C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


From selling milk to making billions!
Director of Healthyway Immigration made it big
Aneesha Sareen
tribune news service

Chandigarh, August 17
As a teenager, he distributed milk packets in Attawa village and its surrounding areas. His father owned a small illegal grocery store in the village, which was demolished by the UT estate office in 2003. Later, he was employed on contractual basis for a clerical job at the Government Medical College Hospital in Sector 32 at a monthly salary of Rs 6,000.

At the age of 33, he owns a multi-billion empire with offices of Healthyway Immigration spread across various cities in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal. Amit Kakkar, its director, paid an income tax of Rs 3.5 crore following a raid by the IT department at his office last year in which Rs 10 crore was unearthed. He owns three houses - one each in Sector 42, Sector 43 and Phase3-B-II in Mohali, besides two showrooms. In addition, he owns luxury cars worth Rs 70 lakh. In all, his wealth is estimated at around Rs 100 crore, says the police.

In police custody for duping scores of youths on the basis of false promises of an easy migration overseas, it is the proverbial rag-to-riches story of Amit Kakkar, Director of Healthyway Immigration Services. After his father’s kiryana store was demolished, he began taking tuitions, which was followed by his opening an airhostess training institute.

Venturing into immigration consultancy occurred by chance after he succeeded in procuring a student visa for his cousin by completing all formalities online in 2001. His second attempt to procure a visa for another relative however failed.

In his third attempt, Amit succeeded in procuring a student visa for yet another relative and it was then that he decided to open an immigration firm. He started with a small cabin located in a basement in Sector 42 and simultaneously applied for a registered licence. He got the licence in 2005 following which there was no looking back.

“As he began getting clients, he faced the problem of showing fixed deposits worth lakhs in their bank accounts. In his greed to climb the ladder to success and earn quick and easy money, he started forging bank documents and also opened fake bank accounts for a number of clients,” said a police officer investigating the case.

As his wealth and clients grew, Amit expanded his business with four agents in every city of Punjab.



14 banks under scanner 
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune news service

Chandigarh, August 17
Investigations into cheating cases registered against Amit Kakkar have put the alleged dubious role of banks under the scanner. The police said operators of the immigration firm had opened fake accounts for their clients across various banks with the connivance of bank employees. The fake accounts were opened to facilitate visa procurement process for his clients.

The police has received details of 36 visa applications from the British High Commission which were rejected on account of fake bank documents. All of the applications have been processed by Healthyway Immigrations. In addition, the Australian High Commission has given details of four such visa applications, which were processed by Healthyway and rejected on account of fake bank documents, to the UT Police.

The banks include the branches of the Oriental Bank of Commerce in Rajpura, Mundi Kharar and Gharaunda in Punjab, Allahabad Bank in Ambala and Jalandhar, and the SBI and UCO Bank branches in Sirmaur in Himachal.

Amit Kakkar has been booked in seven cases of cheating and the police has received 40 complaints against him.

He was arrested in the second case registered today following which he was remanded in two-day police custody.



Appoint senior official to save Sukhna, orders HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Delving deeper into the issue of conservation of Sukhna Lake, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday noted the situation was worsening and ruled in favour of the UT administration appointing an official responsible for salvaging and maintaining the lake.

As the ‘Save Sukhna’ case came up for hearing in the morning, the bench of acting Chief Justice Adarsh Goel and justice AK Mittal observed: “It appears the situation is worsening and the requisite attention is not being devoted to the issue. One of the reasons appears to be the absence of any specific authority accountable for the purpose. Having regard to the importance of the issue involved, it may be necessary for the UT administration to forthwith assign the responsibility of conservation and management of the lake to a senior official accountable for the purpose, who may have direct access to the highest decision making authority in the administration and may interact with such authority as may be considered necessary.

“Such an official may prepare a plan and implement the same in coordination with authorities in the central or state governments. For this purpose availability of funds shouldn’t be a problem”.

Fixing November 9 as the next date of hearing, the bench added: “Such an official may be appointed within a week from today and may draw up an action plan within a month thereafter. A progress report may be filed in this court periodically”.

Earlier during the hearing, amicus curie Tanu Bedi sought the court’s intervention “to wake the administration up from its deep slumber”. Claiming the UT administration had virtually turned a blind eye to maintenance of the lake, she added rampant construction activity continued in and around the lake’s catchment area despite the high court’s stay orders. Bedi said the purpose of keeping the catchment area construction free was to ensure accumulation of rainwater in the lake. But water from the catchment area was not flowing into the lake for the past several years, she noted.



3-yr-old girl kidnapped from Sec 27
Tribune news service

Chandigarh, August 17
A three-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped from outside a house in Sector 27 this evening. Mannat, who was playing near the garage with three children, was picked up by a masked youth in a turban who fled with her on a motorcycle. The kidnapper was accompanied with another person in turban who had covered his face with a handkerchief and was waiting near the motorcycle.

The incident occurred outside a clinic in Sector 27 where Veer Singh, the kidnapped girl’s maternal uncle, works as a caretaker. Mannat had accompanied her mother Amarjit Kaur to her uncle’s house on Saturday on account of Rakhi. Amarjit’s husband Bhupinder had left for Mandi Gobindgarh with his son on that day while Amarjit and Mannat had stayed back. A case has been registered.



Forest department gains
 215 acres of lakebed now green cover
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Over the years Sukhna Lake has lost around 215 acres of its original lakebed to green cover, which has since come under the control of the UT forest department. Now, even if the administration’s engineering wing wants to reclaim the land to restore the lake’s original size it will have to seek the central government’s nod.

This development has led to a situation where whenever engineering department officials enter the green cover comprising wild overgrowth including that of ‘sarkanda’ grass and other weeds, the forest department objects saying it affects the area’s avian population, especially the little birds, which has settled in the bush area.

Sources close to the UT administration say there have been instances when forest officials prevented the engineering staff from clearing vegetation and ‘sarkanda’ grass along the lake’s northern bank saying they were disturbing wildlife and damaging forest cover.

The sources added while some silt could be removed, the tree cover could not be axed because of existing laws and regulations. The area behind the lake is a reserve sanctuary and home to many species of migratory birds, flora and fauna.

Describing silting of the lakebed and the resultant green cover as a “natural phenomenon”, UT forest department chief conservator Santosh Kumar said: “Though I’m not aware about the increase in the forest area, it’s our duty to protect the green cover and develop it into a good forest.”

The original area of the artificial lake when it was created in 1958 was 565 acres. Today the rainfed water body measures only 340 acres, implying 38 per cent of its original lakebed has now virtually disappeared due to the heavy inflow of silt and growth of vegetation over the years.

Initially the Sukhna Lake extended over half a kilometer beyond the regulator end. Now the part beyond that point has been virtually cut off from the water body due to large deposits of silt and rapid proliferation of wild growth.

At the time of its creation the average bed level of the lake was 1,140 feet above mean sea level. This year the average bed level has been measured at 1,148 feet, implying that inflow of silt has raised the bed level by eight feet. While the bed level has risen, the lake’s average depth too has been adversely affected due to poor inflow from the catchment area because of less rainfall in the Shivalik foothills.

In 2010 the water body shrunk to just 275 acres and it was only after strenuous desilting and deweeding efforts that about 65 acres were reclaimed. A good monsoon last year also helped in raising the water level.

Denser cover

The growth and development of vegetation cover in the Sukhna Lake’s catchment area has been improving rapidly. In recent years the overall tree density in the area has risen from 162 to over 450 and the bush density from 5,977 to 9,000 per hectare.



Officer crunch in UT Admn to get acute
  Several key positions to fall vacant by next month, no replacement in sight 
Pradeep Sharma
tribune news service

Chandigarh, August 17
With the Director Tourism and Director Cultural Affairs and CITCO Chief General Manager Amandeep Kaur, a PCS officer, being repatriated to her parent cadre of Punjab tomorrow, the “officer crunch” with the UT Administration is set to get acute with the likelihood of it adversely affecting routine administrative working.

With no immediate replacements in sight, several key positions in the UT Administration will fall vacant by next month. While UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas will return to his parent state of Haryana after completing a three-year tenure on September 24, Special Secretary (Finance)-cum-Director Higher Education Ajoy Sharma is set to proceed on training for about six months beginning early next month.

The post of Municipal Commissioner is at present being held by a comparatively junior SDM-level officer Prerna Puri (2006 batch IAS officer compared to the earlier 1988 batch officer) as the Punjab Government is yet to send a fresh panel after the earlier panel for the MC Commissioner was rejected by the union ministry of home affairs (MHA).

Similarly, the Administration is yet to receive a panel for the post of SP (Traffic and Security) after the earlier incumbent HS Doon was repatriated to Haryana on July 31.

HS appointment may be delayed

The appointment of UT Home Secretary is set to be delayed. The UT Administration has been dilly-dallying on recommending a name for the post even after more than a month-and-a-half of the Haryana Government sending a panel of three officers. In 2008, the union government took about seven months to appoint a Home Secretary. The Haryana Government had send a panel comprising RR Jowel, PK Das and Anil Kumar in the last week of June. However, after the panel was sent to the UT Administration, Jowel and Das were promoted to the rank of Financial Commissioner giving rise to speculation that the Financial Commissioner rank officer could not be posted as the Home Secretary. Besides being the Chief Administrator, Capitol Project and chairman of various boards and corporations, the Home Secretary is also the secretary of important departments.



Steady rise in death count at PGI
 An average of 12 patients died every day in 2009-10
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune news service

Chandigarh, August 17
If figures are any indication, the number of patients dying at the region’s premier institute, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has been steadily increasing over the last few years, with 4,464 patients dying in 2009-10, an average of 12 a day.

Doctors at the PGI attribute this high death rate to the large number of “complicated” and “critical” cases they receive being a referral hospital. While one cannot undermine the PGI’s contribution in providing quality healthcare in the region, the death rate of over 7 per cent recorded at the institute for two consecutive fiscals of 2008-09 and 2009-10 is quite high compared to 2.7 per cent at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Figures reveal that while 4,464 patients of a total of 62,300 indoor patients died in 2009-10, of the 58,496 patients admitted in 2008-09, 4,142 died in the hospital. The death rate was 7.16 per cent in 2009-10 and 7.08 per cent in the preceding year.

Though the figures for patients who died at AIIMS in 2009-10 are not available, the data for the previous fiscal reveals that 2.7 per cent (2,832) of the 65,867 patients admitted in the hospital died. In contrast, the PGI proportionately recorded more than double the death at AIIMS.

Data from the PGI reveals that in 2009-10 the maximum deaths were reported from the paediatric medicine department where 1,052 children/infants died. In 2008-09, the figure was higher at 1,119. Besides these, the paediatric ICU also recorded 112 deaths in 2009-10 as compared to only 83 in 2008-09. Similarly, 128 newborns died in 2009-10 while 104 died in the preceding year.

The general medicine and general surgery departments recorded 401 and 402 deaths, respectively, in 2009-10. The figures for the earlier fiscal were 346 and 445 deaths.

Next in the tally was the plastic surgery department where 235 patients died in 2009-10. 


Day 2: City residents stand by Anna Hazare
 Peaceful protests witnessed across tricity; more people join the anti-corruption movement
Deepankar Sharda
Tribune News Service

A supporter of Anna Hazare gets his head shaved off at the Sector 7-8 roundabout in Chandigarh; and (right) shopkeepers down their shutters in Panchkula on Wednesday. Tribune photos: Vinay malik and Nitin Mittal
A supporter of Anna Hazare gets his head shaved off at the Sector 7-8 roundabout in Chandigarh; and (right) shopkeepers down their shutters in Panchkula on Wednesday. Tribune photos: Vinay malik and Nitin Mittal 

Chandigarh, August 17
Being in the list of top 50 most influential people for the year 2011, Anna Hazare justifies his title after attracting people from different states to join him in his ongoing nationwide movement against corruption.

City residents and various organisations also extended their support to the 74-year-old social activist on the second day of his fast in Delhi.

Members of the CPI stage a protest in Sector 22, Chandigarh.
Members of the CPI stage a protest in Sector 22, Chandigarh. Tribune Photo: S Chandan

People were seen raising slogans “Anna tum aage bhado, hum tumhare saath hain” with Tricolour in hands on the Madhya Marg without disrupting traffic. As the day progressed, the venues of the rally ground in Sector 25, the roundabout of Sectors 7and 8, Industrial Area and the Sector 17 plaza also witnessed a large number of people turning out to support the movement of Anna against corruption.

Interestingly, not only youngsters and senior citizens, families too were seen supporting Anna Hazare at different venues across the city.

“It is not a fight against an individual but to save the country from corruption. If someone took an initiative on the behalf of people, we should also support him,” said Kavita Behl, who was attending a function organised by an NGO at the rally ground Sector 25.

In another protest by ‘Aawaaz’, an NGO, the protesters showed their anger against the government by shaving off their heads on the road separating Sectors 7 and 8. The protesters also held a candle march in the evening.

“We have shown our displeasure against the government. We are also on Anna’s mark and we are not afraid to be arrested,” said a protester while raising slogans in support of Anna.

Later in the evening, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also held a protest at the Sector 17 Plaza against Anna’s arrest.

“Being a citizen of the country, it’s the duty of everyone to support Anna. The movement has got a huge lift by youths, so we are gathering here to show our support to him,” said Mahesh Inder Singh Sidhu.

A road rally was also organised by the Chandigarh Industrial Youth Association to attract more people to support Anna. “We will continue our protest against the suppressive move of the government. We want to convey the message to everyone in the city so that more and more people get aware about the movement and can participate in the protest,” said Manish Nigam.

IT professionals protest

Around 75 professionals from information technology companies in the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Information Technology Park staged a protest near DT Mall in support of Anna Hazare.

Anand Bhusari, project manager with Net Solutions, said: “We are not affiliated with any organisation. We decided to show that our sentiments tallied with the crusader of transparency.” The IT professionals plan to again assemble at the same venue on Thursday morning.

Students’ march

Over 50 students marched on the PU campus to express their support to the ongoing anti-corruption movement being spearheaded by Anna Hazare. The march, organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, started from the Student Centre and concluded at the Gandhi Bahwan. State chief of the organisation Jitesh Kumar Pandey urged the students to say no to corruption.

Advocate stage dharna

Advocates of Chandigarh and Panchkula district courts also staged a protest against the government action on Anna Hazare. In Chandigarh, advocates staged a dharna outside the courts complex. In Panchkula, advocates suspended work for the day to mark solidarity with Anna Hazare. Similarly, members of the Bar Association of the Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended work after lunch. Around 200 advocates walked towards the Punjab Governor’s house. A few members submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor condemning the arrest of Anna Hazare.

Ready to go to jail

Even as Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in city, the protesters were seen violating it as according to them, they were protesting peacefully and even if the police arrests them, they will happily go to jail.

‘Detention undemocratic’

Zirakpur: Hundreds of people from Zirakpur, Baltana, Dhakoli, Lohgarh and surrounding areas held a demonstration against the arrest of social activist Anna Hazare in Zirkapur on Wednesday. Activists of several social and political organisations, including municipal councillors, shopkeepers and children, staged a peaceful protest at the Zirakpur-Kalka intersection.

Terming the detention of the veteran social activist as undemocratic, they demanded that the UPA government should implement the Lokpal Bill as advised by Anna Hazare. Many social organisations from Dhakoli and other areas condemned the arrest of Anna Hazare and his supporters.

Shopkeepers down shutters

While students and shopkeepers of Panchkula took out a protest march in the town in support of Anna Hazare, the Panchkula Bar Association suspended work for the day. Students of Government College, Sector 1, took out a procession. Shopkeepers of Sector 11 also kept their shutters down till noon. Members of the Bharat Swabhiman Trust also staged on a dharna. 



GGDSD College students wear black bands 
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Spearheading the anti-corruption campaign in their college, a group of youngsters at GGDSD College, Sector 32, today adopted an innovative way of expressing their solidarity with Anna Hazare’s countrywide campaign and ‘India against corruption’.

Students of GGDSD College, Sector 32, wear black bands on their arms on Wednesday.
Students of GGDSD College, Sector 32, wear black bands on their arms on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan 

The youngsters under the banner “SD students against corruption” led by Gurdas Singh Jassal, a final year student of the college, tied black bands around their arms while peacefully creating awareness on the anti-corruption drive among college students.

Students, from across all disciplines, and even faculty members were spotted adorning the armband today. From principal to senior faculty members, everyone united to stand up against abolishing corrupt practices in the country.

The campaign, which began on the college campus, eventually merged with the candlelight march in Sector 17 this evening. GGDSD students are now gearing up to take the campaign to every college in the city.

“We will be creating awareness among every youngster across all city colleges. Today, we interacted with youngsters and it is important that every college student wakes up to the countrywide movement,” said Gurdas.

Enthusiastic college students said that instead of bunking classes, they have begun contacting their friends in other colleges to create awareness on the movement in every institute.

“We decided not to bunk classes and instead create awareness within the college premises. The college faculty and all students were looking for a platform to raise their concern. Everyone feels for the country, but they required a manner to express their feelings,” said another student of BA (II).

Echoing similar feelings, Priyanka, a first year student at the college said: “When the seniors began this campaign today, we felt that we can participate in Anna’s movement sitting right here in Chandigarh. We also got to know about the car rally and the candlelight march in the evenings from this platform and later we joined them.”

GGDSD students also kicked off an awareness campaign - ‘India against corruption’ - and pledged to take it to every college in the city from Thursday. 



Believe it or not — this is in Panchkula
Sector 19 has garbage heaps, stray cattle, damaged & potholed roads, streets without lights
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 17
Name the problem concerning civic amenities and Sector 19 here has it! Heaps of garbage, stray cattle grazing in parks, damaged roads with big potholes and dark streets at night are a common sight in the area.

speaking out

Ramesh BartwalThe municipal council was preparing to start development work in the sector within the next few weeks after putting this in the agenda for the House meeting, proposed to be held this month, but the council had become defunct the previous week following a direction of the apex court.
— Ramesh Bartwal, area councillor

Dev Raj SharmaConditions in the area are worse than those seen even in rural areas of the town. In fact, the Panchkula administration does not consider us as a part of the town.
— Dev Raj Sharma, local resident

Ravinder PathakThe civic authorities have failed completely in fulfilling its obligations, leaving residents to clamour even for basic facilities like roads and streetlights in a modern town like Panchkula.~
— Ravinder Pathak, local resident

MH KhanWe have been forced to live under these unhygienic conditions as no one has ever bothered about us.
— MH Khan, local resident

We have pleaded many times with the authorites, but to no avail. It seems that they are least concerned about us.
— SD Sharma, local resident

In fact, the area, with thousands of housing board quarters, provides a perfect picture of apathy of the authorities concerned towards residents.

“There are many roads in the sector where no repair work had taken place for the past 25 years,” says Shobha Devi, a local resident.

“No wonder, the bitumen as well as the concrete have been disappeared from many of the roads now,” she adds.

While there are no streetlights on the road from Amartex to the railway crossing, the only road connecting the sector to the rest of the town, half of the tubelights in the streets are out of order, says Ramesh Kumar, another resident.

In the absence of proper lighting facilities, the area provides an opportunity to anti-social elements to commit crimes like snatching and looting at night, he adds. Even for basic necessities like postal services, residents are dependent upon other areas. The only letter box, installed on an electricity pole, does not have a lock, leaving it open to tampering, he states.

This is perhaps not enough! The evening ‘rehri’ market, put up in the only playground in the area, has become a bane for residents. Vendors leave garbage in the ground, which keeps rotting, leading to a foul smell.

The executive officer of the Panchkula municipal council, KK Jain, when contacted, did not pick his phone despite a number of calls.



40 acres cleared of encroachments
Tribune News Service

JCB machines being used to demolish illegal structures near the Majri chowk in Panchkula on Wednesday
JCB machines being used to demolish illegal structures near the Majri chowk in Panchkula on Wednesday. Tribune photo: nitin mittal

Panchkula, August 17
The enforcement wing of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) got nearly 40 acres cleared at Sector 3 here during an anti-encroachment drive today.

The land, demarcated for multi-purpose projects, including a theme park, had been under the illegal possession of jhuggi-dwellers for a number of years.

The drive, led by HUDA estate officer Ashwani Kumar, lasted till 7:30 pm. In addition to jhuggis, big equipment for sorting sand and gravel and pucca structures were removed.



Infotech cancels site allotment

Mohali, August 17
Punjab Infotech has decided to cancel the allotment of the commercial site that was recently sold for Rs 62 crore. This decision was taken during its board meeting today.

The bidder for the site, Nirankar Singh of Sarao Hotel, had failed to pay the entire 10 per cent of the bid money soon after the bidding. Infotech also decided that Rs 4.15 crore, deposited by the bidder, stood forfeited.

The Industries Minister marked an inquiry to get to the reasons for not asking for 10 per cent of the bid money and sought a report within three days. — TNS



Artistes, get set for the big stage
 Coming soon: Ultra-modern theatre at Sector 68
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, August 17
There is now a ray of hope for stage artistes starved of proper facilities to show their talent at Mohali, with the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) planning to construct an ultra-modern theatre at Sector 68 here.

A man walks past the neglected open-air theatre at the Silvi Park in Phase 10 of Mohali on Wednesday.
A man walks past the neglected open-air theatre at the Silvi Park in Phase 10 of Mohali on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Planned to be better than the Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh, the new facility will also be bigger, having a capacity of 1,000.

According to sources, the site for the theatre has been identified at Sector 68, where a large chunk of land is lying vacant. The location is close to the Municipal Bhawan.

An area ranging between 2.5 acres and 3 acres will be required for the theatre. The authorities concerned are planning to move a proposal in this regard, after which estimates for the project will be prepared.

Apart from a big stage, the theatre will also have multi-purpose halls, where seminars, workshops and conferences can be held.

GMADA Additional Chief Administrator Parveen Kumar Thind told The Tribune that all drawbacks in the Tagore Theatre would not be found here.

The acoustics were not kept in mind while renovating the theatre in Chandigarh, as a result of which the sound system was not good.

Technical experts were not involved in the work, which was mainly carried out by architects. The stage was very small. There was suffocation in the basement area, where dress rehearsals were held. It was not disabled-friendly. A few chairs were added whenever differently abled persons came to watch shows.

Even the doors of the dress changing rooms could not be closed and had to be guarded by persons standing outside when dresses were changed.

There was very little leg room between rows of chairs put up in the hall. All these drawbacks would be kept in mind while constructing the theatre here.

Thind said a theatre with a capacity of 2,500 was constructed in Amritsar on a public-private partnership, but the construction would be done by GMADA here.

He said the model code of conduct had been enforced and any new development activity would be initiated only after it was lifted, in about a month’s time.

Welcoming the GMADA proposal, Sarghi Kala Kender president Sanjeevan said they had been demanding the facility of an open-air theatre and an indoor theatre for the past 20 years, but to no avail.

The civic body had constructed a small open-air theatre at the Silvi Park in Phase 10, which had no light and sound arrangements.

Only a stage with green rooms had been constructed. It was rarely used and was in a state of neglect.

Another open-air theatre was constructed by GMADA at the City Park, which was also not of much use. Artistes used to go to the Tagore Theatre to stage plays. After the building was renovated, the rent for the use of the premises was increased drastically, which was beyond the reach of local artistes, added Sanjeevan, also the general secretary of the Punjab unit of the Indian People Theatres Association.



Complaint lodged against immigration firms 
Our Correspondent 

Mohali, August 17
People from Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana who were allegedly duped of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad, lodged a complaint with the police here today. They met SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar who marked the case to SP (City) Harpreet Singh.

The SP said about 25 persons who had given various documents and money to two immigration firms for going abroad had met him. They all had allegedly been duped of about Rs 50 lakh by the two firms - Guru Kirpa and Sai Kirpa - functioning from two different sectors. They had complained that their original documents like educational certificates, passports, etc, had been taken by the firms and not returned to them. Even huge sum of money had also been paid by each one of them for going abroad. He said he would look into the matter after which a case would be registered in this regard.

Rahul Bhargav, a lawyer, said people had given lakhs of rupees to the two firms for going to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Those interested in going abroad were allegedly given fake job offer letters. When they tried to find out about the kind of jobs being offered to them they got to know that no such offers existed in reality.



Filing RTI applications in vain, civic body goes slow on replies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Filing an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to seek information from the Municipal Corporation (MC) authorities does not necessarily guarantee a response from them.

A resident of Sector 21, Sachin Sharma, filed an RTI on January 7, 2010, but is still waiting a reply from the department concerned of the MC. On July 19, 2010, the then Joint Commissioner-cum-first appellate authority TPS Phoolka directed the officials concerned to give a reply for the delay on the queries during a hearing on an appeal filed by Sachin Sharma. But no action has been taken to date. Sachin had filed an RTI seeking information about the expenditure on General House meetings, special meetings and inaugural functions held by the MC in 2009.

Out of 21 questions asked by him, he is still to get a reply to seven. This is not the only case in which the authorities have adopted a “pick-and-choose” policy. In another case, an MC employee had filed three RTI applications about a year ago, but has still not received any reply.

Nobody has bothered to inform him about the reason for the delay. A senior official said the authorities were helpless in fixing responsibility on any official for the delay in providing RTI replies as in four wings, contractual employees had been appointed at the post of Central Public Information Officer (CPIO). Three departments of the MC had given the charge of the CPIO to those officials which were below the rank of the designated officials for these posts.

On March 23, 2011, an RTI containing five queries were filed by this correspondent to the MC Chief Engineer. On May 12, 2011, incomplete reply was sent to the applicant under the signatures of the Superintendent rather than the CPIO of the branch concerned. It was asked in the RTI application if any official appointed on contract could be held responsible for any lapse or irregularities and whether such an official could be appointed CPIO.



pu poll 2011
Are student elections relevant in PU?
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
A little less than a decade-and-a-half after Panjab University restarted student elections in 1997, one wonders if the exercise had any relevance in the current academic surrounding at all.

The so-called student leaders, over the years, have failed to give any indication of being even aware about any national development in any field of life. Their consistent silence over any major issues speaks volumes about the relevance of the observation.

Besides organising strikes, dharnas, roadblocks or agitation, these student leaders have never bothered to be even a part of the university literary events, including quiz, debate, declamation or lectures by eminent personalities. They prefer showcasing their raw power in organising “Agaaz”, a welcome function for freshers.

Their demands are nothing more then extra hostel seats, giving them roll numbers for university examination even if they did not attend any classes, mercy chance after failing four times, demanding removal of a road divider or even being exempted from coming to the dental college on time.

Instead of the traditional campus images of fashion gurus on one extreme and the kurta clad studious kinds on the other, Panjab University is more abuzz with images of hunger strike over minor issues these days.

Instead of one odd fight that happened once in a while (often at a gap of more than a couple of years), these have become common. A casual look at the local newspapers reveals that there has not been even a difference of more than a fortnight between two fights in the recent past. To top the issue, these fights are also a frequent occurrence even during summer holidays.

As a senior leader put it “earlier the party meant a small get-together with snacks. Now supporters don’t settle for anything less than a crazy night party in discs”. When questioned about from where the money came for such an expensive fare, he was silent. “We just manage it,” he said tersely.


1977: Panjab University Student Union (PUSU) constituted while the student representation was in the nascent stages and national big guns were struggling with dearth of issues.

1982: Makhan Singh, an alumnus of Kurukshetra University, takes charge of PUSU taking it to new heights. ·

1983: Makhan Singh was murdered. The then NSUI president Parminder Singh Cheema was the key accused, who managed to flee. The incident shook the university, which was taken aback by the intensity of student rivalry, which became an integral part of PU politics in years to come. ·

1984: Student elections banned in wake of ongoing terrorism in Punjab. ·

1986: Destined to rule PU student politics for 11 years, Kuljitine Singh Nagra came to the university from Khalsa College. Known to have introduced “struggle” in PU politics for local students’ needs, he deviated away from the regular touch with Punjab politics issues, which dominated the earlier student politics scenario. ·

1986-87: A terrorist attack a student leader on PU premises and Panjab University got its first PU-centric issue and a rigorous campaign spearheaded by Nagra. ·

1989: Nagra was rounded by over 250 unidentified students and beaten up badly. He was left seriously injured nursing over 250 stitches.

1992: Following Punjab elections, PUSU starts demanding formation of student council.

1993: The university refuses to hold elections but constitutes student-consulting committee, which was headed by Nagra for almost four years. ·

1995: Dayal Pratap Singh Randhawa joins university. This boy known for his firm ideals soon emerged as a threat for Nagra’s unchallenged decade long rule. ·

1996: PU has first indirect elections where department representatives chose the council, which was headed by Nagra.

1997: PU has first direct elections, which were won by PUSU.

1998: First clash between PUSU and SOPU where Nagra opened fired at DPS Randhawa who had a miraculous escape. The attack marked the end of its rule and SOPU arrived victorious on the campus in alliance with HSA, ABVP AISF and HPSU.

Lyngdoh Committee 

n Candidate contesting elections must be a regular 

n Candidate should have a minimum of 75 per cent attendance.

n Candidate should not have any academic arrears in the year of contesting.

n Candidate should not have any criminal record.

n Maximum expenditure per candidate shall be Rs 5,000.

n In case of any excessive expenditure, the election of the candidate will be nullified.

nn Undergraduates can contest elections between the age of 17 to 22 years. A postgraduate candidate can contest maximum up to 25 years of age and research scholars can contest up to the age of 28 years.

n No printed posters, pamphlets or any other printed material for the purpose of canvassing will be allowed.


Violence, a regular feature

Violence seems to have an impeccable part of the university scenario. Besides normal students who carry on their work quietly, the most visible groups are largely from the business and farmer families from Abohar, Bathinda, Muktsar, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Mansa, Barnala, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ludhiana districts in Punjab and from Jind, Rohtak and certain other parts of Haryana.

A mild provocation ends up in a bloody brawl. Senior police officials concede the fact that besides the already burgeoning number of police cases, which are reported, there were several others (maybe more), which never entered the record books.

Despite being accused of murder bid, culpable homicide, rioting, using deadly arms, damaging property, wrongful confinement, abduction, assaulting public servants, arson and gate crashing, both Panjab University and UT Police have failed to tighten the noose on erring student leaders who take the university to ransom day after day.

Talking of the law enforcing authorities, out of a total 67 cases registered since 2006 against various PU students, a majority ended in compromise rather then conviction and consequent action. The UT Police as per its records arrested a total of 112 PU students since January 2001 in a majority of cases taking preventive measures against them apprehending breach of peace under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC, while another 64 were booked for apprehension of breach of peace under Sections 107 and 150 of the CrPC.

Despite tall claims by PU about having suspended certain offenders, there is no action visible on ground because barring a few, all names, which did the rounds of the campus, police stations and newspapers were seen back on the campus the very next day after the incident.

‘Student politics getting frivolous’

Naval Kishore, Ex-DSWI have been seeing them for the last five years and the student politics is getting frivolous with each passing year. Barring a few, a majority of leaders specialise in picking fights and creating ruckus to gain cheap publicity. The student council is formed with an aim to coordinate with the dean student welfare office. The university has allowed student representatives to come and sit in committees, which deal with students’ issues, but they only come to us with “sifarish”. elections are just a war of ego where violence is the tool.~

— Naval Kishore, Ex-DSW

Need to tackle with academic measures’

Naunihal Singh, sspThey are students and not criminals and thus need to be tackled with academic measures. Convictions are done by court, on our part we take measures, including arrests, but if a compromise happens in court we can’t say anything on that. I think these boys who are bubbling with energy needs to be channelised and oriented and that can be done by PU only. — Naunihal Singh, ssp

‘zero tolerance to violence’

We are counselling leaders because it is only a changed mindset that can change the scenario. We are also beefing up the security and will ensure non-violent elections this year. — AS Ahluwalia, dsw

We are adopting zero tolerance to violence. I have already counselled and warned all student leaders. We are keeping a regular tab on campus by frequent visits and will take strict action against any erring student. — Gurnmukh Singh, SHO, Sector 11 police station



Bloody trail in recent past

Violence marred the day of polling in 2010, where the rival groups hurled chairs and ripped each other’s clothes.
Violence marred the day of polling in 2010, where the rival groups hurled chairs and ripped each other’s clothes.

September 3, 2010
It was a free for all at Panjab University student council elections where rival parties ripped clothes, hurled chairs at polling officials at the Student Centre, even as PU officials and security staff continued to be mute spectators.

April 2010
Firing at a house of PUSU leader Uday Singh Wirring whose cars were alleged set ablaze by SOPU supporters.

May 3, 2008
Barinder Dhillon, Harpreet Multani, Gobind Singh Khatra and Viramjit Singh of SOPU allegedly armed with swords and bats, barged into an examination centre and assaulted Siramdeep Singh Sandhu of PUSU. A case of attempt to murder and rioting was registered.

November 6, 2007
Vikas Rathi, Abhimanyu Huda, and Anuragh, along with 35-40 other supporters of INSO and PUSU pelted stones at the residence of Vice-Chancellor. The police had arrested Anuragh Chauhan of Faridabad, who threatened the VC on his mobile phone of dire consequences through an SMS, after registering a case of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication under Section 507 of the IPC. 

Committees under scanner

Forming committees is probably the best solution PU has for any problem but the relevance of such committees in matters related to student violence comes under scanner with the report of Justice Gupta Committee. While hundreds stood eyewitness to the last year’s student council election violence, the committee headed by a retired High Court Judge observed that: “There was no major violence during Panjab University campus student council elections.” Giving two hoots to videos and photos of students hurling chairs, thrashing each other and even poll officials, the report claimed, “Mere newspaper reporting cannot be relied upon without supporting evidence.” 

No understanding of students’ issues’ 

Kuljit Nagra, ex-PUSU presidentA decade ago, politics was issue based rather than violence or publicity based. Today’s self-styled leaders have no direction or understanding of student issues. They protest daily to gain publicity. they are not the key culprits. What do schools, colleges or university teach them other than getting a 90 per cent? student politics is a dumpyard of academically rejected students.

— Kuljit Nagra, ex-PUSU president

Energetic, but aimless’ 

DPS Randhawa, founder member SOPUIt’s surely disheartening that all efforts to get democratic student representation in the university are going in vain, as the much reputed PU student politics is getting frivolous with trivialisation of issues. The boys today are energetic, but they don’t know what are they fighting for. The students indulge in violence or publicity gimmicks. We need to introduce them to the more meaningful and powerful side of it. The university will have to take steps towards strengthening student representation. — DPS Randhawa, founder member SOPU

Elections to Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) have been trivialised, particularly in the context of consistent rise in the cases of violence every year. Write to us your take on the need and relevance of student polls at PU and affiliated colleges in the city to the openhouse@tribunemail.com 



chandigarh SCAN
Workshop on plantation

A workshop on “Urban plantation: Choice of tree species, techniques & specifications’ was inaugurated on Wednesday at Botanic Garden, Sarangpur, by Jayshree Ardey Chauhan, head, extension division, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, and Santosh Kumar, conservator of forests, Chandigarh Administration. The three-day workshop is being organised by Van Vigyan Kendra, Chandigar,h in collaboration with the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, and the Department of Forest & Wildlife, Chandigarh Administration. The aim of the workshop is to train and to empower various stakeholders who are involved in tree plantation activities in the urban areas of Chandigarh.

Monsoon Dhamaka

Vikrant Sehgal has won a Maruti Alto car in the Monsoon Dhamaka scheme organised by Indian Oil Corporation at 20 of its retail outlets in the city. As part of the scheme, customers buying petrol and diesel at these retail outlets over the past one month were entitled to participate in a lucky draw by filling in special coupons. The other winners of the Monsoon Dhamaka are Paramdeep Singh, who won a TVS bike, and Ramdia, who won a TVS sports bike. The lucky draw was taken out by the managing director of CITCO at the CITCO petrol pump in Sector 38 West on Wednesday.

Fans donated

Keeping up with its corporate social responsibility, the State Bank of India on Wednesday donated 310 ceiling fans to 31 schools and educational institutions in the city. The fans were donated to principals/ headmasters of these schools by the chief general manager of the bank, SK Sehgal, at a function held in Dev Samaj College.

Law officer awarded

Seema Handa, a law officer in the department of law and prosecution, Chandigarh, was awarded by Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil during the Independence Day celebrations. She was awarded for having compiled a handbook on various notifications and building bylaws in Chandigarh, called Suvidha.

World Tourism Week

Chandigarh is all set for a thrilling week of events and special entertainment programme to celebrate the World Tourism Week from September 25 to October 1. Various cultural and fun-filled programmes have been chalked out for the entire week.

Toy drive
Dr Rajendra Shetty and Dr Prachi Shetty, directors of Children's Hospital, giving details of the 'Toy drive-2011' in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
Dr Rajendra Shetty and Dr Prachi Shetty, directors of Children's Hospital, giving details of the 'Toy drive-2011' in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan 

In an effort to bring a priceless smile on the faces of the underprivileged, tricity’s premier mother and childcare specialty hospital, Children’s Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula, has announced a noble initiative, Toy Drive-2011. The toys will be collected from children by roping in some schools to be distributed among the underprivileged on Diwali, which coincides with this cause. The “Toy Drive” is being organised in collaboration with the Indian Council of Social Welfare (ICSW). Dr Prachi Setty, director, Children’s Hospital: “Said this is an endeavour that aims at promoting the joy of giving and receiving among children. It's an earnest gesture of bridging the divide between the privileged and the less fortunate by bringing them on a common platform.” added.

Students raise ‘plight of all’

Advocating the message that every child in India should get the privilege of 9 per cent of the GDP that belongs to them, the focus on health and education being the right of every child and family, a provocative thought to seek the support and assurance from people across the country children here at Saupin’s-32 raised their voice “A plight of all”. Children at Saupin’s tried to generate awareness amongst all that every child has a future.

Plantation drive

A plantation drive organised by the SBI at Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, Chandigarh, on Wednesday.The teaching work in the newly opened Doaba Polytechnic College (DPC), started on an eco-friendly note.

The college management in collaboration with the Chandigarh Rotary Club organised a plantation drive on the campus. Dr HS Batth, president of the Doaba Khalsa Trust, a Rotarian himself, and KK Walia, president, Chandigarh Rotary Club, along with other members planted 51 saplings on the campus. Chief administrator Jeet Singh and principal, DPC, Col CS Dhillon thanked the guests from the Rotary Club.

A plantation drive organised by the SBI at Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, Chandigarh, on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

Induction programme

A two-day induction programme of the newly admitted students of MBA, MCA, BBA & BCA of the Sahibzada Ajit Singh Group of Institutions, Mohali, concluded on the institute campus on Wednesday. On the first day, the programme started with the auspicious lamp lighting ceremony. During the programme, the newcomers were introduced to the institution profile, infrastructure, faculty experience and the exciting world of management through audio-visual aids and presentations. The students were also given an overview of the career prospects available after completing the courses. Addressing the students, Prof AK Vashisht, professor, UBS, Chandigarh, talked about the “Secrets of effectiveness”.

Forensic experts feted

Dr Devinder Pal Singh Sehgal and Dr Ashwani Kalia, both assistant directors of Forensic Science Laboratory, Mohali, were honoured with medals during the Independence Day celebratiobs held at Jalandhar. The officials were feted for the efforts put in by them in resolving many crime cases.

Medical official honoured

Dinesh Sharma, Ayurvedic medical officer, Department of Ayush, Haryana, has been awarded a commendation certificate for the services rendered by him at Mata Mansa Devi Temple during navratra fair. Haryana Deputy Speaker Mohammed Akram, who was chief guest on the Independence Day celebrations, honoured the medical officer. 



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