Sunday, May 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Increase in power tariff on cards
Free power for farmers, Scheduled Castes may go
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
The stage has been set for raising the tariff structure of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) with the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission taking heed of a plea by the Board for the same and deciding to issue a notice for such an increase as the first step.

All categories of consumers, including farmers and Scheduled Castes, who had been given special concessions by the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, may be affected by the tariff hike.

The Regulatory Commission has taken on record the annual revenue expenditure of the PSEB for the year 2002-03 and the tariff proposal submitted by the PSEB to generate 3 per cent surplus to meet the requirements of Section 59 of the Electricity (Supply) Act 1948 and also keeping in view the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

According to a note prepared by the commission, it has decided to issue a notice regarding the power increase through which it will also invite objections in this regard. The public can file objections within 30 days of the publication of the notice after consulting the relevant record and documents which the PSEB will make available in the office of the Chief Engineer, Commercial, Patiala, all Chief Engineers and Superintending Engineers, Operations, and Liaison Officer, PSEB Guest House, Chandigarh.

According to sources, the PSEB had approached the commission headed by former Chief Secretary R.S. Mann appealing for an ad hoc revision in the power tariff of all categories of consumers, including farmers and Scheduled Castes, to enable it to tide over the financial crisis being faced by it. The sources said if the commission accepted the proposal, the PSEB might net around Rs 875 crore which would partially offset the present cash flow deficit besides cover the backlog and debt servicing of previous loans being done by the Board.

The sources said the PSEB envisaged an increase in the tariff for agricultural consumers who it proposed to charge Rs 2 per unit. It also opposed the continuation of the free power supply given to Scheduled Castes amounting to 50 units per month on a load of 1,000 watts. In case the facility of free power to farmers was not withdrawn the Board had asked for a provision of Rs 1,270 crore cash compensation per year to the Board. For continuation of the present facility to the weaker sections it had demanded a compensation of Rs 120 crore.

The PSEB has proposed an increase in tariff from 25 per cent to 45 per cent for different categories of consumers. The proposed tariff for industrial supply envisages the same rate for medium and large scale consumers for loads exceeding 20 kw. With the increase in power tariff the Board hopes to record a revenue of Rs 7,442 crore this year which will only leave a gap of Rs 415 crore.


Priest, 7 others get ‘tankhah’
Burning of volumes of Guru Granth Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
The Sikh clergy today pronounced ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment) on five Sikh leaders, including a priest of Gurdwara Singh Sabha Mohalla Chaudhrian, Phillaur, for their ‘negligence’ in saving nine volumes of Guru Granth Sahib burnt due to a short-circuit. The Sikh High Priests described the ‘tankhah’ as symbolic ‘seva’ (religious service).

The meeting, which lasted two hours at the Akal Takht secretariat here today, pronounced that the management and the concerned priest had failed to protect the volumes of Guru Granth Sahib which showed negligence on their part. Among the seven persons who would undergo ‘sewa’ for a week are Mr Mohinder Singh, president, Mr Parmjit Singh, secretary, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh and Mr Jarnail Singh — all members of Singh Sabha Gurdwara.

They have been directed to dust the shoes of the Sikh ‘sangat’, listen to ‘Gurbani’ and clean utensils in the community kitchen for seven days. On completion of the ‘sewa’, they would offer ‘karah parsad’ of Rs 101 at the Golden Temple and Akal Takht.

The priest of the gurdwara is abroad these days.

The Sikh Clergy pronounced ‘tankhah’ on granthi Jagjit Singh of Gurdwara Charn Kanwal, Banga, who had performed ‘path’ at a marriage palace in violation of the ‘hukmnama’. He has already apologised.

However, many an eye-brow was raised when the Sikh Clergy once again postponed the two-year-old case of Baba Dhanwant Singh, head, Vishaw Ruhani Charitable Trust, (Nawanshehr and Gurdaspur). Opponents of Baba Dhanwant Singh had levelled serious charges, including of moral turpitude, against him. They had threatened to resort to an extreme step if no action was initiated against him.

The Sikh High Priests said an artist, Gursewak Singh, had given in writing that he would withdraw his ‘controversial’ portrait of Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur. The Sikh ‘sangat’ had lodged a complaint against this picture. The Dharm Prachar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had directed the artist to withdraw prints of the picture from the market.

The Sikh Clergy expressed concern over the communal riots in Gujarat. The high priests urged members of all communities to exercise restraint so that the age-old bonds of brotherhood could be maintained.

The Sikh High Priests also asked voluntary organisations like Bhai Kanhaiya Sanstha to extend all possible help to victims of the Mig-21 aircrash at Jalandhar.


Punjab food scam a big challenge
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
While millers have been pressing the state government to clear their dues totalling Rs 200 crore pertaining to the delivery of rice to the Central pool, the food scam pertaining to “ unaccounted paddy “ worth hundreds of crores has become a big challenge for the government.

There are nearly 1100 cases of missing paddy in the state. The biggest one, worth Rs 100 crore pertains to a rice mill in the Khamano area. It owes this amount to the Warehousing Corporation alone though paddy was transferred to it by other agencies as well from 10 districts. Earlier, it was endorsed by the officials concerned that the vigilance probe should be held in this case and responsibility fixed. However, this move has been apparently scuttled at the top .

Now, it has been proposed that all 1,100 cases of missing paddy should be clubbed for a probe. Obviously, holding a probe into such a large number of cases will be a gigantic task, requiring a lot of time. It will cause a considerable delay in pinpointing the culprits involved in the scam, besides providing respite to defaulter rice millers. However, the effort will be worth it in the light of the campaign against corruption launched by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Informed sources said millers had brought pressure on the government to clear their dues worth Rs 200 crore to those millers who have supplied rice to the Central pool. The payment to these millers has been hanging fire for the past several month.

The sources said the Finance Department had suggested that the payment to rice millers should be tied up with the recovery of “ missing paddy” . First pressure should be built upon millers to account for the missing paddy. They should be told to deposit the money, including the loss suffered on this count by the state government. The officials conceded who allocated paddy to the defaulter millers should be taken to task after fixing responsibility. There were clear instructions not to allocated paddy for shelling to rice millers who were defaulters. Most cases, rice millers disposed of rice prepared from paddy in the open market, allegedly in connivance with the officials concerned of procurement agencies.

Informed sources said certain millers have been now urging the government to take rice from them on the basis of “rice recovery formula” fixed in 2000. Because of moisture and quality problems, the Union Government had then agreed to accept 64 kg of rice against one quintal of paddy given for shelling to millers. This figure was brought down from 67 kg which had been prevalent for the past several years. However, the authorities concerned have not accepted this plea of millers.

On the other hand, the state government is in a tight spot on the issue of settling the food account with the RBI. The Punjab Government is to account for about Rs 2,200 cr to the RBI.


Egos eclipse anti-corruption drive
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The ongoing “war” against corruption in Punjab has got mired in unsavoury controversies engineered and manipulated by the bureaucracy, which apparently shows wide, vested interests.

New revelations have come to light that the bureaucracy had ignored the objections and comments of the Vigilance Bureau in respect of its “guidelines” ostensibly to clip the wings of the bureau.

The Tribune has come to know that the Vigilance Bureau had sent a 15-page note on the “guidelines” strongly opposing the same and describing these as ultra vires and against the spirit and equality before the law. The issue of “guidelines” has now come in the forefront following the registration of a case against IAS officer R. Venkataratnam.

This has compounded the on-going high drama. Smitten by the FIR against Mr Venkatratnam and apprehending that heat may turn on several others, the IAS Officers’ Association has invoked the March 6, 2000, letter of the Department of Vigilance on the subject of “Streamlining of vigilance machinery in the state of Punjab”. The letter had conveyed the decision pertaining to the “guidelines” for the bureau approved by the Council of Ministers on August 4, 1999, wherein, two committees were set up to scrutinise the complaints and other material submitted by the Vigilance Bureau before proceeding against gazetted/non-gazetted officers.

In fact after the council had approved the “restructuring and strengthening” of the Vigilance Bureau, its views were sought by the then Chief Secretary on the proposed changes. Consequently, a bureau meeting was held on November 4, 1999. After deliberations, a 15-page document was submitted by the bureau.

One main complaint objection made by the bureau was that often administrative sanction was never given and, if given, it was considerably delayed, jeopardizing the investigation. Several examples were quoted and case histories attached with the reply. Those pertained to PCS officers, Executive Engineers and other senior officers.

Bureau suggestions and comments were conveniently ignored by bureaucrats. That was the undoing of the bureau. Its hands have remained tied behind its back, since then. The bureaucracy — having taken shelter behind “technicalities” it evolved for itself — is now armtwisting the government to save its own skin.

However, a vibrant section of the bureaucracy feels that the real solution to tackling corruption lies in not political vendetta or witch-hunt but in introducing administrative reforms in the system making governance transparent. Basic structural and functional reforms alone can rid the state of corruption and not the kind of fear psychosis that prevails now.

Notwithstanding the bureaucratic wrangles, the political mileage gained by Capt Amarinder Singh in the PPSC recruitment scandal is widely acknowledged and has gone down well with the ordinary people.

The way political and administrative hornet’s nest has been stirred with similar “jobs-on-sale” scams falling in the Vigilance Bureau’s net in recent weeks, there is as much appreciation as apprehension. There are also signs of a clash of egos between the intelligence wing and the Vigilance Bureau. Pressure groups — egged on by internal politics of bureaucrats with tacit political support — has necessitated intervention by the Chief Minister, who expects Chief Secretary, Y.S. Ratra to do damage control to checkmate the cascading effect.


SAD to counter Cong ‘onslaught’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said if the government was sincere in its commitment to eradicate corruption, let it first begin with a discussion on the Lok Pal reports already before the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and proceed against those Congressmen, who had been indicted, in the next session.

While reiterating his party’s resolve to support the government in its war against corruption, Mr Badal said “operation clean-up” must begin at home in the Congress.

Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the party’s past and present MPs, MLAs and district presidents, held at Guru Kalghidhar Nivas here, Mr Badal said the SAD would assist any commission of inquiry set up to dig out corruption provided it was headed by a ‘’sitting’’ judge of the high court approved by the Chief Justice. ‘’We expect no justice from the present incumbent, given his background as reported in the media’’.

It may be recalled that the apex court on an SLP by Punjab on the Lok Pal issue, had said the government could proceed against the indicted ministers. Though special reports had been placed on the table of the House, yet no discussion took place. The Akali Dal would rake up this issue in the Budget session.

The meeting today focused on the state-wide ‘’repression’’ let loose by the Congress government on Akali activists and on registering false cases against them. In view of the political vendetta, the Akali workers today expressed apprehensions that the forthcoming elections to the four municipal corporations, panchyats and zila parishads, too, would not be free and fair, and would meet the same fate as that of the Malout byelection to the Vidhan Sabha that was held under the ‘’shadow of police gun and goondaism’’.

The meeting passed several resolutions, including one charging Capt Amarinder Singh with interfering in the course of law and justice and deliberately undermining the process of independent and impartial investigations in cases of corruption by pronouncing judgments against Akalis even before the probe was complete.

The second resolution condemned the reign of suppression and repression in the state.

The meeting also devised a politico-legal strategy to counter the “onslaught” of the Congress. As a first democratic step, it was decided to hold workers’ meetings in all districts to be addressed by Mr Badal. A beginning would be made from Sangrur on May 12, followed by one at Bathinda on May 21, Gurdaspur on May 25 on Mansa, on May 28, Faridkot on May 29 and Moga on May 30.

In cases where glaring ‘’excesses’’ are committed, the Akalis would not desist form holding ‘’gherao’’ or ‘’dharna’’ of the police station concerned.

In view of the forthcoming visit of an NDA team to see ‘’murder ‘’of democracy in the state, the SAD would compile a fact sheet giving details of the false cases and ‘’atrocities’’ committed on Akali workers and supporters during the workers’ meetings.

The BJP, its ally, would be requested to join the meetings and in documenting the state ‘’excesses’’.

Mr Badal charged the government with political vendetta and working with ‘’vengeance’’ against the Opposition party. He was more sore at the manipulations being done against the Akalis by the likes of Mr Ravi Inder Singh through the Congress. ‘’We see a conspiracy behind political harassment’’, he added.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA from Gidderbaha, alleged that in his constituency at least 40 FIRs were registered on flimsy and false allegations involving even sarpanches.

Mr Badal wondered how the government would run which had, so far, not even considered one of its promises made during the Assembly elections to the people, what to speak of implementing any major policy decision.


Vigilance team raids Civil Hospital
13 found absent, equipment worth lakhs lying unused
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
A vigilance team, led by the SP (Vigilance), Patiala, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, raided the local Civil Hospital and found 13 employees, including four doctors, absent from duty. The team also found that equipment worth lakhs had been lying locked in the rooms for the past two years. Those found absent were Dr Sham Lal Gupta, Dr T.L. Mattoo, Mr Dharmbir Verma, Radiologist, Dr Sarabjit Kaur, three staff nurses, one lab technician, a pharmacist, clerk and three sweepers.

Interestingly, the local Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the Civil Hospital did not cooperate with the vigilance team. He ‘boldly’ refused to open the lock of a room. His refusal to hand over the keys forced the vigilance team to break open the doors of the room, where equipment for physiotherapy and other gadgets worth lakhs had been lying unused for the past two years. The equipment included a short-wave bio-thermo machine imported from German and an electric cervical traction machine.

The SP (vigilance), Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, said it was shocking that a colour X-ray machine, worth Rs 25 lakh, was lying packed in the store, while the patients were forced to get their X-rays done from private clinics. There were many other items lying in the store which were purchased without any due approval and without inviting quotations. Even the registers to write history of the patients were purchased at rates about eight times higher than the price in the open market. The register which were available in the market for Rs 6 to 10 were purchased at the rate of Rs 85 per register.

He said the SMO also misused the funds by making fake purchases. He used to purchase goods without inviting quotations and verifications by any other official. The SP said whenever the vigilance team demanded any register from the SMO, he refused to hand it over. He said the income of the Health System Corporation in this hospital had been more than Rs 1 lakh per month. The SMO used to spend this amount by getting fake bills. He alleged that the SMO had embezzled funds. He said during the checking of cash, the team found that instead of Rs 4,944, an amount of Rs 2,454 was there in the chest and the SMO had not signed the cashbook since February 5. He said the entire record had been taken into possession and proper screening would be done and more embezzlement was likely to be detected.

Other members of the team were Mr Paramjit Khera, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Banarsi Dass, DSP (vigilance), Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Mohinder Singh, Inspector (vigilance), Mr Gurcharan Singh, ETO, Mr Ganga Ram, Senior Planning Draughtsman, and Mr Darshan Singh, Statistical Assistant.


Gill vice-chairman of SC cell
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 4
Mr Amarjit Singh Gill has been appointed vice-chairman of the SC/ST cell of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress. The appointment has been made with the consent of Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala.


Ahluwalia bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
A local court today dismissed the anticipatory bail application filed by ousted Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia in a corruption case registered against him here recently.

The local police had registered a case under the Corruption Act against him on the grounds that he had given affiliation to various private information technology institutions during his tenure even though the law was clear on the fact that such affiliation could not be granted.

Besides this, the manner in which some students were allowed migration to the university campus without paying the necessary migration fee was taken into account.

The police highlighted how in some cases students were allowed to migrate to the campus even though there were no vacancies and how it had resulted in a loss to the institution as otherwise they would have had to pay fee applicable to non-resident Indians.

The prosecution today challenged the bail application of Dr Ahluwalia claiming corruption charges were pending against him. It was claimed that the former Vice-Chancellor had indulged in large-scale corruption by granting affiliation to various information technology colleges against all rules and regulations.

It was claimed that while there were less IT seats available in the university campus, more such seats in various private institutions opened due to his largesse. The prosecution alleged that Dr Ahluwalia had colluded with private college managements to cause a loss to the university.

Dr Ahluwalia’s lawyers claimed that a false FIR had been registered against him by the local police. Explaining the working of the university, they said the Vice-Chancellor was not supreme and could not have granted affiliation to the various colleges himself. They said other university authorities were also involved in the move and that due procedure had been followed.

Earlier, Dr Ahluwalia in his anticipatory bail application filed yesterday had claimed that a fresh case had been filed against him because he had been granted bail in two cases of attempt to murder and attempt to rape by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He claimed a fresh case had been registered against him with the sole purpose of arresting him and that raids had been conducted at his residences at Patiala and Chandigarh to affect his arrest.

He also claimed that all cases against him had been registered because he was an appointee of the earlier Shiromani Akali Dal led government.


State gets notice in Sidhu bail case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
A local court today issued a notice to the state government for May 9 following a bail application moved by Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu claiming a fresh case had been registered against him in Patiala at the behest of the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Additional Sessions Judge, Ms Sabeena, issued a notice to the state in the new case registered here recently under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120 (b) of the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act .

According to the bail application, Sidhu claimed that the Vigilance Bureau had arrested him on March 25 from Chandigarh and registered several cases against him, including for accepting a bribe from one Bhupjit Singh besides those under the Arms and Excise Acts. He said these cases were the result of his enmity with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh . He said the Chief Minister had claimed that he would take him to task in the run-up to elections in the state and had proceeded against him immediately after coming to power in the state.

The bail application said the Vigilance Department was also registering cases against him due to pressure from the Congress government. It said this had been done only to procure a fresh police remand against him. It said Sidhu apprehended that more cases may be registered against him solely with the purpose of harassing him and humiliating him further. It appealed that in case any fresh case was to be registered against him due notice should be given to him.

The bail application said Sidhu had not been allowed to contact any lawyer when he had been arrested at Chandigarh and that his advocates were not allowed to meet him even when he was presented before a Kharar Magistrate. It said similarly no relative was coming to meet Sidhu because they feared that they might be deliberately involved in the case registered against him. He said even his advocates were kept waiting for more than one hour on May 1 when they had come to meet him in the Central Jail here.

The bail application also alleged that the entire manner in which the state Vigilance Bureau had pursued its case against Sidhu was wrong in the eyes of the law. It said this could be seen by the manner in which he was presented before a Magistrate in Kharar rather than being presented before a Judge in Chandigarh where the case had been registered against him.


Jagman’s judicial remand extended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 4
The local Additional Sessions and Special Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today extended the judicial remand of Jagman Singh, a close associate of the PPSC Chairman, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, till May 19. Jagman Singh who has turned a public approver in the case, was brought to the court at about 10 a.m. as his judicial remand ended today.

In the court he had to wait for the Vigilance officials who came in the afternoon along with another accused in the case, Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, a Senator of Panjab University. The Vigilance authorities asked for the extension of Jagman Singh’s remand which was granted by the Judge. The judicial remand of Paramjit Singh was also extended till May 19 later.

The hearing on the bail application of Jagman Singh is scheduled for May 6. Though Jagman has become a public approver in the case, he is unlikely to get bail on that ground. One of the conditions which he agreed to before becoming a public approver included that he would agree to remain under detention.


Probe molestation bid charge: PSHRC
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 4
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission, (PSHRC), taking a serious note of the complaint filed by Seeto, a member of the Scheduled Caste community working as a sweeper in the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala, alleging that the Branch Manager attempted to molest her, has directed the local police to make an inquiry into the matter and submit a report to the PSHRC on or before May 30.

Seeto, wife of Milkha Singh, a resident of the nearby Palasour village, in her complaint alleged that Mr A.K. Luthra, Branch Manager, came to her house on December 20, 2001. After sending her husband to bring liquor, he allegedly bolted the door from inside and tried to molest her. She said his bid to molest her was foiled when her husband returned.

The matter was brought to the notice of the local city police station, where a compromise was reached between the two parties, but still the Branch Manager went on harassing her, she alleged.

She then decided to bring the matter to the notice of the bank authorities and the PSHRC. The bank authorities have transferred Mr Luthra to Ludhiana and the PSHRC has directed the local police to submit a report to the commission. The local police has deputed Mr Buta Singh, ASI, to enquire into the matter.


Gill’s appointment sinister: Mann
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
Expressing strong objection to the appointment of Mr K.P.S. Gill as Security Adviser to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Akali Dal (Amritsar) Chief Simranjit Singh Mann today described the move as “sinister” since the former had allegedly failed to check the “genocide” of Sikhs in Punjab. Mr Mann said this appointment would be taken up with the Amnesty International, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Women’s Commission and the Minorities Commission by his party.

The MP expressed resentment over the treatment meted out to Jagjit Singh Chauhan, who was not allowed to address the Vidhan Sabha on the occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations of the House yesterday.

He also criticised the Indian Government for not letting Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan. Firing a salvo at Shriomani Akali Dal leaders seeking anticipatory bail in the wake of Vigilance Bureau raids, Mr Mann announced that he would follow the latest “fashion of seeking such a bail from the high court.

Mr Mann said Sikh “maryada” was being flouted yet again by SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar by making efforts to instal a person with a criminal background as Jathedar, while usurping the powers of the SGPC Executive.


Bhattal to head Mansa Dist Planning Board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The Punjab Government has appointed the following Ministers chairpersons of various district planning boards:

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Mansa), Ch Jagjit Singh (Amritsar), Mr Lal Singh (Ludhiana), Mr Khushal Behal (Kapurthala), Mr Partap Singh Bajwa (Ferozepore), Mr Tej Parkash Singh (Ropar), Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri (Muktsar), Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra (Jalandhar), Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar (Gurdaspur), Ch Santokh Singh (Moga), Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang (Hoshiarpur), Mr Sardul Singh (Patiala), Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee (Bathinda), Mr Avtar Henry (Sangrur), Mr Amarjit Singh Samra (Fatehgarh Sahib) and Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma (Nawanshahr).

Mrs Ashwani Sekhri will be the vice-chairperson of the board in Amritsar, Mr Harbans Lal in Ludhiana, Mr Rakesh Pandey in Jalandhar, Mr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa in Gurdaspur and Gurbinder Singh Atwal in Hoshiarpur.


Military removes 195 shells
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
The residents of Fatehpur village, near here, who were living under the shadow of death for the past nine months got some respite as a team of military officials today removed 195 shells dumped in a rivulet on the outskirts of the village.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said after an operation of six hours, a team from Jalandhar Ammunition Depot comprising Major Shashidhar and Capt Paramjit Singh removed 195 shells out of which 90 were alive. The matter had earlier featured in the Media.

The duds were found dumped in the rivulet by villagers in August following which the police and district administration were informed. After registering a case, the police informed the civil authorities, which took up the matter with higher officials in the military. The Deputy Commissioner said the district administration had been making repeated requests to military officials for the removal of duds. He said the Home Ministry finally gave its approval for the removal of shells from the rivulet after nine months of campaign.

The Deputy Commissioner further said out of 195 shells, 90 were found alive, while 105 were empty. He further disclosed that 149 shells were of 130mm, 28 of 105mm and 18 of 81mm guns. He said one of the recovered shells was defused on the spot, while the others were taken to the Jalandhar Ammunition Depot.

Interestingly, a police party had been guarding the site ever since the shells were spotted. He said before starting the operation, the Drainage Department had diverted the flow of water in order to remove shells from the rivulet.


Power ‘corrupts’ national players
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, May 4
Laxity on the part of the National Institute of Sports (NIS) authorities in ensuring proper power supply to its hostels, where newly-purchased air conditioners have been installed, has led to a situation where national-level campers find themselves caught in a virtual death-trap.

The NIS authorities, after a high-level meeting held at New Delhi last month between national coaches and officials of the Sports Authority of India, decided to purchase 50 ACs. These units were to be installed in hostels of campers attending various ongoing national camps here in connection with preparation for Manchester Commonwealth games and the Pusan Asian games.

Last week, 32 of these ACs were installed in the men’s hostels and 18 in the women’s hostel. To ensure proper power supply for these ACs, the authorities deposited the requisite amount with the PSEB. The PSEB authorities, on their part, sanctioned the required load, but till today have failed to activate the transformer.

Campers, finding the sweltering heat hard to ignore, have now ‘manipulated’ power supply from another source to activate the ACs.

This manipulation may lead to short-circuiting on a large scale. A PSEB officer confirmed that the mode deployed by the campers in getting the ACs started in their rooms has made the hostels a virtual ‘death-trap’ in the eventuality of any short-circuiting.

Although more than two weeks have elapsed since the ACs were installed, the NIS authorities have failed to take proper follow-up action with the PSEB management, leading to a stage where even a single short circuit may assume dangerous proportions in the wake of a sharp voltage drop.

The only thing that the authorities have done, is to paste notices in the hostels warning the campers not to activate their ACs till proper power supply is ensured. However, nobody is taking cognisance of this notice and the campers are ‘chilling out’ in their rooms, blissfully unaware of the dangerous implications involved.

Meanwhile, a request made by the national coaches to have ACs in their rooms has been turned down, with the authorities taking the plea that the ACs are meant only for medal prospects and not for coaches.

With the Executive Director, Lt Col B.S Ahluwalia, being in New Delhi and not available for comments and Regional Director G.S. Anand on medical leave, there was no senior official who could be contacted for comments.


Further remand for NRI in murder case

Moga (Punjab), May 4
The judicial custody of Raghbir Singh Gill, alleged to have murdered a girl in Canada 16 years ago, has been extended till May 15.

The order was passed by Moga Chief Judicial Magistrate yesterday on the expiry of Gill’s 14-day judicial remand.

Gill was arrested by the police here on the request of Interpol and the CBI on April 17 for allegedly murdering a girl in Toronto, Canada, on August 22, 1986. A police party had raided Gill’s house here and took him into custody.

District police chief Varinder Kumar said Gill’s extradition process (to Canada) is in progress and he was likely to be taken to new Delhi soon. He said the suspect during his interrogation had told the police that he along with Major Singh, took liquor with the girl on the fateful day and later following some altercation between the girl and Major Singh, she stabbed Major Singh following which Gill stabbed her to death, Mr Varinder Kumar said. He said the Canadian police found her body three days later in a field. “Gill fled from his house in Toronto after the crime to an unknown destination. Later the Canadian police alerted the Interpol and the CBI in New Delhi providing all details of the suspect from his immigration and passport file,” he said. PTI


Rs 50,000 grant for Dalit dharamshala
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Rural water supply schemes will be executed in all villages of Punjab to ensure pure and clean drinking water. This was stated by Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, while addressing a gathering at Alampur village falling under the Ghanaur Assembly segment near here today.

Mr Randhawa said the Assembly segment was one of the most backward areas in the state and lamented that the pervious government had done nothing to improve the conditions in the area. However, he said he would try his best to ensure that developmental works were initiated at a fast pace and that no area of the Assembly segment would be neglected.

Mr Randhawa said a new sports stadium would be built at the village. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the construction of a dharamshala for Dalits at the village and also doled out a grant of Rs 25,000 for the sports club of the village. Mr Randhawa assured that the village primary school would be upgraded to middle school soon.


Impetus to crop diversification
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
After successfully launching an anti-corruption drive, the Punjab Government has started taking a keen interest in development, giving aid to police officials facing trials and crop diversification in a big way to put the economy of state back on rails and to fulfil its pre-poll promises.

The Punjab Government has also initiated efforts to defend those police officials who have been facing trial in various courts in the country for their acts while performing their duties during the days of terrorism.

Official sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had held a meeting with senior lawyers of the Supreme Court, DGP, Punjab Police, Mr Mehal Singh Bhuller, and other retired police officials on April 29 at Delhi. The meeting was convened to work out a strategy to defend such police officials in the courts. The decision taken at the meeting could not be known. Capt Amarinder Singh also held a one-to-one meeting with eminent economists of the world in Delhi on April 30 before meeting the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr K.C. Pant.

The Punjab Government has also set an agenda for positive growth in agriculture to improve the economy of farmers and to bring them out of the vicious circle of perpetuating debt. A seminar will be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Punjab Government in the city on May 11 to discuss various aspects of agriculture with the main focus on the development of cotton crop in the area.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the high powered Finance Committee, told TNS that Capt Amarinder Singh would preside over the function and would have direct interaction with the farmers to get first hand information about their pressing problems.

He added that the Chief Minister would also unfold the policy of the Punjab Government on the cultivation of BT cotton in the state and the facilities which the government would provide to the farmers in this connection. The Chief Minister would also spell out the programme of the state government to facilitate the growth of agriculture.

The sources said the seminar would be beneficial for the Punjab Government on two counts. First, the government would be able to make inroads into the rural areas effectively with its farmer friendly approach at a time when the environment was being created for holding the Panchayat elections by the end of June. Secondly, the seminar, which was the first of its kind, would give an advantage to the Congress in this area, known as hinterland of a former Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who wielded considerable influence in the region.

Mr Singla said after the seminar the award for excellence would be given to the best cotton producers. The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, eminent scientists, economists and industrialists would participate in the seminar, which would be attended by Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman, CII.


Workshop on improving police image
Anirudh Gupta

The functioning of the Police Department has always been the subject of criticism-on account of rampant corruption, nepotism or high handedness and the man on the streets often develops a fear psychosis on the mere mention of the word, “police”. The structure of the Police Department continues to be on the same old British pattern where the police was considered the strong arm of the government. In fact it was raised by the British to stalk terror in the minds of the people and suppress national feelings. Many incidents in the past show that the police has been used unlawfully by those at the helm of the affairs to settle personal scores. But as it is said that the dark clouds have a silver lining too, the Ferozepore Police has taken up the cudgels to improve the image of the police and making it people friendly.

In order to achieve the aim, the police organised a workshop on “Institutionalised community participation in policing” in collaboration with the Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh. At this workshop, which was the brainchild of the SSP, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, people from various walks of life, including doctors, advocates, MCs, Sarpanches, social workers and media persons were invited for an interactive session on how to ensure active participation of the public in policing.

While delivering his keynote address, Mr Sinha averred that the police was like any other service and the complainant was the client. He said it was every policeman’s duty to instantly redress the grievances and facilitate justice even to the poorest of the poor. He said a mere 10% of the people in society were criminal-minded and prone to taking the law into their hands. He said the task to handle these anti-social elements was not at all intricate if the public assisted the police.

Mrs Anita Punj, SP, Vigilance, while addressing the gathering said it was being observed that law-abiding citizens feared to walk into police stations. She exhorted that this concept must change and the gap between the police and the public should be bridged through community policing.

Mr Munish Chawla SP, Detective, asserted that the police was there not to deliver justice but to ensure the kind of atmosphere where justice prevails.

A team from the IDC led by Mr Hars Chopra, specially arrived here to conduct some exercises related to community policing.

The workshop was appreciated by the public and was termed as a welcome step towards better relations between the public and the police and its utility was very much underlined in the concept of the prevailing situation.

Mr Sinha said more such type of workshops and seminars would be organised all over the district to improve the image of the police.


Roshan gram yojna launched in Batala

Batala, May 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today launched the “Sonia Gandhi Roshan Gram Yojna” to install solar street lights in the district today.

The Chief Minister, said the street lights would be maintained by the respective gram panchayats.

Punjab Minister for Tourism Development Ashwani Sekhri, who represents Batala, said under the scheme 425 solar street lights would be installed in all 91 villages of the constituency at an estimated cost of Rs 16 lakh.

He said the Deputy Commissioner had provided a grant of Rs 9.98 lakh under the MP Local Area Development Scheme and the remaining amount was being provided by the Union Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources.

Punjab Energy Development Authority(PEDA) Chief Executive Gagandip Singh said nodal agency for promotion and development of solar and other non-conventional energy sources, PEDA would provide solar street lights for community through this low-cost model for the first time in the state. UNI


Public Relations Dept promotions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The Punjab Government today promoted Ms Senu Duggal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Sodhi as Joint Directors in the Information and Public Relations Department, according to an official press note.

Ms Rajinder Kaur, Mr Opinder Singh Lamba and Dr Megha Singh have been promoted as Deputy Directors.


Gang busted; two arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
The district police has claimed to have busted a gang of cheats by arresting two persons and seized pulses worth Rs 6 lakh, a Maruti car and two trucks from them. Those arrested have been identified as Kabul Singh, resident of Mandofal village and Jarnail Singh, alias Jally, resident of Nand Pur Kesho village of the district.

Addressing a press conference, Mr B.Chandra Sekhar, SSP and Mr I.S.Randhawa, SP(H), said that on April 4, Mr Jang Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, complained to the Sirhind police that he booked the pulses worth Rs 3 lakh from Delhi for Ludhiana through the Cargo Carrier Company but the pulses had not reached the destination so for. The truck driver, who loaded the pulses in his truck, had left Delhi but had not reached Ludhiana and as he was a resident of Mandofal village near Sirhind so he lodged an FIR with Sirhind Police under Sections 401, 420, IPC. He said that the police said that Kabul Singh was a habitual cheat and he had been indulging in this crime. His modus operandi was that he loaded his truck from different goods carriers by putting fake number plates and sold the loaded material in the market and changed the number plates again after that. He said that on a tip off the police arrested Kabul Singh and during interrogation he admitted of committing the crime. On his disclosure 180 quintal of pulses worth Rs 3 lakh was recovered. He said that more recoveries were likely to be made after further interrogation.

He said that the police also arrested Jarnail Singh, alias Jelly, during a naka and seized pulses worth Rs. 3.5 lakh from him, which had been stolen. Giving the details he said that during a night naka the police signaled a truck to stop and during checking of documents the driver gave uncertain replies and the police became suspicious. During questioning he admitted that the material he was carrying stolen. He said after verification it was found that the driver had criminal record and he had come after completing life imprisonment in a murder case. He said a case under Sections 379, 411 IPC had been registered.


Gang of cheats busted, 29 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
The Faridkot police has busted a gang of cheats who would collect wheat and other items from villagers by claiming themselves to be caretakers of a gurdwara here. As many as 29 members of the gang have been arrested.

Police sources said the members of the gang would go to villages of the district in groups of five or six during harvest. They pretended themselves to be the representatives and caretakers of a gurdwara in the district.

They would ask the villagers to donate wheat and other items, besides money, for langar (community kitchen) at the gurdwara. They would also give receipts on letterheads of the gurdwara. After collecting wheat and other items, they would sell it in the market.

The racket came to light following a special drive launched by the Faridkot police. Baba Lal Singh, in charge of Gurdwara Viveksar at Phul village in this district, had lodged a complaint with the Faridkot police that some persons had been cheating people in the name of the gurdwara.

The district police authorities formed a team based on police personnel of special staff, CIA staff and Sadar police station to nab the culprits.

On may 2, as many as 29 members of the gang were arrested from the district and 32 gunny bags, containing wheat, were recovered and seven jeeps seized from their possession. They have been booked under Sections 420, 465, 468, 471 of the IPC. Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Faridkot, when contacted, confirmed the arrest of members of the gang.


1,470 kg of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 4
The police has seized 1,470 kg of poppy husk during a search operation, official sources said here today.

The SHO of Sadar police station, Mr Devinder Singh, had laid a naka at Alamgarh bypass on the Sriganganagar-Abohar road yesterday. When a truck (MH-26-7877) loaded with onion bags was searched, it was found that 42 bags contained poppy husk weighing 1,470 kg.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the contraband was purchased from Kishangarh town of Rajasthan. The contraband was being carried to Amritsar. The owner of the truck could not be arrested but the police has registered a case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act against Lakhbir Singh and Palwinder Singh, both residents of Bhikhi in Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Swaran Singh of Shamkhera village was arrested last evening at the Bahawwala police post for being in possession of 20 kg of poppy husk.


Ex-bank manager booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 4
Misappropriation of Rs 17 lakh by a manager of Punjab & Sind Bank, Dinanagar, has come to light. An FIR in this connection under Sections 409, 467, 468 and 471 IPC, was lodged at Dinanagar police station by Mr Pritam Singh, the present manager of the bank, on Thursday.

Mr B.K. Uppal, SSP, talking to reporters here yesterday said the alleged accused was running parallel banking at Dinanagar. The suspect, by forging signatures of an England-based NRI, Mr Iqbal Singh, got a loan of Rs 11 lakh against his fixed deposit of Rs 14 lakh in the bank. In another case, he allegedly prepared a fake fixed deposit in his account and took a loan of Rs 6 lakh against it. Mr Uppal said the suspect had been giving the said amount on a much higher rate of interest in the open market.


Students wait for study material
Tribune News Service

Mansa, May 4
Even as Kurukshetra University (KU) has announced the datesheet for the final exams of the Master of Mass Communication (MMC), the students of correspondence course of the same have not been supplied with the full study material till today by the Directorate of Correspondence Courses of the university.

MMC students while talking to TNS pointed out that though the exams for this course would begin from May 16, the authorities concerned had failed to supply them with the required study material. Only notes in parts of some subjects were supplied to them so far.

One of the affected students pointed out that they were entirely dependent on the study material supplied by the Directorate of Correspondence Courses of the university. She alleged that the authorities had not given them even the list of prescribed books for the course.

Another student said repeated requests to the authorities for the supplying of study material had failed to get any positive response. He said that when they had attended the personal contact programme (PCP) at Kurukshetra, the authorities had assured them that the study material would be delivered to them in time. Now they had been supplied with the roll numbers for their exams but they were still waiting for the study material. He said that even as he had opted English as the medium of instruction, some of the notes supplied to him were in Hindi.

Interestingly, the Directorate of Correspondence Courses of the university in a letter written to one of the students mentioned that as eight lessons/units of the course were yet to be printed by the authorities concerned.

Though no senior official of the university was available for comments, one of the employees of the Correspondence Department said the MMC course was started for the first time by the university, so there are some teething problems.

Meanwhile, the aggrieved students have sent a detailed representation to the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor of the university, asking them to intervene in the matter and either grant them grace marks or lower the minimum pass marks required for the course.


Students given tips on career choices
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
For children the buzz word is “Plan for yourself and inculcate a learning habit’’ while for parents it is “better not to impose career choices on children’’.

A two-day Career Counselling programme was organised at Blossoms School, here for the students of class IX and X which culminated here today. Counsellors from the Human Learning Systems, Lucknow not only interacted with the students but also organised a special seminar for parents today which was inaugurated by the Principal of the school Mrs Ravi Singh.

Later, after the Principal had introduced counsellor Amitabh Mohan, the latter said he was visiting Patiala and the school after three years and had found that the students of the school were now more confident and extrovert. He said their energy level was higher and their curriculum was now more activity oriented. He said they should utilise their energies to go in for healthy competition for their self betterment.

During the training exercise Mr Mohan divided the children into three groups to know about their aptitude and eagerness to learn more. He also exhorted the parents to inculcate reading habit among children by providing them with a newspaper daily besides general knowledge magazines. He said parents must give time to their children by sitting with them so that they developed the habit of sitting for some time at a stretch which could also develop the habit of reading.

The Income Tax Commissioner, Mr B.M. Singh, while speaking on the occasion, said parents should not choose jobs for their children keeping in view the money or power factors alone. He said in fact the pleasure of the child should be kept also in mind adding it was only a myth that only the bright students opted for Science subjects.

Ms S. Bedi, coordinator of the programme, thanked the parents for their cooperation and for encouraging the children, staff and the management with their presence and their enthusiasm.


Students demand grace marks
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Students of MA I (Urdu) have alleged that Paper-2 held by the Punjabi University authorities at various centres yesterday was wrongly set. In a letter addressed to the Controller of Examinations, the students have alleged that in Section-E, which was compulsory, 7 out of 10 questions were totally out of the syllabus and these questions carried 28 marks.

They also alleged that in Section-D, which carried a total of 15 marks, not even a single question relating to Rajinder Singh Bedi’s book was asked. The students said due to the negligence of the paper setter, they had to suffer a loss of 40 marks for which they urged the authorities to compensate by giving grace marks.


School library computerised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
The new computerised and video section of the library of Modern Secondary School here, the first of its kind in the city, was inaugurated today by Mr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal of Rakhra, an alumnus of the 1966 batch and a patron of the Alumni Association of the school.

The state of the art video section of the library has been set up with a donation of Rs 5 lakh given to the school by Mr Dhaliwal, school’s Executive Director Ms Reena Sophat disclosed. She said eight computers, a laser printer and a photocopier, a 29 inch television with a VCD player alongwith furniture, books and CD’s had been added to the library to make it fully computerised.

Mr Dhaliwal has made this contribution in the name of his father Subedar Kartar Singh Dhaliwal. While inaugurating the library, Mr Dhaliwal recalled his student days and said he owed a lot of his success to his school which had taught him the value of hard work and perseverance. He called upon the alumni to come forward to serve their alma mater.

Mr Dhaliwal also announced that he would sponsor deserving students and the children of alumni for higher studies in the USA. He also offered a teacher-sponsorship programme for the school under which a teacher of the school will be sent to the USA every year to study the methods of teaching practised there.


Parents urged to discourage tuition
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Keeping in view the increasing trend of private tuitions, Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Principal of Government Mohindra College, invited parents of students of medical and non-medical streams of the college for discussion.

Dr Sharma assured that all necessary inputs required for various entrance examinations would be provided at the college. He said surprise tests and regular monthly tests would be conducted for the benefit of students. For IIT aspirants, pre-screening tests would be held.

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