needs of the city

Chandigarh, February 6
Controversial mega projects’ loss is police’s gain. The land allotted to the now-scrapped mega projects of the Chandigarh administration has officially been transferred the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) of the Chandigarh Police for the construction of a 60-acre state-of-the-art IRB complex at the Institutional Area of Sarangpur here.

In fact, the IRB complex moved a step closer to reality with senior functionaries of the administration, including UT Administrator Shivraj Patil, Home Secretary Ram Niwas and Finance Secretary VK Singh besides police officials visiting the site.

The institutional area had gained prominence a few years ago with the Chandigarh administration allotting land for the Film City and Amusement Park with a view to boosting tourism in the city.

However, in the backdrop of alleged irregularities in the land allotment to big realtors for the setting up of mega projects, these projects came under the scanner of the central investigation agencies.

The administration later scrapped these projects. Since then, the administration had been mulling alternative use of the land allotted to these mega projects.

Officials said Sarangpur was the obvious choice for the setting up of the IRB Complex as infrastructural facilities, including the laying of the roads, had been completed.

With a large chunk of land available with the administration, it was only appropriate for the latter to house the IRB complex at Sarangpur.

The Chandigarh police had already completed the process to recruit 1,200 personnel for the IRB battalion in the Chandigarh to augment the police strength in the city.

Addressing Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security at New Delhi on February 1, Patil had demanded enhanced Budget outlay for the next five years for police modernisation.

“The internal policing in the city is qualitatively different from that of the other cities because of the highly literate population, high expectations of public, frequent VIP movements, location of a number of vital installations, important government offices and influx of a large migratory population,” he had said.

In fact, the addition of the IRB battalion to the Chandigarh will go a long way in taking care of the policing needs of the growing population.

Regarding the building, sources said the new structure would comply to the green norms with the state-of-the-art facilities.



Conserving Water
Councillors told to identify leakage points
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
To check the wastage of water due to leakage in pipelines in various parts of the city, MC councillors have been asked to prepare a detailed report on water and sewerage leakage points in their wards within a fortnight.

This was decided at a water supply and sewerage disposal committee meeting on Friday under the chairmanship of Jatinder Bhatia.

The committee directed the MC officials to send a communiqué to the councillors indicating the areas in their wards where there was a problem in the supply of water. The report will be tabled in the next meeting of the committee.

The members also asked the officials to approach the UT administration to replace those pipes in government accommodations where there were complaints of a leakage.

They instructed the public health department to conduct a survey for provisions of underground storage tanks in southern sectors to avoid water shortage in the summer.

The officials were also asked to prepare a consolidated list to take up pending projects of installation of tanks and tube-wells in various sectors. Besides, estimates for 19 tube-wells would be prepared and work would be started to improve the water supply.

The health officials said the shortage of water in the Air Force area in Sectors 31 and 47 would be resolved soon.

They told the committee that all sectors would be connected with the pipeline from Diggian to provide tertiary treated water supply in the parks.

The officials revealed that the department was conducting a survey in all old sectors of the city to check old and damaged water supply pipes and prepare a report that would be sent to Delhi to seek assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The health officials suggested that the sub-divisional officers (SDO) and the junior engineers (JE) needed to be empowered to challan those indulging in washing of cars and wastage of water in their areas during peak summer.



Cleanliness drive at Rock Garden
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Geocool, an NGO formed by several college students, launched an environment awareness campaign “Envirothon” at Rock Garden on Saturday. A cleanliness drive was carried out in the garden.

The main attraction of the campaign was the exchange bag scheme where cloth bags and plastics bags were exchanged. The other events that took place at the campaign were herbal-colour face-painting competition and herbal-colour rangoli-making competition.

President of the NGO Aarthi R said, “The city residents should come forward and join us as the future is ours and we are responsible for it. It’s just that we don’t have to be mean we just have to go green.” The event was sponsored by Idea and radio partners 94.3 FM. The results for the competition were declared on the spot and the winners were awarded prizes.



Reporters' Diary
V-day spirit catches on

Keeping the rising demand for roses in mind, especially with V-Day just a week away, florists in the city have already started stocking flowers in advance. Seeing the demand, some of the gardeners in the city have even taken to commercial cultivation of flowers, especially roses.

Florists said, “Rose finds a prominent place in the galaxy of flowers. The reason is simple: “It is the queen of flowers.” Its enchanting beauty, varied colours and, of course, fragrance are the main reasons for its attraction. It’s also known as a symbol of universal faith and love.”

Vijay Rastogi, a Sector 19-based florist, said, “The demand for red rose buds increases on Valentine’s Day. A major part of the supply comes from Bangalore,” he added.

On the other hand, a majority of the departmental stores have also geared up for the V-Day with an aim to cash in on the romantic streak of the city youngsters.

A representative of a departmental store said, “A week before the Valentine's Day, a number of activities begins to catch the mood of youngsters gearing up for the big day.”

“To cash in on it, we have decided to come up with our favourite gift packs with a lot of freebies like chocolates, vodkas and candies,” he added.

Rowdy cops

While the police is known to be rude to the general public at times, many a times a few cops even misuse their power. Recently, a colleague had a bad experience when his car happened to be parked next to a motorcycle belonging to a cop. First of all, the cop had parked his motorcycle wrongly by parking it in a space marked for a four-wheeler. Second of all, when this colleague tried to pull the two-wheeler so as to make space for his car to be taken out, instead of correcting his mistake, the cop who was on duty in the nearby beat box started threatening and abusing this colleague.

This incident happened in one of the parking lots at Sector 35 recently when the colleague accompanied by his wife had gone there for some work.

It was only after the intervention of another cop who came to the rescue of this colleague and tendered an apology.

If it can happen to a journalist, one can imagine the plight of the common man who had faced a similar situation.

On challaning spree

The Chandigarh police continues to be the challan police. The traffic wing of the police is quick to issue challans at the drop of hat. The challaning spree of the local police was evident on Sunday when a car bearing a Himachal Pradesh number was stopped in the middle of the road near the CII roundabout by the traffic policemen who are seen “pouncing” on the non-Chandigarh registration numbers everyday.

While the car driver was apparently challaned, the traffic cops did not even spare a thought for a virtual traffic jam like situation which occurred after the car stopped in the middle of the road. With traffic jams around the CII roundabout a common sight particularly during the morning and evening hours, the traffic police personnel remain a mute spectator to the traffic mess. They seem to be “experts” only in challaning the general public. Well, the slogan of the Chandigarh police-- “we care for you” should better read as “we care for your challan’’.

Students’ politics

A press conference jointly organised by certain student organisations of Panjab University on Saturday turned into a war field between common students and student leaders. What came as a surprise for everyone present at the conference was that members of a youth organisation from PEC University of Technology, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the dental college students, were levelling allegations against the dental college director. When questioned why they felt the need to address issues of PU instead of addressing student issues in PEC, the students bluntly accused mediapersons of distracting them. Incidentally, certain students were found protesting against these student leaders for fabricating issues against their department outside the venue of press conference.

Annual event given a miss

For the first time in decades, the UT police did not organise an annual press conference for 2010. The annual affair disseminates crime figures and answer queries of mediapersons on their hits and misses but the police preferred to cancel it. The police corridors said one of the reasons to avoid the press conference was its failure to crack Khushpreet’s murder case. While cops said the sensational cases like Tanishq and Khushpreet had kept them busy towards the year end, the fact is that cops could not face the media owing to their inability in solving Khushpreet murder case, Neha murder case and the umpteen robbery cases.

Contributed by Anil Jerath, Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Pradeep Sharma, Neha Miglani and Aneesha Sareen



Hoax call sends police in a tizzy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
A hoax call claiming some calamity was to take place in Garwal Bhawan and in a mosque in Sector 29 sent the police in a tizzy this evening. The call was received at the police control room around 6.30 pm and according to the caller, some disaster was to occur within 20 minutes.

Garwal Bhawan and the mosque in Sector 29 were immediately cordoned off by the police after teams of the operation cell, bomb squad and Industrial Area police station were pressed into service. However, nothing happened and it turned out to be a hoax call.

The police said the call was made from a cell phone and the number was traced. A team of cyber cell had started the investigation. A daily development report (DDR) was lodged at the Industrial Area police station in this regard.



Corruption Cases
Welfare bodies to hold protest rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC) at its executive committee meeting today decided to hold a protest rally against the increasing corruption and deteriorating law and order situation in the city.

Members of the federation called for maintenance of Edict of Chandigarh from the onslaught of unplanned development in city’s periphery in violation of the Punjab Periphery Control Act.

Meanwhile, the members urged UT Administrator Shivraj Patil to start a centralised public grievances and monitoring system by the Chandigarh administration.

They said a regional planning and development authority should be set up for Chandigarh on the NCR pattern for development of the area. They said the move would give a fresh look to the policing and make posts of DSPs and inspectors transferrable to other union territories, enact Anti-Corruption Bill and Right to Service Bill.



Four houses gutted, 3 hurt
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 6
Three persons were injured and one is reportedly serious in a fire incident at Rajeev Colony near Sector 16 here yesterday. According to sources, leakage of gas cylinder was the reason behind the incident. Four houses were also gutted.

All three persons were rushed to the Sector 6 General Hospital where the condition of one of them, identified as Asha, was stated to be serious. The other two victims, Rahul and Sanjeev, were discharged from the hospital. Officers in the district administration, including SDM KK Kalson and MLA DK Bansal reached the spot.

Three fire tenders were also rushed to the spot to control the situation. The SDM said compensation would be provided to the affected families. MLA Bansal also announced a compensation of Rs 10,000 for the families who lost their household goods in the fire.



Music lovers mourn violinist Prithavi Raj’s demise
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, February 6
Artists and music lovers mourned the demise of noted city-based violinist and music composer Prithavi Raj (75), who passed away following a brief illness here today.

Born at Ambala, Prithavi made a mark in the music realm in the region before moving to Bombay in the sixties for better pastures. He learnt violin from Pandit Ram Parshad, father and guru of Bollywood music director Pyare Lal.

Prithavi Raj worked for Laxmi Kant and Pyare Lal, excelling as a lead violinist in their orchestra and later was awarded contract to score music for film “Atma aur Parmatma”. Mohammad Rafi, Mohinder Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle gave playback in his music direction, but dejected at the failure of the film, Prithavi returned to his roots to settle at Chandigarh.



What ails Panjab University?
Is it strained teacher-student relationship?
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Allegations levelled against teachers by students, followed by counter-allegations, apologies and disappointment among teachers; if the repeated protests occurring at Panjab University are any indication, there appears a drastic change in the student-teacher relationship.

While the students cite an increasing communication gap between them and their teachers to be the prime reason for their pent up grievances, teachers, on the other hand, feel disappointed on the mode adopted by the students to address their issues.

Protests by a majority of students of the HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital against their director-principal, followed by a complaint given to the Vice-Chancellor by students of University Business School, has sparked off apprehension among the teachers of other departments that such allegations could be levelled against them too tomorrow. When questioned about the issue, most university teachers expressed their shock on the developments in the university.

On the flipside, in a random interview of students on the campus, the Chandigarh Tribune team found that the students resented the “pressure tactics” adopted by their teachers to suppress their genuine demands.

Is the helplessness being expressed by PU officials genuine due to a change in the teacher-student relationship or fallout of the inaction towards student leaders by the university authorities?

The means adopted by the student leaders in “assisting” the students to address their problems have also come under the scanner. Surprisingly, when asked about the role of student leaders, most students opined that they were just doing their vote-bank politics. The university student council, which consists of the elected student representatives, could do little in controlling the situation on the PU campus. Moreover, a divided PU student council with all members from different student organisations has acted as a catalyst in aggravating the problem.

Issues raised by dental college students
  • Alleged misbehaviour by director-principal with a female intern
  • Object to the dress code imposed in college
  • No cultural, sports events, leisure activities for students
  • “Over discipline” imposed in college
Teachers’ reaction
  • Dr GK GaubaDirector-principal GK Gauba claimed on the first day of the protest that he was just ensuring discipline in the college, but political influence of student leaders had a negative effect on the academic atmosphere.
    — Dr GK Gauba
  • Certain teachers of the dental college have been accused of encouraging the students to continue protest, as pointed out in an all faculty meeting of PU teachers with the university Vice-Chancellor.
What aggravated the issue?
  • On February 1, students of PU dental college, along with certain student leaders and representatives of Panjab University student council, protested against the director-principal for misbehaving with an intern.
  • The intern’s parents complaint to the university authorities following which a committee was formed by the VC. A final decision on the issue would be taken at the Syndicate meeting tomorrow.
  • Demanding the removal of the director-principal, the students staged a massive rally till the VC office on the second day of the protest.
  • The protest continued and three members of Panjab University Student Union (PUSU) announced hunger strike. They were joined by students of dental college on a chain hunger strike outside the VC office till the matter is resolved.
  • The strike of PUSU members was “called off” today when the condition of two students began to deteriorate.
Parents support director-principal

In a letter addressed to the PU Vice-Chancellor, certain parents of dental college students favoured director-principal GK Gauba. The parents said Gauba was “the best administrator the college could have and he had maintained much needed discipline in the college.” “He is just paying the price of making the HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences a world-class dental institute and bringing discipline. Neither the students nor a few teachers like such discipline,” added the parents. The parents appealed to the VC to “not move Gauba”, claiming that private colleges in Punjab did not want PU’s dental college to get established in a big way.


Gurwindervir Singh Aulakh “No student is against discipline, but if a particular person has misbehaved with a student, the concern has to be expressed by student representatives. Discipline is necessary for the university to function and the student-teacher relationship is respectable. But no offensive behaviour will be tolerated.”
— Gurwindervir Singh Aulakh, president, Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC)

Naval Kishore“Trust and faith, which are the basic elements of a student-teacher relationship, are being lost. Changes are being witnessed in the behaviour of both students and teachers. It is beyond understanding why such a situation has arisen.”
— Naval Kishore, PU Dean Student Welfare (DSW)

PUTA defends teachers

Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) members said if university teachers were compelled to proceed on forced leave or to resign, it would eventually hamper the university’s growth. It appealed to all faculty members, students and their parents to help to create a congenial academic environment in the PU campus. PUTA representatives met the VC to put forth the teachers’ viewpoint.

UBS- Fallout of dental college issue?

Drawing inspiration from the dental college issue, certain girls of masters in e-commerce, University Business School, wrote a complaint to the Vice-Chancellor about not being treated with MBA students of their department. The dean university instructions held a meeting with the department faculty following the complaint.These students were countered the next day by more than 100 MBA students, who alleged that the girls were maligning the image of UBS under the influence of student leaders. The MBA students came out in support of their teachers and gave another letter to the Vice-Chancellor supporting their department and faculty members. The girls had initially complained about poor infrastructure on January 19 to the UBS director. In the meeting with the DUI, the UBS faculty expressed solidarity expressed resentment on the behaviour of students, who they claimed had no genuine problem to raise. Later, the girls submitted another letter to the VC. In this, they accused the unnamed faculty members of using abusive language with them.

Humiliation exercise

The university faculty has, meanwhile, dubbed the proceeding as a humiliation exercise.
“Over the years, it is evident that a teacher’s dignity is way below that of student’s demands and protests. This inquiry was meant to probe one allegation but what we have to know is that it has become a common portal where everybody right from a student group to non-teaching employees are going to crib about his insistence on punctuality, discipline, etc? It is not just a matter of one teacher’s dignity but all of us. God knows what students end up alleging next and how are we treated?”
— Manjit Singh, executive member of PUTA

Faculty irked over varsity’s attitude

AC VaidThe dental college controversy seems to have brewed further with faculty members raising concern over the university’s alleged indifference to decline in the respect of teachers. It’s not just lack of a stern action against the guilty students. The issue seems to have shifted to a fight between management and trade unions.

“For what reason has this inquiry committee been constituted? What is the justification of having teachers and even students of the same institute in the inquiry panel? They should have got an independent panel to probe the matter. The university has humiliated the entire teaching fraternity.”
— AC Vaid, a Senator and principal SD College

Police helpless

Naunihal Singh“If somebody forcefully closes your house’s gates and blocks the way, then you have to object and complaint before we can take any action. We are doing whatever best we can. But we cannot take any disciplinary step without receiving a formal complaint from the university. I have not got any complaint so far. I have nothing to comment on the motive behind lodging or not lodging a complaint.”
— UT SSP Naunihal Singh

VC sidesteps issue

RC Sobti:Q: Over the last few years, students on several instances have disrupted the university decorum at times for unjustified demands. What has barred you from taking any stern action or complaining to the police to maintain discipline or dignity of the teachers in certain cases? Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti: I will not comment on it. Wait till tomorrow, when the inquiry report will be out.

Past imperfect

September 2, 2010: Incident: High drama prevailed outside boys’ hostel 3 where nearly 350 supporters of SOPU and PUSU entered into a heated argument followed by a scuffle. Supporters of both parties tore off each other’s shirts and asked the police to get out of their way while raising slogans against them. Both parties brought bodybuilders and bouncers from Ludhiana, Bathinda and Patiala on the campus. Action: The police described it as a “minor” incident, PU officials lodged no complaint claiming that the matter was resolved amicably.

September 3, 2010: Incident: It was free for all, for hundreds of supporters of two rival student groups when election results were announced. From ripping off clothes of rival supporters to hurling chairs at polling officers unprecedented, incidents of violence were witnessed, as miscreants continued to vent their anger throughout the day. Action: The university formed an inquiry committee chaired by KC Gupta, a retired High Court judge, who later observed that “there was no major violence during the Panjab University campus students council elections”.



Discipline goes for a toss
Sumedha Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, February 6
Despite decorum being reduced to a mere mockery by students over the last few years, Panjab University is yet to take stern or deterring action against student violence and indiscipline.

Having faced the heat of frequent and unwanted strikes, protests and violent spats, university authorities continue to bow to self-styled student representatives, even as discipline and academics continue to go for a toss.

Unfortunately, even as students are on a virtual rampage thronging places like the VC’s office or dental college, the police finds itself helpless because of the university’s “lenient attitude”.

“We cannot act without the university giving us a formal complaint. It is not an issue of just today. Over the past few years, university officials have shielded menacing student leaders. No matter what students do, the university officials never lodge a formal complaint against anybody. These leaders continue to create a ruckus, but the university never lets us take an action. I still remember that I once rounded up four miscreants but even before I could reach the police station I got a call from a university official asking to let them go,” said a UT police official on the condition of anonymity.



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