C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Prime Minister arrives today
To lay stone of cancer hospital & research centre at Mullanpur; tight security in place
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

A security drill under-way at Tribune Chowk on Sunday.
A security drill under-way at Tribune Chowk on Sunday. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Mullanpur (Mohali), December 29
The area around the small village of Firozepur Bangar has been turned into a fortress as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive here to lay the foundation stone of the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at 3.15 pm tomorrow.

Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jiyani, PPCC president Pratap Singh Bajwa, Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu and other state ministers will be present at the venue to welcome Manmohan Singh.

The Central Government's project is estimated to cost Rs 500 crore and will come up on 50 acres in Medicity-1 here. In the first phase, a 100-bedded hospital will come up. The number of the beds in the hospital will be increased to 400 in the next phase.

A pandal, having a seating capacity of 700, has been set up at the venue, where the Prime Minister will address a select gathering for a few minutes after laying the foundation stone.

According to sources, Parkash Singh Badal and Ravneet Singh Bittu will also speak on the occasion. Bittu has reportedly been instrumental in giving shape to this project, the second such in the country.

To ensure foolproof security, around 2,200 policemen have been deployed at the venue and the alternative routes in the Punjab area for the past two days.

“As the pandal has been set up just 100 metres away from the road, no traffic will be allowed on the highway tomorrow since morning,” said a senior officer of the Punjab Police, adding that the entire area would be cordoned off tomorrow till the departure of Manmohan Singh.

Three helipads have been set up about 150 metres away from the pandal to facilitate the landing of the Prime Minister's chopper. Inside the pandal, a makeshift Prime Minister's Office, his restroom and an exhibition camp have been set up. At the exhibition camp, posters and other visuals of the project will be displayed for the VVIP guests.

Meanwhile, the entire area of Mullanpur was buzzing with activity ahead of Manmohan's visit. While several new roads were made in the area, the existing ones were recarpeted. Iron grills have been installed on the divider of the main road in Mullanpur.

The entire district administrative machinery was present at the venue to oversee the preparations.

The arrangements are being made according to the instructions of officials of the Special Protection Group, who have been camping at the venue for the past two days.

Separate pandal for local guests

Alongside the main pandal, one more pandal was being set up today. “The pandal is being set up for 1,200 guests, including local leaders, jathedars, Congress and SAD workers, who are expected to be present tomorrow”, said a senior officer of the Punjab Government. He said around 1,200 more invitation cards had been sent. “To accommodate these invitees, we were asked to set up a separate pandal,” said the officer. He said the invitees in this pandal would be able to see the ongoing proceedings only on TV screens.

Section 144 imposed

In view of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Mullanpur on Monday, UT Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Shayin has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC.

Under the orders, taking out rallies, holding protests, making speeches, raising slogans, carrying of lathis and assembly of five or more persons at a place will not be allowed within 75 metres around the airport, the PGI, the GMCH, Sector 32, and the routes (main, alternative and contingency) to be followed by the Prime Minister's cavalcade in Chandigarh.

The order will be applicable on Monday.



Security drill has aam aadmi at the receiving end
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The security drill ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Mullanpur tomorrow caused a lot of inconvenience to the aam aadmi here today. Manmohan Singh is arriving here tomorrow to lay the foundation stone of the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at Mullanpur at 3 pm. Hundreds of city residents were caught in traffic jams at various points during a security drill ahead of the Prime Minister's visit.

According to sources, the Prime Minister will go to the venue from the city airport by a chopper. However, two alternative road routes have been earmarked just in case these have to be used by the Prime Minister's convoy. A special security drill was conducted on these routes from 12 noon to 1.30 pm today.

Traffic was stopped long before the drill started as a result of which long lines of vehicles were seen on various roads, including the airport road, Tribune Chowk, Madhya Marg, Sector 11, Sector 16 and the PGI (these points fall on the main alternative route). A large number of commuters faced a lot of inconvenience due to the traffic jams.

"I am shocked to see the public being harassed in the name of a security drill. The police and the Administration shouldn't have blocked traffic for a dummy convoy while gearing up for Manmohan's visit," said Amit Kumar, a local resident.

Another resident, Rajinder Kumar, said instead of stopping traffic at several points, the authorities should have chalked out a proper traffic diversion plan to avoid jams.

"Thank God, it was a Sunday otherwise the traffic scene would have been bad," said Rahul Khanna, a resident of Sector 27.

A senior official of the Chandigarh Police said the drill was important to ensure proper security during the Prime Minister's visit. He claimed that there was no major traffic disruption due to the security drill. 



Drill for PM's visit
Visitors to Sukhna Lake harassed
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Vehicles parked in a green belt at Sector 5 in Chandigarh as parking lots at the Sukhna Lake were closed during a drill for the Prime Minister’s visit.

Chandigarh, December 29
Tourists, morning walkers and regular visitors to the Sukhna Lake were a harassed lot today as all the designated parking lots were closed during the security drill for tomorrow's visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. With the Sukhna Lake road being part of the main alternative route, the authorities issued orders for closing the main parking lots at the Sukhna Lake from 4 am to 4 pm.

On an average, around 25,000 visitors come to the lake every Sunday.

The visitors were asked to park their vehicles at their own risk far away from the Sukhna parking lots. In the absence of any alternative arrangement, hundreds of vehicles were seen parked on the roads in the nearby residential areas, playing grounds and green belts. There was a big chaos in the afternoon.

Members of a Ludhiana-based family walk towards the lake after parking their vehicle away from the designated parking lots; and (right) a family from Delhi faced a similar problem. Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari

Delhi resident Jatinder Aggarwal, who came along with his family at the lake, said it took him around 20 minutes to park his car. "The policeman asked me to park it anywhere. I got space but who would be responsible if it was stolen," said Aggarwal, who was forced to park his car in the park where some youngsters were playing cricket. "I am also apprehensive that the cricket ball might damage my car," he said.

People have fed up with such public harassment due to the VVIP programmes. The Delhi residents have rightly elected AAP, who has promised to stop all such nuisance, he added.

Another tourist family from Ludhiana was also seen perplexed about parking of his car. "We have to go to the lake and the Rock Garden but the police are not allowing us to park our car anywhere. It's really ridiculous that the public is being harassed for no reasons," said Onkar Singh, the head of the family.

Local resident Gurveer Singh, who visits the lake every morning for jogging, said the policemen did not allow him to park his bicycle in the parking lot at 7.30 am. "I told them that I would come back after an hour but they didn't listen. This is nothing but harassment," said Gurveer Singh.

Interestingly, on the one hand the policemen were not allowing anyone to park one's vehicle in the parking lots of the lake to clear the area along the road, on the other 200 metres away towards the Rock Garden, people were seen parking their vehicles on the pavement without any check. "Are these vehicles not a threat to the drill," asked Jai Singh from Ludhiana.

At around 2 pm, there was a big chaos in the area as hundreds of vehicles were seen parked haphazardly all around. Some minor tussle had also taken place over parking.

1,700 policemen deployed on alternative routes

The basic policing in the city was affected with the deployment of around 1,700 policemen on the two alternative routes earmarked for the Prime Minister's visit. According to sources, the policemen have been mainly picked from the reserve force and police stations. "Surely, functioning at the local police stations will be affected as most senior officers have been supervising the security arrangements on the routes. Staff of the local police stations have also been deputed on special duty," said a senior officer of the Chandigarh Police.



Villagers elated over PM’s visit
Akash Ghai

Tribune News Service

Mullanpur (Mohali), December 29
Residents of Firozepur Bangar, Bharonjia and others nearby villages, are elated over tomorrow’s visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh here. Visit by country’s topmost leader in the area is a big reason but construction of new roads, recarpetting of the existing ones and other developmental works under preparation for Dr Singh’s visit was the main reason behind their happiness.

“The approach road to our village was in very bad shape. Now the authorities have not only recarpetted, but also have widened it,” said Kartar Singh of Firozepur Bangar village.

Also, the approach road of Bharinjia village has also been widened and recarpetted. The potholes have been filled. “Apart from that new roads have been constructed here to give a good look to the area,” said Gurnam Singh, a resident of Bharonjia.

“We are surprised to see the speed of work here. In just past three to four days, the entire look has been changed. I wish the leaders of such stature should come here at least once in a year for obvious reasons,” said Satnam Singh, another local resident.

However, the residents are also bit saddened as they would not get a chance to see the Prime Minister in person. Under the police arrangements, all the residents would remain in their houses (if present in the village) during the visit of the PM.



Loneliness drives 85-yr-old to suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Loneliness and depression in old age led an 85-year-old woman, a resident of Sector 16, to take the extreme step today. The victim, Shanti Devi, was residing all alone and had no children. Her husband, TC Ahluwalia, had died some time ago. She was noticed hanging with a rope in a room today when her maid entered the house.

The police was called which shifted the body to the Sector 16 hospital where her postmortem was conducted. The postmortem revealed death due to asphyxia. The police have sent her viscra samples to the CFSL to get more details about the cause of her death.

The police questioned the woman's neighbours who said the woman was suffering from extreme depression. She used to often say that she does not want to live as there was no one to give her company.

“She was so scared of loneliness that she used to spend four to five hours at a stretch at her neighbour's place,” said the investigating officer. She had given two rooms of her house on rent and the tenants and her maid were the only visitors to her house for the past many years.

The police have initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.

Emptiness syndrome: Past incidents

July 8, 2012: A highly decomposed body of an 85-year-old man was found at his Sector 23 residence. The deceased, Harpal Singh Virdi, who retired as an Executive Engineer from the Punjab Irrigation Department, had died two days earlier and the incident came to light only when foul smell started emanating from the house. The only other occupant of the house, the deceased’s daughter, Karamjeet Kaur, could not make out her father’s death as she was mentally challanged.

June 2012: A highly decomposed body of 76-year-old Gurnam Singh Dosanjh, who retired as Principal of Nyal Patran College near Patiala, was found at his Sector 40 residence. The deceased was residing at the house with his sister, who was mentally challenged.

March 27, 2012: A 94-year-old woman, Dayawanti, was found dead at her residence in Sector 18. The victim reportedly died of suffocation as she left her cigar burning when she fell asleep. She is survived by two sons and two daughters, all of whom are settled in London.

January 2011: The 75-year-old mother of a Panjab University teacher was found dead at her house in Sector 21. Her death came to light more than a week after her death. He body was decomposed beyond recognition.



Love ends in tragedy
Missing schoolgirl found dead in Morni jungle; boy claims they took poison
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 29
In a tragic end to a love story, a 16-year-old girl was found dead today in a jungle in Morni, Panchkula, a few days after she went missing along with a boy. According to the police, the victim, Pooja, a student of Class X, had gone missing with a Class XI boy of the same school after the school got over.

The girl was in her school uniform. Her hand had been eaten by animals. Marks were found on her neck. The cause of the death would be known after the postmortem, which will be conducted tomorrow at the General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula.

The boy, who was also found in the jungle, told the police that both of them had taken poison, but he survived.

The police suspect that the boy may have pretended to take poison, while the girl took it in all seriousness and died.

A villager saw the boy in the jungle filling water in a bottle and informed the police as a missing report had already been lodged in the nearby police post. “We reached the spot and the boy was caught. He told us that since a police case had been lodged after they went missing, they got scared and purchased celphos tablets,” said a police official.

According to the boy’s statement, they took poison together. While the girl died, he survived, said the official.

The police are suspecting the statement of the boy and conducted his medical examination late at night. The reports will be received tomorrow. A handkerchief was found in the boy's pocket in which it had been written that he loves Pooja. According to sources, the boy told the police that he vomited after taking poison.

The SHO of the Chandimandir police station, Inspector Arvind Kumar, said, “We are investigating the matter. The exact picture will become clear only after the postmortem. The boy claimed that after the girl died, he got scared and hid himself in the jungle. We are trying to verify his statements."

A case under Sections 363, 366, 306 and 309 of the IPC has been registered in this connection.



Open House response
Women’s safety: Time for a revolution

Rape accused constable in police custody outside the District Courts in Sector 43, Chandigarh. A file photograph

After almost a year of the Delhi gangrape incident, another gangrape incident involving policemen shook the city. They did the heinous crime during the duty hours using their official vehicle. All the accused must be given strict punishment as the victim is a minor. This incident has put the Chandigarh Police’s service in question. It is time for a revolutionary change. Everyday, several women become victims of eve-teasing, abduction, rape, murders, acid attacks and murders. Such crimes are a reflection of the brutal male mentality. Along with laws, there is also a need to change people’s mindset. The accused are impulsive and aggressive and unable to think about the consequences of their act. A women’s helpline should be made which must function 24X7. Buses exclusively for women are the need of the hour. Women should learn to raise a voice against harassment. Also, women should learn self-defence techniques.

Vineet Kapoor Panchkula

Departmental scrutiny need of the hour

The unfortunate rape of the 16-year-old girl was probably due to reasons like her fractured infighting family system, poverty and not so apprehensive persona to judge the demeaned advance of policemen who might have allured her with money and threats. People in uniform are also gullible to all vices of the society and knowing that under weak prosecution and stand of police getting scot-free, it is possible. If all actions of police are recorded through uniform fitted audio-visual device and departmental scrutiny, accountability audit as per the norms, at least the police could come out clean. Such fitment is fitted near the left shoulder of many Western uniformed policemen.

Tarsem Bhardwaj, Chandigarh

A shameful act

Merely, a few days after an 11-year-old girl was raped and killed in Palsora, the gangrape of the 17-year-old girl by the so called protectors of law has once again put the Chandigarh Police in the dock. What more can happen to our women. Is this what had to happen when she approached the police to protect her from domestic violence by her alcoholic father? It is highly shameful to see the law-makers turn into law-breakers. The culprits must be dealt with strict laws and the punishment should be exemplary. Home, street, office or park- no place seems to be safe for a woman. To prevent such incidents in future, beat patrolling by senior officials must be intensified. Police, including women, should be deployed in civil clothes around sensitive areas like eating joints, educational institutes, bus stops and parks. What is most important is raising a voice and no women should remain quiet regarding the abuse that she faces.

Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Accountability for police misdeeds

The Delhi gangrape brought out the fact that police in India is incompetent in providing security to the female gender of our polity. It also highlighted their callous attitude in registering the sexual harassment cases as well as insensitive approach in investigating these cases. The Supreme Court directives and the amendment of the sexual harassment and rape laws did not cater to the situation when the police itself could be the perpetrator, as it happened in the rape case of a student by five men of Chandigarh Police. Denial, rationalisation, obfuscation have been the reflexive responses of the Indian police force to the credible complaints involving their own personnel. This mindset of senior police ranks in the past prompted them to duck the accountability of the barbarous crimes committed by their junior ranks. Chastened by the experience of the above two heinous incidents, they must depart from their routine response of evading probe and scrutiny.

Col KD Pathak (retd), Chandigarh

Some guidelines for workplaces

The Chandigarh Administration should ensure the following to check such crimes:

  • Employer or other responsible persons at work places and other institutions should provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment by taking all steps required, immediately.
  • A complaints committee should be formed in every office, headed by a woman and not less than half of its member constituting women.
  • Complaints committee should involve a third party, either an NGO or other body which is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
  • The complaints committee must make an annual report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act 2013, has signed the rules and so the administration should prepare for implementation of the same, as only notification is left.
  • Further, a Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) headed by a retired High Court judge should be formed by the administration, on the lines of the guidelines given by the Supreme Court of India.

Aishwarya Jagga, Army Institute of Law, Mohali

Harsher the punishment, less the crime

Where policemen, in utter dereliction of their duty of protecting the citizens and virtually stepping on morality, suppress the hapless and rape the minor girls; what more degradation can be expected of a society? For letting the duty-bound protectors of law, to suppress the humanity and outrage the modesty of women, I feel the society in general and Police Department in particular, should feel ashamed of. The rapist police personnel are a scar on society and humanity and deserve nothing less than death penalty, that too in a tortuous way at a public place so that their spine and soul stands chilled in fear. Their silent death won’t terrorise the still hidden wolves amongst sheep. So, the need is for giving them a public death in a most hated way or castrate them to experience the pain for life at par with the raped girls. Harsh punishment to a few may discourage lakhs from commiting the crime. Foresightedly, lectures and training on morality can be experimented on police personnel. Let us have the police to contain crime and not to commit.

MPS Chadha, Mohali

Proper control, monitoring mechanism required

The unfortunate incident wherein Chandigarh policemen are accused of raping a teenager could have been avoided if the Police Department had a proper control and monitoring mechanism in place for its men. Technology can place an important role to contain the men in uniform from repeating this sin again. GPS system should be mandatory on all police vehicles. But there should be proper monitoring of the men and police vehicles at all times by senior officials. PCR vans can be deputed at a distance from schools and residential areas. Most of the citizens have mobiles and if needed, the PCR can be requisitioned on phone. People should also be alert so as to report any untoward incident they locate and witness. Like in the given case, if the people of the locality had noticed the timely and untimely movement of PCR vehicle and its location at a dubious place, the incident could have been stopped.

Dr Rajeev Kumar, Chandigarh

Entire police force cannot be blamed

An incident like rape ruins the entire life of a girl and she loses faith in the male community. While news of shameful episodes of rape is continuing to pour in from other parts of the country, nevertheless it is quite shocking to see a Chandigarh girl having been molested by none other than the protectors of law. One can understand the mental stigma of the affected girl after the gruesome incident. It will not be justified to blame the entire police force for this kind of act because people with a bad mindset are found in almost all organisations. Police force is specifically targeted for such kind of incidents because cops are supposed to prevent crimes and not to become criminals. Chandigarh Police is one of the best forces of the country which has remarkably controlled the crime graph. Now it is at the receiving end because of some bad cops indulging in a heinous crime. India has a vast population and it may not be possible to stop abuse of girls in totality but it can be minimised if some preventive measures are taken immediately. On the other hand, the role of the police cannot be ignored. Police has to refurbish its declining image and restore public confidence to ensure that it gets full cooperation from general public. Heinous crimes like rape of young girls can be eliminated only by the police and nobody else. Therefore, close monitoring of its performance is of utmost importance.

Sapna Kakroo Auckland, New Zealand

Need to check crime against women

Increasing incidents of sexual harassment and gang rape have raised concern over the safety of women in the country. In Western countries, there is a large number of women working in shopping malls, restaurants, shops and offices as compared to India, but still there are lesser number of such incidents. These countries are less inhibited and more permissible towards mingling of the two sexes. They may have their sets of problems but in fact, women are safer in these places. One cannot deny that there is no crime against women in these countries, but they seem to enjoy much freedom there. India is among the countries where crime against women is highest. Even many countries issue advisory/warnings to their women citizens while travelling to India for safety reasons. There is a need to educate police personnel on such issues on a regular basis to avoid such incidents.

Sukhpal Singh, Chandigarh

Poor law-abiding citizens worst sufferers

Nowadays, citizens are scared to go to a police station even when they are facing the gravest situations of security and exploitation. People fear that instead of getting any relief, they may be entangled in false cases so as to protect the criminals against whom the complaint is filed. What is the reason for such an extremely painful situation? With the passage of time, our democracy has provided us too much of freedom. The people in general are no more scared of law and feel that they can get away with whatever wrong they may do. It has emboldened not only petty criminals but also officials in authority who are employed to serve and protect people. Unfortunately, the poor law abiding citizens, whose numbers have dwindled considerably, are the worst sufferers. Our culture does not allow us to follow the barbaric rules of the Islamic countries of West Asia. But settling of such cases within a two-month time, when the cases are still fresh in the minds of the people and hanging criminals at public places and providing rigorous imprisonments to accused in such cases may perhaps help arrest the situation.

Dr Gurdev Singh, Mohali

UT police should set its house in order

If the protectors of people become predators themselves, how will the common man be safe? The Chandigarh Police was known for its efficiency, but the recent case of five constables repeatedly raping a 17-year-old schoolgirl has dented its image. Moreover, the efforts of a few seniors to shield the guilty, has further damaged its credibility. The problem with our police is that it considers itself above the law, and thinks it can do anything to citizens, through fear and harassment. The senior police functionaries lack moral courage to check juniors, because most of them are involved in corruption. The UT police should first set its house in order. The answer lies in weeding out the black sheep and changing the mindset of police personnel. There has to be a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) on effective dealing with sexual harassment cases. The recruitment to the police has to be based on merit and not money or other means. If a person pays a hefty bribe to join the force, how can you expect him not to be corrupt and indisciplined in uniform. They need to be trained to be sensitive and sincere in their duty.

Col RD Singh (retd), Ambala Cantt

Rapists should be given harsh punishments

Rape is among the heinous crimes. It is a shame on humanity and a sinful act. Men in our society should learn to respect women. Men need to go through a sea-change in their attitude towards women. Harsh punishments should be given to rapists, especially the ones misusing the power of uniform. Programmes on police reform and sensitisation should be carried out. Nothing is going to change overnight. We have to teach women, and more importantly men, about equality. There should be gender sensitisation classes at the school and primary level. Bureaucrats and officers of security forces need to be sensitised on the issue. Self-defence training should be given to girls at the school level. The low conviction rate for rape is the reason why most of the rapists are not scared and victims reluctant to go to court.

Neena Singh, Chandigarh

Open house question

Security drills ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Mullanpur caused inconvenience to residents yet again as traffic was held up at several places, parking lots were cleared and commuters faced a lot of harassment. What should have been done to minimise inconvenience caused by the VIP menace? Send your response to openhouse@tribunemail.com or write to us at Open House, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh.



Guest column
Voting rights of nominated councillors questionable
Hemant Kumar

As is always the case, this time too, in respect of Chandigarh’s annual Mayoral elections, nine nominated councillors continue to hold the real key for the election of the new incumbent. Of late, voices have been reverberating from different quarters for abolishing their voting rights but in vain.

It is pertinent to mention that a proviso appended to Article 243R of our Constitution clearly prohibits the voting rights of nominated persons in a Municipality. The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) is governed by the Punjab Municipal Corporation (Extension to Chandigarh) Act, 1994. Though the parent Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, has no such provision, the same has been incorporated in the aforesaid 1994 Act for reasons best known to the law makers. Also, there is no such provision in any other state statute governing municipal corporations anywhere in the country.

Even in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, neither the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) nor its present avatars after its trifurcation, have such provision. Permitting nominated councillors to vote is certainly against the spirit of Article 243R of the Constitution. No doubt, Article 243ZB permits that there may be certain exceptions and modifications with regard to a Union Territory if the President, by a public notification, directs but one wonders if the same power has been exercised till date so as to confer voting rights on nominated councillors in the MCC. Moreover, any such notification, even if issued, can’t lay down anything which is clearly contrary to the spirit of Article 243R of the Constitution.

One must understand that the aforesaid voting rights of nominated members can't be dispensed away merely by issuance of an executive notification but only after due amendment in the above cited 1994 Act which under present scenario seems quite unlikely. In July this year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was seized of this vexed issue since 1996, had to dispose of the matter as the concerned parties who approached the court asserted that the matter had become infructuous. One wonders why they affirmed as such when the same continues to have its effect every time the nominated councillors exercise their voting rights in the MCC, particularly at the time of Mayoral elections ?

Last but not the least, one must also recall that contrary to the last three general elections of the MCC when the list of these nine used to be declared prior to the day of MCC general elections, in December 2011, the same was released only after the results were declared and it put in place a hung house of the MCC. Was it for political considerations?

The author is an Ambala-based lawyer



When Gadkari took potshots at ‘Mama-Bhanja’

Former BJP National President Nitin Gadkari, during his recent Chandigarh visit to attend a seminar of the Trader, Industry and Investors Cell, mentioned a popular phrase: “Ghodon ko nahi mil rahi ghas, gadhe kha rahe chyawanprash (While horses are deprived of grass, donkeys are enjoying chyawanprash). He was pointing towards the Congress and its ministers involved in corruption cases. In the end, without naming former Union Railway Minister and local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and his nephew Vijay Singla, who was arrested by the CBI in the railgate scam, he said “Chandigarh walo mama-nhanje ko mat khilana chyawanprash”.

Nominated councillor in BJP mode!

A nominated councilor, who has spoken in favour of the Congress and local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal at the MC House meetings and also in front of the media, was seen searching for a seat at the BJP’s seminar where former BJP National President was the chief guest. Finally, he got the seat and listened to Nitin Gadkari and other BJP leaders’ speeches. Was it Gadkari factor or something else?

Official fumes over tea without cookies

Waiters at an event of the CII got on a senior UT official’s nerves when they forgot to serve cookies with tea on his table and he kept holding the cup of tea for about 10 minutes. While other officials sharing the table with him were busy chatting and enjoying tea, his eyes remained constantly fixed on the waiters. As soon as one of them noticed him, he blasted. As the waiter quickly served the cookies, the officer said this carelessness had become quite common at all venues these days.

PU staff bunk off

Following in students’ footsteps, the employees of Panjab University also bunk off without informing their seniors in the fag end of the current month. This is due to the thin presence of administrative staff and also due to the holiday mood among the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university.

MC staff on their toes

Officials of various departments of the Municipal Corporation were on their toes to prepare details of the projects approved and initiated by Mayor Subhash Chawla. Chawla, who wanted to highlight his achievements, had asked each department to prepare a list so that he could brief the media about the achievements before his tenure ended.

CITCO’s Christmas function evokes queries

The Christmas celebrations organised by CITCO at the Sukhna Lake turned out to be an embarrassing moment to escape when some audience were found seeking a reply to their query from media persons and CITCO staff that whether CITCO organised the same kind of celebrations on Gurpurab or Krishna Janmashtami. Controversial, however, a query!

Ransom call

In a recent case of kidnapping of a mother-son duo, the correspondent called up a policeman to know whether a ransom call was received by the victim's family. To the astonishment of the correspondent, the policeman asked: “What ransom?” “You mean threatening”. It was after the correspondent explained whether any demand for money has been made by the kidnappers that the police official got to know what ransom was.

Contributed by: Rajinder Nagarkoti, Ritika Jha Palial, Aarti Kapur, Amit Sharma, Deepankar Sharda and Hina Rohtaki



Folk dances mark annual day function
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Aanchal International School, Sector 41, celebrated its annual day “Xpressions 2013” with a lot of fanfare at Tagore Theatre, Sector 18, here today. The evening was packed with amusing cultural programmes performed by students. The magnificent show unfolded to a wide array of cultural extravaganza and left the audience enthralled. The highlight of the show was that a majority of the sequences had been conceived, choreographed, directed and presented by the students themselves. A fashion show was held wherein students wearing ethnic as well as modern dresses walked the ramp.

Later students of class 2 and 3 presented folk dances from various states showcasing brotherhood and national integrity. A Hindi play was staged wherein students interestingly staged the narrow-minded approach of today’s generation and its impact on the society at large.

The UKG students put up a spectacular aerobic dance performance. Senior students presented English play in which impact in today’s materialistic world on daily life was lucidly displayed. Students showed how in many homes expensive gifts are replacing love and affection of the parents and the ill effects of the excess money, electronic gizmos and social networking sites.

Students from KG section made their maiden attempt on the stage dressed in bright and colorful attires in a musical performance on English rhymes. The audience enjoyed rich Punjabi culture show. The bhangra boys surprised the way they performed their antics. Satpal Jain, Ex MP Chandigarh was the chief guest.



Ruchika's molestation case
20 yrs on, battle for justice continues
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 29
Twenty years and on but the battle of a friend and her family for justice still continues. Exactly, 20 years ago on December 29, 1993, Ruchika Girhotra, then just 18, committed suicide after facing molestation at the hands of former Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) SPS Rathore.

After the CBI filed the closure report in two cases i.e. forgery of documents and harassment to Ashu against Rathore, Anand Prakash, father of Ruchika's friend Aradhna, moved the court challenging the same.

"I know it has been 20 years but our fight is not yet over. The justice that was given was too late and too less. It is indeed difficult to fight against top brass but we will not lose hope," said Madhu Prakash, wife of Anand Prakash.

For Aradhana, now 35, and a mother of two, Ruchika still lives in her heart. She had seen Ruchika being molested by SPS Rathore, watched her get thrown out by their school, face threats and harassment. Aradhana protested, spent sleepless nights thinking about her friend and her family and even delayed marriage to take the crusade forward.

Speaking to The Tribune on phone from Australia, Aradhana said, “I will not give up the battle. The Girhotras may have accepted everything and I know it is all because they have lost hope. But I will not. My family is pursuing the cases and I know we will make it one day."

She further added, "I do cry when I sit alone because when the world was gearing up for the New Year celebrations, she was preparing to die. I can’t take a sigh of relief till I won’t see her culprits behind bars."

Suit filed: It was recently that SPS Rathore filed a suit for damages in the Panchkula court against Ruchika’s father SC Girhotra, Anand Prakash and Ruchika’s brother Ashu Girhotra.



PGI yet to wake up to proper handling of power cables
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Two incidents of blasts triggered by a short-circuit within a span of 10 days at the PGIMER has exposed the apathy of the hospital administration towards safety measures. The city's premier medical institute that excels in health care and attracts thousands of patients from across the country every year, has failed to pay much-needed attention to the proper maintenance of the power cables.

If somebody visits the road leading from New OPD Block to Kairon Block, he will come across open sockets of live wires on numerous electricity poles installed on the footpath.

"A short-circuit in any of these wires can harm a pedestrian," said a senior PGI official.

The condition of corridors at the resident doctors' hostels in Kairon Block is even worse. Huge wire webs and a large number of power sockets have been lying uncovered on all the upper floor corridors in the building.

Sources said not only were these wires more than 40 years old but also had never been inspected by the authorities. Also, short-circuits due to overloading is a frequent problem in the building.

A visit to one of the hostel rooms in the building revealed that there wire webs of wires even inside doctors' rooms. In fact, about six months ago, fire caused by a short-circuit damaged the belongings of one of the resident doctors while he was away to some work.

The PGI authorities claim that all these areas will be refurbished and improved during a major renovation of all old buildings, including research block, Nehru Hospital, Kairon Block. It is, however, pertinent to note that the condition of these open sockets has not improved at least in the past five years while short-circuits and overloading are frequent.

On December 18, a major tragedy was averted when a 120mm thick underground cable caught fire in a joint, that was repaired shortly, triggering a blast in the faculty parking near Kairon Block that houses the office of the PGI Director. According to sources, the high-power cable that supplies power to the entire Kairon Block should have been installed at least 2 feet deeper. A significant amount of water had seeped into the cable joint during the watering of plants grown around the parking lot, leading to a short-circuit.

On December 23, another tragedy was averted at the PGIMER when a short circuit in the central computer system triggered a blast in the backup server at the New OPD Block. The blast led to a complete blackout in the entire building, halting the registration process of patients and diagnostics at the labs for nearly an hour. The authorities had to increase the operational hours of the registration counters to cope with the problems caused to the patients due to the delay.



Over Rs 9 crore collected through traffic challans this year
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Owing to an increased challaning spree by the UT traffic police this year, the UT police have collected over Rs 9 crore towards fine this year - the highest amount ever collected. The amount is Rs 4 crore over what it was last year. The number of offenders violating various traffic rules is also on the rise this year.

The statistics received by the UT traffic police reveal that in 2013, the traffic police have collected Rs 9,07,87,550 towards fine for challans this year. Last year, the amount of fine collected towards challans was Rs 5.8 crore while in 2011, the total amount of the fine collected was Rs 3.37 crore.

The amount of Rs 9.07 crore collected this year includes the fine collected through manual challaning on the spot, Traffic Violation Information Slips, CCTV camera, facebook and wrong parking stickers.

The number of challans issued this year has also recorded over 40 per cent increase as compared to last year. While as many as 19,0008 challans for various offences were issued last year, this year the traffic police have issued a total of 2,68,420 challans. The number of vehicles impounded have also registered an increase as compared to 8,430 vehicles impounded last year, a total of 13,360 vehicles have been impounded this year.

The maximum number of challans issued this year are for driving without helmet (35,000), for jumping red light (37,000) and for overspeeding (15,000).

Traffic police officials said increased enforcement coupled with an element of surprise while challaning was the reason for such a high amount of fine collected this year.

"Besides increased enforcement, the element of surprise was there as we ensured challaning early in the morning and during afternoon and not only in the night hours when people think the police will be on the alert. The concept of ‘Eagle squad’, wherein traffic police officials chased the offenders who ran away from the police nakas, also worked towards increasing the number of challans issued," said SSP, Traffic, Maneesh Chaudhery.



24x7 water supply to Vikas Nagar by summer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The pilot project of the Municipal Corporation for providing 24x7 water supply gets under way today with UT Finance Secretary VK Singh laying the foundation stone of the water supply scheme at Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, here. Under the project, instead of the water being supplied only at designated hours in the morning and evening, it will be provided throughout the day.

Experts are of the view it will help save water as there is a tendency among people to throw away water that they have saved in the morning and fill their containers again in the evening. Experts say experiments have proved that chances of contamination are significantly less in running water.

Corporation officials said the project would be completed before this summer.

After laying the foundation stone, VK Singh said when water was supplied immediately and with full pressure, many germs got mixed into it through pipes. But this problem will be not there in the continuous water supply. It is an innovative project of the Municipal Corporation and after its success, continuous water supply will be provided to other colonies as well, he added.

Mayor Subhash Chawla said the project would be completed before this summer. The MC Commissioner, VP Singh, said within two or three years, the Municipal Corporation would be able to provide 24x7 water supply to all colonies and villages.

Project detail

Superintending Engineer, Public Health Division, MC, RC Diwan said the Vikas Nagar scheme had been designed considering a population of 27,000 and 135 litre per capita water per day. It has been proposed to construct an overhead tank and an underground storage reservoir. All four tubewells would feed the underground reservoir. The cost of the project is around Rs 2.19 crore.

Why Vikas Nagar has been chosen for pilot project

The demand to provide 24x7 water supply to the area was raised after the severe water shortage and loss of lives due to a diarrhoea outbreak in Mauli Jagran last year. It was found that people had installed pumps on the water supply pipelines, leading to contamination of water.



Medicos condemn admission rider

Chandigarh, December 29
Medical students were today asked to lodge their protest through the social media against the recent decision of the Health Ministry to make one-year rural posting at a primary health centre (PHC) mandatory for MBBS graduates to apply for admission to a PG medical course. It was also decided that the Medicos Legal Action Group (MLAG) would take legal action in the matter.

Dr Manjit Sidhu from Bathinda raised the issue of safety of the young unmarried women doctors working in rural areas. He said more than 60 per cent medical students were women and this policy alone would discourage students from entering medical profession.

Dr Paramjit Mann from Nawanshahr said 45,000 MBBS doctors were produced every year in the country. Given a backlog of doctors who did not do post-graduation in the previous years, about 95,000 doctors apply for PG every year. How does the government propose to adjust these 95,000-plus MBBS doctors on fewer than 3,000 vacancies? — TNS



Day 1: Sufi mysticism marks New Year extravaganza
Tribune News Service

Sector 17 Plaza all decked up for the New Year celebrations on Sunday. tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Chandigarh, December 29
The three-day New Year extravaganza organised by Department of Tourism and CITCO kicked off at the Sector 17 Plaza, with a soulful recital of Sufiana kalaams by sufi singers, Kumar Bandhu a musical duo of two brothers, namely Anup Kumar and Hemant Kumar, here today evening.

Bandhu brothers opened up their performance with “Chhap Tilak Sab Chhini mouse naina milaike” by Amir Khusro. They doled out more Sufiana numbers and brought alive the mysticism of the Sufi saints.

Audience relished the compositions like “Saade Wal Mushda Mod” and “Jis Tan Lageya Ishq Kamal” of Bulle Shah, “Main to Saanwre ke Rang Raachi” of Meera Bai, besdies other popular songs like “Tere Ishq Nachaaya Kar Thaiya Thaiya.”

The weekend audience at plaza complimented and appreciated the singers for their explanatory performance by Kumar Bandhu.

The evening also had Kalbelia performance by an Ngo Navyog Adakari Maanch. Tomorrow, there will be Punjabi musical nite by Punjabi Singer Roshan Prince.



Relay hunger strike of computer teachers enters 6th day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Computer teachers and data entry operators gathered at Sector-20, Masjid Ground, to support the 5 computer teachers on hunger strike against UT Education Department, which entered 6th day today. Everyday five different computer teachers sit on hunger strike from 9 am till 6 pm to show their resentment against the department’s apathetic stand against their issues.

Computer teachers said that if the department did not address their issues, they would continuously sit for hunger strike and the department would be responsible if anything happened to teachers.

They said at present computer teachers are treated worst than peons when it comes to monthly emoluments. “Our prime demand is that our salary should be revised equivalent to the contract teachers, working in the education department. Further we should be regularised.”

They said computer education was very important in today’s world but with no permanent posts of computer teachers so far in government schools, it clearly indicated the department’s apathy towards computer education.



Students’ assn donates Rs 1,60,000 for infants' surgery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
NavSankalp, a student run charity association of DAV College, Sector-10, donated a sum of Rs 80,000 for the treatment of Pawan, a 6 month old boy, suffering from Acynotic Heart Disease (Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect). Narad Singh, father of Pawan is an agricultural labourer from Chaubepur village, district Bhojpur, Bihar and was unable to bear the expenses of the treatment of his only child.

The donation was made at PGIMER by the members of NavSankalp, accompanied along with Harpriya Kaur, founder member of NavSankalp, and Professor-in-charge, Prof Ravinder Chaudhary and Prof Rosy Ahluwalia.

The charity saved another life by donating Rs 80,000 for the treatment of Subhan, a 3 month old baby.

Subhan has been diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect. The baby's parents are labourers from Haridwar, with a monthly income of Rs.4500 who were unable to afford their child's treatment.

This is NavSankalp's 5th donation of the session and Subhan is one among the 26 children who have been helped by the association so far, by donating 11 lacs to the PGIMER.

"NavSankalp aims to save the lives of these innocent children by working throughout the year with zeal and spirit. It has been successfully saving lives and arousing a sense of social responsibility among the youth ever since its inception in 2006," said Harpriya.



School notes
NSS special camp

Chandigarh: The NSS special camp organised at KBDAV-7 under programme officer Mantoshpal Singh worked in full swing with NSS volunteers being given a peep into various walks of life. The day started with a yoga session wherein the volunteers learnt some yoga postures. A trained yoga instructor and vedic expert Dr Ranbir Singh spent constructive hours during the first session and spoke to the volunteers about the need to streamline one’s routine, adopt a healthy diet and to exercise daily. The NSS special camp included lessons like gardening and cleaning of school campus. The student volunteers took out time to nurture the plants in the sprawling school campus. They removed weeds and added manure in the school garden.

Christmas celebrations

Tiny tots of Government High School, Sector 53, celebrated Christmas in school with fervour. The students presented a colourful function on this occasion. Christmas prayers and Carols were sung by junior students and a dance on “Merry Christmas” was also presented. The students also presented a colourful play on secularism and universal brotherhood. Dr Pratima Jattan, chief guest on the occasion, lauded the students and teachers of school for their wonderful efforts and distributed appreciation certificates to school teachers.

Polio-eradication camp

Children being given polio drops at a school in Panchkula. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula: A baby health check-up and polio-eradication camp was organised at Holy Child School, Morni Road, Panchkula. Nearly 70 toddlers from kindergarten were checked-up by a team of doctors. Doctors advised the kids on various aspects including their fitness, teeth brushing, personal hygiene and diet. Polio drops were also given to kids. According to Ms. Neena Trehan, principal, Holy Child School, the objective of this drive was to maintain the health of our students so that they can live a healthy life and concentrate well in their studies.

Mothers’ fest

A Mothers’ fest involving over 30 mothers along with kids was organised at SMD Little Champ School, Sector 2, Panchkula. Mothers of students participated with enthusiasm as various activities were organised for them. The objective of the fest was to infuse the spirit of participation in mothers. Sonia Verma won the sandwich making competition while Sapna Bansal paired with her son was adjudged as the best dancing pair. Monika Verma was entitled with mother with a beautiful bag.

Christmas fest

Mohali: Golden Bells Public School energetically celebrated Christmas with great pomp and show last week. The whole school resembled with the festivity of Christmas. Different activities and events were organised to make the students come up with inborn skills and caliber. Tiny tots were dressed up as Joseph, Mary, Jesus and little angels and conveyed the message of love and brotherhood. Children were also made familiar with deeds of Jesus Christ.

Post office visit

The students of LKG wing of Saupin’s School, Sector 70, Mohali, visited the post office of Phase-7. They got an opportunity to see various departments of a post-office and know their functioning. They were shown envelopes, stamps and inland letters. They got to know about different coloured letter boxes used to mail letters to different places.

Personality development

Dera Bassi: To encourage participation and enhance the overall personality of a child, various types of activities were organised on the premises of CVRM DAV Public School, Dera Bassi. Student of classes VI to VIII exhibited a great deal of confidence while delivering their speeches. A lot of enthusiasm was also showcased by the students who prepared different types of food items.



Reimbursement for session 2012-13 still undecided
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The education department has yet not finalised the rate of reimbursement for the last academic session 2012-13, even as the current 2013-14 academic session is already towards completion and admission under RTE act has already begun for the next session.

As per the information, major confusion over the reimbursement to the private school is already over. Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court order also clarified that the schools would not be entitled to claim compensation for the 15 per cent EWS students since they would have to fulfil this contractual obligation arising out of allotment of land at subsidised rates. In cases of disputes, the private schools would represent to the Chandigarh Administration. It, in turn, would decide the issues on a case-to-case basis, stated the high court order dated December 6.

It means that the private schools in Chandigarh, which have to enroll 25 per cent students under RTE Act; will get the reimbursement only to the extent of 10 per cent.

Even as the education department finalised per child reimbursement rate for the year 2010-11 and 2011-12 to the tune of Rs 825 per child and Rs 860 per child respectively, the rate for 2012-13 is still awaited official nod.

An official of the department said the file was sent to the finance department for approval but it had come back with some objections. “We have again submitted the file and nod is expected shortly,” he said.

HS Mamik, president of Chandigarh Independent School Association, said the RTE Act will not be implemented with its true spirit with such response from the education department.

The education department must do its job promptly if it wants implementation on the act. If the department will not reimburse us on time, the private schools will have major financial issues two-three years down the line, he said. The department must do its job before asking private schools to enroll students.



Play highlights importance of virtue over wealth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
After the success of Beauty and the Beast performed by the junior students last week, the senior students of Wings Theatre Academy preformed another beautiful play, Little Women, last evening at the auditorium of St Kabir Public School, Sector 26.

The play was adapted from a novel written in 1869 by American Author Louisa May Alcott.

The story revolved around four sisters and their mother, their sorrows, struggle, happiness and all the highs and lows in their lives. It was a family drama that validated virtue over wealth.

All the young actors of the academy got completely into the skins of their characters and lived their parts beautifully.

The actors Meher Kahlon, Prerna Bakshi, Mannat Sidhu and Gunit Cour did complete justice to their parts. But the performer of the evening was Neehar Kaur Virk who played the protagonist, Jo March, effortlessly with utter ease and grace. Jo was shown as a strong and willful young woman, constantly struggling hard with her life. Her lack of success in her endeavours rendered her strong realistic face in the play.

The set design of the March house, light effects and the choreography by Akshay Sharma, added to the flow of the narrative. Young director, Zubin Mehta, gave yet another captivating play to the city.



New Year carnival spreads euphoria
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 29
The Sky World School, Sector 21, Panchkula, held a New Year carnival to welcome the coming year with happiness and zeal. Different activities for different age groups were conducted. Baby show for little ones, colouring competition for students of 3 years to 10 years, mathematics and science laureates Class 8th, and best out of waste competition for mothers of students was held.

More than 200 students took part in the carnival where Tambola, one- minute games and refreshments were the special attractions. The spirit of all the students was kept high with participation certificates and attractive prizes. The kids won special awards for star kid, sparkling eyes, chubby cheeks, confident champ and beautiful hair. Principal Santosh Bhandari said the children really surprised everyone with their creativity.



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