Friday, September 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC men lock woman in serai
Husband, son too confined over land dispute
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, September 6
A former woman Sarpanch (60), her husband and son who were locked in the ‘serai’ of Darbar Sahib here till midnight, allegedly by SGPC officials following a land dispute are sore that no arrest has been made even after nine days of the registration of an FIR against five persons, including the Assistant Manager of Darbar Sahib.

The former Sarpanch, Mrs Swarn Kaur, alleged that she was dragged in from the disputed site of land along with her son Manjit Singh and taken to room number eight of the serai of the gurdwara. When her husband went to get them released, he too was put in the same room. It is only when the village panchayat reached there around midnight that they were released.

Mrs Swarn Kaur alleged that her family had been tilling the land of Hardyal Singh Dhillon, a retired PCS officer, and his sisters on a contract basis for the past many years. On August 27, she was informed that the officials of the SGPC had constructed a wall on prime land belonging to the Dhillon family. She rushed to the site and tried in vain to prevent them from ‘encroaching’ on the land. She alleged that she was beaten up and dragged to the serai where she was kept in ‘illegal confinement’ for seven hours.

However, Mr Jagdish Kumar Mittal, district police chief, said a case under Sections 342, 148, 149 of Indian Penal Code had been promptly registered at the police station city the same day against Darshan Singh, Lakha Singh, in charge ‘langar’, Joginder Kaur, Kulwant Kaur, Manjit Kaur, and Partap Singh, Assistant Manager, Darbar Sahib. He said he had deputed Mr Amrik Singh, DSP, to investigate the matter. Mr Suba Singh, SHO, police station city, said that he had sent a police party immediately after getting the report.

However, Mr Dhillon, who owns the land near the gurdwara, alleged that the followers of Baba Jagtar Singh (kar seva waale) and SGPC employees encroached upon prime land belonging to his family.

But Baba Amrik Singh, when contacted by TNS, claimed that no follower of the Baba Jagtar Singh was involved in the incident. He said that the land was ‘shamlat’. It was in the possession of the SGPC and employees of the Shiromani Committee had constructed the wall to make a vehicle parking lot outside the gurdwara.

Mr Dhillon has the revenue record showing that the land belonged to his family. Mr Dhillon and his sister met the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during his ‘sangat darshan’ at Jandiala yesterday. Mr Badal directed the police to give justice to the family.

The family of Mr Dhillon is one of the original inhabitants of Tarn Taran town (more than three centuries old). During the Akali movement in the year 1920-21, his forefathers joined the movement for liberation of gurdwaras from the ‘mahants’. He further claimed that his grandmother had donated 6 kanals of agricultural land to the local Sri Darbar Sahib which remained under the management of the SGPC for many years. He alleged that the SGPC, by way of passing a resolution, transferred the title of land to the ‘Kamboj Mahasabha.

He alleged that such a step had already hurt the feelings of family as donated land could not be transferred to any society. Now, the SGPC was trying to encroach upon their prime land and had kept the caretakers of the land in ‘illegal custody’, Mr Dhillon alleged.

He added that the followers of Baba Jagtar Singh, employees of SGPC, constructed a huge wall to ‘grab’ the land overnight. He alleged that they had beaten up those managing the land on a contract basis. Mr Dhillon alleged that the caretakers of his land were feeling insecure as the persons who were involved in the beating up were still at large. He further alleged that local administration was feeling helpless to take remedial action in this regard.

Meanwhile, a number of SGPC employees were present at the disputed site. They did not allow the photographer to click the pictures of the land. Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Rattan Singh — both employees of Darbar Sahib — said that they were deputed by Mr Balwinder Singh, Manager, to take care of the land.

On the other hand, many employees from Gurdwara Bir Sahib were sent, creating an unsavoury situation. Those sent from Gurdwara Bir Sahib included Mr Niranjan Singh, Mr Pargat Singh and Mr Harbhajan Singh. An eyewitness, Baba Arjun Singh of Gurdwara Dhora Sahib, Nihangan, said that he had seen the employees of SGPC drag the former Sarpanch who was kept in illegal custody along with her son and husband.


Tubectomy tragedy: govt pays victims
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 6
In compliance with the orders of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), the Punjab Government has paid compensation worth Rs 8.70 lakh, to all 11 victims of Khanauri tubectomy tragedy that took place in December 2000. Besides, the government has also decided to initiate proceedings against “guilty” employees of the Health Department, allegedly responsible for this tragedy, for the recovery of Rs 8.70 lakh after the completion of disciplinary proceedings against them.

In the Khanauri tubectomy tragedy, 11 women were operated upon for tubectomy on December 4 at a family welfare camp organised on the premises of the mini Primary Health Centre at Khanauri village in the district. Out of the 11 women, operated upon for tubectomy, two women, Reshma of Banarsi village and Sheela Devi of Therri village, died within two to three days while nine women were admitted to the local Civil Hospital on December 7 and December 8 after complications developed following their operations. Later, these patients were shifted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

As per the order of the PSHRC, the health authorities have disbursed Rs 8.70 lakh to the victims of the tubectomy tragedy and heirs of two dead women. An amount of Rs 2 lakh each has been given to the heirs of Sheela Devi of Therri village and Reshma of Banarsi village while Rs 70,000 has been given to Mrs Santosh of Andana village. An amount of Rs 50,000 each has been given to the remaining eight victims namely Sundra and Manjit of Therri village, Tejo of Banarsi village, Kapoori, Daya, Rajpati and Dhanpati, all from Andana village, and Bimla Devi of Narua village.

Dr Suresh Goyal, District Family Welfare Officer, Sangrur, said the district health authorities had sent the budget to the SMO, Moonak, for the disbursement of compensation among the victims and the heirs of two deceased women. He said the Moonak health authorities had disbursed the compensation to the parties concerned.

It may be mentioned here that inquiry reports, prepared by the PCMSA and the Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab, had held Dr S.S. Joshi responsible for the tragedy whereas the three-member committee, formed by the Sangrur Civil Surgeon, Dr C.P. Bansal, exposed the lapses which led to the tragedy. The committee mentioned in its report that more or less all women were infected due to improper sterilisation of check-up at the mini PHC at Khanauri.


Sterilisation scheme aborts
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
A little known sterilisation bed scheme, sponsored by the Centre in 1964, has quietly aborted; at least in Punjab.

It was introduced in Patiala and Hoshiarpur districts where 10 beds were sanctioned as part of the countrywide programme to provide 200 beds each year in the Ninth Five Year Plan to expand tubectomy facilities and involve NGOs.

The scheme folded up in Hoshiarpur, where it was being run by the Red Cross Society, in February, 1998, while, a semblance of the scheme exists in A. P. Jain Civil Hospital, Rajpura in Patiala.

Under the scheme, beds were to be set apart in hospitals for volunteers opting for tubectomy. The scheme provided maintenance grants. While in the rest of the country the scheme had limited success, in Punjab it has virtually failed.

For an objective assessment, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare commissioned Chandigarh-based CRRID’s Population Research Centre for concurrent evaluation. The report submitted to the Centre and the Punjab government has made startling disclosures about the functioning of the scheme in which no one, including the hospital and the health staff, seemingly took any interest.

While the inflow of maintenance grants remained inadequate and irregular, the ones entrusted with the implementation of the scheme could rarely distinguish between general sterilisation and the one under the ordinary scheme.

An exhaustive assessment and evaluation of the scheme showed the records were messed up. The operations in camps were performed carelessly. The follow-up was absent. Acceptors (the volunteers undergoing sterilisation) developed side-effects and complications. Only a skeleton staff and limited equipment were available and motivation was nil.

Patients suffered from backache, weakness, weight gain, menstrual irregularities and white discharge. The survey team contacted the acceptors and recorded their anger against the hospital and the health staff concerned. The quality of sterilisation in camps was far below the levels of general sterilisation in family welfare camps.

Here are some hair-raising incidents recorded by the survey team in its report released by the Director of CRRID, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, today.

In Nepran village, a lady conceived thrice after sterilisation. She underwent abortion (medical termination of pregnancy) twice and was pregnant again. Another woman from the same village also conceived after sterilisation. She is now in her fifth month of pregnancy. She complained her papers were retained by the hospital staff to prevent her from approaching court. The hospital, in turn, conducted an MTP on her.

In yet another case in Nepran, a woman was already pregnant at the time of sterilisation. No prior examination was conducted on her. MTP was performed after six months and sterilisation repeated.

These women, in general, complained that they did not receive any compensation for sterilisation failure.

In Jai Nagar village, an acceptor was sore because the hospital did not provide any relief from the ‘’pus cells’’ that developed after sterilisation. She had to cough up money for treatment in a private clinic.

The scheme, the evaluators concluded, was ‘’not useful’’ in Punjab and should be abolished. The primary objective to start it was to involve NGOs and private hospitals. It seemed Punjab was not cut out for such a venture. The report said 67 per cent married women used contraceptive methods and 46 per cent among them used only sterilisation. The scope of the scheme was limited, particularly when it had been seen that education, income had an inverse relationship with the use of sterilisation.

“Since there are a few voluntary organisations in the state actively engaged in reproductive and child health services, the continuation of the scheme even for these organisations was not advisable’’, recommended the report. All along Punjab attached low priority to the scheme because of its still lower utility.

The study team comprised Aswini Kumar Nanda, Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal, Pawan Kumar Sharma, Komila Parthi and Monica Munjial. The Honorary Director of the Population Research Centre is Mr B.L. Abbi.


Cheque given by CM dishonoured
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 6
A cheque for Rs 8 lakh given by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to the Executive Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), City for development purposes on August 12 has been dishonoured by the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC).

Official sources said the cheque was dishonoured when the PSEB authorities went to the bank for withdrawing the amount. The bank authorities had mentioned that the cheque was being dishonoured for insufficient funds.

Sources added that the cheque carried the signature of Mr A.S. Bhatti, the then Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Bathinda.

The cheque was issued for installing street lights in those localities which had come up in the city in the recent past to provide basic amenities to the residents.

The cheque was given by Mr Badal during his series of sangat darshan programme in the city.

Two other cheques for Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh issued to the PSEB authorities had been honoured by the bank. The PSEB authorities had informed the higher authorities about the bouncing of the cheque, the sources added.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, General Secretary, DCC, alleged that Mr Badal was befooling the people by issuing cheques and not getting adequate funds arranged. He added that this incident had exposed the hollowness of the sangat darshan programme. 


CBI court sentences Singla, 9 others
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 6
A local CBI court today handed down sentences to PPCC general secretary Ramesh Singla and nine others in an embezzlement case of nearly Rs 1 crore.

All accused, including a bank manager, had been accused of being part of a conspiracy under which lakhs of rupees were withdrawn from the Nabha branch of Punjab and Sind Bank under the names of fictitious firms.

The court today awarded a sentence of one-and-a-half years to Singla, besides imposing a fine of Rs 2,500. The other main accused, Branch Manager Gurinder Singh Sidhu has been awarded a sentence of three years and a fine of Rs 1,500 and a bank clerk Surjit Singh Bassi has been awarded a sentence of two years and a fine of Rs 8,000. All of them would have to undergo further sentences if they do not pay the fine amount.

The other accused who have been given varied sentences include Principal of Malwa School, Giddarbaha Amarjit Singh Grewal, workshop resident Sukhdev Singh, transporter Urjit Singh, businessman A.P. Singh, Ravinder Kaur, Harnek Singh and Ram Avtar Singh.

All accused have been given two months time to appeal against the judgement in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Cases had been registered against them under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 477 (A) and 120 (B) besides Sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


TB, scabies prevalent in Central Jail
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 6
Tuberculosis, scabies, hypertension and drug addiction are the most common diseases prevalent among the inmates of Central Jail, Ludhiana. This is the finding of a research study by four doctors who undertook an extensive medical examination of the inmates in the first ever health check-up scheme launched by the State Jails Department.

Under the ‘Medical Manthan’ scheme health report cards of all jail inmates are being prepared. The Ludhiana Central Jail is the first one to complete the report. As many as 1,800 inmates in the jail will now have a regularly updated health card. This would go a long way in improving the health of the inmates. The report shows that a highly contagious disease like scabies is spreading in the jail even as another infectious disease TB, has infected many. Bad hygienic environment, average sanitary conditions and stressful life in the jail are some of the factors that have led to the spread of the diseases.

A large number of drug addicts, especially those hooked on to different medicines, are already a headache for the jail staff.

The team of doctors has recommended urgent measures for the upkeep of cleanliness and hygiene in the jail. Separate cells for patients suffering from TB and scabies have also been recommended.

Mr G. S. Sidhu, Superintendent Jail, said the number of such cases was very less, but they would take more safety measures. He said that the local jail staff had taken the initiative of improving the health of the inmates by following the scheme conceived by Mr R. S. Chalia, IG Prisons. He said with the help of the readily available health cards, the diagnosis of a patient would become easy.

The card would also help in case of death of an inmate. The doctors have recommended a number of improvements in the jail, including more medical staff. Mr Sidhu said there was only one medical officer for about 1800 inmates, whereas, according to the norms, there should be one doctor for every 250 inmates.


BJP councillors boycott meeting
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 6
As many as three municipal councillors belonging to the BJP while boycotting the general house meeting of the municipal council here today announced that they would oppose sitting MLA and Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Chiranji Lal Garg in the coming Assembly elections.

Mrs Gurinderpal Kaur Mangat, senior vice-president of the (BJP Bathinda), Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, group leader, and Mr Basant Bhatia entered the meeting hall raising slogans against the alleged corruption prevailing in the municipal council. They boycotted the meeting when the resolutions passed in the previous meetings were being confirmed.

At the last meeting on August 28, 19 members had condemned the violation of decorum of the general house by Mr Garg and Mr Bhatia. Who were wearing black clothes and carrying placards.

Though Mr Garg and Mr Bhatia were allegedly beaten up by a section of the municipal councillors in the council hall, a resolution was passed against them and they were condemned for using derogatory language against the other councillors. Before boycotting the meeting, Mr Garg alleged that the municipal affairs were being conducted in an undemocratic manner and anybody who was trying to expose the corruption was being beaten up. He said he along with Mr Bhatia was beaten up because they had exposed “benami” contracts. The three councillors said they would oppose Mr Garg as he allegedly involved in the incident which took place on August 28. They added that he was also trying to sabotage the SAD-BJP alliance in Bathinda. Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, president of the council, said the resolution passed against Mr Bhatia and Mr Garg had been confirmed.

However, Mrs Paramjit Kaur Brar, a Congress councillor said Congress councillors were not aware of the passing of the resolution and its confirmation. A section of women councillors condemned the use of derogatory language used by the kin of Mr Krishan Kumar Garg against women on August 28.


PPCC to wind up NRI Sabha
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 6
The controversy surrounding the functioning of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, has taken a new turn with the PPCC resolving to wind up the sabha.

In the manifesto, being drafted by its poll manifesto committee, the committee has also promised that a high-level probe will be conducted into the functioning of the sabha, if the Congress comes to power.

The sabha which is an NGO is headed by the Commissioner, Jalandhar division. There have been controversies over the sabha’s alleged failure to redress the grievances of the NRIs and misappropriation of funds and position by its office-bearers since its inception in 1996.

On the other hand, the sabha office-bearers have been denying the embezzlement of funds and have been claiming success in solving the problems relating to NRIs and effective implementation of the Rent Control Act and the Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act by way of recent amendments, which according to them have been of immense help to the NRIs.

The PPCC Manifesto Committee member and local MP, Mr Balbir Singh, and Mr Daljit Sahota, President of the Indian Oversees Congress, alleged that the sabha had failed to solve the problems of the NRIs and it had become a source of income for retired officials and bureaucrats. “How can a government servant be the chairman of an NGO?” questioned Mr Balbir Singh and alleged that there had been misappropriation of funds on a large scale.

Sources in the sabha reveal that expenses on certain heads like the developing of the website of the sabha after spending huge amounts of money and a number of trips to Western countries by certain officials in the name of welfare and awareness of the NRIs had generated a lot of discontent among the sabha members.

Things came to such a pass that following objections lay a group of members, a similar trip of certain officials to Western countries was cancelled at the last moment by the new Commissioner, Mr Satish Chandra, in the last week of July.

Interestingly, a Chandigarh-based woman said to be close to a former chairman of the sabha, had allegedly proposed to sponsor the air tickets of two of four sabha officials and office-bearers on condition that she would be part of the delegation. But some members strongly objected to it on the ground that she might use the occasion to promote her own business. Hence, the cancellation of the trip at the last moment. Mr K.K. Sharma, Executive Director of the sabha, on the other hand, refuted the allegations levelled by Congress leaders, saying, “our functioning is very transparent. I cannot comment on such allegations, which might be suiting them politically,” he said and added the foreign trip was cancelled due to the transfer of a former sabha chairman and Commissioner, Jalandhar division, Mrs Geetika Kalha. “The new Commissioner did not know the background. So, he had cancelled the tour,” he added.

Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Ramesh Bunty, Secretary of the PPCC Committee on NRIs, said in addition to the revocation of the NRI sabha, the PPCC, in its poll manifesto, had also promised to set up a nodal office in the office of the Chief Minister to deal with the problems being faced by the NRIs. “We will also appoint senior Punjab Government officers at airports at Delhi as well as at Amritsar to minimise the hassles faced by the NRIs,” said Mr Balbir Singh.


PHSC’s denial on substandard medicines
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) today denied press reports alleging the use of substandard medicines in hospitals under the corporation.

A press note issued by the corporation asserted that these allegations were not based on facts and were being made by vested interests who had failed to secure orders for supplying medicines to the PHSC.

All medicines purchased by PHSC strictly adhered to the World Bank-approved criterion of quality- control which was worldwide accepted. Moreover, each supply was accepted only after getting each batch pre-tested at the Shri Ram Institute of Industrial Research, Delhi, which was a reputed laboratory. All medicines were being supplied in strips and no loose medicines were being purchased.

No complaint had been received from any quarter regarding these medicines in the past two years. Payments to firms whose samples had failed three years ago had not been made and the security of these firms had also been forfeited. At that time, pre-testing of medicines was not being undertaken which was now mandatory.


Warrant officer raids police station
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 6
A warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court conducted a raid on the city police station here after midnight to find whether any person had been illegally detained in connection with Tuesday’s incidents of violence. Police sources claimed that three persons, identified as Sher Singh, Sandeep Kumar and Parmod Kumar had been arrested for alleged involvement in two cases registered at the police station.

Twelve persons, including Balkar Singh, Sher Singh, Harinder Singh, Amarjit Singh, Pramod, Danny, Pramod Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Sandeep Kumar, Krishan Pandit and Bakshish Singh had been booked in two cases registered under Sections 307, 426, 452, 506, 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

The suspects had allegedly assaulted Vijay Kumar, a taxi owner, in the Old Grain Market area using sharp-edged weapons. Some of them had allegedly ransacked a private PCO-cum-computer centre on the Sahitya Sadan road on Tuesday. Vijay was admitted to the Civil Hospital. The property of the computer centre was badly damaged in the attack.


Link roads neglected 
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Big budgets and development activities are for the cities and big villages represented by “favourites” of the Chief Minister and other party functionaries is the feeling among the residents of more than 20 villages that fall in Narot Mehra constituency of Pathankot sub-division.

The government has been spending liberally on the construction of roads and bridges including four-laning of Ludhiana-Amritsar national highways but the villages in Narot Mehra have been ignored in development activities and construction of link roads to villages.

Residents of the area, while talking to this correspondent, alleged that the link roads from Kahnuwan to Thakurpura, Tangoshah to Hayati Chowk, Sherpur to Gidderpur, Chhotu Nath Temple to Bharth Qazichak, Gaji Barman to Chadoli Mor, Antor to Mirzapur, Ram Kanwan to Fattochak, Narianpur to Saheb Chak were in a bad condition.

Most of the roads have been eroded due to rain and the department has not repaired these roads, even in a decade.

A resident of Narianpur village said residents put soil on the bridle paths to make them road-worthy but the soil has been washed away due to heavy rains to force the villagers walk and pass through the muddy paths.

He alleged that the villagers organised a demonstration and staged a dharna in front of the office of the SE (PWD), Mr M.M. Sharma, last month against the inaction of the department. But in spite of the assurance given by the SE, nothing concrete has been done so far. Village elders have demanded a probe into the work done on the bridge being constructed on Nangal Farida-Taragarh road, which on completion would benefit over 25 villages of Narot Mehra.


Morcha for amnesty to misled youths
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 6
The newly formed Punjab Lok Morcha headed by Jathedar Kuldip Singh Wadala has urged the Union Home Ministry that amnesty should also be given to misguided youths if the government considers giving it to security personnel. This was stated at a state-level meeting of the Punjab Lok Morcha in Noormahal here today. The meeting was attended by Mr Teja Singh Tiwana, president, Samajwadi Party, Punjab, and Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Republican Party of India, and an Akali leader, Mr Sucha Singh Johal.

After the meeting, Jathedar Wadhala, told mediapersons that the morcha would organise a state-level convention on October 18 at Jalandhar.

He criticised the “anti-people” policies of the SAD-BJP government and alleged that the Badal government could not fulfil any election promise. No solution had been found to any problem relating to Punjab, he said. He said the morcha had made electoral pacts with all like-minded parties to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress in the next Assembly elections.


12 waterworks for Mansa district
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 6
Twelve waterworks will be set up in the district with an estimated cost of Rs 12 crore, Ms Raji P. Srivastava, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, told mediapersons after reviewing the progress of development projects in the district today.

She said out of the amount, Rs 3.68 crore had already been received and work on seven projects had already started. She said work on five more water supply schemes would commence in the next week and thereafter one or two schemes would commence every week.

She said water supply projects at Phaphre Bhaike, Kotli Kalan and Tamkot villages in Mansa subdivision, Reond Kalan, Chakbhaike and Ralli villages in Budhlada subdivison and Jhanduke, Khera Khurd and Bhunder in Sardulgarh subdivision would be completed before December 31. She said the work of laying pipes for water supply at Sardulgarh, for which the Punjab Government had provided Rs 9.50 lakh, would be completed within one month. She said 15 more water supply schemes had been sent to the Chief Engineer, Public Health Department, Punjab, for approval. These schemes would be implemented at Nangal Kalan, Hirewala, Biroke Kalan, Heron Kalan, Khiwan Mihan Singh Wala, Ullak, Kot Dharmu, Fatta Maloka and Jhanduke villages.


Minister launches drainage project
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 6
The work on various projects for the development of the city will be completed on time. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister said this while inaugurating a drainage project for the Harbans Nagar and Model Town locality of the city, today.

Mr Garg said that Rs 15 lakh for project was given by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister at a ‘sangat darshan’ held in the city recently. Mr Garg said to provide better transportation facilities to in the rural areas of the state, new link roads of 2340 km length would be constructed. In Bathinda district, the work of laying premix on 315- km long link roads had already been completed.


Telecom employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 6
On the call given by circle unions of the All-India Telecom Employees Union line staff, class-III and group-D workers of the Telecom Department, Hoshiarpur, staged a dharna in front of the office of the General Manager, Telecom here today to draw the attention of the government towards acute shortage of staff, blackmailing by some of the members of the Telecom Advisory Committee and to save the BSNL from corrupt practices and extravagant activities.

A rally was also staged in which Mr Onkar Singh Rana and Mr Gurmeet Singh, both leaders of the union, said against the required strength of 20 employees per thousand telephone lines, the staff strength was below five. They demanded that the system of political patronage should be wound up or the department should bear the expenditure incurred on these committees. 


Misbehaviour by pharmacist: probe ordered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 6
Tension prevailed in the local Civil Hospital yesterday after the death of Satya Rani, a local resident as her family members alleged that a pharmacist who was on duty in the emergency ward “misbehaved” with them.

Satya Rani was brought to the hospital yesterday with abdominal pain and vomiting. During the treatment, she died due to cardiac arrest, according to sources in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the family members on Wednesday submitted a complaint to the district health authorities against the pharmacist alleging he had abused them and misbehaved with them at the time of the treatment. They have demanded legal action against the pharmacist.

Talking to TNS in the evening, Dr C.P. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, said he had ordered an inquiry into the complaint.


Scheme for weaker sections to be extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
To provide residential accommodation to the weaker sections, the Punjab Government has allotted 17,934 plots of 5 marla each to the homeless and poor in the rural areas free of cost.

The Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, said it had been decided to extend the scheme even to those villages where no common land was available. In such villages, the district administration would purchase a chunk of land for providing plots to the beneficiaries free of cost. Rupees 10 crore had been earmarked for the purpose.

Mr Kahlon said earlier only the poor and homeless Scheduled Castes, Rai Sikhs and Christians were covered. Now all families belonging to the weaker sections would be covered. Allotments would be done within a month.


PCMS Association’s plea to Badal
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 6
The president of the PCMS Association, Dr Hardeep Singh, today condemned the state administration for its inability to provide the state-run government hospitals attached with Government Medical Colleges with emergency and life-saving drugs, hospital equipment and material.

The PCMS doctors who come to these hospitals for doing postgraduation have to suffer because of the lack of basic equipment like proper functioning blood pressure instruments, electric cords, surgical threads, cotton, surgical gloves, disposable masks and sufficient amount of syringes and pre-sterilised needles.

The general secretary of the association, Dr Surinder Singla, said the Minister of Medical Education and Research was not serious about the state of health of the hospital. He expressed shock over items such as wheelchairs, trolleys, soap, savlon and dusters were not allowed to be purchased at the local level. This, he said, was either that the budget was not allowed or if it was allocated, it was not forwarded.

The association felt that the decisions taken by the ministry had not been implemented. It urged the Chief Minister to assess the functioning of the Ministry of Medical Education and Research and take remedial steps to salvage the situation.


Municipal workers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 6
The workers of the local Municipal Corporation today blocked traffic on the main road in protest against the state government’s move to abolish octroi.

Workers first took out a procession in various markets following which they came on the Mall Road and blocked the traffic creating commotion for at least an hour. Mr Sukhminder Singh Dinki, general secretary of the Municipal Workers Union addressed the rally.

The Kamachari Mahasangh president, Mr Balwant Singh Sandhu, said the workers would carry out token strike on September 13 under the instructions of the Action Committee.


Madan Mohan nite on Sept 9
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 6
The Sangeetkar Madan Mohan Yadgar, Sabha is organising the 7th Madan Mohan Nite at Red Cross Bhavan, Lajpat Nagar, here on September 9.

Participants including well known singers Naresh Dhiman ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ winner, Radio and T.V. artistes Kirti Rajput from Jabalpur (MP), Ranjana, S.S. Ajimal, H.S. Bedi, Gulshan Kohli. T.S. Taluja, Kanwaljit Singh Suri, Gulshan Tandon, Sukhdev Sagar, Pooja Bhola, Ramandeep, Karandeep, Jasbir Kaur and Geeta Dutta.


Probe into encroachments on panchayat land ordered
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 6
Following reports about encroachments on panchayat land by demolishing the Panchayat Ghar at Lohari Kalan village in the district, the Deputy Commissioner has ordered a probe to be conducted by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Zila Parishad.

Reliable sources said the Deputy CEO in his report, submitted to the Deputy Commissioner after conducting an inquiry, has indicted departmental officials and also found them to be siding with the parties against the panchayat interests in disregard of rules and regulations.

It is worth mentioning that one Malkiat Singh of Lohari Kalan village in connivance with panchayat and departmental officials not only demolished the Panchayat Ghar constructed by the Panchayat but also encroached the panchayat land and constructed his own house causing huge financial loss.

He has clearly mentioned that the Panchayat Ghar was duly constructed and even utilisation certificate was issued by the then BDPO.

The report also indicates that public funds were also misutilised with the connivance of block-level officials because the total amount shown in the utilisation certificate is Rs 95,000 whereas the cash book of the panchayat shows an expenditure to the tune of more than Rs 2 lakh.

He recommended that urgent steps should be taken to make good the financial loss suffered and to make efforts to remove the encroachment from the panchayat land. He has also recommended departmental action against the erring officials, whose names have been mentioned in the probe. He has further recommended that it is a fit case to be handed over to the Vigilance Department.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner said appropriate action would be taken after examining the report.


MP gives cheques to panchayats
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 6
The Congress MP from Phillaur, Ms Santosh Chaudhary, yesterday distributed cheques among various panchayats for carrying out development works. She gave a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to the gram panchayat, Hargobindpur, for the construction of a Dalit dharamshala, Rs 50,000 to Dhangerpur village, Rs 75,000 to Majhoor village, Rs 30,000 to Ramraipur village, and Rs 50,000 to Bhagauran village. She also gave Rs 1 lakh to the local Mohalla Ravidass Nagar for the construction of a Dalit Dharamshala and Rs 1.25 lakh for the primary school at Guru Ravidass Nagar.

Mr Kartar Singh Sekhon, district president of the Congress, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Balbir Singh Nagra, Mr Chet Ram Rattan, Dr Surinder Jhalli and Mr Raman Kumar Umnat, senior Congress leaders, among others, accompanied her.

Talking to mediapersons, Ms Chaudhary accused the administration of adopting a discriminatory attitude towards the development and welfare projects started by her.

She said she had given a sum of Rs 8 lakh from her MP quota for purchasing a fire brigade van for Nawanshahr. Though the district administration had purchased the van, it had neither organised a function to formally inaugurate the fire brigade station nor informed her about the purchase, she said. 


No official to register land deeds at Bhikhi
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 6
During a sangat darshan programme held here on August 16, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had announced with great fanfare the creation of a new sub-tehsil at Bhikhi town of the district and issued directions that the work for the sub-tehsil should commence forthwith. He also issued order for the transfer of the headquarters of the Naib Tehsildar, Mansa, to Bhikhi. Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, MLA, Mansa, formally inaugurated the sub-tehsil at Bhikhi and on the occasion Mr Jatinder Paul Singh Saggu, Tehsildar-cum-Sub-Registrar, Mansa, registered five sale deeds at Bhikhi.

But now no official is found on duty in the newly created sub-tehsil and the people of the area have to come all the way to Mansa for getting their registration work done. It is further learnt when the people coming from Bhikhi Kanungoi visit Mansa for the registration of documents, Mr Saggu declines to register the same and tells them to get the same done at Bhikhi. Thus the registration work of these villages is neither done at Mansa nor at Bhikhi and the order of the Chief Minister has become a cause of great harassment for them.


Absentees to be punished: DC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 6
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, today instructed officials to remain on duty especially during the hearing hours from 12 noon to 1.30 pm. Speaking during a sangat darshan programme at Red Corss Hall here. Mr Bir said an inspection would be carried out and anyone found absent from duty or found lethargic during office hours would be strictly punished.

Mr Bir also asked the citizens to report their grievances to the officials concerned. If the authorities failed to hear their cases, only then should they bring the case at the sangat darshan, he said. He added that this would save the time and money of citizens.

The DC said the Punjab Government had decided to give help to the scheduled castes families which had been unable to submit their applications under the Shagun Scheme since 1997.

He said such people now must submit their forms by September 30 to the Subdivisional Magistrates concerned.

He added that the aged people should deposit their old-age pension forms with the SDMs. Mr Bir said if their demands were not met, they should bring the case at the sangat darshan. He also urged social organisations and bank authorities to help the aged in getting their pensions and bank accounts opened.

Mr Bir said the needy downtrodden families would be allotted five marlas of shamlat land each in the district for their homes. He asked such families to submit their applications to the Block Development and Panchayat Officer concerned.

Among the other cases discussed during the sangat darshan programme, one case was filed by the residents of Fatehpur Rajputan, Khasia and Hiragarh villages against the Sanaur Municipal Council for allowing the impure and unhygienic water from cities to flow into fields and village houses. The residents demanded that the practice be stopped with immediate effect. 


Police team to probe assault
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 6
Mr Sukhdev Singh, SSP, has constituted a special team headed by the SP, headquarters and comprising the DSP, headquarters, and the SHO, city police station here to investigate assault on Hemant Kumar Nanda of Blessed Vivekanand Model School last night near Panchayat Bhavan.


Woman found murdered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 6
A 35-year-old woman, Surinder Kaur of Haweli village near here was brutally murdered yesterday.

The murder came to light when the husband of deceased, allegedly came home for lunch at about 1 p.m. In a complaint lodged with the police, he said when his consistent knocking on the outer door did not evoke any response, he entered through the rear door and he found his wife murdered in a half-naked position, on the floor of the bedroom. He also alleged that the about Rs 7000 were also missing from the house.

He suspected that some robbers burgled into his house, raped and murdered his wife, before absconding with the cash. However, senior police officials are, however, not taking the theory. They are suspecting the murder to be an honour killing, motivated by some illicit relations of the deceased. There was no breakage in the house is a common of houses are burgled. The almirah from which the cash was allegedly stolen was opened using key which was hanging in it. There was no sign of resistance on her body or clothes. The circumstantial evidence indicates the role of some insider in the crime. The sniffer dogs also did not find a trail going out of the house, they maintain. Doctors of local Civil Hospital conducted a post-mortem examination on the body. The Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Singh, told this correspondent that the death seemed to have been caused by heavy blows on her head with blunt weapons.


Dowry case against Cong leader
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 6
The police has registered a case under Sections 498-A, 323 and 324, IPC, against Ms Prem Mehta, president, mahila wing of the District Congress Committee here and her family on Tuesday on a complaint of her daughter-in-law for allegedly torturing her.

Ms Jyoti Mehta, daughter-in-law, who was admitted to the local civil hospital on September 2, alleged in her complaint that on September 1 , her husband Chander Shakher Mehta, her brother-in-law Deepak Mehta, sister-in-law Anita Mehta (wife of Deepak), her mother-in-law Prem Mehta and Deepanshu, son of Deepak Mehta, all residents of 117-R Model Town, here entered her bedroom and asked her about their dowry demand. On her refusal she was beaten up mercilessly and dragged out of the house.


25-year-long wait for revenge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 6
To avenge his brother’s murder Ajinder Singh today shot at Jagtar Singh in his house after waiting for 25 years. Jagtar Singh, who was shot from point blank range this afternoon, is struggling for life at a private nursing home where he was admitted with three gun shot wounds from a .32 bore pistol.

According to an eyewitness Ajinder Singh, in his early 30s, waited for 25 years to take revenge after his brother was brutally murdered in 1976 on the medical college campus. Ajinder went to the house of Jagtar Singh at 2.30 p.m. in his white Indica car and the minute Jagtar opened the door of his house, Ajinder took out his licensed pistol and pumped three shots into his chest. Jagtar’s 15-year-old nephew Maninder, who came from school, nabbed the assailant from behind and pinned him down after throwing away his pistol.

The police was called and Ajinder was arrested. Jagtar who was immediately taken to a private nursing home, where his condition was started to be serious due to internal bleeding.

A case under Section 307, IPC, has been registered.

According to family sources, Jagtar was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Ajinder’s brother and was released after 10 years of jail. Jagtar and Ajinder’s brother were class fellows studying at a local college and had developed enmity, for certain reasons.


Man robbed of Rs 68,000, killed
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 6
A person was robbed and shot dead while a labourer was found murdered near here in past 24 hours. According to information, some persons looted Rs 68,000 from Rajkumar, a worker at Guru Nanak Girls School, Ahmedgarh, yesterday and shot him dead with a .12-bore pistol.

The incident occurred near Civil Hospital, Ahmedgarh. The robbers managed to escape with the money. In another incident Rajkumar, a labourer from Bihar, was found murdered with sharp-edged weapons at Faridpur village, 7 km from here.

A case has been registered.


Armed men loot 9 lakh from bank

Moga, September 6
Four car-borne armed men looted Rs 9 lakh from a Punjab National Bank branch at Buttar Kalan village this afternoon, bank and police sources said.

The robbers, after depriving the six-member bank staff of their valuable and locking them in the record room, fled in a white Maruti car.

Barring the manhandling of the bank manager and cashier, no body was hurt.

After forcing the manager and the cashier to part with keys, the robbers opened the safe and took away Rs 9 lakh.

District police chief Shard S.Chauhan alongwith other police officers reached the bank and have started investigation. The Senior Regional Manager of the bank has also arrived from Ferozepore. UNI


Three stolen cars recovered
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 6
The police has claimed to have recovered three cars stolen from different districts along with a revolver.

While addressing a press conference here today, Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, said on a specific information, the SHO, Sirhind, Mr Harpreet Singh, had put up a naka at Madhopur chowk, Sirhind.

On search of one of the vehicles a .12 bore pistol along with two live cartridges was recovered. The owner of the car, who was identified as Gagan, a resident of Shiv Puri Chowk, Ludhiana, told that he had stolen the car and also informed about the other car which was following his car. The police also arrested the owner of that car, who was identified as Sunil Kumar, a resident of Karnal.

The SSP told that on investigations, another car (PAP-286) was also recovered. He said they had stolen these cars from Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Karnal. Besides this, ASI Kashmira Singh has recovered 30 kg of poppy husk from Manjit Singh, a resident of Mangopati in Mahilpur Police Station. ASI Tilak Ram has arrested Rakesh Kumar of Phillaur and recovered 15 kg of poppy husk.


Vehicle thieves’ gang busted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 6
The Patiala Police has busted a gang of two-wheeler thieves and recovered three vehicles from their possession, besides other stolen goods.

Disclosing this here today, the district police chief, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, said the five arrested persons had been identified as Raju, alias Pappu, Parminder Singh, Dalip Kumar, Joginder Ram, and Narinder Singh.

The SSP said besides three scooters and one motor cycle, one mobile phone, stolen railway property worth Rs 40,000 and 10 cycles had been recovered from them.


HC stays minimum marks withdrawal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
In less than a week before counselling for admission to the MBBS and BDS courses was to commence, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the operation of an advertisement issued on August 26 by the Registrar of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences whereby the condition of 40 per cent marks in PMET-2001 was withdrawn for candidates belonging to Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and other backward classes.

Pronouncing the orders on a petition filed by a Patiala resident, Mamta Bansal, and four other general category candidates, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill and Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar, also directed the Registrar and Punjab’s Principal Secretary in dealing with Medical Education and Research to be present in court on the next date of hearing.

Notice of motion issued to the respondents for September 11 by the Judges was, meanwhile, accepted by the Deputy Advocate-General Gurminder Singh. Seeking the quashing of the advertisement, the petitioners had also asked for directions to the respondents to quash instructions issued by the Punjab Government whereby the minimum percentage was reduced from 50 to 35 for candidates belonging to the sports category. Directions for admitting students to the courses strictly in accordance with the provisions of the prospectus were also sought.

Describing the change in conditions as illegal and arbitrary, counsel for the petitioners had contended on their behalf that the respondents, in order to accommodate their favourites, had changed the admission criterion. He had added that the right of the petitioners as a result was adversely affected.


IT institute fails to attract students
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 6
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology (IT), Punjabi University, is struggling to keep itself afloat with only 60 per cent of its seats being filled and teaching activity erratic due to the lack of adequate staff.

The institute was opened with much fanfare to commemorate the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh but has been mired in controversy as it is the first time that a private party has been made a collaborator in the establishment of such an institute on the campus.

There seems to be a few takers for the courses being run by the institute. According to sources while the BSc (IT) course was able to attract only 75 students for 100 seats, the MSc (IT) course could get only 45 students for 60 seats. The MSc (software) course was able to admit 52 students against 60 seats. The sources said the worst hit was the BSc (communication technology) course which got only 38 admissions against 100 seats.

The sources said while there had been a general decline in admissions because of availability of various computer courses all over the state with the Punjab Technical University also creating a host of affiliated Colleges, the decline in the placement of students who did their Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) and Master of Computer Application (MCA) courses from the university was also responsible for the unenthusiastic response from students.

They said due to the lack of staff in the campus institute, the staff of two other departments of the university — the Computer Science Department and Punjabi University Computer Centre — were being used to teach students of the institute.

While the Ranjit Singh institute had failed to attract students the future of students who had taken admission in various franchisees allowed by the Guru Gobind Singh institute of the university at its Damdama Sahib centre, near Bathinda, was also uncertain. They said the institutes themselves may not be able to survive following the directives of the UGC that no institute would be allowed to run off-campus courses in IT.

The Guru Kashi Centre of the university had given franchisees to around 30 private organisations to run computer institutes. The institutes were providing distance education programmes in IT. If the UGC directives are followed the institutes themselves face a bleak future as they would not be allowed to make new admissions from next year, the sources said.


Teacher summoned for beating student
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 6
Mr Harish Anand, Judicial Magistrate, yesterday summoned Mani Ram, a teacher of Government Senior Secondary School, Narot Jaimal Singh, under Section 500 of the IPC following a complaint filed by Yudhishter Kumar, father of Deepak Kumar, a class X student of the school.

According to the complainant, his son was talking to a classmate on August 18, 1999, when Mani Ram gave a beating to him and accused Deepak of indulging in eve-teasing. The complainant also alleged that Mani Ram passed defamatory remarks against Deepak. The magistrate, after recording preliminary evidence, summoned the teacher.


Gulzar Singh is Dean, varsity council
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 6
Mr Gulzar Singh, former DPI (Colleges), Punjab, has been appointed Dean, College Development Council of Guru Nanak Dev University, by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh. Mr Gulzar Singh took over here on Tuesday.

He began as a teacher at Government College, Tanda.

He is also a member of the Sports Committee, Executive Committee, Youth Welfare Academic Council, Senate and Syndicate of Punjabi University, Patiala and member of Senate and Syndicate of Panjab University, Chandigarh.


Scheme to check school dropouts
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 6
The Central Government has launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (movement for education for all) to promote elementary education and check dropouts in schools. Initially, the six districts of Faridkot, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and Sangrur have been selected for the scheme. A grant of Rs 91 lakh had already been given to these districts to start with the plan. Of this Rs 11.75 lakh will be spent in this district, said Mrs Sukhmander Kaur Brar, District Education Officer (Primary), here today.

Stress would be laid on developing community mobilisation, capacity building, household surveys and strengthening the district education offices. Gram panchayat committees have been constituted to mobilise the scheme. Powers would also be given to them to recruit teachers at their own level. Priority would be given to women teachers.

She disclosed that an additional amount of Rs 25.97 lakh had also been given by the Central Government under the Prime Minister’s Gram Udyog Yojna for pre-project activities. 


‘Involve teachers in policy-making’
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 6
Mr T.R. Sharma, an educationist and former Head of the Punjabi Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, expressed concern over the failure of the state government to constitute an education advisory committee. He was speaking at a function organised by the Mata Bishan Kaur Memorial Trust, Mansa, on the occasion of Teachers’ Day last evening on the premises of the local Government Senior Secondary School for Boys.


Teachers await salaries
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 6
Due to prevalent red tapism in the Education Department, Punjab, about 50,000 teachers and employees working under the Non-Plan Blackboard Scheme and other schemes at 18,000 primary, middle, high and senior secondary schools in the state have not been paid salaries for August.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Secondary Teachers Union, Punjab, here today appealed to the Chief Minister and Education Minister of Punjab to ensure that the teachers got salaries at least for the current financial year in time.

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