Friday, July 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dheera, Sagar turn approvers
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, July 18
Randhir Singh Dheera and Prem Sagar alleged ‘touts’ of suspended Chairman of the PPSC Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu today submitted an application in a court here seeking permission to turn approver in a criminal case registered against them on April 30 at Patiala.

In identical applications submitted in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Paramjit Singh, both accused said they wanted to turn approver in the case registered against them vide FIR number 24 at the Patiala Vigilance Bureau Police Station. Both accused, besides another two ‘touts’ Paramjit Singh Pammi and Shamsher Singh, suspended Chairman of the PPSC Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu and family members of Sidhu were booked under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471(a) and 120(b) of the IPC besides certain sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

They are accused of soliciting bribes on behalf of the suspended Chairman of the PPSC which they paid to him to get certain candidates recruited to various posts advertised by the PPSC, including the PCS (Executive), PCS (Judicial), Deputy Superintendents of the Police, Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs) and Lecturers.

Later while presenting charge sheet recently against all above accused and two examiners — Prof Gurpal Singh and Dr Jagdish Kalra — the Vigilance Bureau added two more Sections — 409 of the IPC and Section eight of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

After the submission of the application under Section 306 of the Cr PC by the accused, Judge Paramjit Singh allowed their statements to be recorded tomorrow in his court. The CJM will record the statement following which they would be sent back to the trial court of District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal.

The submission of the application follows Dheera being taken away by the Vigilance Department immediately after he stepped out of the Central Jail here. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mohali cammandeered Dheera’s car to the PWD Guest House in the city where he was “pursuaded” to turn approver.

Dheera talking to a few newsmen outside the PWD Rest House said he was being pressurised to turn approver in the case and that another co-accused Prem Sagar, released from jail earlier, had been, specially brought from his native village in Moga to persuade him to turn approver.

Dheera speaking for himself, Prem Sagar and third accused Paramjit Singh Pammi had claimed that all three of them were being pressurised to turn approvers in the case. He also claimed that he did not want to turn approver but this did not last even for one day. Sources said Paramjit Singh Pammi, could also now turn approver in the case.

KHARAR: Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate here today again remanded Dr Shamsher Singh and Gurdeep Singh Manchanda, two alleged accomplices of Ravi Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission in police custody. Gurdeep Singh Manchanda was remanded till July 22 and Dr Shamsher Singh till July 24.

The Public Prosecutor pleaded that Dr Shamsher Singh allegedly worked as middleman for giving a bribe of Rs 51 lakh to Ravi Sidhu for the selection of one Amarbir Singh for PCS.

The other accused Gurdeep Singh Manchanda sent Rs 1.36 crore of Ravi Sidhu through hawala transactions to foreign countries. Likewise, the accused sent Rs 6 lakh of Mr Sandhu, Rs 12 lakh of a resident of Phase 10, Mohali and Rs 8 lakh of a Chief Engineer to foreign countries through hawala.


Docs form panel to fight removal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
The PCMS Association, Punjab, has formed a coordination committee to tackle the crisis arising out of the alleged government move to remove from service 872 doctors selected during the tenure of tainted PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Dr Jagjit Singh Khalsa, Dr Jaswant Singh and Dr Manjeet Singh, president, vice-president and general secretary of the committee, respectively, urged the Chief Minister to clear his stand on the issue. The leaders said that at least 250 of the 872 doctors selected by the PPSC were postgraduates and most of them had cleared their exams conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences recently.


Gold seized from locker of PSSSB member’s wife

Batala, July 18
Gold jewellery weighing 432.5 gm and valued at about Rs 2 lakh was seized from a locker belonging to the wife and daughter-in-law of arrested Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) member Kulbir Singh Randhawa.

The locker was opened here today by a Vigilance Bureau team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Jagir Singh in Punjab National Bank at Prem Nagar.

The team seized a box which contained the jewellery, Vigilance Bureau sources said.

The sources said the locker in the name of Gurmail Kaur, wife of Randhawa and his daughter-in-law Harbir Kaur as per bank records had the address of Bholewal even though they actually resided in Guru Teg Bahadur Colony here.


Book on SGPC may open Pandora’s box
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
It seems to be the “guilt conscious” of the former SGPC Secretary, Mr Kulwant Singh, which forced him to pen down his memoirs.

Mr Kulwant Singh who was a close confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then SGPC chief, had switched over his loyalty to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, when they (Tohra and Badal) were engaged in a tug-of-war. It was the time when the entire Sikh panth was preparing itself to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa Panth.

Mr Badal was told by his adviser that he could remove his friend -turned-foe. Mr Tohra, as SGPC chief and Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht if he could win over Mr Kulwant Singh who was well versed with the bylaws of the SGPC. The idea of Mr Badal’s advisers worked well and he was able to get rid of Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh in the shortest possible time — thanks to Mr Kulwant Singh. The ‘loopholes’ in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, and the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission were exploited to the benefit of the ruling Akali Dal.

Mr Kulwant Singh’s book — Misdeeds of the Leaders Which Eclipsed SGPC — is under print and its release will open a Pandora’s box.

The book of the former SGPC secretary is a complete account of the events, the role of the Akali leaders, and the Sikh clergy and the misuse of government machinery to dislodge Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh. It has also mentioned how Mr Badal succeeded in escaping the wrath of Bhai Ranjit Singh, who had summoned Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, and Mr Barjinder Singh Hamdard at Akal Takht on February 11, 1999. The Jathedar of Akal Takht was also contemplating to summon Mr Badal. However, the “timely suggestions” of Mr Kulwant Singh helped in the removal of both Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh on February 10 — one day before the date for appearing of Prof Manjit Singh and Mr Hamdard at Akal Takht.

In his memoirs the former SGPC secretary wrote that during his “secret meetings” with Mr Badal he always advised him to avoid having direct confrontation with Akal Takht. However, despite his suggestions Mr Badal and his coterie chose to have a confrontation with the Jathedar of Akal Takht to save himself and his confidants from appearing before Akal Takht. He also discusses the role of the Chairman of the Sikh Gurdwara Commission, Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, who would get direct “instructions” from Mr Badal. The two Sikh high priests, Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, would also hold “closed-door meetings” with Mr Badal and senior Akali leaders without bothering about the high office they were holding. The author said that the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht in place of Bhai Ranjit Singh at the circuit house was not in accordance with Sikh traditions.

In his book, Mr Kulwant Singh said that he was taken to Mr Badal by Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah, the then Executive Member of the SGPC. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, the then Minister of Rural Development in the Badal Ministry, was also present. Mr Kahlon abruptly announced that the aim of the meeting was to “oust Tohra” as SGPC chief. Surprisingly, Mr Kahlon too remained a close confidant of Mr Tohra but shifted his loyalty when both (Mr Badal and Mr Tohra) parted company. Mr Kulwant Singh said that he suggested that while taking any action the honour and prestige of Akal Takht must be kept in mind. “The prestige of Akal Takht should not be denigrated at all as doing so would have far-reaching consequences.” However, in the coming days, Mr Badal and his colleagues in the Cabinet and party were “misguided” which had an adverse impact on Sikh institutions.

Even as the legal advisers of Mr Badal failed to suggest any way of escaping from the action of Akal Takht, he (Mr Badal) asked Mr Kulwant Singh to reveal some “way out”. The author said that without scrapping of the Sikh Judicial Commission, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) could not win the battle against Mr Tohra. All the legal advisers, including Mr H.S. Matewal, immediately agreed to the suggestions of Mr Kulwant Singh.

Swiftly acting on the advice, the Badal Government rescinded the previous notification and appointed Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa as members of the Sikh Judicial Commission. Since Mr Tohra who was SGPC chief had refused to convene the Executive Meeting, it was the Sikh Judicial Commission which helped in calling the same. The Judicial Commission directed the SGPC to convene its Executive meeting on February 10, 1999. The meeting which was boycotted by the ‘Tohra camp’ placed Bhai Ranjit Singh under suspension as Jathedar of Akal Takht. The meeting also constituted a three-member inquiry committee to probe the role of Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh — Jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively. However, the SGPC failed to take any action against them even as the inquiry was time-bound and was supposed to be completed within 30 days.

Bhai Ranjit Singh was singled out and his suspension was implemented in toto. The meeting appointed Giani Mohan Singh, the then Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, as acting Jathedar in place of Bhai Ranjit Singh. However, Giani Mohan Singh who had earlier gave his consent in the morning, refused to take up the new assignment (as acting Jathedar) after receiving a telephone call from his Canada-based son. The author said that a senior officer of the intelligence bureau told him that Giani Mohan Singh had to take the decision as his son was under threat.

Mr Kulwant Singh said that his advice to Mr Badal that if the SGPC wanted to remove Bhai Ranjit Singh then Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh should also be shown the door fell on deaf ears.

The author also described the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht as ‘illegal” and “anti-Panthic” on two accounts — The Sikh Judicial Commission had directed the SGPC to hold only one meeting and hence the second meeting held at the circuit house when Giani Mohan Singh refused to take up the new assignment was in violation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, and the directive of the Judicial Commission also. It may be mentioned here that at this meeting the Executive meeting decided to nominate Giani Puran Singh as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht. Also, this was for the first time after the enactment of Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, that a meeting was ever held at circuit house.

The author said that the proceedings of the meeting of the SGPC Executive which constituted an inquiry committee against Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh were changed at the Chief Minister’s house on February 11. All the pro-Badal Executive members were called to the CM’s house to make the necessary changes in the proceedings. Both the high priests had urged Mr Badal to delete the word that their “explanation” had been sought.

(To be concluded)


Giani Kewal Singh trial shifted to another court
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge here today transferred the trial of the dowry death case registered against former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and one other kin Joginder Kaur to Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Jaspal Singh.

Mr Jaspal Singh has fixed July 29 the next date for hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence in connection with the framing of charges.

The dowry death case registered against Giani Kewal Singh and others, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Talwandi Sabo police station after his (Jathedar’s) daughter-in-law Sharanjit Kaur was allegedly forced to commit suicide, was committed for trial by the sessions court by Mr Kurnesh Kumar Kakkar, Judicial Magistrate (first class), Talwandi Sabo on July 2. Mr Rajput, who took up the case on July 16, fixed today’s date for further hearing today and he transferred the case to the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Jaspal Singh.

The case against Giani Kewal and others, took several turns, was registered when fed up with the apathetic attitude of then police authorities of Bathinda district, the borther of the deceased Mr Amarjit Singh approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court through a writ petition.

After registering a case against these three, the police authorities moved an application before the Judicial Magistrate, Talwandi Sabo for the cancellation of the FIR against them on the pertext that in the inquiry conducted by DSP rank officer and subsequently endorsed by district police chief, they were found innocent. Instead of agreeing with the police report, the then judicial magistrate issued summons against the accused and when they failed to appear in his court, warrants were issued against them.

Giani Kewal Singh surrendered into the court of Mr Kakkar on May 9, 2002 after he failed to secure a bail from Supreme Court while his son, Baljinder Singh had surrendered to the court of sub-divisonal judicial magistrate, Mr Harsh Mehta on March 7, 2002. The third accused had secured interim bail.

Sharanjit Kaur, was married to Baljinder Singh, died under mysterious circumstances within one year of her marriage. Her body was found floating in the Likhan Sar Gurdwara located in front of the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh in the Takht Damdama Sahib complex.

Giani Kewal Singh resigned from the post of Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib after arrest warrants were issued against him.


Crucial meeting of clergy on July 24
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
Even as a deputation of the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) submitted a memorandum to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti for summoning Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, at Akal Takht, the Jathedar said the matter would be discussed at the meeting of Sikh clergy scheduled for July 24.

The deputation, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president, SSF, and Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, adviser to Shiromani Akali Dal also urged the Jathedar to reopen the ‘Tohra-Nirankari’ case. It claimed that there was proof that Mr Tohra had visited Nirankari Bhavan, Patiala, to seek votes for his protege Prem Singh Chandumajra during the parliamentary elections in violation of the edict of Akal Takht.

Meanwhile, senior leaders Manjit Singh Tarn Tarani and SHSA Pardeep Singh Walia alleged that the former Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, Mr Sarbjeet Singh, had published his book, “Black Thunder— an eyewitness account of Militancy in Punjab” under a deep-rooted conspiracy. They added that he played into the hands of “anti-Panthic” forces.

Meanwhile, a joint meeting of Sikh clergy, SGPC and representatives of Sikh Missionary College is to be held here tomorrow.


English from Class III in Punjab
Kulwinder Sangha
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 18
English is proposed to be introduced from Class III in and maths and science subjects are to be taught through the English medium from Class VI onwards, in Punjab schools.

Stating this at a meeting of block and district-level education officials at the Punjab School Education Board here today, Mr Khushal Behal, Education Minister, said psychologists had given the opinion that a child must have grasp over his mother tongue in Classes I and II so that a proper perception is developed. The learning of English was important as without it students would be left behind in the technological race and march towards globalisation.

The minister said under the new education policy being framed for Punjab it would be made compulsory to pass in English in school examinations.

Mr Behal said the Central Government had planned to spend Rs 17,000 crore to bring about changes in the educational system in the country and Punjab’s share under that scheme was Rs 1100 crore for the next five years. Though the central sponsored scheme had been there for the past two years but the former government had not availed of the benefit.

The minister said there were 31 lakh students in schools at the primary level but as many as 17 lakh out of them had left studies at one level or the other. The attendance of teachers had also to be improved.

To improve the working of schools, the government had proposed to come up with a mapping system. Under this system a 5 km area would be covered and a senior secondary school in that area would be linked with a middle school which in turn would be linked with a primary school. The principal in charge would have to take care of the quality of education and attendance. The attendance of teachers was also to be checked. This had to be done once in 15 days. Inspection was mandatory and visits in this regard would be recorded in a register.

The quality of teaching also had to be improved. For this orientation programmes would have to be made compulsory. Earlier only some of the teachers were attending such programmes.

He said the government was also planning to come up with rationalisation programmes. At some places there was overstaffing while at other places there was shortage of posts. At the elementary level there were more staff members as compared to students. At the primary level the position was just the opposite. Now relevant steps would be taken to sort out the problem.

Mr Behal said village development committees would be set up comprising two members of the village panchayat, women and retired teachers. The committee would decide how the money was to be spent. Expenditure would have to be carried out on government lines and it would be audited.

There was a plan to go in for universal education. No child would be left illiterate. slums, too, would be covered. The government had asked slum dwellers to make arrangements for a room where a teacher would provided. He said the government was planning to provide cooked meals to students.


Overbridge project once again in the news
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Nearly nine months after former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of the multi - crore overbridge proposed to be built at railway crossing number 22 in the city, the project seems to have come within reach again with the district administration taking up the need for immediate start of work on the project with the government.

The project, envisaging building an overbridge at the railway crossing, could not be started during the reign of the last government though Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal laid its foundation stone during the fag-end of his tenure in October 2001.

Now Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh has again taken up the necessity of starting work on the project with the government. Sources said the matter had also been discussed with the Chief Minister.

The Deputy Commissioner has also had a round of talks with shopkeepers of the locality to convince them about the need of an overbridge at the site as well as entertain suggestions which could benefit them. The Deputy Commissioner when contacted said that the shopkeepers had made various suggestions, including the need to keep the railway crossing open even after the overbridge was constructed. He said this was a matter which would be decided by the rail authorities

As regards other suggestions, he said shopkeepers had requested that no pillar of the overbridge should be constructed in front of artery streets opening into the main road. He said this suggestion had been accepted. Mr Tejvir Singh said some shopkeepers had requested that the overbridge be constructed at railway crossing number 21 but this was not deemed practical as traffic pressure was more on railway crossing number 22.

He said shopkeepers were also told that they would benefit by the construction of the overbridge with more parking space being available to them.

He said he had also recommended to the government to draw a time schedule for construction of the overbridge which he said should be completed within a period of one year after start of work.

Building a consensus on the overbridge project has been an uphill task. Shopkeepers who are running shops on both sides of the Bhupindra Road which crosses the railway crossing have been against the project as they feel it would be detrimental to their business. Shopkeepers had recommended building of an underbridge but this proposal was shot down by technical experts during a study ordered by former Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir.

The experts felt that it would be difficult to drain out water from the underbridge during the monsoon season as it is a low lying area.

Meanwhile, citizens of the city are livid at the delay in construction work. Vikram Goel, a resident of Model Town, said the people of the city were expecting work on the overbridge to start immediately after Capt Amarinder Singh took over the reigns of the state and were disappointed that the project was a non-starter till yet. Others said lack of funds could not be cited as an excuse in this case because the Railway authorities had cleared funds for the project. The Raghbir Marg Residents Association as well as various citizens forums have also demanded immediate start on work of the overbridge.


JCM to take up 14 issues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Personnel Department headed by the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y. S. Ratra, today formally sent the invitation and the agenda to members of the Joint Consultative Machinery ( JCM), which meets on July 26. The agenda items have been prepared on the basis of the representations submitted by the various employees unions to the Government in the past one month.

There are as many as 14 demands of employees listed on the agenda. Among them are the most burning issues of freezing of certain allowances which have led to the unrest among employees en masse for the past one month or so. In fact, all sections of the government employees, which is about 3.5 lakh, are up in arms against the government because some of its decisions are against the employees.

As the government has got the feedback that its popularity graph among the employees have been adversely hit hard, it has decided to enter into a dialogue with them.

Though employees’ organisations have prepared themselves for the meeting but they would formally meet on July 22 to chalk out their strategy to discuss the issues at the JCM’s meeting, according to Mr Oma Kant Tewari, a spokesman of the Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation.

The first item on the agenda is regarding the freezing of DA and LTC till July-end next year. Compared to other states, the state government is paying 49 per cent DA to its employees. Its freezing for one year has sent shock waves among employees. They want its restoration immediately. There is a feeling among the top government brass that the issue has been mishandled at the government level and because of that the government had got a lot of stick and adverse publicity.

The second item on the agenda is regarding the withdrawal of certain pensionery benefits. At present there is a provision for the commutation of 18 months’ pension. Employees say that the government is going to reduce it to two months.

The third item is regarding leave encashment. At present the government can encash leave for 300 days. Employees say it is being reduced to one month, which they have opposed. The fourth item pertains to medical allowance which is given Rs 250 in cash alongwith pay to employees. However, employees want that it should be increased to Rs 500 to fulfil the promise made by the ruling party in its election manifesto that was released before the assembly elections. However, there is a move on the part of the government to provide medical facilities to employees through insurance cover.

The unions demand the removal of all those superannuated persons who have been re-employed by the government. The government says that it has a lot of surplus staff but it is also re-employing retired persons giving them full salary. The unions want the back-door channel by which the government favours certain persons to be removed.

The employees oppose the enrolling of retired PCS and IAS officers by certain government boards, corporations and even government departments for holding various internal inquiries.

Another item listed on the agenda is regarding promotional scale to remaining employees on their completion of four, nine and 14 years of service as has been done in the case of doctors, PCS officers and SDOs.

Another item pertains to bonus. Employees wanted the payment of bonus of the past five years as promised in the election manifesto. They also want a proper policy for the recruitment and regularisation of services of those employed on contractual basis.


Probe sought into blinding of man
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
The lawyers, for Human Rights International (LHRI) has urged the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the 10-year-old incident of throwing of acid on Chhotu Ram, a resident of Goniana Mandi, and rendering him blind. The person allegedly responsible for the incident is at present a judicial official of the Punjab cadre.

At a press conference held here today, where the victim and his family members were also present, the LHRI spokesman said it had also written to the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chief Minister and DGP of Punjab national and state Human Rights Commissions and the district police chief.

Family members of Chhotu Ram said on July 11, 1992 acid was thrown on his face and body by their relative, who is now a judicial official, at his shop. The wife, a son and two daughters of Chhotu Ram were present at the time of the incident.

Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-present of the LHRI, said as the children of Chhotu Ram were minor at that time, they were not able to pursue his case. His daughters Payal Rani (22) and Anu Rani (19) approached the LHRI in May this year regarding the case.

Mr Dhillon said that as there was none in the family of Chhotu Ram, in 1992 who could pursue the case, they were advised against taking the legal recourse.

The family members said they spent about Rs 10 lakh on treatment, but could not save the eyesight of Chhotu Ram.

The judicial official could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. His father Madan Lal when contacted on phone said that his son was not responsible for the incident. he alleged that some militants had thrown acid on face of Chhotu Ram.


PHRC posts to be filled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Punjab Government has started an exercise to fill vacant slots in the Punjab Human Rights Commission. At present the post of Chairman and two members is vacant.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary, said the Home Department had been asked to prepare a case. The chairman of the commission is appointed by a three-member committee comprising the Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker. After preparing a panel of names, a meeting of the committee would be called to finalise the name by consensus.


Campaign against Bhaniara launched
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib (Ropar), July 18
Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, today launched a “chetna lehar” (awareness campaign) against the controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala and his anti-Sikh religious acts by organising a gathering of various Sikh organisations.

Prof Manjit Singh said a mass awareness campaign would now be launched against Bhaniarawala by organising such gatherings. The gathering through a resolution asked the Punjab Government to put him behind bars.

Among others who also addressed the gathering included Mr Gurinder Singh Gogi, a Youth Akali Dal leader; Giani Tarlochan Singh, Head Granthi of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib; Mata Gurcharan Kaur, Chief of Anandpur Sahib Municipal Council; Thekedar Gurnam Singh, a Youth Akali leader; Principal Chanan Singh; and Comrade Devinder Singh Sarthaliwale.


Son-in-law of ex-VC being shielded: Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
Even though a case was registered in May against the son-in-law of former Vice-Chancellor who is also the head of the MCA Department in Guru Nanak Dev University, he is being shielded, alleged Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader.

This is evident from the fact that he was never arrested for his alleged involvement in fake admission recket despite being one of the accused. The very fact that he has not applied for bail raises apprehension that some high ups were trying to save him, Mr Dang said.

He was appointed during the tenure of his father-in-law. The racket was exposed after the Vice-Chancellor’s retirement.

Moreover, a large number of appointments made by the former Vice-Chancellor too are being probed by the Vigilance Bureau. However, Mr Dang said the head of the department had allegedly used some top political connections to evade arrest.


Punjab forest cover cause of concern
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 18
Only six per cent of land in the State was under forest cover. It should be at least 30 per cent to neutralise the menace of increasing pollution. If we failed to achieve this coming generations would suffer and curse us. The state government had decided to make all-out efforts in this regard and at the recent cabinet meeting it was decided to make it mandatory that 10 per cent of the panchayat lands would be reserved for plantation of trees, said Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Forest, Punajab while speaking at the state-level Vanamahotsava function at Harbanspura 10 km from here today after laying the foundation stone of Baba Banda Singh Memorial Bhavan to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore.

He said that JBIC a Japan-assisted Punjab Afforestation Project had been implemented in a successful manner and it would make the state green. He said that a delegation of experts from Japan would visit the state in a few days and the government would plead to get the scheme extended for four more years and Rs 300 crore be got sanctioned. He said that ‘Protect Trees and Earn Money’ scheme had been introduced in the state by which the owners of the land adjoining roads would protect the trees growing along the road from theft, illicit felling, illicit grazing and fire and in return, they would get entitled to share the income generated from the sale of these trees. The farmers’ share in the case of link roads would be 100 per cent in case of national highways it would be five per cent, in case of state highways it would be 20 per cent and in case of other roads. It would be 50 per cent.

He said that urban forestry was being promoted to provide clean and healthy environment in cities and towns. He added. shady, fruit-bearing, medicinal, religious and ornamental trees would be planted on 5700 acres of lands in the current year.


Heatwave claims another life
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
With the unrelenting heatwave claiming another life in this district today, the death toll has risen to 16 in the past about two months.

A 40-year-old person was found dead due to sunstroke on the outskirts of Goniana Mandi, 15 km from here, today by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva. The deceased could not be identified and the body was cremated by the volunteers.

Besides a high mercury level, delay in the arrival of monsoons to this region have started adversely affecting the crops. In some areas farmers have started ploughing their standing paddy crop up, which started drying up due to paucity of water for irrigation.

Earlier, a section of farmers had to resow their cotton crop as the crop sown by them in the beginning of May could not grow due to severe heatwave. In this district, a large number of cotton growers had shifted to paddy cultivation in a hope to earn more. However, due to acute shortage of water they had become doubly cursed as they had to plough their standing paddy crop up after spending about Rs 1,500 per acre on the same on an average.


Father tortures minor sons
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
Abhay Pal Singh Sandhu (12) and his brother Udaipal Singh Sandhu (16), with tears in their eyes, today narrated the tale of physical and mental abuse allegedly inflicted on them by their father Jaspal Singh Sandhu who is Head of the Department of Physiotherapy and Sports Science at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Talking to newsmen here, Abhay Pal Singh, a student of Class VII, said on Monday around 10.30 p.m., he was woken up and brutally beaten up by his father and grandmother for not securing good marks at school.

Showing marks of torture on his back, Abhay alleged he was regularly tortured by his father. His brother Udaipal said their father had been beating them regularly since 1996 when he divorced their mother and took their custody. The boys have filed a complaint with the police in this connection.

Their maternal grandfather, Mr G.S. Randhawa, said after the couple’s divorce in 1996 and the court giving custody of the boys to their father, they had not been allowed to meet the children.


Three-month premature baby survives
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
In perhaps the first case of its kind in this town, a baby, born three months premature, has won a fight for survival. After remaining in an incubator and close medical supervision in a local nursing home, the baby is now back home.

Born to Darshana, a local resident, and her husband, Harbans Singh, a factory worker in Abohar, the 7-week-old male baby weighed 1.25 kg when it came into this world on June 2. A normal baby weights about 2.5 kg. The baby’s weight further declined after birth, but began to register a slight growth later. The baby is still grossly underweight.

“There were a number of serious implications in this case to take care of” said Dr B.K. Nagpal, a child specialist, in whose nursing home the baby was born. “Preventing infection and respiratory problems are the prime concern in such cases. Feeding the baby is also difficult in such circumstances,” he added.

The baby, still to be christened, spent 22 days in the nursing home before doctors considered it safe to send him home. “We also had to coach the mother on special ways to handle the child, specially on how to prevent infection,” the doctor added.

Dr Nagpal claimed that in 15 years of practice at Bathinda, this was the first known case where a baby had been born so prematurely. “About 10 per cent of births are premature, but cases where the gestation period had been only 30 weeks account for just about 2 per cent,” he said.


Recarpeting sought
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Cutting across party lines both Congress and Akali Dal (Amritsar) MPs Preneet Kaur and Simranjit Singh Mann have appealed to Union Surface Transport Minister Major-Gen B.C. Khanduri (retd) to get an 8-km patch of road between Dirba and Patran recarpeted.

The joint representation has been made because the patch falls both in the Patiala and Sangrur Lok Sabha constituencies. The representation said residents of the two constituencies were demanding the relaying of the road stretch because it was full of potholes and ditches.


Lawyers go on strike
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 18
Members of the District Bar Association here today observed strike to protest against the registration of ‘false’ case against and an attack on Mr Jatinder Aggarwal an advocate of Jalandhar.

In a resolution passed at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Mr Raghbir Paul Singh Bajwa, president of the association, the members demanded withdrawal of the case against the lawyer and condemned the attack on him by ‘industrialists’ and demanded strict action against them.


Punjab not to allow ‘infiltration’ from J&K
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 18
The Punjab Police would not allow infiltration militants from Jammu and Kashmir to Punjab. This was stated by Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director General of Police, Punjab at Ubha village of Mansa district while talking to reporters. He said the situation in Punjab was under control. He however admitted that some cases of looting and kidnapping had happened in the state. He said the police was meeting success in working out these cases. He laid stress on co-ordiance among the forces of various states to fight the terrorism and strengthen the law and order situation in the state.


Change over to oilseeds: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today called on the farming community to come out of the paddy-wheat rotation and turn to oilseeds, pulses and vegetables as it was a need of the hour.

Delivering his inaugural address at a convention entitled “Farmers and Society-2002 and Beyond”, organised by the Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust to commemorate Dr Cheema’s 20 death anniversary here today, Capt Amarinder Singh said the agricultural sector was facing a crisis in Punjab because of various reasons and there was a need of diversification in this sector to tide over the crisis.

Appreciating the effort of setting up trust by Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, in memory of his father, he said the Cheema family had chosen the right cause and path. The farming community needed the help of various organisations for guidance and implementation of various new techniques in the agriculture and trusts like organisations could help them a lot.

The Chief Minister honoured Mrs Raminder Kaur Cheema, besides experts who spoke on different subjects. Dr Rashpal Malhotra, Founder-Director of the CRRID, was also honoured on this occasion.

He recalled the contribution made by Dr Cheema in the field of agriculture in India and abroad. Dr Cheema had excellent qualities of head and heart.

Various topics like Bt cotton, horticulture, diversification, role of bio-technology in agriculture were covered at the convention.


Software to update land records
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The “cyber patwari” is here with “jamabandis”, “mussavis” and “intkals” over Internet. This is not fiction but a dream come true for landowners of Fattu Dhinga, who can now access their records from a computer centre at the district courts or through an internet kiosk.

Kapurthala MLA, Rana Gurjit Singh, today dedicated to the public the first Integrated Land Information Management System (LIMS) developed by Ramtech Corporation Ltd for a trial run. He also launched the corresponding website

This pilot project is part of the Chief Minister’s vision of good, efficient and transparent governance, says the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh K. Verma.

Mr Verma told TNS that despite advancement in technology, the preparation, maintenance and updating of land records has changed little in the last 200 years or so. Everything was still done manually.

The proposed software would make available jamabandis, mussavis, and intkals at the click of a mouse, thereby, demystifying the system of land records.

Mr Verma, himself a computer engineer from IIT, New Delhi, added that while work on the computerisaton of land records has been going on at various places in the country for quite some time, it was for the first time in the country that software would automatically generate new jamabandi after incorporating mutations, paving the way for an online computerised system. The key to the computerisation of land record is an integrated software incorporating registration of documents, mutations, jamabandis and maps.

Ms Mahua Bhattacharya, Consultant, said considering the importance of land record documents, proper preservation and validation of the records had been accorded the highest priority.


PSEB bans use of ACs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
The Punjab State Electricity Board yesterday banned the use of air-conditioners till July 23 in all commercial establishments of the state besides cutting down on streetlighting.

An official statement said here that air-conditioners would also not be used in offices of the Board. It said, however, essential services like hospitals, nursing homes, Post and Telegraph installations would be exempt from the ban. The Board had also appealed to the public to minimise the use of non-essential power appliances such as domestic air-conditioners and decorative lights. It had also issued directions to cut down on streetlighting in non-essential areas.

Besides this Board has also decided to impose a minimum of six-hour power cut on industrial consumers in urban areas of the State and continue with the evening peak load restrictions of nine hours imposed with effect from July 15.

The Board decided to give power supply in two groups to all Arc and Induction Furnace consumers fed from separate or mixed feeders as per following schedule. Group one would consist of the operation circles of Jalandhar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Amritsar (City) and Suburban), Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Khanna and Ropar. Power would be supplied to this group on July 18, 19, 22 and 13. Power supply would be kept restricted to the extent of peak load exemption being available by them on July 20, 21, 24 and 25.

Group two will consist of Operation Circles of Ludhiana (City East), Ludhiana (City West), Ludhiana (Suburban), Nawanshahr, Mohali, Kapurthala, Ferozepore, Faridkot and Muktsar. Power would be supplied to this group on July 20, 21, 24 and 25. Power supply would kept restricted to the extent of peak load exemption being available from them on July 18, 19, 22 and 23.

The statement said the weekly day off restrictions already imposed by the Board would not be applicable to these industries for the schedules. It said extended peak load hour restrictions would not be applicable to these industries, adding normal peak load hour restrictions would remain operative during the schedules.


Mandi Board, PUDA to give 110 cr to PSEB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Trying hard to keep the Punjab State Electricity Board floating, the state government has arranged funds to the tune of Rs 110 crore to it from the Punjab Mandi Board and the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority.

Informed sources said the government had directed the Mandi Board to provide Rs 75 crore to the PSEB. Since the Mandi Board did not have that much amount, it had been told to provide at least Rs 50 crore.

Likewise, PUDA has been asked to provide Rs 60 crore. Confirming this, the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, said PSEB needed funds urgently to buy coal to keep its thermal plants in operation.


Gang of fake lottery sellers busted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
With the arrest of Rajkumar, a resident of Khandwala, the district police has today busted a gang allegedly involved in printing duplicate government lottery tickets worth lakhs of rupees.

The police suspects the involvement of at least 12 persons in this racket.

At least five local persons are also actively working for Rajkumar. Mr Kuwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP, said the gang got duplicate tickets printed in Delhi as soon as the draw were declared using mobile phones for exchanging vital numbers of winning tickets.

Thereafter, the accused used to decamp with prize money even before the real claimant could claim it.


Miscreants ransack shops, loot goods
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
A group of miscreants ransacked and looted more than a dozen shops in the Safabadi Gate locality here late this evening after a quarrel which erupted during the course of a langar programme.

According to sources, the police had to resort to a lathi charge and firing in the air to disperse the irate mob which resorted to ransacking shops and running away with goods, including colour TV sets. Gift and stationery shops were also looted.

The Kotwali police has arrested more than 12 persons in this connection

The sources said the trouble started when a youth of a nearby locality tried to break the queue during the langar programme.

The sources said following this the youth brought nearly 100 to 150 other persons to the locality who started breaking the windowpanes and counters of various shops, besides carting away the goods.


Suicide by young lovers

Jalandhar, July 18
Two lovers residents of the Maqsoodan area here today committed suicide allegedly fearing their separation due to parental intervention.

The parents of Gurvinder (24) and Permila (20) resident of Maqsoodan lodged an FIR on July 13 in the Sadar police station regarding the missing of their children, police source said adding that when parents of both located them in the Model Town area today and were bringing them to the police station for an inquiry, the couple swallowed some poisonous substance and their condition started deteriorating. PTI


Held for fraud
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 18
The district police on Wednesday arrested Resham Singh, a resident of Malhakalan village on charges of defrauding Housefed of Rs 1,60,000. Senior Superintendent of Police Moga, Major Singh said that the accused had earlier mortgaged his land with Housefed against a loan, which he later sold to another person without the repayment of the loan and misappropriated the entire amount. The police has registered a case against the accused.


6 Kale Kachhewale gangsters held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 18
The police arrested six members of the Kale Kachhewale gang on a bridge at Bassi Kase village while they were planning a dacoity last night. Those arrested are Suraj, his brother Raj Kumar, Kali Charan of Bihar, Jaga Singh and Ram Kumar of Katchi Basti, Gujarat and Kalu Ram of Banwar in Himachal Pradesh.


Selected ETT candidates unite to oppose charges
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
Even as candidates who were not selected for admission to ETT institutes have formed the ETT Anti-Corruption Action Committee (ETT ACAC) to expose the corrupt practices, those who were selected today said that they would launch a campaign against the committee as their selection was fair.

Students of various elementary teachers training (ETT) institutes of the state held a meeting here today to counter the allegations of the ETT ACAC. They claimed that their selection was fair and on merit. Converging on this town from Faridkot, Mansa, Sangrur, Moga, Ferozepore, Jagraon and Muktsar, they decided to meet the Punjab Chief Minister and Education Minister regarding the matter.

Mr Balbir Kammando, press secretary of the association, said that a meeting would be convened in Ludhiana where students from different ETT institutions would chalk out the course of action.

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