C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Majority becomes minority
Pvt unaided schools reserve a few seats for students under general category 
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
It was a mixed bag of emotions for parents in the city after five unaided private schools conducted a draw for admissions to the entry-level classes. Parents whose children got admission were seen in a jubilant mood while others were seen dejected.

The majority literally turned a minority in the draw of lots. Hundreds of parents were disheartened after St Kabir, Sector 26, allotted only 15 seats to the children under the general category.

More than 1,100 parents had applied for the admission in the general category for 90 seats. But a major chunk of the seats were allotted to the siblings of those studying in the school, besides wards of the staff members and alumni and rest were reserved under the RTE Act.

Among the four convent schools, which too held the draw of lots today, Sacred Heart, Sector 26, had the lowest percentage of seats reserved under the general category. Out of the 200 seats, only 55 candidates under the general category could manage to get the admission.

St John’s High School, Sector 26, Carmel Convent, Sector 9, and St Anne's, Sector 32, were comparatively better for the applicants under the general category.

Chandigarh-based retired principal ML Ahuja said the general category was ignored in the overall admission process this year. “How the school will justify declaring just 15 seats against hundreds of admission forms received in the general category. Forty-eight seats were reserved for the siblings of the students already studying in the school,” said Ahuja, feeling dejected over the admission criteria adopted by St Kabir.

Ranjana Agnihotri, whose ward failed to get the admission to Sacred Heart, said she had no option as the admission process in the city’s major schools was over. Parents demanded at least 50 per cent of the seats should be reserved for the students under the general category. City-based lawyer Bhawna Joshi said the admission criteria followed by schools was not uniform. “The administration must intervene and try to bring uniformity in the overall admission process by ensuring at least 50 per cent of the seats to the students under the general category in private schools, said another parent, Mohit Gupta.

No clarity on seat allotment

There is no clarity on the break-up of seats allocated to various categories in private schools across the city. Sister Grace of St Anne’s said being a Christian minority school, it reserved seats under the minority quota, besides giving preference to the siblings of the students studying in the school and the wards of the staff and alumni. The break-up was not possible since the data was being compiled now, she said.

St John’s High School reserved 95 out of the 160 seats for the students under the general category. Carmel Convent allotted 53 seats out of the 120 seats to the general students and 100 seats out of the 230 seats were reserved for the general category students in St Anne’s.

In St Kabir, out of the 90 seats, 48 went to the siblings of the existing students, two seats were reserved for the wards of the teaching staff, three for the alumni, 22 under the RTE Act and 15 for the students under the general category. 

Chaos at Sector 26

The rain failed to dampen the spirit of parents who came to attend the draw of lots. Sector 26, which has three schools, St John’s, Sacred Heart and St Kabir, was chock-a-block with vehicles. The process of draw of lots remained peaceful. 



Police yet to rescue 3-yr-old girl 
Shrewd kidnapper changes locations, gives cops tough time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Even 60 hours after a three-year-old girl, Harmeini, was allegedly kidnapped from a Sector 22 hotel, the police has not been able to rescue the girl as the kidnapper is shrewder than the police could think of.

He has been frequently changing his location and switches off his phone each time after he makes the ransom call. He is also purchasing new SIM cards to make the ransom calls, making the recovery of the girl an uphill task for the police.

The accused, Jagpal Beniwal, today made yet another ransom call from a new number whose SIM was purchased today. The call was made on the mobile of the child’s mother, Priya Arora, and was traced to Hisar. The police has also sent teams to Hisar. The police has been tracing the location of the accused since yesterday.

As part of the investigations, the police today rounded up a woman, identified as Mandira, who is a girlfriend of the accused. The police has also rounded up the accused’s family members in Narwana and Jind in Haryana and also the family members of the girl, Chirag, who is a co-accused.

The police has sent three teams to recover the girl. While one team has been sent to the accused’s native place where his family members have been rounded up, another team is questioning the family members of Chirag in Delhi while the third team is tracing the tower location of the places from where the ransom calls were made.

The police has rounded up accused’s two accomplices from Samana near Patiala and another accomplice from Jind, who are suspected to be part of the conspiracy.

On January 15, Harmeini’s father Harish Arora had reported to the police that his business partner Jagpal had kidnapped his three-year-old daughter and demanded a ransom of Rs 60 lakh.

The accused had initially demanded a ransom of Rs 1 crore, but later reduced the amount. The police had been trailing the tower location from where the ransom calls were being made.

UT SSP Naunihal Singh said they are close to cracking the case.

The police has recovered the CCTV footage of the toll plaza near Karnal which had captured the Santro car of accused in which the girl was being taken.

All calls made by accused are being received on the cell phone of the girl’s mother, Priya Arora. Sources said the trading business of Harish Arora was being operated on the name of Priya Arora and accused has a financial dispute with the woman



Himachal MLA’s nephews arrested 
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 17
Gurmeet and Dharampal, nephews of HP MLA Ram Kumar Chaudhary, wanted in the Jyoti murder case, were arrested by the Panchkula police today. They confessed that they had helped him in killing Jyoti.

Now, only one accused in the murder case, Paramjeet, is absconding, but the police is hopeful of nabbing him.

Both of the accused were produced in a court today and were sent to a five-day police remand. "During interrogation, Gurmeet and Dharampal told us that they had helped Chaudhary to execute the crime as he was fed up of Jyoti," said a police officer. The accused revealed that Chaudhary had consulted them several times on how he should get rid of Jyoti.

Dharampal had gone with Chaudhary to pick Jyoti up from her paying guest accommodation in Sector 21, Chandigarh, on the pretext of taking her out. Gurmeet came later with Paramjeet.

Chaudhary tried to convince her in the car that as he was busy due to the elections, he could not continue relations with her. 


Rain brings mercury down
More rain expected in the next few days; weather to improve during weekend 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
After basking in the sun for a few days, residents woke up to a cloudy sky and hailstorm on Thursday morning. The season’s first rain of 12.2 mm kept the residents indoors. The woolens are out once again and more rain is expected in the next few days.

As per the met department report, the maximum temperature dipped to 15 degree Celsius today from a comfortable 22.7 degree Celsius yesterday. The city experienced the heaviest rain of the season today. The minimum temperature recorded was 8.5 degree Celsius, compared to yesterday’s 9.2 degree Celsius. It continued to rain the whole day.

Metrological department director Surinder Pal Singh said that it would continue to rain till tomorrow afternoon and the day and night temperature would dip further, but by the weekend the situation would improve.

He further said that generally the sky would be cloudy followed by rain and thundershowers.

The minimum temperature on Friday would be around 11 degree Celsius, he said.



MC auctions two parking lots of Sectors 22, 34
Earns Rs 44.60 lakh; changes terms and conditions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The municipal corporation today auctioned two paid parking lots of Sector 22 and 34 and earned Rs 44.60 lakh.

The MC auctioned the parking lot of Sector 22 B, opposite the Sector 17 bus stand for Rs 28.60 lakh against the reserve price of Rs 19.50 lakh. The parking lot of Piccadilly Multiplex, Sector 34 A, was auctioned for Rs 16 lakh against the reserve price of Rs 4 lakh. During the auction, there were no takers for the MOH parking lot in Sector 17. The reserve price of the parking lot was Rs 11.25 lakh.

Lalit Siwach, Additional Commissioner, MC, said that the main objective of the MC was to provide better paid parking facilities to residents and not earn revenue.

Regarding, the MOH parking lot, he said that they would make some changes and would try to auction it soon.

He further said that in the coming days they would auction three more parking lots of Sector 9, 22 and 35.

During the auction, Lalit Siwach, Additional Commissioner, councillor Mukesh Bassi and nominated councillor Babu Lal and other officials of the municipal corporation were present.

This time, the MC had changed certain terms and conditions. Earlier, the contract of the paid parking lot was cancelled after four challans were issued to the contractor.

This clause has now, been removed. While the contractors would still be fined for offences, yet their contract would not be cancelled. 

MC to provide best facilities to residents: MC

The MC auctioned the parking lot of Sector 22 B, opposite the Sector 17 bus stand for Rs 28.60 lakh against the reserve price of Rs 19.50 lakh. The parking lot of Piccadilly Multiplex, Sector 34 A, was auctioned for Rs 16 lakh against the reserve price of Rs 4 lakh. Lalit Siwach, Additional Commissioner, MC, said that the main objective of the MC was to provide better paid parking facilities to residents and not earn revenue. 



Now, five-year-old boy tests positive for swine flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
A five-year-old boy from Himachal Pradesh tested positive for swine flu today. The total number of cases has risen to 25 at city hospitals, including six deaths. Among them, five patients tested positive for H1N1 from the city, 10 from Punjab, two from Himachal, one from Jharkhand and one from Haryana.

Rishab, a patient from Mandi district, was brought to the PGI, Chandigarh, and the reports were procured by the UT Health Department today.

On Wednesday, a 55-year-old patient from Solan died of swine flu at the PGI, raising the death toll at city hospitals to six this winter season.

A Mani Majra-based patient has died of swine flu last week. 



Anti encroachment drive
50 challans issued to violators in Sec 17
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The enforcement wing of the municipal corporation today removed encroachments from various parts of Sector 17.

During the drive, 50 challans were issued to violators.

The enforcement team removed encroachments from the Bank Square, the Plaza and the outer area of Sector 17 and seized various items, including stoves, bhattis, gas cylinders, chairs, tables, clay pots, readymade garments, shoes etc.

The encroachment drive was carried out peacefully under the supervision of Lalit Siwach, Additional Commissioner, and was assisted by sub inspectors of the enforcement wing of the Chandigarh municipal corporation. 



70 illegal tenements razed in Colony No 5 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The enforcement staff of the UT Estate Office today demolished 70 illegal tenements in Colony No 5.

Tehsildar Amarinder Singh along with the enforcement staff and the police used earthmoving machine to pull down the illegal shanties. The areas inspectors identified the illegal shanties on the basis of the bio metric survey done in 2006. The officials said all such jhuggis that had come up after 2006 would be pulled down. In the coming days, the drive would be extended to other slum colonies where illegal tenements had come up.

The estate office has finalised the list of 10,000 eligible “jhuggi” dwellers who would be allotted the one-room tenements. Out of the total eligible “jhuggi” dwellers, 5,000 are in Colony No 5. The officials said camps would soon be held to allot the dwelling units to the eligible beneficiaries.



CH 01 AR 0001 fetches Rs 3.51 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The auction of vanity numbers in the new vehicle registration series CH 01 AR at the Chandigarh Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA) evoked a poor response today, as only 37 numbers could be sold.

The VIP number CH 01 AR 0001 was sold for Rs 3.51 lakh. For the 38 numbers put under the hammer, there were just 106 bidders with most of the number inviting two or three applicants. For only three numbers 0001, 0003 and 0010, the bid amount crossed the Rs one lakh mark.

Sidharth Bairaigi, who bought the 0001 number, said, “Compared to the last auction, where the number went for Rs 26 lakh. I am happy that I bought it for Rs 3.51 lakh”. He bought the number for his new Mahindra Quanto, mini SUV.

Another successful applicant, Anu Kakkar, bought number 0005 for his BMW for Rs 20,000. During the auction, one of the successful applicant, created a flutter by claiming that other applicants were bought over.

Officials conducting the auction said that contrary to the last auction held for series CH 01 AQ that had netted Rs87 lakh, today’s auction brought in just Rs 13.96 lakh.

Sources said that one of the major reasons for poor response was introduction of UID card for the applicants. 



Building bylaws violations
UT admn gives relief to traders 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
A ray of hope has emerged for the traders, who were getting fresh notices of misuse or building violation, from the estate office against their resumed properties.

UT Finance Secretary VK Singh today said, "The administration will not issue any fresh notice to those traders whose properties are resumed and their appeals are pending, if they will approach the administration for seeking stay."

VK Singh said, "The administration will grant stay to those traders whose appeals are pending, till the matter is decided."

A delegation led by Jagdish Arora and JPS Kalra apprised the finance secretary about the problems being faced by the traders.

In the memorandum submitted to the finance secretary, traders demanded that the commercial buildings, which were auctioned for commercial purpose, should be allowed for commercial activities as per the plan. Traders also demanded that misuse charges should not be charged because only Union Government can impose such tax and not the UT Administration.

Recently, acting tough on the occupiers of commercial establishments, which continue to be misused by them despite the premises being resumed by the administration, the UT Estate Office had issued sealing notices under Section 10 to the occupiers of at least 22 prominent shops, in Sector 22 and 35.

The occupiers were served notices under the Chandigarh Estate Rules-2007 and given 15 days time to stop the misuse of their buildings or face sealing. 



First, second floors of a house in Sector 35 sealed
Was illegally being run as PG accomodation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The UT estate office today sealed the first and second floor of a house (no. 320) in Sector 35 that was being illegally used as a paying guest (PG) accommodation.

The sealing was done on the orders of the court of the Chief Administrator that had found that the owner had misled the court while giving an undertaking that the misuse of the premises had been stopped.

On Thursday, when the teams of the estate office reached the spot, there were 30 girls staying in the PG. Officials of the estate office said that last year the Assistant Estate Officer had sealed the premises, as it was being run as a PG. But the occupant of the house went in for an appeal before the Chief Administrator stating that the misuse had been stopped. As a result, the property was restored. A year later, the court of the CA found that the PG was still running from the premises. The estate office sealed the floors of the house. 



Group clash
Cops yet to nab culprits
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 17
The Mohali police is yet to nab the culprits who were involved in the group clash, which took place at Phase 7 here last night.

The police has booked at least six youths, including Shubham, Ratia, Goldy, Deepak, Dildar, Balli and Honey, for rioting, violence and causing hurt. A case has been registered against them at Mataur police station.

Police sources said two groups had allegedly clashed a month ago. “A case was also registered against some of the members of the groups but they had reached a compromise then,” said the sources.

In yesterday’s clash, five youths - Vishal Kapur, Rahul, Ravi, Rishu and Rajinder Pal - were injured following an attack by members of the other group near a filling station. The attackers were armed with swords, rods and baseball bats. They had also damaged a car belonging to the other group. Rahul and Rajinder Pal were admitted to a hospital with serious injuries.

“Raids are on to arrest the accused,” the police added. 



Now, acquiring licence for food business a click away
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Acquiring licence under the Food Safety and Standards Act will now be a click away. Applicants will be able to register online for the purpose as the facility for online registration and licensing has been launched in the city today.

A food licensing branch has been set up at the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, from where the licence can be procured after online registration.

The move will save the applicants from frequenting the Health Department to inquire about necessary documents and also about the status of registration.

All food business operators in the city can avail the online services for licensing or registration by visiting the website: http://foodlicensing.fssai.gov.in/UserLogin/Login.aspx.

With this, Chandigarh has become the first Union Territory in the nation to have introduced the online licensing/registration facility for food business operators.

The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India has created a centralised online system for food business operators regarding licence and registration for use across the country. The system has been developed with the assistance of the National Institute for Smart Government, Hyderabad.

The online Food Licensing/Registration System enables the food business operators to check for eligibility, apply for licence/registration, pay appropriate fees, upload supporting documents, track the status of their applications, licence/registration status, schedule inspections and receive alerts on the status and renewals at home.

Food business operators must obtain a food licence by February 4 for all conversions/ renewals/ new licences/registrations. 



Plug illegal entries to NH: DC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 17
Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam has said that illegal entries to the national highway should be plugged in order to curb accidents.

The directions were given to executive officers (EOs) and officials of the Public Works Department at a meeting held here today.

He said a report in this regard should be sent to him after plugging the illegal entries.

Encroachments on the government land would not be tolerated at any cost. Action would be taken against the violators, he said.

Roojam also directed the EOs to take action against the illegal plying of rehris in towns as these prove to be a major hindrance in the movement of traffic. BDPOs were asked to get job cards made of people who worked as daily wagers so that card holders could be given employment under the MGNREGA.



MC to showroom owners: Get safety clearance from reputed institutions
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 17
The Mohali Municipal Corporation has asked the owners of two showrooms in Shahimajara village to get a safety clearance from reputed institutions like the IITs and PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh, before occupying the buildings. The pillars of the showrooms had started giving and were declared unsafe.

Notices dated January 11 in connection with the structural damage were served to the owners of the two showrooms by Dilraj Singh, joint commissioner, civic body. They were asked under Section 273 (2) to get the damage pillars repaired. Both the owners are the residents of Sector 71, Mohali.

It was pointed out in the notices that the front portion of the four-storeyed buildings was resting on columns, which had suffered the damage. This could have resulted in the loss of life and property.

The notices asked both the owners to submit the approval of building plans of the commercial setups or the NOC acquired from a competent authority. They were also asked to submit documents relating to the completion certificates and permission to occupy the buildings.

The civic body told the owners not to occupy the buildings till structural safety certificates were acquired from any one of the following institutions: IITs; PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh; Thapar University, Patiala; Dr BR Ambedkar NIT, Jalandhar; and Giani Zail Singh Engineering College, Bathinda.

A copy of the notices was also sent to the SSP for information.

The corporation had declared two showrooms unsafe after their pillars started giving way on January 10, leading to panic in the area. On hearing a loud noise and the feeling of a jolt, a large number of persons present in the showrooms moved out of the buildings. Though the pillars had started giving way, no damage to the buildings was witnessed.



Family denies allegations

Chandigarh, January 17
Two days after the UT police registered a case against a city-based builder, Harry Bajwa, for teasing and harassing a girl, Bajwa’s family has denied all allegations and filed a counter complaint with the police in this regard. An inquiry has been marked to look into the allegations.

On January 15, the staff of the Sector 26 police station had booked Harry Bajwa and his colleagues of Sector 28 for allegedly teasing and harassing a girl, who is residing in the same building where Bajwa lives.

Denying the allegations in her complaint to the police, Bajwa’s mother, Jagmohan Kaur, said they had an ongoing landlord-tenant dispute with the complainants in the case who were threatening them and also registering false cases against them.

“The girl, who complained against my husband, is our tenant and we have an ongoing dispute with them. She is misusing the law by registering false cases against us and no sort of eve-teasing incident ever occurred,” said Jagmohan Kaur.

The police also booked Bajwa under Sections of Noise Pollution and said he played loudspeaker with music on full volume to harass the girl.

In her complaint to the police, the girl alleged that Bajwa made objectionable gestures and comments and played loud music whenever she was in her house. — TNS



150 JBTS get appointment letters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
As many as 150 contractual Junior Basic Teachers (JBTs) of the general category were given appointment letters by the Education Department here today. This recruitment has been conducted by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Society.

As per information, the department will recruit a total of 654 teachers in the next few days. On Monday, another lot of 150 teachers of the general category will be given appointment letters.

On Tuesday, 118 candidates of the OBC category will get appointment letters, followed by appointment letters of other categories on Wednesday.

Department officials said the fresh recruitment would meet the shortfall of teachers in the government schools here. These teachers will soon be inducted in government schools as per the requirement.



Private schools have a free run
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Private schools have a free run in the absence of specific Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) guidelines as far as admission against seats other than those reserved under the RTE Act is concerned.

MHRD guidelines prohibit screening of children and parents for the purpose of admission in any of the categories. The guidelines have, however, failed to address the specific percentage and its overall extent to be followed by schools for categories such as siblings of existing students, alumni, or staff’s wards.

Pankaj Chandgothia, RTE activist, said while the MHRD guidelines are clear about 25 per cent seats to be reserved under the RTE Act, but there is no clarity about the remaining 75 per cent of seats.

According to him, the guidelines simply say that each school has the right to formulate its own policy and it should include criteria for the categorisation of applicants in terms of objectives of the school on a rational basis.

But, no such rationality was seen during the admission process here in Chandigarh. The schools were taking the undue benefits and allocating more seats for alumni or staff, since the guidelines did not legally bound them to follow a specific percentage for any of the categories other than the RTE quota, he said.

Rajesh Gupta, a resident of Sector 21, said the general category was massively ignored due to the ‘arbitrary’ allocation of seat allocated to various categories (other than the RTE Act) by the schools here. “All reservations, including notified under the RTE Act, should not go beyond 50 per cent of the total seats since the general crowd should also deserve a fair chance in the whole admission process,” he said.

The UT Administration has so far remained silent on the different selection criteria adopted by the schools here. The Education Department has been maintaining its stand saying that they are only responsible for making the RTE Act applicable under the MHRD guidelines.



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