Tuesday, June 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal accuses govt of witch-hunt
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Former Chief Minister and now Leader of the Opposition Parkash Singh Badal today warned the state government of “dangerous and volatile” consequences developing in Punjab due to the Congress policy of “criminalisation of politics and politicisation of bureaucracy”.

Opposing the motion of thanks on the Governor’s March 22 Address in the Vidhan Sabha, he spoke of the brewing grave “social tensions” created by the fanning of “violence and politics of murder” by the government. He warned that if the “criminal” trend introduced by the government in Punjab was not checked, it would ‘’torch peace and amity’’ and pose a threat to the country’s security and integrity. He divided his 75-minute speech into four parts: political, financial, law and order and corruption.

He charged the Congress government with failing on most of these areas and accused it of launching a “political vendetta” against Akali-BJP leaders, workers and supporters alone. He challenged Capt Amarinder Singh that if he was sincere on eradicating corruption, he should cover even those Congress ministers, who were indicted by the Lok Pal and whose report was placed on the table of the House.

Mr Badal extended a hand of “cooperation” to the Congress in its fight against corruption. He said the campaign smacked of vindictiveness and he believed that Congress and corruption were two sides of the same coin.

Referred to the letters, which he, as Chief Minister, had written to the Prime Minister recommending Mr Ravi Sidhu’s name for the Union Public Service Commission, he said: “If anyone proves that I had recommended Mr Sidhu’s name for any monetary gain, I am prepared to face any punishment. But do not forget that Mr Ravi Sidhu was appointed by the Congress and no Akali’s name figures in the disclosures made”.

Mr Badal asked Capt Amarinder Singh to learn lessons from his (Mr Badal) government and not depend too much on the bureaucrats. He said all his decisions, acts and actions, as Chief Minister were “unconstitutional” because the same were taken before the constitution of his Council of Ministers. “Please have the same ratified by the council now”, he advised.

Warning the Treasury Benches that he did not believe in the politics of confrontation or personalised attacks, he chided that since the Congress had set a wrong precedent by adopting the policy of witch-hunt, the next time it could be their turn to face the consequences.

The Leader of the Opposition was in his element when he spoke of two “political murders” in Bhikhiwind and Muktsar. He placed on record photographs showing how an alleged accused acted as Chief Minister’s driver or embraced a minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar.

When the Speaker intervened to say that his comments could influence the ongoing investigation, Mr Badal shot back, asserting that what he was saying would have a positive impact. But what Capt Amarinder Singh had said would definitely have a negative influence because he has already given a clean chit to Mr Bhullar, though, the Akali-BJP candidate had clearly mentioned his (Mr Bhullar) name in the letter to the Governor and others fearing threat to his life.

Mr Badal proffered a hand of “friendship” to Capt Amarinder Singh offering to go all out to enable Congress in any of its policies that were in the interest of the state and its people.

Mr Badal gave figures to show what his government had done to ameliorate the lot of economically deprived, for agriculture, for employees and for the economic development of the state. “The past 100 days shows there is utter confusion in the state, while there is no economic blueprint visible anywhere. A government, which tramples on the sentiments of the people, suppresses their aspirations, as has happened in Kashmir and is happening in Punjab, the future cannot be one of peace and amity.


Badal’s barbs at Congress leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today had a dig at the former and present Congress chief ministers, while speaking on the Governor’s Address of March 22 in the Vidhan Sabha.

Referring to the corruption campaign and the abrasiveness of the police, while dealing with women, he said this was ‘’shameful’’. At this, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal stood up on a point of order and said cases were registered against her too during ‘’your (Badal) time’’.

Reacting spontaneously and pointing towards Capt. Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said, ‘’Bibiji, I saved you. The cases were got registered by the person sitting next to you’’. She sat down smiling. Even the Captain was seen smiling.


On another occasion, Mr Badal told the House that Congress victory was not that big a gain. The total difference between the votes secured by the Congress and the Akalis was 48,222.


For the first time, he also spoke out against the bureaucracy and remarked that Capt Amarinder Singh was never so happy in his life as he was when ‘’My DIG Security told him that I had fractured a leg. But for this fracture, we would have done better. It is connivance of circumstances that made the Congress win’’, he added. «««

He termed the ‘’malpractices’’ indulged in by the government during the series of elections in the past 100 days in which the police was used to intimidate voters and capture booths etc., as a ‘’blot’’ on the face of Punjab. But he reminded the House that when the Governor in his Address gave a clean chit and appreciated the state administration for conducting ‘’fair and free’’ elections in February 2002, the government of the day was that of the Akali-BJP.


If we could manage the finances, despite crisis, and yet give incentives and concessions, why was the Congress cribbing, he asked. ‘’Capt. Sahib’’, he went on, ‘’the state’s interests are not on the Chandigarh-Patiala-New Delhi route but in programmes like ‘sangat darshan’, which you criticise. Let there be politics of conciliation, cooperation and not confrontation’’.


At the very beginning, Mr Badal requested the Speaker that there should be no interruptions to maintain dignity and decorum. Otherwise, when the Leader of the House, Capt. Amarinder Singh, winds up the discussion, there would be problems. It worked.


Why has Amarinder spared Badal, asks Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said today that the Congress was supporting voting right to Sehajdari Sikhs as it wanted to control the SGPC indirectly. He said that the Congress government had “stuffed” the SGPC electoral rolls by enrolling “Sehajdharis” as voters.

He said that the BJP had succeeded in creating its loyal group among Akalis through Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Congress was trying to achieve the same through Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

He said that Capt Amarinder Singh had done good job on the corruption front, but he was dragging his feet on “capturing” Mr Badal. Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh had alleged that Mr Badal had amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore, but now he had not “touched” him.

Criticising Mr Badal for submitting a memorandum to the Union Government, Mr Mann said earlier Mr Badal spearheaded an agitation opposed the Centre’s intervention in the affairs of states in any manner and urged for autonomy to state and now same Mr Badal was leading delegations to New Delhi to solicit the Centre’s intervention in states.

Mr Badal should have explained his position to people of Punjab instead of going to Delhi”, he added.

Welcoming the NDA team’s visit to Punjab, Mr Mann said it should seek the opinion of all political parties and not depend on the opinion of the SAD alone.

About the murder of Mr Gurdial Singh in Bhikhiwind, Mr Mann said it was not a political murder but result of enmity of two mafia groups of smugglers led by two politicians of the area.


Rinwa backs anti-corruption drive
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 17
The state BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, extending moral support to the crusade against corruption, said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should not succumb to pressure from his party MLAs and close associates.

Talking to newspersons at his residence, he said he had apprised the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal about the rampant corruption in the administration. Some initiative was taken but it was too late as only a few months were left at “our disposal”.

He said Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, a former PPSC Chairman, should also not be spared. He said party President and J. Krishnamurthi would address four worker conferences in the state in October. The state unit had divided 24 organisational districts into three zones.

The BJP said the panchayat election results should be declared null and void and fresh elections should be ordered.


I have not run away, says Kahlon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
“I am available. I have conveyed my willingness to join the investigation when required,” says Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Rural Development Minister in the previous SAD-BJP government, decrying the action of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in conducting raids on his Basant Avenue house in Amritsar and farmhouse in Gurdaspur yesterday.

“They went to my house in Amritsar again today and put up a notice outside my house here also,” says Mr Kahlon .

“In pursuant to the notice of arrest issued by the Economic Wing of the Vigilance Bureau on June 12 asking me to join the investigation in case no 11 registered on May 16 under Sections 420, 467 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 13(1) (d) and 13/2/88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act at the Phase I police station of SAS Nagar, I immediately offered to join the investigation. Thereafter, we got this order on June 14 and my counsel sent a fax message to the Vigilance Bureau asking it about the date, time and place where I could join the investigation. But there has been no response to this fax message,” says Mr Kahlon.

“I have neither run away nor have any intention to stay away from the investigation,” he says, claiming that the wooden planks shown to be recovered from his Amritsar house were actually from a neighbouring house.

“The raiding party has taken away both my licensed firearms — a revolver and a carbine. During militancy, I was the target of a bomb attack and also a terrorist attack. I was given commandos for my security. What does the government want to prove by taking away my licensed firearms which are for my personal security.

“I openly challenge the Vigilance Bureau to pay me Rs 1 crore and take away my Amritsar house . The bureau has been putting its value at Rs 2 crore,” he says.” My wife is a Class I officer. One of my sons is a doctor and my daughter-in-law is also working. My other son is a Class I civil contractor. Only before the wedding of my younger son, I added two rooms to my Amritsar house. This is all I have done in the past 18 years.

“What did the Vigilance officials recover from my Amritsar house or my village farmhouse? Not only that. They misbehaved with my wife and my old father. And when I am ready to cooperate in the investigation, what was the provocation for such raids? I could have taken them to all my houses,” says Mr Kahlon, maintaining that “ultimately the truth will come out”.

He denies all allegations made against him in the FIRs registered against him, saying that the JCBs were purchased in phases under a World Bank-project of cleaning village ponds as these were being unauthorisedly occupied by vested interests in the villages. Initially, the Deputy Commissioners of Patiala and Sangrur had purchased JCBs. As the machines proved useful, it was decided to give each district one machine.

From an initial demand of 20 machines, 18 were sanctioned. Then a demand came from blocks and again a demand for 50 JCBs was projected of which only 35 were sanctioned, says Mr Kahlon, maintaining that the purchases were made strictly in accordance with the rules by inviting tenders and at very competitive rates. Haryana never purchased any machine and it was irrelevant to suggest that Punjab paid more than Haryana.

Mr Kahlon told The Tribune that he was ready to face any probe anywhere. “But this is no way — getting a statement from someone that more than 18 months back, money was demanded from her by a steno or a clerk and you frame the Minister in the same case,” rues Mr Kahlon.


Notice issued to AG on Kahlon’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Acting on a petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail filed by Punjab’s former minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon in a cheating and corruption case, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the Advocate-General for June 24.

The former minister was apprehending arrest in a first information report alleging cheating and forgery registered by the Punjab police at SAS Nagar on May 16 under Sections 420, 467 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, Kahlon had alleged that the present government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards its opponents, particularly towards the members of the Akali Dal. The Chief Minister, counsel for the petitioner added, had openly declared that the Dal members and supporters would be taught a lesson.

Refuting the allegations of cheating levelled against Kahlon, he asserted that the petitioner was competent to take decisions regarding the purchase of material for the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat as he was the minister-in-charge.

Terming as false the allegation that certain digging machines, purchased during the period in question, remained idle due to non-employment of labour, he said drivers were hired on contract basis but their services were terminated without the petitioner’s approval two months before the Assembly elections. The case will now come up for further hearing on June 24.


After spending nearly 10 months in Nari Niketan following her failure to arrange for the actual date of birth certificate and refusal to go along with her mother, Avneet Kaur of Sirhind was on Monday directed to be released by Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Seeking directions for 19-year-old Avneet Kaur’s release, a human rights organisation through co-ordinator Veena Kumari had earlier stated that the girl, a major, had not committed any crime, was not a destitute, and wanted to marry Harvinder Singh of Bassi Pathana, but her mother was not in favour of it and was harassing her.

In their petition, the organisation, along with the alleged victim, had also claimed that mother Pushpa Rani had even filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court wrongly accusing Harvinder Singh of taking her away. Counsel had added that Avneet Kaur, after being produced in the Court by a warrant officer, had told the court that she was a major but as the mother had wrongly mentioned the date of birth and the victim had failed to arrange for the actual certificate, she was sent to Nari Niketan.


Notice on Dy Director’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 17
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, today issued notice to the state government for June 20 on the anticipatory bail application of Ms Kiran Dhawan, Deputy Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, who is an alleged accused in a case of junior engineers’ recruitment scam in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab.

Ms Dhawan filed second anticipatory bail application through her counsel in the court of the Sessions Judge here today. Her earlier anticipatory bail plea was rejected on May 20 by Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar.

Meanwhile, Mr Maghar Khan today adjourned hearing on the bail application of Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, a municipal councillor of SAS Nagar and senior Akali leader, to June 20. Mr Mohali is one of “touts” of former PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah, against whom a case was registered under Sections 420, 467, 468,471 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on May 16.

Mr Mohali is now in judicial custody in this case till June 20.


Remand of Jagman, Pamma extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 17
The judicial remand of Jagman Singh, a tout of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, was today extended in the PPSC recruitment scam case till July 1 by Sessions Judge Maghar Khan.

The Sessions Judge also extended the judicial remand of Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, a Senator of Panjab University, in the case till July 2.


SGPC’s cold response to Dashmesh activists
Varinder Walia

Amritsar, June 17
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today closed the main gate of Teja Singh Samunderi Hall — the head office of SGPC chief for more than two hours and put its task force on high alert to stop the activists of Dashmesh Welfare Parbandhak Committee (Ajnala) who had come here to submit memorandum here.

The activists had to wait for more than two hours in the scorching heat to hand over the memorandum which levelled serious allegations against the SGPC chief, former SGPC president and certain Sikh high priests. When the activists decided to stage a dharna in front of the office. Mr Waryam Singh, secretary, Dharm Prachar Committee and Mr Angrej Singh, superintendent, Darbar Sahib, came out to receive the memorandum.

The memorandum, addressed to jathedar Akal Takht and the SGPC chief, stated that no action had been taken either by the Shiromani Committee or Akal Takht against SGPC member Sadhu Singh Raagi who was caught with poppy husk. The heads of both the great institutions had also not initiated any action against certain Sikh high priests, including Giani Kewal Singh and Bibi Jagir Kaur, despite serious allegations levelled against them.

The deputation was led by Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa and Subedar Baldev Singh of Dashmesh Welfare Society. However, Mr Waryam Singh, who received the memorandum, said Mr Sirsa and Subedar Baldev Singh were seeking political mileage.

The memorandum reads that the representatives of the Dashmesh Welfare Committee were not allowed to air their views during the national level seminar held here on May 31.

Mr Sirsa said if the SGPC or the Sikh clergy failed to take action against those religious leaders who were facing serious charges, the Dashmesh Society would continue to hold protest marches at the venue for the SGPC meetings.

The memorandum alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister and SAD President, had inaugurated the installation of Baba Ram Singh Chair in Guru Nanak Dev University though the SAD and the SGPC had been talking about a campaign against “living gurus”. It further accused Sucha Singh Langah, former Akali minister, of organising paths of Ramayana in his capacity as member of the SGPC which was against the Sikh tenets. Mr Sirsa alleged that Nirmal Singh Kahlon, former minister, had allocated Rs 50,000 from his discretionary quota for a dera of a “living guru”.


SGPC for ban on ‘Dasam Granth — Nirnay
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) executive committee today appealed to the state government and the Centre to ban the book, ‘’Dasam Granth — Nirnay”, which, it claimed cast false aspersions on Guru Gobind Singh.

The committee, which met at the Dukhniwaran gurdwara under the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, felt that steps should be taken soon to ensure ‘’fallacies’’ credited to the Guru in the book were not circulated among the people.

Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Mr Badungar said the book had been reprinted recently by a Delhi-based person, Mr Surjit Singh Missionary. He said this had been done despite the fact that former Akal Takht Jathedar Sadhu Singh Bhaura had called for a boycott of the book.

Meanwhile, a member of the executive committee, Mr Hardeep Singh, who is perceived to be a supporter of former SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra, walked out of the meeting in protest against the Sikh Gurdwara Bill. Mr Hardeep Singh alleged after walking out of the meeting that the SGPC was silent on the issue since the past three years.

The member alleged that the Bill was against Sikh tenets and it aimed to change the fundamentals of Sikhism by attacking its “gurmat” tradition as well as the principle of the ‘’panj piaras’’. He also claimed that Sehajdaris did not have any right to vote and that the voting age for the SGPC elections should be lowered to 18 years.

Mr Badungar, when questioned on the issue, said a seven-member committee had been constituted under the presidentship of former judge Kulwant Singh Tiwana. He said the committee had been asked to submit its report within 60 days, following which the issue would be put up before the executive committee for a decision.

Mr Badungar said a three-member committee had also been constituted to investigate the reasons behind the recent death of a woman at Guru Ram Das Serai in Amritsar. He said the SGPC would also take up with the government the registration of cases under Section 295 (A) against those who conducted prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib at places where idols were also placed or which had tombs on their premises.


Republication of banned book resented
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 17
Representatives of various Singh sabhas and Sikh organisations yesterday took a serious view of the republication of a book — “Dasam Granth Darpan (Dasam Granth Nirney) authored by Giani Bhag Singh, which was banned by an edict issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht on July 7, 1977.

The Sikh organisations alleged that the publication of the new edition of the book was in gross violation of the ‘hukamnama’ and hence the guilty persons should be punished as per ‘gurmaryada’.

A Sikh scholar, Mr G.S. Lamba, alleged that the ‘banned’ book was being distributed freely and this had led to resentment among the Sikh sangat.


Education board’s Chairman on his way out?
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 17
Will the Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board would be removed from the coveted post? The question has gained credence in the political and academic circles after the registration of a case against the former Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, and the Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau for alleged financial and administrative irregularities in the board.

A statement given by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a press conference at Chandigarh has further confused the analysts. The Chief Minister said Dr Kehar Singh was a person of character and “I don’t think he would be involved in any misdoing”. However, the ADGP, Vigilance, Mr AP Pandey, who was sitting along with the Chief Minister, held that Dr Kehar Singh would be subjected to interrogation whenever he returns from abroad.

If one is to read between the lines of the CM’s statement, it could well mean that the Chairman could be given a safe passage during investigations by the Vigilance Bureau. However, the sources rule out the Chairman being given easy passage in the case. It is learnt that the sleuths had gathered enough evidence of the Chairman’s involvement in the financial and administrative irregularities in the education board and the evidence was enough to nail down the Chairman.

Once arrested on coming from abroad, the Vigilance Bureau was expected to write to the government about the role of the chairman in the case. However, sources said the Chairman while leaving for Mexico had informed the vigilance officials about his tour. Sources in the government said the Chief Minister had the prerogative to appoint a new chairman or to allow the present incumbent to continue.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Bureau is interrogating the former Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh. Action against the other officials of the Education Department and the Punjab School Education Board was likely to be taken once the sleuths thoroughly interrogated the former minister.


PNFC staff denied pay despite order
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 17
The reported financial crisis of the Punjab Government have jolted the hopes of the beleaguered workers of Punjab National Fertilisers Ltd. (PNFC) as it failed to comply with the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court had allowed six-month salary to the beleaguered employees of PNFC.

In an order passed on May 16, 2002, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar had directed the PSIDC to pay the amount to liquidator of PNFC within four weeks. The liquidator was to further release amount to the workers within the next four weeks after examining their claim.

However, though the period fixed by the court has lapsed, sources said the PSIDC had failed to transfer about Rs 6 crore to the liquidator that was to be paid to the retrenched employees of PNFC as six-month salary.

The sources further said due to the financial crisis in the PSIDC, it had now considered to move to the Supreme Court against the decision of the high court.

PNFC, a Nangal-based fertiliser plant, was wounded up by the court on the recommendation of BIFR. About 500 workers of the company were attending the office till the lockout without getting any salary. However, even after the lockout the workers were not paid any dues.


2 councillors stage walkout
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
A meeting of municipal councillors, convened today to discuss the implementation of building bylaws and other issues, was disrupted when two councillors, Mr Krishan Kumar Garg and Mr Basant Bhatia, started shouting slogans against the council President, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, and staged a walkout. They wanted to speak on some issues which were not on the agenda, including alleged bungling in the working of Municipal Council.

Both Mr Garg and Mr Bhatia were not allowed to speak before the items on the agenda were discussed. The President asked the members about allowing these councillors to speak and members said they should be given time after the agenda items were discussed.

Mr Garg and Mr Bhatia alleged that they had not been allowed to speak as they had “exposed” bungling in the affairs of the council. They alleged that many councillors were involved in the misappropriation of funds.

Mr Garg, talking to this correspondent, said the President made an excuse that they would be allowed to speak after the meeting. He said all such discussions, which were not on the agenda, were discussed during zero hour prior to the discussion on the agenda items.

Mr Garg said he wanted to know about the inquiry conducted by the Vigilance wing of the Local Bodies Department into the affairs of the council. He alleged that he was not allowed to speak as he would have exposed the “misdeeds” of the President and some of the councillors.

Mr Bhullar, when contacted, said when Mr Garg asked to speak before taking up the items on agenda, he had sought the opinion of other councillors. He claimed that all councillors, except Mr Bhatia, said Mr Garg should be allowed to speak after the discussion on the agenda items.

He said Mr Bhatia and Mr Garg walked out of the meeting, adding that the meeting continued thereafter for more than an hour. He said the main item on the agenda was the implementation of the building bylaws in the city.

He said councillors belonging to the BJP, the CPI and other parties participated in the discussion. He refuted the allegation that Mr Garg was not allowed to speak as the latter would have exposed bungling in the working of the council.


ZP members hold meeting
Our Correspondent

Lambi (Muktsar), June 17
The first meeting of newly-elected zila parishad members of the district was held at Abulkhurana village yesterday during which a resolution was passed that Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the zila parishad would be elected as per the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana, former Punjab Minister, said residents of the district had supported the anti-corruption campaign of the government.

Mr Malkit Singh Mallan, a senior Congress leader said the clean sweep in ZP elections in district proved the Akalis wrong that they had stronghold in the district.

Those who attended the meeting included Mr Sardul Singh Mann, Mr Hardeep Singh, Ms Seeto, Mr Tulsi Singh, Ms Parminder Kaur, Mr Natha Singh, Mr Parminder Singh Pahsa, Ms Paramjeet Kaur, Mr Ajay Pal Singh all ZP members, Mr Ala Singh, Mr Sukhminder Singh, Mr Avtar Singh Gill, Mr Bittu Singh and Mr Chimandeep Singh, Congress leaders.


PSHRC begins probe into suicide case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 17
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has initiated an inquiry into a case pertaining to the suicide by an industrial couple in Rampura town, 35 km from here, in the first week of October, 2000, and action taken against three officials of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC), who allegedly drove them to commit suicide.

Police sources said the PSHRC had directed the district police authorities to submit their report in this connection by the first week of September. The DSP, Rampuraphul, Mr Balbir Singh Khera, had recorded the statement of Ms Neeru Garg, daughter of the couple, who moved an application to the PSHRC, for necessary action against guilty officials.

On the intervening night of October 2 and 3, 2000, Gopal Chand Garg and his wife Veenu Garg, who were running a sheller, committed suicide by consuming poison after they were allegedly harassed by officials of the PSWC, who supplied them sub-standard paddy even after taking a huge bribe in 1999 for milling.

When the couple failed to deliver the rice to the PSWC, a case was registered against them under Section 406 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act on a complaint of PSWC officials. The suicide note left by the couple mentioned the name of three officials of the PSWC, who allegedly drove them to commit suicide.

In the suicide note, the couple mentioned that due to bad quality of paddy supplied to their mill by the PSWC, they suffered a heavy loss and were unable to deliver the rice back to the PSWC. At this, the officials started threatening them and demanded bribe from them for not launching criminal proceedings against them.

Gopal Garg sold off his entire stock of rice and his house at Rampuraphul to raise money for giving bribe to the officials, but he was not spared by the officials.

Neeru Garg, in her complaint to the PSHRC, alleged that the police authorities did not take any action against the officials who drove her parents to commit suicide.


111-yr-old enters Guinness book
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, June 17
One of India’s oldest, finest and most bemedalled veteran athlete, 111-year-old Baba Joginder Singh has crowned himself with glory by finding his name in this year’s edition of the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ who have listed his remarkable achievements on the athletics track under the heading ‘Golden Oldies’.

Under ‘Golden Oldies’, Joginder Singh’s achievements have been recorded as “believed to be one of the world’s oldest living veteran athletes. He also represented India in a meet held in Berlin in 1920.” The book also carries a half page coloured photograph of Joginder Singh.

However, this achievement has failed to bring a smile on his wrinkled face. He lives in pathetic conditions in a one-room ramshackle tenement whose roof leaks when it rains and becomes a furnace when the sun blazes. However, he keeps himself busy by fighting both solitude and penury.

A senior IPS officer, Mr Rajinder Singh, has penned a 300-page book on the life and times of Joginder Singh, popularly known as Baba, not only among his neighbours but also among his dwindling tribe of friends.

His achievements, from Melbourne to Moscow and from Turku (Finland) to Tashkent, are replete with the human body constantly breaking barriers of physical endurance. Once Joginder Singh befriended a former Deputy Prime Minister of the erstwhile USSR during a veteran’s meet held in Turku in 1991. So impressed was the Soviet Minister that he took Joginder Singh on sight seeing trip to Moscow.

Joginder Singh speaks highly of another senior IPS officer, ADGP R.S Gill, whom he says has always come to his rescue with financial aid whenever required by him. The veteran athlete, barring the milkman, virtually has no friends.

The 1993 flood washed away the considerable collection of certificates and medals he had. Among his proud possessions is a huge iron trunk that contains chipped medals, frayed news clippings and soiled photographs showing him standing with VVIP’s including several former Presidents of India.

Yesterdays magnificent victories are today’s irrelevant details and somewhere in these irrelevant details are wrapped the life and times of India’s greatest veteran athlete. Yes, this the painful saga of survival of an athlete who once brought laurels to the same country whom, it seems, has now forgotten him.


Mayor promises corruption-free MC, better water supply
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
Ridding the Municipal Corporation of corruption, augmenting the water supply system and introducing contract cleaning will be the priorities of new MC Mayor Vishnu Sharma.

Mr Vishnu Sharma, who was given the thumbs up by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh after he managed to bring a majority of the Congress party councillors to his side, told media persons today that he would extend the anti-corruption drive launched by Capt Amarinder Singh at the state level, to the corporation as well.

Mr Sharma said it would be ensured that no citizen had to pay any graft money to get any facility from the corporation or expedite his work. He said time schedules would be drawn up for various works, including grant of building maps. He said at the entire process would also be made completely transparent to ensure persons not fulfilling the criterion were not able to get their maps cleared at all.

The Mayor, while admitting that the city faced water shortage every year during the summers, said the supply of water was not equal to its demand. He said a comprehensive plan would be developed to cope up with the problem, adding the old city was most affected because water was not able to reach some localities as they were on a higher level than those adjoining them. He said many areas in the old city were not able to get water because of indiscriminate use of booster pumps.

Mr Sharma said he believed that the Corporation would have to dig more tubewells on an urgent basis besides managing its water resources in a better manner. He said besides this a long-term plan could also be devised to cope up with the problem. He said the corporation hoped to ensure better supply of water by next year.

Speaking on the issue of garbage clearance and sweeping, the Mayor said due to the current ban on recruitment of new sweepers, it had become difficult to manage the cleaning operations in the city. He said no recruitment was being done despite many retirement which had depleted the city's staff of “safai karamcharis”.

He said though a scheme had been started some time back to appoint “safai karamcharis” in some areas, specially the outer colonies with the corporation giving half of their salary and the residents paying the other half, there were already murmurs of dissent about the scheme from the residents after the corporation elections.

He said there was pressure on the councillors to ensure proper cleaning in their wards. It was proposed to keep sweepers on a contract basis in the city to boost to cleaning operations, he added. He said an appeal in this regard would be made to Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and the Chief Minister soon, adding some recruitments, could also be demanded as a special case.


Council chief removal hits development works
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
Resentment prevails among residents of Sirhind as all development activities in Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib have come to standstill since the president of the council, Mr Ashok Sood, was voted out through a no confidence motion a month ago by Congress councillors with the support of certain Independent councillors.

The residents alleged that the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, has failed to start even a single development project from the last one month. Various social organisations have decided to honour the out going president for making all-out development of the town within a record of less than one year, which had been neglected from the years.

Sources said the Administrator is likely to take over the council, as the show-cause notice had not been served on Mr Sood the Local Self Government so far. They said the election to the post of the president could not be held till the government denotifies the out going president. For denotification 21 days show-cause notice and then a personal hearing, asking whether he had been removed legally or to his satisfaction or not is must. If the out going president contests his removal then it takes a long time. The sources indicated that though the minister of the area, Dr Harbans Lal, managed to remove the president but he had failed to accelerate the process of issuing show-cause notice to the president. If the notice is issued at this stage, it would take another two months to declare him unseated and if contested then the council would be without regular president and only alternative arrangements would have to be made and till then the elections to the councils would be announced.


District roads to have new look
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
The National Highway No. 1 passing through the district would be beautified and given a new look as it has been taken over by the National Highway Authority of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, for maintenance and upgradation of roads.

Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner said today that a Nagpur-based contractor would execute the work and within three months this highway would become best in the country. He said besides this, the maintenance of central median had been contracted to a Patiala based horticulturist for plantation and maintenance. He said the district administration had initiated various projects to minimise the road accident rate and to sort out the congestion of traffic problem in the district. He said widening, strengthening and re-carpeting of all rural roads, link roads and the main roads and various other steps had also been taken. He said the construction work of the roads had been funded by the NABARD, the Central Road Funds and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board.

He said the work on all link roads connecting the district headquarter with the villages was in full swing. He said the road from Khamano to Fatehgarh Sahib via Sanghol had been widened at the cost of Rs 95 lakh. He said on the repair, beautification and widening of roads falling under the Sirhind constituency Rs13.82 crore and on the Amloh constituency roads Rs10.80 crore were being spent. For the areas of the Khanna and the Kumkalan Assembly constituencies falling in the district Rs 3.19 and Rs 1.83 crore, respectively, are being spent. In the Sirhind block the work on the widening of road from Brahman Mjra to Sadhugarh via Anait Pura at the cost of Rs 1.81 crore; the work on Kotla Bajwara to Khera at the cost of Rs 1.29 crore; from the GT road to Chunni via Rajindergarh Baras at the cost of Rs 2.81 crore; from Chunni to Bhagrana at the cost of Rs.1.17 crore; from the GT road to Chanarthal via Sanipur at the cost of Rs 1.02 crore; from the Patiala Sirhind road to Panjola at the cost of Rs 2.06 crore.


Bride says no to drunken groom

Phagwara, June 17
An inebriated bridegroom and his “baratis” were forced to return without the bride here today.

The groom’s family had to pay Rs 20,000 as the cost of the refreshments and launch served to the marriage party on the directions of the Panchayat.

The girl refused to marry a drunken person and conveyed her decision to her father, Surinder Kumar, and other family members.

The boy and his parents, however, denied having consumed any intoxicants.

Meanwhile, an inebriated villager barged into the local Civil Hospital and roughed up a doctor and another employee last night. When the police was called, the villager manhandled two policemen. However, he was overpowered and taken to the police station, where he reportedly roughed up another policeman. His medical examination was conducted and he was detained by the police. UNI


CM for voting rights to Sehajdharis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab Government is all for giving voting rights to “Sehajdhari Sikhs” and bringing down the voting age from 21 to 18 years for the SGPC elections.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that he had conveyed this to the Union Home Ministry. It is significant to mention that the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the SGPC have strongly opposed the voting rights to Sehajdharis.

“Denial of voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections will amount to the exclusion of vast number of Sikhs from deciding its own community affairs”, Capt Amarinder Singh said.


Tributes paid to Kataria’s wife
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
Leaders belonging to different political parties attended the “shradhanjli” ceremony of Devinder Kataria, wife of former PPCC President Virender Kataria, at Abohar today. She had died on June 8.

Mr Khushal Behal, Education Minister, Dr Mohinder Rinwa, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, state BJP President, and many ministers and office-bearers of the PPCC were present.

Condolence messages of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Moti Lal Vohra, and Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, were read out. 


Probe ordered into canal breach
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 17
The SDM, Batala, will hold an inquiry into a breach in Kasur river of the Bari Doaba canal near Sangrawan in this district on Friday.

Stating this at a flood control committee meeting here today, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, said the inquiry would be time-bound and the report would be submitted before July 31.

The district had identified flood protection measures which would cost Rs 2.05 crore out of which the district had received Rs 52 lakh.


DC orders removal of encroachments
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 17
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, held a meeting with senior officials in the district Red Cross building here today and directed them to ascertain that the encroachments in the city were immediately removed and steps taken to regulate the flow of traffic in Patiala. He also ordered removal of roadside vendors and hoardings which he said were disturbing the smooth flow of traffic.

Directing the District Transport Officer and traffic police officials to check the illegal plying of taxis near the bus stand and the railway station, the DC added that steps should be taken for the beautification of the bus stand and the railway station. he also directed all the SDMs to check the manufacturing and use of polythene bags in the district.


2 doctors found absent from duty
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
The district health authorities today conducted raids on the various dispensaries and primary health centres in this district and found two doctors, two staff nurses, one class IV employee and one lady visitor absent from duty. Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said that salaries of those found absent today were being stopped and they would be served with a charge sheet.


Revamp of PSEB on cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
A revamp of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is on the cards.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said the PSEB’s commercial and technical losses were near 46 per cent. A meeting of the PSEB is scheduled to be held this week.


Petrol station sealed, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 17
The Amritsar police has unearthed a racket pertaining to selling of adulterated diesel and petrol worth crores with the arrest of four persons, including the owner of a petrol station and an oil depot. The petrol station and the oil depot have been sealed.

On a tip-off, the police, led by Dr S. K. Kalia, Superintendent of Police (City), raided M/s Kartar Singh Chadda and Sons filling station on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road in the wee hours and found the owner of the petrol station mixing kerosene meant for the public distribution system (PDS) with diesel. The police party, along with officials of the Indian Oil Corporation, Mr Zubin Garg (Area Manager) and an Inspector, Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Anup Sharma, took samples of the adulterated diesel which have been sent to laboratories.

Dr Sharma said the police had information that many other filling stations had been selling adulterated petrol and diesel and action would be taken against them.

Those arrested are Jagjit Singh, son of Mr Kartar Singh Chadda (owner of the filling station), Karndeep Singh, proprietor of oil depot (Tunda Talab), Amin Chand, an oil tanker driver, and Amid Ali, manager of the filling station.


Gang of car thieves busted, three held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 17
The district police claims to have busted an inter-state gang of car thieves with the arrest of three of its members along with two stolen cars.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, stated in a press note here today that these members had been identified as Vijay Sehgal, Joga Singh and Gurmeet Singh, alias Kaka. During the interrogation, they revealed that they used to steal from West Bengal and sell these in Punjab. Both the cars recovered were stolen from Kolkata.

A case under Sections 420, 411,467, 468 and 471 of the IPC has been registered against them at the Mahilpur police station.


Five booked in rape case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 17
The police has booked five persons for allegedly raping a minor girl at Kikkarkhera village near here.

Official sources said today that the victim, belonging to a Bazigar family, alleged that she was raped by three persons, including the son of a farmer for whom her family had been working since migration from the drought-hit Sardarshehar area of Rajasthan early this year.

She alleged that she had gone to get fodder for the cattle when the farmer’s son and his two friends nabbed and raped her in a room. Later two more persons joined them in the second rape attempt after a few days.

Beant Singh, Jagtar Singh, Tony and two others had been booked under Section 376, 506, 34 of the IPC, the police said. No arrest had been made.


Film producer commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 17
Mr Bakshish Singh (30), a producer of Punjabi film “Waris” yesterday committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree at Thathian Mahanta village in Tarn Taran district.

Bakshish Singh who had invested more than Rs 20 lakh by mortgaging/selling his land was under depression as his film had flopped, according to Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, Tarn Taran.


Acid thrown on patwari
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
Acid was thrown on the face of patwari Haridaypal Singh by Sukhwinder Kaur here yesterday noon. The patwari has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The police was yet to register a case in this connection.


PTU offers 5-yr BSc (IT) course
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
An early initiation into the world of information technology will now become possible for students with Punjab Technical University announcing the launch through distance education a unique five-year integrated B.Sc (IT) degree course after matriculation from the academic session starting in July.

At present, students have to go through the 10+2+3 system for obtaining the bachelor’s degree. The integrated five-year course, just after the high school leading to the bachelor’s degree in information technology, is the only one of its kind to be started in the country.

The course will also provide professional courses along with bachelor’s degree in information technology because B.Sc (IT) will also be equivalent to other bachelor degrees.

According to Mr A.S Grewal, Director, Distance Education of the university, the course will allow students to plan their career well in advance as the course can be taken up after matriculation.

Referring to overwhelming response from the students, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Managing Director, GCS Computer Tech Ltd., Patiala, one of the regional service provider of PTU, said, “Good response was due to affordable fee structure, variety of courses, eligibility, timings and availability of study centres up to the grassroots level. Our all study centres are well equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure. The university is the only one in the country to offer uninterrupted education through a chain of study centres across the country up to the grassroot level. In Punjab, PTU has 80 centres. The students have option to choose timings of their convenience for any two hours during the day on daily basis.”

The university has announced the opening of admission for UGC notified courses i.e. integrated B.Sc (IT) — five-year programme, B.Sc (computer science and technology), M.Sc (IT), lateral entry M.Sc (IT) third semester, PGDCA and diploma in computer application. The last date for the submission of application forms is June 27 and the counseling will be held on June 30 at all study centres.

There is provision for the lateral entry into second year of B.Sc (computer science and technology) for students passing three-year diploma from a polytechnic after +2 or ‘O’ level course of the DOEACC. Students who have passed B.Tech, BE, PGDCA or equivalent will be eligible for enrolment directly into the second year of the M.Sc. (IT).


Upgraded schools without buildings
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 17
Even though teaching infrastructure is absent, the government has upgraded, 1,404 more schools in the district.

Government Middle School, Varian, was upgraded in 1994 with just a room for the office and the classes being held under trees. Government Middle School, Anngarh, has no building at all. Bharariwal Government School has only one room and the classes are held in the open.

In some cases, religious places have come to the rescue of such schools. Mohleke Government School, which was upgraded to the middle school in 1996, runs on the premises of a gurdwara. Similarly, the middle school at Gumtala was upgraded the same year, but the classes are held in the verandah of a mandir in summer and in the open compound of a gurdwara in winter.

Government Middle School in Sharifpura has no building. For the past 15 years it has been at the mercy of Pingalwara, a home for destitutes, which has given it temporary permission to run the school in three of its rooms. It was upgraded to high school in utter disregard to the minimum requirements.

Government Primary School, Islamabad has been running in an animal stable ever since its inception. About 13 years ago it was upgraded to a middle school and now it is a high school with the classes still being run in the stable. Not only this, the school runs two shifts a day for students.

Government Middle School, Sultanwind has no building but was made a high school.

Mr Kulwant Singh Sufi, general secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch, an NGO, said as many as 468 primary schools in the state had been upgraded to the middle level.

The newly upgraded middle schools in Gopal Nagar, East Mohan Nagar, Jallianwalla, Krishan Nagar, and Islamabad do not have buildings of their own. Many of them only have one teacher.


Issue appointment letters, say PTIs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
Unemployed physical training instructors (PTIs) who had got their degrees from Kurukshetra University (KU), have urged the state government to consider their demands and issue them appointment letters withheld by the previous government.

Mr Tarsem Singh Piouri, district president of the Unemployed PTI Teachers Union in a press note said today that the Punjab Government had issued no public notice or warning that those who did their diploma in physical education from the KU would not be given jobs. He said the KU was a recognised university and its name was mentioned in list of recognised universities available with District Employment Officers all over Punjab.

He said those whose degrees were from Punjab had been issued appointment letters, but about 96 candidates who did their courses from the KU were denied the letters. He said some candidates who had obtained their degrees from the KU had been appointed by the previous government. He said members of the union had met the then Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this connection, but they only gave verbal assurances.

Office-bearers of the union alleged that while Ms Gurpreet Kaur was denied an appointment letter, some of her KU batch mates were appointed by the previous government. They said memoranda in this connection had been submitted to the Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behal, and Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh.


PSEB matric result on June 24
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 17
The results of the matric class examination of the Punjab School Education Board will be declared on June 24, said an official of the board here today. The result gazette would be made available at the district textbook depots on June 25.

Earlier, the board authorities had planned to declare the result by June 15 but due to a large number of result late award awaited (RLAs), the officials of the examination branch was ensuring that the number of the RLAs could be reduced to the minimum. Against the original over 15,000 RLAs, the officials had reportedly been able to bring the number to few hundred.

Meanwhile, the result of the senior secondary school examination( humanities and vocational streams) would be declared by June 30, it is learnt.


Move SC on octroi: traders
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 17
A Special meeting of delegates of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal from different towns was held here today. Mr Madan Lal Kapoor and Mr Prem Chand Agarwal, president and chairman, respectively, of the mandal, presided over the meeting.

The delegates discussed the problems of traders and criticised the “anti-traders” policies of the Amarinder Singh government.

The issue of abolition of octroi and barriers dominated the meeting. The delegates criticised the government for not moving the Supreme Court on the octroi case against Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision and demanded that the government do so immediately. The delegates also decided to set up an aid fund for financial crisis management.

Mr Madan Kapoor, while addressing the delegates, said in view of strong sentiments of businessmen, the Beopar Mandal had given a notice to the Punjab Government to abolish octroi, failing which they would launch an agitation. He demanded that the government should probe the assets of Mr K.K. Sharma, Additional Commissioner, Bathinda, and officers accompanying him during the raid on Mr Goyal’s businesses. He said the Beopar Mandal would provide details of assets and property of these officers within a fortnight.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |