In 2014, the tricity had a lot going for it, with major downsides as well. Chandigarh elected a new MP, had its tableau featured at the New Delhi Republic Day parade after 13 years and had a new adviser coming in. However, the Sukhna Lake closed for the first time in the city’s history, souring the mood as the year inched to a close. Elected councillors made news more for ostensible study tours and copy-paste reports than for initiating development.
There was relief for some who were acquitted of rape and murder, with the Jyoti murder case being the most prominent. We had horrific accidents, raising a question on road safety, an issue HT focused on and put solutions in the forefront. Cleanliness was more about style than substance. As we bring you a round-up of all that made us sit up and take note, here’s hoping that 2015 brings us better times. Happy New Year and enjoy a recap of significant events on the tricity’s landscape.
City doctor honoured with Padma Shri
Eye surgeon Dr Amod Gupta (64), former dean of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), was awarded the Padma Shri on Republic Day, January 26, 2014. Dr Gupta heads the department of ophthalmology at the institute. It was after more than a decade that any doctor from the city was conferred any of the Padma awards.
Bollywood mummy Kirron Kher is city MP
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, Kirron Kher (61), Bollywood’s quintessential mummy, won the Chandigarh parliamentary seat, defeating four-time Congress MP Pawan Bansal by the highest-ever margin of 69,642 votes. Kirron, sent to the city just 20 days before polling, was welcomed to a divided BJP with three local leaders claiming their stake for a party ticket.
Robotic surgery at PGIMER
Nearly 18 months after it purchased a robotic surgery unit for `20 crore in June 2013, the PGI performed its first robot-assisted surgery at the department of urology on November 21. The potential benefits are that it could help in early recovery of patients.
City tableau at DELHI R-Day parade
After 13 years, the City Beautiful tableau rolled onto the Rajpath in New Delhi on Republic Day. Nek Chand’s Rock Garden was the highlight.
5 cops Let off for minor’s rape
After spending 11 months in jail on the allegations of rape and molestation of a minor from Khuda Lahora, the court acquitted five dismissed UT police cops as the 17-year-old was found “unreliable” due to her constantly changing statement. Constables Jagtar Singh (23), Akshay (24), Sunil Kumar (23), Himmat Singh (24) and Anil (25), were acquitted on November 11.
Former P'kula officer acquitted of rape
On July 27, former Panchkula health officer Dr Lalit Vermani (57) was acquitted of rape on the first day of the trial, after the complainant turned hostile. Calling Dr Vermani her “close friend,” the woman admitted to meeting him often but denied being raped. A divorcee and mother, the woman, in May, had given a handwritten complaint to the police, accusing the doctor of raping her on the pretext of securing a job on May 4.
NSUI’S winning streak
The students’ wing of the Congress, National Students Union of India-led alliance dominated the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) elections, held on September 5, for the second year in a row by winning three of four office-bearer posts.
BJP wins Kalka, Panchkula seats
The BJP had never won from the Kalka or Panchkula seat in Haryana earlier. However, history was made on October 19, 2014, when Latika Sharma won from Kalka for the first time in 48 years. Gian Chand Gupta won from Panchkula with 44,000 votes.
JYOTI MURDER CASE: HP MLA RAM KUMAR CHAUDHARY ACQUITTED
Doon MLA Ram Kumar Chaudhary grabbed headlines throughout the year during his trial in the Jyoti murder case. His acquittal invited criticism from district attorney, the DCP and the AG office. The matter is now pending in Punjab and Haryana high court. Chaudhary has been issued a notice after an appeal against his acquittal.
Bird flu scare: Sukhna Lake closes for 30 days
For the first time in the history of the city, Sukhna Lake was declared off-limits for 30 days after it was confirmed on December 16 that one of the 30 geese found dead at the lake were suffering from avian flu, H5N1. Tests were conducted on dead geese, after which over a 100 of these birds were culled to prevent the spread of bird flu. When certain sections of the media blew the matter out of proportions, it created much panic and businesses suffered.
ROAD TRAGEDY: SIX KILLED, 15 INJURED IN BUS-CAR COLLISION
On August 23, six people were killed and 15 injured after a Swift collided with a Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corporation (HTRC) luxury bus at the traffic signal between Sectors 45-46 and 49-50. Three students of the Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Landran, and an NRI couple, were killed. Another 26-year-old girl Deepali later succumbed to her injuries.
MUD-SLINGING: FRIENDS TURN FOES
Punjab IGP Gautam Cheema, conman Devinder Singh Gill and Gill’s wife Krispy Khaira, played out a public battle after a realty scam came to light. Cheema was accused of kidnapping Gill’s man Sumedh Gulati on August 26. Six days later, another case of molestation was registered against Cheema on a complaint from Khaira.
6-year-old Mehram’s murder
A six-year-old Australia-born child was kidnapped from Phase 9 in SAS Nagar on October 28, and found murdered on November 7 at a dumping ground in Sector 69, SAS Nagar. On November 20, the police arrested accused Tejinder Singh alias Ganju (26), a cab driver, who was also the child’s neighbour, had abducted Mehram for ransom.
MCC hits a new low
On May 25, Congress councillors Satish Kainth and Darshan Garg locked MC chief engineer Mukesh Anand and other officers in his room for 30 minutes, claiming that the officials were not interested in executing development projects in their wards. BJP councillors placed senior deputy mayor Heera Negi on the mayor’s chair and started House proceedings, in spite of the presence of mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan, forcing the adjournment of the meeting.
BJP councilLor Arun Sood faces flak
BJP councillor Arun Sood, the leader of the opposition in the municipal corporation House, faced a lot of flak after it came to light that the travel agency engaged to organise the much-ccriticised study tour to Port Blair was owned by his brother-in-law Sanjeev Sood and nephew Sahil Vaid. The nine-day tour from August 31 to September 9 to Port Blair, Kolkata and Chennai cost the exchequer over `28 lakh.
UT home secretary starts inter-cadre war
UT home secretary Anil Kumar, a 1988 Haryana-cadre IAS officer, sought the state government’s intervention in stopping, what he felt, was a trend of Haryana officers being marginalised in the Chandigarh administration. In a letter to the government, the home secretary requested it to take up the issue with the union ministry of home affairs.
UT DC: Controversy’s poster boy
UT deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin was mired in controversies throughout the year. The administration got a rap from the Punjab and Haryana high court for not de-freezing the bank accounts of the Chandigarh Golf Club, in spite of its orders. UT home secretary Anil Kumar set aside an order passed by Shayin, wherein he had suspended the licence of a firm belonging to the marketing committee chairman. His order for sealing the booths in Sector 41 was also quashed by the finance secretary. The year-end saw the DC and another UT administration woman officer’s picture in an objectionable position being circulated. The picture went viral on WhatsApp, following which Shayin lodged a police complaint, alleging that it was morphed. The final word by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory is awaited.
COUNCILLOR On the run
BJP councillor in Panchkula MC House Ravi Kant Swami is absconding in a case registered against him under the SC/ST Act for allegedly abusing the executive officer. Previously, a woman had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against him. Sanitation workers had organised a stir to push the administration to take action against him. It was only after this, that he was booked.
Alleging humiliation at the hands of senior officials, chief manager of Punjab National Bank, Sector 20, Panchkula, Ajay Sehgal (51) committed suicide by jumping in front of a train on the Chandigarh-Ambala track near Vikas Nagar. Sehgal named PNB field general manager JK Gupta and circle head AK Gupta in his suicide note, both of whom were booked for abetment to suicide. They were transferred.
The appointment of Colonel GS Chadha (retd) as Colonel GS Chadharan into controversy after university professor K Tankeshwar challenged the appointment in the Punjab and Haryana high court on September 29, claiming that Chadha did not ‘fulfil the criteria’ of the university. Chadha was a surprise choice as he had no past association with PU.
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