Saturday, March 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



RO overrules EC decision
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad (Ferozepore), February 28
In an interesting case, the SDM-cum-Returning Officer (RO), Mr Sanjay Popli, today accepted the nomination papers of Mr Prithivi Raj Doomra, president, Block Congress Committee, Jalalabad, and party candidate for ward number 12, for the coming municipal council elections despite the fact that the State Election Commission (SEC) today deleted his vote from the voters’ list by treating the same as bogus.

The scrutiny process, which started late in the afternoon, witnessed a clash between the supporters of the Congress and the SAD-BJP in the new tehsil complex. The police acted swiftly to bring the situation under control.

The State Election Commission today faxed its orders to District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, and Mr Popli.

According to the orders, a copy of which was procured by TNS from the officer of the RO here this afternoon, the SEC, while deleting the name of Mr Doomra from the voters’ list, also directed both District Electoral Officer and the RO that no fresh enrollment/deletion be undertaken without the prior approval of the commission.

Mr Popli, who started the scrutiny process of nomination papers at about 4 pm in his office, when contacted on phone, said he had not received any fax from the SEC regarding the deletion of the name of Mr Doomra from the voters’ list.

However, Mr Raminder Singh, District Electoral Officer (DEO), when contacted, said that a fax of the order of the SEC had been received in his office in the late evening and he had forwarded the same to the RO. He added that as per rules, no authority, including the SEC, could interfere in the election process after the nomination papers were filed before the RO. He added that by accepting the nomination of Mr Doomra, the rules pertaining to the municipal council elections were not violated.

He pointed out that the vote of Mr Doomra was deleted by the SEC on the report of Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, who conducted a survey to detect bogus votes. However, on February 27 when Mr Doomra came to him with about 13 proofs establishing the fact that he was a valid voter of this town, he (Mr Raminder Singh) allowed him to get himself registered as a voter again.

He further pointed out that even Mr Prem Valecha, a senior BJP leader and president of the local municipal council, who had been contesting the elections also, had given in writing that neither he nor anyone else from both parties had any objection on the nomination of Mr Doomra. He added that some deficiencies were also found in the nomination of Mr Valecha.

Mr Doomra, when contacted, alleged that his political opponents had played foul to get his name deleted from the voters’ list by presenting wrong facts before the SEC.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, Ferozepore, who was present in the tehsil complex, alleged that the state government officials were being pressurised by the ruling politicians to favour their party candidates in the coming municipal council elections. He added that the SAD-BJP workers would legally fight against the injustice being done to them.


Political parties block traffic
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 28
Hundreds of BJP, SAD and BSP (A) workers blocked the traffic on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road, in front of district courts, yesterday in protest against the alleged acceptance of nomination papers of Congress candidate Ajay Babla from Ward no 12 after the closing time.

The workers sat on a dharna in the middle of the road, resulting in the blockage of traffic.

When contacted, Ms Babita Bains, Returning Officer, denied the allegations.

Those who participated in the dharna included Mr Hira Lal Dhir, president of the district unit of the BJP, Mr Narotam Ratti, president of the Beopar and Industrialist Cell of the BJP, and Mr Mohan Singh Anand, SAD Jathedar. The dharna was lifted after five hours.

Mr Babla also denied the allegation that he had filed the nomination papers after the closing time.

Meanwhile, as many as 131 candidates have filed their nomination papers for 23 wards of the local municipal council elections, scheduled for March 9.


Cong names 19 candidates for Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 28
The Congress party released a list of 19 candidates who will contest the ensuing municipal elections from 21 wards of the local nagar council. Prominent among them include Ms Amritbir Kaur, Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, Mr Parveen Kala, Ms Veena Sharma, Mr Mohinder Singh Bhandari, Ms Amarjit Kaur Gill, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Ms Sukhdeep Kaur, Mr Joban Singh, Ms Sonia Bansal, Ms Jagjit Kaur, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Baljit Singh Gora, Ms Surinder Kaur Tangri, Mr Tulsi Ram, Ms Uma Grover, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Bawa, Ms Jasbir Kaur and Mr Ranjit Singh Khera. Releasing the list on behalf of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee here today, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president, District Congress Committee, Faridkot, said the party would support Mr Narinder Pal Singh Ninda, an independent candidate, in ward No. 9 and the name of the contestant from ward number 10 would be announced later.

SANGRUR: Out of the total 115 nomination papers filed for the elections to 21 wards of the Sangrur municipal council to be held on March 9, only one nomination paper was today rejected on technical grounds during scrutiny of the nomination papers.

ABOHAR: The BJP-SAD alliance, which has two-thirds, majority in the municipal council here, has decided to field only three sitting councillors in the ensuing elections. Notable absentees from the election arena this time include municipal president Babu Ram Arya, district BJP president Faquir Chand Goyal and both former city unit presidents Pramil Kalani and Suresh Phutela.

TARN TARAN: The nomination papers of Mr Heera Singh, Congress candidate from ward No. 17 of the local municipal council, and that of Ms Surjit Kaur, who filed her nomination papers from ward No. 14, have been rejected, according to Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM and returning officer. There are a total of 19 wards of the council, for which the election will be held on March 9.

HOSHIARPUR: Out of the 600 nomination papers filed in eight towns of Hoshiarpur district for the municipal elections, 16 were rejected by the returning officers for their respected municipal councils on Friday. Five nomination papers in Hoshiarpur, seven in Dasuya, two in Garhshankar and one each in Tanda and Garhdiwala were rejected. Nomination papers the candidates in Hariana, Shamchaurasi and Mukerian towns were found to be correct.


Akal Takht’s ultimatum to govt
Allows DJJS to reply
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 28
Akal Takht today allowed the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS), headed by controversial godman Ashutosh Maharaj, to submit its reply by March 9 before the nine-member committee constituted here. This decision was taken on the written request made by the DJJS, which had urged the Sikh clergy to listen to its petition before taking any decision.

Serving a 20-day ultimatum on the state government, Akal Takht asked it to make its inquiry against Ashutosh public by March 20. The meeting also asked the state government to inform Akal Takht about the action taken on the letter written by the SGPC. A press note issued by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, had asked the state government to inform him about the action recommended to the Central Government by the state government.

The nine-member committee constituted by Akal Takht to hear the petition of the DJJS included Prof Darshan Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC Secretary, Dr Jodh Singh, Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon and Dr Kashmir Singh — all professors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Mr Gurdev Singh Brar, a former Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Mr Gursharn Singh Jaiji, a former IPS officer, Mr Bakshish Singh Rowali and Prof Jagmohan Singh, secretary-general, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Among those who participated in the meeting included Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Baba Parmjit Singh Mahalpur, Principal Swarn Singh Patti, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, Mr Hardyal Singh, a former IAS, Principal Satnam Singh, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Narain Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Tarn Tarani and Mr Sukhpreet Singh Udoke.

While addressing the meeting, Prof Darshan Singh lambasted the Akali leadership and held it responsible for the present Panthic crisis. Without naming Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other senior Akali leaders, Prof Darshan Singh said unless they (the Akali leaders) stopped visiting ‘deras’ the controversial godmen like Ashutosh Maharaj would continue to erode the basis of Sikhism.

He said he was totally against staging ‘dharnas’ or creating ruckus in the Golden Temple complex. However, he said the SGPC had failed to take any action against the Akalis (referring to the SAD) who had created ruckus outside Akal Takht in 1995. He claimed that the Akalis represented the Sikhs and not the Sikhism. It was need of the hour to punish those Akali leaders first who had visited the dera of Ashutosh Maharaj so that proper action could be initiated against the DJJS.


Historic building suffers damage
SGPC accused of causing harm
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 28
The three-storeyed Ramgarhia Bunga, a marvel of Sikh school of architecture built by Sikh warriors in 1794, faces threat to its very existence as great damage has been done to this unique building during kar seva.

While the SGPC and the state government are busy in getting the Golden Temple declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the babas of kar seva wale have allegedly damaged certain portions of the building within the precincts of Darbar Sahib itself. They have built walls under the arches on the ground floor and fixed doors to convert verandahs into rooms. The brickwork (the Nanakshahi bricks) have been plastered and painted at many places. The suggestions made by Mr Tarlochan Singh, former vice-president of the National Commission on Minorities (he is chairman now), to get the kar seva done by experts fell on deaf ears.

A patron of the Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation, Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, has criticised the SGPC for its attitude towards this monument. He claimed that former SGPC secretary, Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, had initiated a move to convert the basement of the “bunga” into a war museum. However, it was scuttled by some persons having vested interests. It is pertinent to mention here that the Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation had requisitioned the services of Sikh architects and with reference to old pictures, the minarets in the “bungas” were got repaired.

The federation got the bricks chiselled, carried out restoration work on the north-western wall of the “bunga” facing Darbar Sahib, but abruptly without any notice to the authorities in the SGPC, withdrew the seva from the federation.

Keeping in view the sentiments of the Ramgarhia community and the historic importance of the “bunga”, and the serene atmosphere it provides around Sri Harmandir Sahib, former President of the SGPC, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, on recommendations of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, awarded the restoration work of minarets to the Ramgarhia Federation.

According to Mr Joginder Singh Kalsi, an expert on Sikh heritage, all three storeys of the “bunga”, supported by 44 pillars, parabolic arches for roofs and beams and decorated by cornices and projections are in a pitiable condition and need immediate repair. While constructing the “bunga”, care was taken to provide natural light and ventilation through ventilators, which open in the perambulatory path around the holy tank of Harmandir Sahib on one side and in the well dug on the other side. The basement just below the ground level accommodates hall for maharaja to hold his court in “diwan-e-khas” accommodating around 300 courtiers and soldiers. Due care was taken to keep the level of the throne made of marble and decorated with architraves chisel work and engravings at a level lower than that of Akal Takht. On the rear of the throne of the Sikh warrior Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia is a room used as jail for political prisoners and another room on the other side of the wall facing the throne was the treasury where steel chests were installed for proper rooms for ‘daffadars’ and security staff, which are in a dilapidated condition.

The Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation has again offered to carry out the restoration work and to convert the basement into a war museum by providing entry and exit from the ‘parkarma’ of the Golden Temple.


Rules flouted in leasing out village common land
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 28
Flouting regulations laid down by the Rural Development and Panchayat Directorate, village common land in certain pockets of Ropar District has been leased out to petroleum companies. Sarpanchs who signed these agreements with the petroleum companies, in connivance with the gram panchayats in certain cases, are now facing suspension with the directorate starting an inquiry into all such lease cases.

The matter was brought to light by a landowner of Saneta village, Mr Harjit Singh, where, according to him, the sarpanch had on June 6, 2002, undertaken an agreement with Hindustan Petroleum, leasing out part of the villages common land for the next 10 years.

The actual process of leasing out common land requires the sarpanch to forward the case to the Directorate which after due deliberations, holds an auction and grants the lease to the highest bidder.

Stating that all such cases would be looked into seriously, the Director Rural Development and Panchayats Mr S.R. Ladhar pointed out the sarpanch if found guilty in the inquiry would be suspended.

‘‘A sarpanch cannot lease out the village land for anything without following the proper procedure. ’’ he said.

Other than the fact that this process was not followed in this case, the District Food and Civil Supplies (DFCS) officer also issued a notice stating that the petrol station could not be run on a conditional no objection certificate (NOC) originally given to the company till a permanent NOC is taken from the DFCS.

Following a hearing in the court of the District Development and Panchayat Officer, on a case filed by Mr Harjit Singh, on February 7, the DDPO also cancelled the lease grant given by the sarpanch of the village ordering that a fresh agreement be undertaken by the sarpanch through the Directorate.

Interestingly, however, despite the fact that various offices of the administration have clearly given orders that the lease deed undertaken by the sarpanch of Saneta village is not valid any more, and a petrol station cannot be run without a permanent NOC, an HP petrol station has already started functioning from the land in the name of Shahid Krishan Mohan Filling Station.

The fact that the petrol station is already functioning was brought to the notice of the administration three days ago but no action has been taken against them for non compliance of orders.

The controversy also seems to be revolving around the amount of lease money agreed upon by the sarpanch.

‘‘A Rs 20,000 per annum lease means Rs 1600 per month to the village. While actually the market lease rate for this amount of land in this location is at least Rs 15,000 per month. ’’said Mr Harjit Singh. Mr Ladhar however said Rs 20,000 per year for a petrol station was good rate and he would forward the case with the same rate agreed upon by the sarpanch to the ministry for a positive recommendation. ‘‘But the tendency of the sarpanches to give away the land on their own will certainly not be encouraged.’’he pointed out.

The DDPO (Ropar), Mr Jaswant Singh in a meeting with Mr Ladhar, brought some other such cases to his notice. Sources alleged that a petrol station in Kalyanpur Village, in Anandpur Sahib block and a petrol station in Kalma Mod village in Noorpur Bedi block too had started functioning without having followed the requisite procedure.


Canadian Minister on mission Punjab
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, February 28
As a parliamentarian, Health Minister of Ontario Tony Clement reached Chandigarh in the morning, on his way to Punjab, for a better understanding of one million Indo-Canadians residing in his constituency. As a representative of his country, he is here for “deepening the relationship with India”, and building a base for “exchange of knowledge and expertise”.

“We have a large number of Punjabis, Gujaratis and other South Asians living in my constituency,” the Minister asserts. “They are all our supporters. That is the reason why, at a personal level, I am on my way to Punjab. The visit, I am sure, will help me in getting a feel of their native land culturally and historically”.

In Chandigarh for an interactive session with doctors and other professionals at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, he also visited Canadian Institute for International Studies in SAS Nagar and later inaugurated the office of Sentinel International in Sector 17 — an organisation “dedicated” to Non Resident Indians. The minister will leave for Punjab tomorrow. He will reach Amritsar via Jalandhar before going back to Delhi.

“The interaction with the people residing in this part of the region during my visit to the state will promote good relations,” he said. “You see, Punjabis dominate the Indo-Canadian population in my constituency”.

This, however, will not be the first time the Minister will be mingling with the Indians. “Mr Clement makes it a point to visit so many gurdwaras and temples back home during religious functions, even otherwise,” a close associate said.

Giving details of his visit to the country as Health Minister, he said: “I am not here for recruiting doctors and nurses. In any case, they keep on coming to Canada for filling the need. If my presence encourages professionals in coming to Canada, I will be more than happy. I am here to explore new possibilities in the field of health and medicines”.

Will he be signing any memorandum of understanding with the Indian authorities? “No, we will not be signing documents, but I am sure my visit will encourage exchange programmes in the near future”.

Regarding health care facilities in Canada compared to India, he said, “challenges like primary care and public health are the same, but as far as medical facilities in India are concerned, I cannot say much because I have been in the country for just three days. But in Canada, medical facilities are free for everyone”.

“This is not all. Unlike here in India, the attendants do not have to sit next to the patients waiting for the doctors or nurses to summon them before asking them to purchase medicines. It is convenient to have an attendant near the patient. He can always ring the bell to call the nurse, but it is not at all required,” the Minister added.

Canada, he said, “offers some of the best medical welfare and health care programmes in the world with a strong economy and 45 per cent growth rate in the health budget and advanced medical technology”.

As far as his role is concerned, he said: “My job as a minister is not just to deal with the present, but to think about the future also, to advise the citizens to increase exercise, stop smoking and take other precautionary measures including vaccination”.


104 candidates in fray for Kharar MC poll
Tribune Reporters

Kharar, February 28
Mr S.S. Gill, SDM, Returning Officer, today rejected the nomination paper of a candidate for the local municipal council election.

Four candidates have, however, withdrawn their nomination papers so far. Now 104 candidates are left in the fray. All nomination papers filed by 87 candidates for the Kurali municipal council were found to be in order and no paper was rejected. The withdrawl of nomination papers would be allowed till 2 pm tomorrow and symbols would be allotted after that.

Meanwhile, Mr Lakhbir Singh who is contesting the election from Ward No 2 of Kurali has lodged a complaint to the Election Commission against another candidate, Mr Tarlok Chand, who is also contesting from the same Ward. He alleged that Tarlok Chand had procured and produced a wrong certificate which showed that he belonged to the Lohar caste. He urged the Election Commission to reject Tarlok Chand’s nomination papers.

2 nominations cancelled

DERA BASSI: After scrutinising of nomination papers filed by the candidates for the local municipal council election, candidature of two candidates were cancelled by the Returning Officer-cum-SDM, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, here today. Nomination papers of Mr Manmohanjit Singh and Mr Narinder Kumar who had filed their candidatures from Ward No. 6 and 9, respectively, were cancelled after being found incomplete. Nomination papers filed by the candidates from more than one ward were also cancelled by the Returning Officer. Over 22 candidates had filed their nominations from different wards.

After the cancellation of the nomination papers only 83 candidates have been left in the fray for 13 posts of the councillors.

Mr Dhindsa said Ward No 5, 6 and 7 had been declared hypersensitive while Ward No. 11 had been identified as supersensitive.

To conduct the elections peacefully security arrangements had been tightened and polling staff had been directed to hold the election process with extra care.

For the convenience of voters 13 polling stations had been set up and a strength of 52 polling staff had been pressed on duty. Apart from a presiding officer and three polling officers at each polling station four supervisors had also been deputed for supervising the polling station during the election, Mr Dhindsa said.

15 booths hypersensitive

ZIRAKPUR: Fifteen polling booths set up by the administration for conducting Nagar Panchayat elections have been declared hypersensitive.

Mr Surjit Singh, Returning Officer of the elections, said after a survey conducted by the civic body authorities polling booths No 2, 11, 12 and 15 set up in Kathgarh, Zirakpur, Govind Vihar and Harmilap Nagar in Bartana, respectively, had been declared hypersensitive.

These booths were declared hypersensitive on receiving complaints. Apart from conducting the election peacefully, the authorities had also complained to the police for maintaining the law and order. The Returning Officer said elaborate security arrangements had been made to avoid any untoward incident during the elections. He disclosed that one presiding and three polling officers had been deployed in each polling booth. Besides this, three persons had been assigned the job to supervise all polling booths and keep a watch on them.

In case any person fails to turn up for the election duty 20 persons had also been kept reserve for emergency duty, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaspal Singh, Election Observer, today visited two newly created booth No 2 and 11 of the local Nagar Panchayat area.


Thein Dam workers flay CM on global tenders
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 28
Mr Natha Singh, Mr Surinder Kumar and Mr Harinder Singh Randhawa, president, working president and general secretary, respectively, of the Thein Dam Workers Union (CITU) here yesterday dared the Chief Minister of Punjab to hand over the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project (SKDP) to a private or multi-national company. The leaders condemned the statement of the Chief Minister issued that global tenders would be floated for handing over the construction of the project.

The leaders said successive governments had been assuring the workers that the SKDP would be taken up at departmental-level. Works like survey design testing and land acquisition for the project had been completed by the department and more than Rs 100 crore had been spent in this connection.

The leaders said the work on the project on departmental level was to be initiated in 1993. If the then Punjab and Central governments were serious, the project would have been completed within four years.

The leaders said that after the completion of Ranjit Sagar Dam, a large work force had been rendered surplus. It was associated with the completion of Bhakhra Dam, Beas Dam, Anandpur Sahib hydel project, Mukerian hydel project and Ranjit Sagar Dam. Its services could be utilised for the SKDP.

They assured the government that if the SKDP was taken up at departmental level, it would save the state exchequer Rs 600 crore. Even the machinery, allied infrastructure and spare parts of heavy machinery could be utilised for the SKDP.


And now ‘roadside doctors’
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, February 28
A large number of ‘roadside doctors’ have appeared in the city and surrounding areas who prescribe inexpensive cures for various ailments to residents, particularly youths.

Although a few such ‘doctors’ from Rajasthan established their ‘clinics’ at different parts of the city some years ago, their number has suddenly increased in the past few weeks. It is learnt that the new entrants belong to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

These ‘roadside doctors’ operate from near the offices of transporters, the local bus stand, the local railway station, cinema halls and main roads. Some are also doing business in rural areas.

The modus operandi is simple. They invite teenagers and youths and tell them about remedies to simple diseases like cold, headache and cough. They describe themselves as “khandaani vaids”. Some show them their pictures with politicians and police, civil and health officers.

Although there are no exact figures available, as per a rough estimate, the number of such doctors is 60. At least 13 have set up stalls close to one another near the office of the local Improvement Trust in the vicinity of three cinema halls. Some ‘doctors’ are 70 years while others are merely 15.

Many drug addicts are ‘patients’ of these ‘doctors’. Jaspal Singh (name changed), a college student, claimed that he felt lethargic and had no interest in studies till he took medicine from a ‘doctor’. He said the ‘medicine’ was not only inexpensive, but also ‘effective’. Another youth, who was just married, said he had consulted various doctors, but he was not cured. After taking ‘medicine’ from a ‘roadside doctor’ for a week, he had felt better.

A group of four ‘doctors’ who have put up stalls near the bus stand here, said there was nothing wrong if they gave cheap medicines to patients. They said it was not possible for everybody to go to expensive hospitals. They said they never gave medicine that was harmful to human body. They prepared medicines from herbs and plants.

Mr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, when contacted, said he would talk to the Drug Inspector in that regard. He would also contact the police and civil authorities so that action was taken against the quacks.


Comedians roughed up in Secretariat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
An eminent pair of Punjabi comedians was reportedly roughed up by an officer of the Punjab Chief Minister’s secretariat at the Civil Secretariat building this morning.

According to sources, the comedians had gone to the Chief Minister’s office in the Secretariat in connection with some work when the officer concerned took strong objections to certain comments the pair had made at a recent cultural function.

Though the comedians reportedly tried to explain their position and apologise, they could not escape the wrath of the officer who allegedly lost his cool, abused them and allegedly roughed them up.

Since both the comedians are serving under the Punjab Government, they were under pressure not to open their mouth to anyone failing which “strictest action” would be initiated against them. One of them is working in a university while the second one is in the officers’ cadre in a cooperative sector undertaking. Attempts to reach them on their mobile or landline phones were unsuccessful.

Neither the officer concerned nor the Media Adviser to the Chief Minister was available for official version or comments about the incident, which was witnessed by several employees of the Civil Secretariat.


Jathedar Vedanti offers to resign
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 28
The beleaguered Giani Joginder Singh here today offered to resign as Jathedar of Akal Takht if charges of corruption levelled by the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) proved by a committee of “true panthic leaders”.

Addressing a Sikh conclave at the Akal Takht secretariat, Jathedar Vedanti said his conscience was clear and he had worked honestly and as per the Sikh maryada since his installation as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

He, however, said that the panthic leaders who were attending the meeting at the Akal Takht secretariat could form a committee to probe the charges levelled against him. He said the charges against him were baseless and the Panth was free to conduct any sort of probe. On this, Prof Darshan Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, said if this was the case, he could have easily sorted out the matter with the SKP.


Notices issued to Modi, Shah
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 28
The Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mr A.S. Grewal, today issued notices to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, and the Gujarat Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah, in separate civil defamation sits, seeking damages of Rs 50 crores each, filed by two Punjab ministers, Mr A.S. Samra and Mr P.S. Bajwa.

The next date of hearing for both the cases has been fixed for April 24. Mr Bajwa and Mr Samra had filed these cases for defamatory statements released to the Press by Modi and Mr Shah after the Punjab ministers were named in the alleged Ahmedabad sex scandal.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Disposing of a petition seeking the implementation of the East Punjab Holding (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act of 1948 in the state of Haryana, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday ruled that no further direction was required at present and the government would try its best to do the needful as early as possible.

The orders were passed after the Court was informed that the government was not sitting tight over the matter and had already worked towards achieving the objectives of the Act in over 6,800 villages.


The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday fixed March 7 as the next date of hearing on an appeal filed by Punjab Additional Director-General of Police Daljit Singh Bhullar against the trial court’s orders sentencing him and three others to life imprisonment in a triple murder case.

The case pertains to the murder of a non-resident Indian and a business partner of the Bhullar family — Dr Paramjit Singh Sahota — and two others in 1996.


Bail plea rejected in extortion case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 28
Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge, today dismissed the bail application of Gurmeet Kaur alias Happy, who was arrested by the local police on February 17 in a case of extortion and intimidation. The case was registered on February 14 against six persons, including Gurmeet Kaur and three policemen.

The Sessions Judge today granted anticipatory bail to Darshan Kumar, another accused in the case.

The police had registered case against Darbara Singh, SHO of the local Sadar police station, ASI Anup Singh, Head Constable, Kewal Singh, Satnam Singh of Dhapali village, Darshan Kumar and Gurmeet Kaur on a complaint filed by a local resident, Varinder Kumar. In the complaint, he had alleged that on February 3 he was “blackmailed” by the accused under a threat that a case would be registered against him for having an illicit relationship with Gurmeet Kaur if he did not pay Rs 2 lakh.

He alleged that as a part of the deal, he paid Rs 20,000 to the policemen. However, he later came to know that Gurmeet Kaur, the policemen and others had planned this to extort money from him.


Forum orders dealer to pay relief
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 28
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed the dealer of Videocon company to pay compensation to Pawan Kumar, a resident of Doburji village, near here.

The complainant in a complaint before the forum had alleged that he bought an audio system from the dealer of Videocon for Rs 17,250. However, the system did not give a satisfactory performance right from the start. Though complaints were lodged with the company’s service centre, the fault was not rectified.

The complainant, besides demanding the refund of the cost of audio system, demanded Rs 50,000 as compensation for the harassment he allegedly had to undergo at the hands of company officials.

The council of Videocon in its reply filed before the forum alleged that the complainant had lodged just one complaint about the fault of the audio system. The fault was duly removed and no malfunctioning was reported thereafter. The company council maintained that there was no deficiency in service on its part.

The forum comprising its president, Mr J.P. Gupta, and member Mr S.K. Bhatia, however, held the company responsible for deficiency in service. The forum directed the company officials to replace the audio system of the complainant or return him the original cost. It also awarded a compensation of Rs 5,000 to the complainant besides the cost of litigation quantified at Rs 1,500.


Attack on Excise team flayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
At an emergency meeting, the Excise & Taxation Officers’ Association, Punjab, under the Chairmanship of Mr Sucha Singh Cheema, president of the Association, a sense of disgust and anger was expressed by members over the unlawful behaviour and highhandedness meted out to the members of the inspecting teams of the Excise & Taxation Department led by Mr G.S. Punia, ETO.

The teams under the supervision of Mr Krishan Kumar, Addl Excise & Taxation Commissioner, conducted inspections of the business premises of some suspected dealers at Pathankot on February 15. The snatching away of the impounded documents forcibly from the inspecting parties by the unruly mob gathered there under the leadership of Mr Sham Lal, vice-president, Beopar Mandal, Mr Lok Raj Sodhi and others was condemned and the government was requested to take action against the miscreant. The conduct of the local MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma, was also condemned, the association said.


Technical staff blame PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 28
The Technical Services Union (TSU) has blamed the management of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for not providing technical employees with service kits and tools, which, it said, had resulted in the death of a number of employees.

The TSU, in a press note issued here today, said the PSEB held a seminar recently to deliberate on the growth path for the board, but the authorities said they had no money to buy tools and service equipment.

It said a few days ago Kewal Singh, a lineman, had been electrocuted, allegedly due to over work and lack of proper tools.

The press note said the kin of the deceased should be given a job on compassionate grounds and urged the authorities concerned to release funds for purchasing high quality lifts and other tools.


Shobha yatra taken out on eve of Shivratri
Tribune Reporters and PTI

AMRITSAR: Thousands participated in a shobha yatra on the eve of Mahashivratri today. The yatra, organised by Shivalya Bhaiyan, passed through Hussainpura, Ghas Mandi, Ram Bagh and other areas of city before culminating at the Shivalya.

A number of sadhus from far flung areas, religious organisations, including the Bajrang Dal, the VHP, the RSS, besides prominent persons participated in the largest ever procession here on this occasion. All Shivalyas bore a festive look and were tastefully decorated for Mahashivratri tomorrow.

BATALA: A shobha yatra was taken out today to celebrate Mahashivratri. The procession started from the old grain market and passed through Gandhi Chowk, City Road, Hansli Bridge, Nehru Gate, Chakri Bazar, Gurdwara Kandh Sahib, Bara Bazar, Quadi Hatti and terminated at Kaushalya Devi Sanan Eye Hospital, Khajuri Gate.

GURDASPUR: More than 2000 persons participated in a shobha yatra, here today, to celebrate Mahashivratri. The yatra started from the Shiv Mandir at Tibri Road.


Police denies harassing visitors
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 28
ASP Rakesh Aggarwal has denied that the police was causing harassment to visitors by checking vehicles at any naka on the crossing of squall-affected Jandwala Meerasangla village near the international border.

Mr Aggarwal said today that nearly 80 policemen led by him and Mr Swarndeep Singh, DSP, Fazilka, had joined the rescue and relief operations within two hours of the squall in both subdivisions, despite inclement weather. The force had been advised to be extra courteous to the survivors of the calamity even after the things become normal.


MC employees block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 28
Hundreds of employees of the local Municipal Corporation today blocked traffic near the BMC chowk here to protest against the registration of a criminal case against six MC employees for their alleged involvement in preventing Vigilance Bureau officials from discharging their duty.

Mr Prem Pal Domeli, convener of the Joint Action Committee, while addressing the gathering, alleged that the VB officials were trying to implicate MC officials in a false case. He said the government should withdraw the case against the employees immediately, failing which the water supply to all parts of the city would be stopped.


Gang of drug peddlers busted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 28
Giving a blow to narcotics smugglers of the Doaba region, the Jalandhar police today busted a gang of drug peddlers by arresting four of its members and recovering 15 kg of opium and 5 kg of smack worth Rs 20 lakh from their possession. The gang used to get consignments of narcotics through special couriers from different parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, Mr Rohit Chaudhary and Mr Varinder Kumar, Deputy Inspector-General and Senior Superintendent of Police, respectively, said a police party received information while it was deployed at a naka near the Babrik chowk that an inter-district gang of narcotics smugglers was about to receive a consignment of drugs from a Bareilly based courier at the Jaina Nagar cremation grounds. After receiving the information, a raid was conducted at the said place, which led to the arrest of four persons and recovery of smack and opium.

Mr Chaudhary said the arrested persons were identified as Artinder Pal Singh, alias Pappu, a resident of R.S. Pura in Jammu and Kashmir, and who was presently putting up at the local Deol Nagar locality, Surjit Singh, a resident of Garha locality, Sushil Kumar, a resident of Jaura Pipal locality in Amritsar, and Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Purana Shahr locality of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

He said during the preliminary interrogation, the accused revealed that it was Rajesh Kumar who used to bring narcotic substances from Bareilly and supply these to the gang as a courier, while one Rajinder Kumar of Bareilly was the real supplier of drugs. He said Rajinder Kumar was also running a finance company to cover up his illegal operations. Rajesh used to bring contraband once a week and deliver it to Artinder Pal Singh, Surjit Singh and Sushil Kumar, who would further sell narcotics to petty peddlers in small quantities.

The accused were produced in court of the Ilaqa Magistrate today while the investigation task has been entrusted to Mr Naresh Kumar, DSP, said Mr Chaudhary, adding that more arrests were expected in the case.


2 teenagers held for murder
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 28
The district police claims to have solved a murder case of a three-years -old boy by arresting two teenagers.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press statement issued here yesterday, said Ajay Kumar (3) of Ashahoor village in Phillaur subdivision, who had gone out of his home to play, was later reported missing on February 15. His body was found from the fields of the village next morning. The body did not show any visible sign of injury and the proceedings under Section 174, Cr.PC, were initiated after conducting a post-mortem examination.

During the course of investigation, it was found that a medical officer, who conducted the post-mortem, attributed asphyxia being the apparent cause of death, thus, indicating some foul play.

Subsequently, the needle of suspicion was pointed towards a teenaged boy living in the adjoining house as the victim was last seen going to his house. A case under Sections 302, 201 and 34, IPC, was registered on February 27 and two teenaged boys as Harjeet Singh (16) and Varinder Singh (13) of Ashahoor village were arrested.

During preliminary interrogation, the arrested boys revealed a bizarre tale of being inspired by a crime thriller on television showing a conspiracy to kidnap a boy for ransom to live a life full of luxuries. They kidnapped Ajay Kumar allegedly for a ransom of Rs 10 lakh. They tried to stifle Ajay with a “chunni” on the presumption that it would render him unconscious. However, it resulted in the death of the boy. They dumped the body in the adjoining fields.

The arrested teenagers were being produced in the court.


DIET staff to approach rights commission
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 28
Staff members of the 17 District Institutes of Education Training (DIET) are preparing a petition to be lodged before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission in protest against the denial of salaries to them for the past four months by the state government.

Interestingly, the government had paid about Rs 1.5 crore as excess salaries to some staff members posted in District Education Officers (DEOs) in the state. When this discrepancy was detected, the government ordered Circle Education Officers (CEOs) to recover the amount from officials concerned about two months ago. But so far, nothing had been recovered.

Mr Labh Singh, Convener, DIET Staff Association, said if the state government did not pay salaries complaint would be lodged with the commission. He said the government was violating the directions of the National Commission of Teachers Education.

He said members of the association were tired of the apathetic attitude of the government towards the problems of the employees of the institutes.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a majority of the staff members of the institutes were meeting their daily expenses by borrowing money at exorbitant rates of interest, ranging from 24 per cent to 50 per cent. Many employees were also trying to get themselves transferred to other wings of the Education Department.

Source said the state government had diverted funds given by the Centre, for running the DIET. Besides this, the government was also not contributing its share of money for running the scheme, the sources alleged.

Mr Labh Singh said that when he, along with other members of the association, met a senior functionary of the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) at Chandigarh he refused to listen to their problems.


720 DAV students get degrees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 28
Mr G.P. Chopra, president of the DAV College Managing Committee and the Arya Pradeshik Sabha, today stressed upon the need to overhaul the present education system. Speaking on the 45th annual convocation at DAV College here today, Mr Chopra urged for the development of a system which could enhance the skills of an individual, enabling him to earn a respectable living and at the same time making him a responsible and caring human being.

As many as 720 students were conferred on graduation and postgraduation degrees by Mr M.L. Aeri, Principal of the college.

He said new frontiers of knowledge and science should be explored to build India of our dreams and vision.

Stressing on the propagation of moral and ethical education in educational institutes, he said this way culture and traditions could be preserved. He advised young graduates and postgraduates to create a human common wealth and brotherhood for the well being of the civilisation.

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