2015 had its own share of activities, some good, some bad. HT takes a look at some prominent personalities who dominated tricity’s mediascape.
60, Member Parliament
FEAT: Kirron was stern enough to tell the UT administration and the municipal corporation officials to fix deadlines for the pending development projects. Also, under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, she adopted the Sarangpur village and worked on creating more jobs, issues of the beneficiaries of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for foodgrains, besides problems in the Chandigarh housing board.
EMBARRASSMENT: Out of the 12 municipal corporation house meetings, Kirron managed to attend only two. Even local residents found it difficult to trace her, as, most of the time, she was out of town.
53, Chandigarh mayor
FEAT: Poonam hogged the limelight for carrying out surprise raids at gambling dens. She is remembered for hitting a woman’s husband, who had shown up drunk after the death of their child. The child had been attacked by a dog in full public view. Poonam’s image — atop a tractor while leveling a field at Maloya during a cleanliness drive —will be remembered.
EMBARRASSMENT: Poonam was accused of constructing a commercial building on her property in Attawa without proper building plan approval.
52, UT adviser
FEAT: Dev, a fitness-freak officer, put the entire administration in motion soon after he joined a year ago. He has been carrying out reality checks and getting closer to the people. In fact, Dev is seen as an ‘approachable babu’. Dev has also actively spearheaded the smart city project.
EMBARRASSMENT: Dev, however, had to face censure from the Centre for going overboard in making arrangements for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit in September. Schools were shut and cremation grounds went out of bounds. Also, the renovation of his official residence in Sector 7 at an estimated cost of Rs 1 crore triggered a controversy.
42, Former UT deputy commissioner
FEAT: Known for his tough stance against encroachers, Shayin was pro-active in clearing the city of encroachments. The land freed was large chunk of government land.
EMBARRASSMENT: Shayin was unceremoniously removed from the post four months before his tenure was ending. He was repatriated after an altercation with a senior IAS colleague. Adviser Vijay Dev was also known to be at loggerheads with Shayin, particularly over ‘leaked’ news reports that the renovation of the Dev’s house was being carried out at a cost of `2 crore. Shayin was also accused of going out of way to favour his personal secretary Punam Malik for her appointment in the marketing board and the Chandigarh market committee. Punjab civil services officer Amandeep Kaur also accused Shayin of mental harassment.
Arun Kumar Grover,
64, PU vice-chancellor
FEAT: Grover was granted the honorary rank of a Colonel and appointed NCC’s Colonel Commandant at Panjab University (PU). The rank has been bestowed on only six vice-chancellors across the country this year.
EMBARRASSMENT: PU Syndicate member and Fellow, Rajesh Gill, accused Grover of misbehaviour during her visit to his office to congratulate him on getting a three-year extension. The matter was referred to the panel on sexual harassment. The issue led to a new framework to bring PU’s Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH) in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act. It was decided that all the complaints against senior officials of the varsity, including the vice-chancellor and syndicate members, will be sent to the chancellor Hamid Ansari.
Balwant Singh Ramoowalia
73, Minister in Uttar Pradesh
HUGE LEAP: Termed “opportunist” and ‘turncoat’ by his rivals, Ramoowalia in October ditched Shiromani Akali Dal for a a cabinet rank in Uttar Pradesh. His move cast a shadow on the political career of his daughter Amanjot Ramoowalia, who had to resign from the post of chairman, planning board, SAS Nagar.
55, SAS Nagar mayor
FEAT: The real-estate baron took over as the first mayor of the SAS Nagar municipal corporation with the support of the Congress in August.
EMBARRASSMENT: Kulwant was not invited for the inauguration of the international airport terminal at Mohali in his capacity as mayor. He did attend the event, but as MD of Janta Land Promoters Limited.
49, Commissioner of police, Ambala-Panchkula
FEAT: OP Singh is credited for launching the senior citizen safety programme and the first-time offenders rehabilitation (FOR) programme. He is also known for carrying out surprise checks at police stations late in the night. Besides creating three new crime investigating units in Panchkula, which helped in solving cases faster and also controlled crime. OP Singh recently launched a 16-day campaign to focus on women’s safety.
EMBARRASSMENT: OP Singh faced flak from Haryana health minister Anil Vij for organising a marathon in Ambala for promoting 1091 (women’s helpline). Vij questioned how the marathon could help raise awareness of the issue. OP Singh was also accused of taking a bribe to cancel an FIR against a rape accused: the charge came from DSP Deshbandhu, whom Singh has acted against for allegedly trying to extort money the accused in the rape case. An inquiry is underway.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
FEAT: The SAS Nagar-based goalkeeper emerged as one of the most exciting talents in the country. His gravity-defying saves and his ability to keep cool under pressure earned Gurpreet a lucrative contract with Norwegian club, Stabaek FC, and he became only the fifth Indian ever to play for a European club. Gurpreet also became the first Indian ever to make it to the playing eleven of Stabaek. Gurpreet was also drafted in the Indian team for the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
47, Administrator, Huda, Panchkula
FEAT: Verma unearthed the Rs 346-crore scam in payment of compensation to individuals for acquired shamlat land. It was on the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) official’s letter that the Haryana government ordered a vigilance inquiry into the case.
DR Ravi Kanojia
39, Associate professor, department of Paediatric Surgery, PGI
FEAT: Kanojia led the team of 30 members who separated two conjoined twins — Jannat and Mannat — after an 8-hour surgery, one of the rarest operations at PGIMER.
Prof Bhupinder Singh Bhoop
59, Chairman, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PU
FEAT: Bhoop was selected for the ‘Jaswant Singh Rai Memorial Lectureship Award-2015’ by the Faculty of Life Sciences, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, for his distinguished contributions in pharmaceutical and life sciences.
56, Former DSP (Economic Offences Wing)
EMBARRASSMENT: The Central Bureau of Investigation on August 13 arrested Meena for allegedly seeking a bribe of Rs 40 lakh from a relative of the owner of SAS Nagar-based Chawla petrol pump. Meena was accused of demanded Rs 75 lakh for not arresting the petrol pump owner and his relatives, who had been booked in a forgery case. The deal was allegedly struck at Rs 40 lakh.
5, Rabies victim
Tragedy: Sadiya was brutally attacked by a rabid dog in Manimajra on March 25. She later died of rabies on April 15. The dog had bitten Sadiya’s face and lips, following which she was rushed to the PGIMER. Sadiya was given the life-saving Immunoglobulin serum around 12 hours after she was bitten. The delay is believed to have caused her death.
Those who left us
The rock star
Nek Chand, the creator of the Rock Garden, died aged 90 on June 12 after he suffered a cardiac arrest. Recently, the UT administration celebrated the Nek Chand Day to commemorate the iconic sculptor on his birth anniversary. A life-size silicon sculpture of the legend was displayed at the garden that made him and Chandigarh famous.
Hero of heroes
Brig Sant Singh (retd), who died on December 9 aged 95, was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry medal twice —in 1965 and 1971. Brig Singh was among the only six officers of the Indian Army who were decorated with the prestigious award twice.
Former advocate general and ex-MLA of Punjab Gopal Krishan Chatrath died at 83 on September 11, following a brief illness. Chatrath remained a member of Panjab University’s Senate for 11 consecutive terms and was also a member of its Syndicate. Chatrath, head of the Punjab Congress disciplinary committee, was also the former dean faculty of law at PU.
Man in black
The renowned painter, designer and sculptor, who was always dressed in black, died on June 26 at the age of 77. He suffered a heart failure and was battling cancer. Shiv Singh was a member of the National Lalit Kala Akademi and the founder-member of the Punjab Lalit Academy, Chandigarh.
Genius of emotions
Noted poet and Padma Bhushan and Punjab Rattan awardee, Sardar Anjum, died on June 9 at the age of 73. An eminent Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi litterateur, Anjum had been in coma for some time after suffering a brain stroke. Anjum, who authored at least 25 books, had also been awarded the Padma Shri. Anjum also made a television serial ‘Goongi Tarikh’ on the terrorism in Punjab, in 1990.