C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Sleepless Deshraj cries in jail
SP in bribe case plays victim, blames internal politics in Chandigarh Police
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
He cries every night, wakes up frequently from his sleep, has turned to religious scriptures and spends time trying to ‘reform’ his fellow inmates. Like most ‘people in high places’, Deshraj Singh, the 32-year-old IPS officer, who until recently drove to his office in a red-beaconed Ambassador car as SP (City), is trying to come to terms with his current address: Burail Jail.

Deshraj, a 2008-batch AGMUT cadre IPS officer, was arrested by the CBI and charged with taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from his subordinate, 59-year-old Inspector Anokh Singh, station house officer (SHO) of the Sector 26 police station. This makes him the first IPS officer in the UT’s 46 year history to be arrested for taking bribe.

Since his arrest, the night of October 18 continues to haunt Deshraj Singh, an alumnus of IIT, Kanpur, who, if given a chance by God, would like to eliminate that day from his life. But that is easier wished than done. For, if convicted, Deshraj faces imprisonment of up to a maximum seven years in addition to dismissal from service.

Does his crying and reading of the Yoga Vashisht (it preaches renouncement of worldly pleasures) reflect remorse and repentance? The answer, however, is no. Like most undertrials and accused, Deshraj predictably says he is ‘innocent’ and has been ‘framed’. Talking to this reporter who met him incognito in Burail Jail, Deshraj Singh claims he is a victim of internal politics in the Chandigarh Police.

“Some of our officials are loan sharks who have thrown crores of rupees into the market. Too much is at stake for some people who did not like my taking strong positions in certain cases. I was always considered an outsider, too young to assert myself and here I am paying the price for doing my work conscientiously,” said a haggard looking Deshraj with tiredness writ large on his face.

Sporting unkempt stubble, dressed in a navy blue tee shirt, a white pair of pyjamas and leather slippers, Deshraj while recalling his two-year-long stint with the Chandigarh Police said he always had a nagging feeling that he would be trapped. “And my premonition came true. I had shot off mails to my friends in the police seven months ago that my adversaries were trying to get me. They had advised me to write to my seniors, but I somehow kept postponing it,” he said.

Interestingly, both Deshraj and Anokh Singh have one thing in common. Both had misgivings about the system. But for whatever reasons neither felt confident to write to their seniors about their fears. Instead of approaching his seniors and the Vigilance department, Anokh Singh approached the CBI after Deshraj allegedly agreed to accept a bribe. And Deshraj wrote to people completely unconnected to the UT police.

“When two Inspectors of the Chandigarh Police were suspended for insubordination by the Ministry of Home Affairs during the first week of October, I had a feeling that I will be targeted now since they both were embroiled in a controversy on the basis of my report. Finally, it became open that SHO Anokh Singh had started recording my conversation with him from October 5 onwards,” he said. But Deshraj is unable to explain why he did not voice his apprehension or tread with greater caution if that was the case.

Expressing innocence, Deshraj’s defence is that he never caught hold of the money packet and that he had just shaken hands with Anokh, “When I washed my hands the colour did not come out. If it came out in the later report then I am not aware,” he said adding that the transcription of his conversation could not establish that he was asking for money.

However, the CBI completely differs and say he was caught red handed. His left hand with which he accepted the money was dipped in a solution following which both the solution and his hand turned pink (a solution which had been sprayed on some of the bank notes), thus confirming that he had taken the money. There is also a recorded conversation that clearly indicates that a prior deal had been struck.

Claiming to have helped the SHO, Deshraj said he had helped Anokh Singh last August when the latter had made a serious mistake in a case of assault on a government servant. “The accused would have got an easy bail had I not guided Anokh. Had I wanted money from him, I would not have helped him then,” he said with tears welling up his eyes. 

God will do justice

I helped him (SHO Anokh Singh) and he did this to me. God is maintaining an account and is watching. He will do justice.— Deshraj



We didn’t need money for daughter’s treatment, says Deshraj’s wife 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
“We did not need money from anyone for our daughter’s treatment since the police department was reimbursing us her medical bills,” said Neelam Singh, wife of Deshraj here today.

An M.Phil degree holder in history, Neelam Singh, who had married Deshraj in 2007 after falling in love with him as a student in Delhi, is cursing the day when her husband was posted to Chandigarh police. “Working with the Chandigarh police has been a pain in the neck for my husband who has constantly been under stress for the last two years. He apprehended certain people were after him. They got him. But I have complete faith in him. I have known him for many years now,” said Neelam, a mother of a 5-year-old daughter and a year-and-a-half-old son.

Talking to The Tribune, she said ever since she landed in the city two years ago, Neelam said she and her husband have never had a single happy day. “Our troubles started soon after when he joined here on October 28, 2010. I had conceived and soon tested positive for diabetes and subsequently had a premature delivery. I was admitted to a hospital for three months with my premature son.”

Their troubles did not end there. “My husband was constantly under tension. He would not sleep at nights. We were contemplating requesting a transfer when he was promoted. We thought it would be a smooth sailing for us. But it was not to happen. I used to meet him on Delhi University campus until five years ago and now I have to go to jail to meet him. I wish no wife has to see this day ever,” said The mother of two, whose husband never allowed her to run errands. But now she has to juggle to attend to several chores besides arranging to defend her husband in court and meet him in the jail. 



'Power Cut' to hit big screen today
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
While the star-studded premier of Jaspal Bhatti’s latest movie ‘Power Cut’, scheduled to be held at DT Mall in Chandigarh on Thursday evening, was cancelled, the family said the movie would be released tomorrow across North India and theatres abroad. The film will see the launch of his son Jasraj Bhatti.

His film, for which he had put in so much effort, will definitely release tomorrow, said his wife Savita.

The show must go on, said Jaspal Bhatti’s close associate Vinod Sharma. He said they were also planning to reschedule the premier of the movie tomorrow evening. While venue is yet not been decided, family members and close friends would come there and remember him, he said. Vinod said Jaspal was about to end his over 40-day promotional tour of the movie. “I am sure that the audience will give an overwhelming response to the movie, he said

Like director Yash Chopra, Jaspal Bhatti could not see the release of his upcoming film. One of the leads of the movie, Chander Prabhakar, said the movie was Bhatti’s dream project. 



Tearful adieu to king of satire
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
A pall of gloom descended on the city as word spread about the tragic demise of comedian and filmmaker Jaspal Bhatti this morning.

People from all sections of the society, including actors, politicians and public figures, reached his house in Sector 19 to pay their last respects to the departed soul.

Right since the morning, Bhatti’s mother Dhyan Kaur and wife Savita Bhatti maintained a bshowed courage. However, they failed to control their emotions on seeing his body. Bhatti’s mother took his head in her lap, while his daughter Rabia and wife kept of wailing continuously.

Bhatti’s demise came as a shock for his neighbours too as they gathered outside his house to pay their last respects.

Bhatti's son Jasraj, who was at the wheel at the time of accident, was the first to reach his house on a stretcher from Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana. He entered the house and was shocked to hear about his father’s demise. Jasraj broke down in tears as he saw his father’s body. Bhatti’s body was taken to the Sector 25 cremation ground where hundreds of people thronged to pay their last respects. 



Bhatti was a crowd-puller: Teacher
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
He would tickle everyone’s funny bone within seconds even after a serious lecture. Not only his classmates, but his teachers used to sense and cherish his creativity. He would come out with a satire out of a discussion even in the classroom, leaving a deep impact over everyone.

Prof KK Garg, former faculty member at Punjab Engineering College (PEC), recalled some of the memories of the period when he taught Jaspal Bhatti at the department of electronics at PEC. “Bhatti was an epitome of the art of satire and his career and life should be taken up as a subject in PhD,” said Prof Garg. He also recalled the popularity of the Nonsense Club launched by Jaspal Bhatti in PEC while he was pursuing his engineering (1973 to 1978).

“While many people at PEC used to attribute him as a comedian due to his excellent sense of humour, I always regarded him as a perfect satirist since his jokes always reflected the reality of the subject. I still remember how everyone in the institution used to wait for his performances,” said Prof Garg, with a choked voice.

Prof Garg taught Bhatti in the final year of his engineering and had reviewed his major project. “Although his interest was in satire, he did full justice to his studies,” said Prof Garg.

Bhatti’s fellows remember him as a crowd-puller. The city-based satirist, who emerged as a national figure in the past three decades, already had many fans at PEC, much before beginning of his career in this field.

“Bhatti sir had a very attractive personality. His talent was not limited to his satires. He had the energy to mobilise the crowd with his  witty remarks.

We have witnessed the time when his performances would leave us discussing about the subjects he highlighted. The penetration of his remarks used to be too high,” said Vikram Hans, Bhatti’s immediate junior in engineering degree.

“He started his career as a cartoonist and then started feature in television in the 80’s. At the time when there was monotony in TV programmes, he brought in the humour element via his three-minute performance once a week during Chitrahaar on Doordarshan. He struggled a lot to get a break in TV,” said Prof Garg.

A condolence meeting was also held at PEC today at 1 pm to mourn the death of the alumni. 



‘Behind his comic face, he was a courageous man’
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
“Behind his comic face, he was a courageous man,” says Savita Bhatti while recalling her 28-year-long journey with her husband Jaspal Bhatti. He always remained fearless and committed to his work, she adds.

“After the release of ‘Mahaul Theek Hai’ in 1999, he got several threatening calls and it created a lot of tension in the family. But he did not bow down and continued to make films on issues which concerned him greatly,” says Savita.

Even his upcoming movie, Power Cut, had a few objectionable dialogues against politicians, but he did not remove them, she says.

Remembering him as a man who always gave her equal opportunities in his projects, Savita says it pains her that she will never be paired with him again.

Savita had talked to him last night. He was excited about the premier of his movie that was scheduled for today, she says. “Nobody knew that he would meet such a fate,” she says, with a chocking voice.



Gloom descends upon Bhatti’s comedy school in Mohali
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 25
Mad Arts, Jaspal Bhatti Film School, plunged into gloom as soon as the news of its founder Jaspal Bhatti’s death reached here.

Many students and staff members were not aware about Bhatti’s death when they reached the institute today morning.

“It was the biggest shock of our lives. All the students immediately rushed to (Bhatti) Sir’s residence, while we have to remain here at the school,” said Kamaljit Kaur, a counsellor here. “Here, in India’s first comedy school, only laughter could be heard. All this will change this day onwards,” said Kamaljit Kaur, with tears in her eyes.

Visibly shattered students said that it was difficult to comprehend the reality that “Sir” was no more. Muzzafar Khan, a student, said it was an irreparable loss for all of them. “It’s very hard to believe the news. It’s a personal loss for all of us,”  said Khan.

Another student Barinder Kaur said they did not know what they would do without Bhatti. “Sir was everything for us. He was our source of strength,” she said. 



Remembering The Man who gave comedy a new meaning

We have lost a great son of the city

He had a unique talent. Not only he redefined comedy, he gave a new dimension to the issues concerning people by using a language that people could easily relate to. In him, we lost a great son of the city— Kamal Tiwari, Chairman, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Academy 

He gave me a chance to work in ‘Ulta Pulta’ and ‘Flop Show’. I remember how we used to spend hours together contemplating on issues that concerned him very closely. Every thing has gone now — Kuldeep Sharma, Director, Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh

It is the worst day of my life. It seems as if a part of me has died. Our friendship had grown through the years and people would often ask if any one of us would ever visit Sector 17 without the other. Nobody will ask me this question now — P Khurrana, close friend

He had a lot of ideas and a vision that sadly would not be fulfilled. He, however, left a great legacy for the like-minded people to do purposeful comedy. He will always remain alive with us — Vinod Sharma, close friend

I had known him for the last 20 years and shared a close bond. He took my daughter in the lead role in his upcoming movie ‘Power Cut’. It is extremely sad that he would not be around us anymore — Mukesh Gautam, close friend

He used to strike an instant chord with people with his smile and warmth. He never behaved like a celebrity. I lost a dear friend today and we all lost a great actor. There is no substitute for him — Gick Grewal, fellow actor 

He gave a direction to careers of several local artistes, including mine. I owe to him whatever little comedy I do now — BN Sharma, fellow actor 


New RC printer develops snag at licensing authority
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Even as the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) has started the delivery of registration certificates, the printer recently arranged by SPIC for printing the RCs again developed a snag on Thursday.

Sources said recently a public notice inviting applicants to collector their RC was issued and a number of the documents have already been delivered. Before the RC printer was arranged, the pendency of the registration certificate and driving licence has crossed 23,000. Around 50 per cent of the RCs have been printed.

On the other hand, the problem with the printer for driving licence (DL) was to be made functional. It might take a few days for the authorities to clear the backlog of DLs as the printer for document was still creating some problem. It is learnt that officials in the administration had taken a serious note of the delay in clearing the backlog at the RLA. Special efforts were being by the RLA to clear the backlog, reducing the harassment faced by vehicle owners. 



Goods-laden trucks parked in DC office
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Bereft of adequate storage space, the cash-rich UT's excise and taxation department is not taking any chance in "guarding" the confiscated goods from the wary eyes of thieves.

Despite earning a value-added tax (VAT) of around Rs 1,400 crore and Rs 2.5 crore by the enforcement wing, the department has no place to park the vehicles loaded with confiscated goods.

So, to be doubly sure, the department has parked four goods-laden trucks in the walled compound of the Deputy Commissioner's complex in Sector 17.

Going one step ahead, a tobacco-laden auto-rickshaw confiscated a few days ago has been parked inside the office of the SDO (building) located in the additional deluxe building right next to the DC's office. The office of the excise and taxation is located on the first floor of the building.

Sources in the excise department disclosed that the vehicles had been seized as they were carrying goods (worth around Rs 15 lakh) without paying the adequate excise fee. The traders have to pay the calculated fine to get the goods released.

Admitting that the department has no place to park the confiscated vehicles or goods, the officials said every year the department confiscated around 250 vehicles and had to look for place to park the vehicles till the cases were not settled. The site meant for the excise department in Sector 28 was allotted to an institution, said the official.



MC revises rent slabs of community centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Residents of the city will have to shell out more for booking community centres as the municipal corporation has doubled the rent slabs.

The decision was taken in a meeting held by the Finance and Contract Committee today.

As per the new rent slabs, the corporation will charge Rs 10,000 for AC halls at community centres in Sectors 8, 11, 16, 22 and 35, and for non-AC halls, the charges will be Rs 5,000, which were earlier Rs 2,500. For parties, Rs 1,000 will be charged for two hours. The general body of the community centre of Sector 35 had raised a demand to revise the booking rates as the centre had been renovated and upgraded.

The committee deliberated on the issue and observed that for the past more than a decade there had been no revision of rent slabs of the community centres. It was decided that CCTV cameras should also be installed at these places.

Officials informed the committee members that complaints regarding gambling had been pouring in. It was stated that for the elderly, membership fee should be Rs 500.

The municipal corporation has decided that Divali fair will not be held in Sector 17.

Following complaints of sub-letting, the Finance and Contract Committee today rejected the proposal to allot temporary stalls to shopkeepers. BJP councillor Rajesh Gupta said he would raise the issue in the General House meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, to oppose the decision. 

Revised rates and Old rates 
For AC hall Rs 10,000 nil 
For non-AC hall Rs 5,000 Rs 2,500
For meetings Rs 1,000 Rs 500 



Farmers to get enhanced compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Close on the heels of the UT losing the case pertaining to the acquisition of land for Phase III of IT Park, UT land acquisition collector Tilak Raj is dealing with a number of cases wherein the local courts have announced enhanced land compensation of around Rs 50 crore.

The enhanced compensation has been announced against different chunks of land that were acquired by the LAC in the past few years.

Sources said against the low-land compensation announced by the LAC, the land owners had filed cases in the district courts and the Punjab and Harayan High Court. During the course of hearing, the court had announced enhanced rates in cases pertaining to Kishangarh, Hallo Majra, Mauli Jagran, Khuda Lahora, Khuda Alisher and other villages on the UT periphery.

Farmers had been protesting against the low-land compensation. The Pind Bachao Committee had in the past pointed out that the Administration had been acquiring land at very low rates as compared to the neighbouring areas of Punjab.



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