Friday, June 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Takht supremacy restored: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 5
Veteran Akali leader and former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra today expressed satisfaction over the action taken by the Sikh high priests following SAD president Parkash Singh Badal’s appearance before them and said the supremacy of Akal Takht had been restored by today’s proceedings.

Talking to TNS from his hospital bed, the veteran leader and the Sikh high priests had dealt with the matter according to Sikh traditions. He said the proceedings would increase the prestige of Akal Takht as well as of Mr Badal.

Mr Tohra said now there were no differences between him and Mr Badal as the latter had not hesitated in appearing before Akal Takht. “This was the only condition I had been stressing all along”, he added.

The leader, who was flanked by his son-in-law Harmail Singh Tohra, in a special ward of the hospital, said unity between the SAD and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) had already taken place. He said the coming together of the two parties would benefit Punjab as well as the Panth. When asked if any conditions had been drawn up before the two parties joined hands, he said unity was one of the principles and he did not visualise any conflict on any issue because no conditions had been set by the two parties. He also claimed that no decision had been taken on his taking over as SGPC chief again or on appointing someone else to head the organisation.

When questioned about the reservations of leaders of the Panthic Morcha on the issue of unity between him and Mr Badal, Mr Tohra said he could not comment about the Panthic Morcha. “They may think in their own way, I think in my own and other people in their own”, was his cryptic reply. Similarly, when asked about the visits of a number of Congress leaders, including the chief minister, to the hospital, he said all of them had come to pay their respects and no political motive could be attributed to their visits.

Mr Tohra will shift to the residence of his son-in-law in the Hira Nagar area of the city after being discharged from hospital in a few days. 

Ranjit Singh calls it drama
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
Commenting on the “exoneration” of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by the clergy Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Akal Takht Jathedar talking to mediapersons at his residence here today, described the exercise as a “high-level drama”.

He said “history would neither forgive the Sikh high priest, nor Mr Badal for violating age-old Sikh traditions”.

Giani Puran Singh may be summoned
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
The Sikh high priests today indicated that Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, who has been abstaining from the meetings of the clergy, could be summoned at Akal Takht for observing the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjan Dev yesterday in violation of the Nanakshahi calendar.

As per the calendar, the Martyrdom Day of the Guru falls on June 16.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, said Giani Puran Singh had violated the directive of Akal Takht with his participation in the Shaheedi Purb.


Clergy was under pressure
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
There was tremendous pressure on the Sikh high priests to absolve Mr Badal of all charges. While Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, held a closed-door meeting with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti at the latter’s official residence here today, SGPC Secretary Raghbir Singh, personal assistant to Mr Badungar, met Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, last evening.

The sole aim of behind-the-curtain activities was to pressurise the Sikh clergy to exonerate Mr Badal. Mr Badungar, his PA, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, Senior Vice-President, and Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah, General secretary, remained camped at the Akal Takht secretariat even as the meeting of the clergy was in progress in the adjoining room.

Jathedar Vedanti was reportedly pressurised to resolve the matter today itself. It is learnt that he tried to convince the SGPC chief that Mr Badal had been called for consultations alone and he could not pronounce an edict.

However, he was asked to resolve the matter today itself. It may be mentioned that the SGPC appoints the Sikh high priests is also the competent authority to remove them.


CM: Punjab to follow national calendar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, alleging that the SGPC had been adopting double standards on the issue of implementation of Nanakshahi Calender, today said that the state government would follow the common national calender.

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC president, has been claiming that the implementation of Nanakshahi Calender is a state subject but then he has been writing to Union Home Minister L.K. Advani for making arrangements for the implementation of the same. This shows the double standard of the SGPC over the issue,” the Chief Minister said, adding that “Let Mr Advani write a letter to the Punjab Government for implementing the calendar and we will think over the issue.”

He said if every state started claiming that it should be allowed to follow its own calender then there would be chaos. The Union Government was only an agency which was supposed to decide about the dates of holidays pertaining to some days of national importance. A large section of Punjabis, including Sikhs, has been living in other states and they would be in a fix if they were asked to follow the holidays as mentioned in the calender.

Asked about his reaction as a Sikh to the presentation of former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, before Akal Takht, he was happy that Mr Badal had recognised the existence and authority of Akal Takht.

He added that he was giving his reaction not as a Sikh, a Hindu or a Muslim but as the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Asked about his reaction to the fact that the SGPC was going to declare Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as martyr tomorrow, he said the Punjab Government was committed that nobody would be allowed to disturb peace in the state.

No move to summon CM: Vedanti

Amritsar, June 5
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti today said there was no move to summon Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh before Akal Takht for seeking an explanation on the non-implementation of the SGPC Nanakshahi calendar by his government.

Talking to mediapersons here, he said any decision would be taken only after thorough deliberations and taking into account all aspects of the issue. UNI


Congress CMs plan joint hydro projects
Chander Parkash & Jaswinder Paul Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said his counterparts in Congress-ruled states had decided to hold negotiations for setting up hydro-electric and tourism projects in the joint venture by formulating a common programme policy.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here to flag off trucks carrying wheat bags to be sent to drought-hit Rajasthan as a goodwill gesture, said the Chief Ministers of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal, during the Congress Chief Ministers’ conference in Srinagar, had decided since tourism and hydro-electric projects had a significant potential these states could explore it for the welfare of people of their respective states and to generate income. Punjab could develop summer and winter tourism while other states could be explored for summer tourism.

The Chief Minister said the Punjab Government would send 25,000 quintal of wheat and 650 wagons of wheat husk to Rajasthan in the coming days. These had been sent on an appeal by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Capt Amarinder Singh was accompanied by AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni and MP Santosh Chaudhary.

The Captain said he would take up the issue of granting permission to residents of Punjab to purchase agriculture land in Rajasthan with his counterpart.

Reacting to a statement by the MLA, Bathinda, Mr Surinder Singla, on the end of the party’s alliance with the CPI as it had caused harm to the electoral prospects of the Congress in Punjab, he said this was Mr Singla’s personal view.

The matter was for the party’s national leadership to decide and he did not want to comment, Captain Amarinder Singh said.

The Chief Minister, talking to mediapersons, said Punjab had submitted the Ghaggar action plan to the World Bank to tame it. Adequate steps were being taken to control floods in the Ghaggar and check polluted water in to the Sutlej and the Beas.

A team of PGI doctors had been asked to find out the reason for the unusual number of cancer incidences in various pockets of Bathinda district, he said.

He said octroi was being collected through coercive methods by those who manned octroi posts. This was not acceptable in a civilised society. The posts would now be replaced. There were a few problems in the imposition of entry tax in place of octroi and the state government would remove the same.

Regarding the response to contract farming, the Chief Minister claimed that it had produced the desired results. He said sales tax on pesticides would be withdrawn shortly.

Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh today said that the government would give special grant to panchayats which were elected unanimously. The amount of the grant would be announced within days.


Another motor repair scam
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 5
One more scam in the repair of a high tension motor in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) has come to the light. According to highly placed sources in the PSEB, a high tension boiler feed pump motor No. 4-A was got repaired by plant authorities in July 2000 at a cost of Rs 17.10 lakh from a SAS Nagar-based firm. However, now it has been observed that the motor might not have developed any fault and entire repair was fake.

The sources said the 4000 kw high tension motor, allegedly developed a fault on July 22. The officials concerned at that time recorded in their report that some smoke was seen coming out of the motor. On July 26, the SAS Nagar firm was called for inspection and on August 2 the order was placed with the firm for its repair.

However, now the PSEB authorities have discovered that high tension motor might not have developed any fault and the entire repair process might be fake as none of three protections installed in the motor functioned at the time when it allegedly developed fault. The protections are type of fuses that disconnect the power supply to the motor if it develops any fault.

In addition to that the repair of the motor was got done from the firm on proprietary basis with a view that it was the only authorised service centre of the BHEL in the area. However, now the PSEB authorities have discovered that the firm was just a contractor from the BHEL and was not its authorised repair centre.

Another startling fact that has come to the light is that the high tension motor once again developed fault in January this year. This time the fault was similar to that stated in the records in the repair which were carried out in 2000. However, the authorities concerned this time went for the open tender for repair. The motor was got repaired at Rs 3.3 lakh against the Rs 17.1 lakh spent on similar repairs in 2000.

Earlier also, a similar scam was detected in the repair of the high tension motors. The motors supplied by the BHEL, Jyoti and Kirloskar companies have been installed in GGSSTP. From 1991 to 2000 the repair of these motors were got done on single quotation basis from the SAS Nagar firm.

However, after the transfer of the Superintending Engineer concerned when the new incumbent went for open quotation for similar repairs the rates came down by as much as 70 per cent. The office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of the state has also taken notice of the anomalies in the repair rates of high tension motors and written to the PSEB Chairman to take action in the matter.

The sources also said the PSEB Vigilance had also sought information from the plant authorities regarding the high tension motor scam. The plant authorities have recently sent their report to the Director, Technical Services. In the report they have also stated that the SAS Nagar firm was not the authorised service centre of the BHEL.

The Chief Engineer, GGSSTP, Mr Luthra admitted that the report on the motor scam had been sent to the higher authorities. He, however, refused to divulge the details of the report on the plea that it was confidential. 


DC told to get bonded labourers released
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, June 5
Taking serious view of the alleged torturing of 22 bonded labourers and their 12 children by a brick-kiln owner of Anandpur, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) today directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, to come into action and get them released.

The PSHRC has also directed the DC, Ropar, to get released the belongings of labourer from the brick-kiln owner and to submit its report in this regard by June 13.

The labourers had allegedly been tortured by the brick-kiln owner for the past 10 months. He was not paying them proper wages. On June 2, provoked by the demand from some of the labourers to give them their wages, the owner started beating them up mercilessly with a stick and threatened to kill them.

After Chandigarh Tribune highlighted their plight in today’s edition under the headline ‘Labourers seek Governor’s protection’, Volunteers for Social Justice, a non-government organisation (NGO), came forward to the rescue of bonded labourers. Two members of the NGO — the communication officer, Ms Prabhjot Kaur, and the legal adviser, Mr Jagjivan Singh — today met the bonded labourers on the District Courts premises and decided to represents their case at various fronts. Thereafter, the members of the NGO took the bonded labourers to the PSHRC.

Ms Prabhjot Kaur said, “After reading the news report, our organisation decided to fight their case and provide them basic amenities.” She said their organisation had also made arrangements for the temporary stay and daily meal for the labourers.

Talking about the organisation, she said it was established in 1985 and since then it had been working for the uplift of bonded labourers. She said so far the organisation had filed about 3000 cases before various Human Rights Commissions for the release of bonded labourers.

Giving details about the recent case, she said the PSHRC had taken serious note of the problem. The Chairperson of the commission, Mr Justice N.C. Jain, also stated in his order that the District Magistrate (DM), Ropar, would talk to the owner of the brick-kiln and ensure to secure two square meals for the labourers. He could take appropriate steps with regard to the payment of their dues, if any. If it was found that there were more bounded labourers, he would make suitable arrangements for them also.


Bahuguna dismisses river grid idea
Tribune Reporters and Agencies

Jalandhar, June 5
Renowned environmentalist and Chipko Movement leader Sunderlal Bahuguna today termed as “political stunt” the idea of interlinking the main rivers of the country into a river grid.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Bahuguna said the idea was neither practical nor feasible and it was unlikely to be a solution to any problem.

He said the term river did not symbolise a mere flowing stream of water but had a deeper sense. The rivers were not solely meant for human beings. They also belonged to the aquatic animals and the flora and fauna dependent upon them.

The environmentalist said the solution was in the austerity measures towards use of water, centralised water distribution, water harvesting and roof water storage.

He also expressed serious concern over the receding water table in Punjab and suggested that the crop pattern was required to be re-planned and we should stress on tree farming instead of high water consuming crops like paddy and sugarcane.

He also suggested that the trend of eucalyptus plantation should be arrested in the state as this tree consumed a huge quantity of water.

Expressing regrets over reports about the inundation of the city of Tehri with the Tehri dam waters, Mr Bahuguna condemned the government for its “visionless” and “faulty” approach towards the problems looming before the mankind.

He said the Tehri Dam would symbolise the Himalayan blunder as the dam had brought devastation in the region and was unlikely to serve the purpose as aimed by planners.

HOSHIARPUR: World Environment Day was observed by the Health and Family Welfare Department in the Urban Slum Dispensary, Salwara, under the chairmanship of Dr Y.C. Marken, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Marken said without water life was impossible. Elaborating on the theme of World Environment Day-2003 ‘Water-two billion people are dying for it’, Dr Marken said one-sixth of the population in the developing world did not have access to safe drinking water and 80 per cent of the diseases and the deaths in the world were due to drinking of non-potable water.

A medical camp was also organised in which more than 250 patients were given medicines free of cost.

KURUKSHETRA: World Environment Day was celebrated at Kurukshetra Panorama and Science Centre here on Thursday by organising various competitions for schoolchildren. They were a painting contest on environment-related topics, a tree and plant identification contest and an environment quiz.

Meanwhile, delivering a talk on the topic “Water: a Precious Resource”, the Kurukshetra University Botany Department former Chairman and chief guest, Prof Sharda R. Gupta, called upon the participants to educate people in their community, family and neighbourhood to conserve water.

NAHAN: Rallies, declamation contests and awareness camps marked the Environment Day in Nahan. Additional Deputy Commissioner Subhash Kalsotra flagged off a rally of school students.

Carrying placards with environment message, the children went round the town and later cleaned the campuses of their respective schools. Members of NGOs, the Environment society and the Nagrik Sabha and municipal councillors went in ward no 3 to clear it of polythene garbage.


Cops brothers held for murder
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, June 5
A Head Constable Ranjit Singh posted at Police Lines Majitha, is alleged to have connived with his four brothers and three others in kidnapping and later murdered a head of the Thakur Dwara and his nephew. The two were kidnapped on the night of May 30.

The decomposed bodies of Nirmal Das, head of Thakur Dwara in Bhilowal village, under Majitha police district and his nephew Ganesh Das, residents of Bhilowal village, but presently living in Jaipur were found in the Beas river in the stretch between Harike and Goindwal Sahib. The bodies were found after the interrogation of the four brothers. Those who were arrested are Dalbir Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Nirmal Singh, all sons of Tara Singh, residents of Mian Pandher village under Majitha police district.

Mr Dilbagh Singh SP (D) Majitha police district, said all five accused hatched a conspiracy to kill the uncle and his nephew when the two came to Bhilowal in connection with a case of land dispute, pending in the local court between them and the accused.

According to investigations, it was found that the head of the dwara who owned a 16 acre of land in Bhilowal left Punjab during the peak of militancy while Tara Singh and his five sons, including the Head Constable, cultivated this land since then. The accused are alleged to have falsely executed the sale deed in their favour. Nirmal Das challenged the sale deed in the district court here. Nirmal Dass had also civil case pertaining to eight acres of land. He had come along with his wife, Darshana, and nephew Ganesh Das at nearby Ram Diwali village and stayed at Tapsavi da Dera as they were to appear in the court on May 31. The accused kidnapped the two from the dera at gunpoint. A case had been registered on the complaint of Darshana, wife of Ganesh Das at Mehta police station falling under Majitha police district.

They then strangled them to death and threw them into the river. The three of the accomplice and the Head Constable are absconding. The polices has included the murder charges in the case which was earlier registered as abduction case at Mehta police station.


Cong gears up for poll
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 5
With declaration of the panchayat elections, political activities have intensified in the district. The prospective candidates for the office of sarpanches and panches have started mobilising the voters.

The Congress has taken a lead in starting its election campaign in the district.

The DCC president, Mr Vaid Hari Krishan yesterday organised a meeting of Congress presidents of all seven blocks. Addressing the gathering, the DCC president said the Congress would field its own candidates for all the 429 village panchayats in the coming panchayat elections.

He said this was the high time that the party workers and leaders should unite and present a united face in the public, so that the public oriented policies of the government could reach at the grassroot level.

He urged the block presidents to hold such meetings in their respective blocks and sent the monthly progress report. He said every worker should be involved and moblised.

He assured full cooperation to all the Congressmen and said the party would continue to highlight the problems of the people.

Mr Munish Verma, president of the District Youth Congress, in his address assured the Congressmen that the youths would also be involved in the election process and they would work honestly to ensure the victory of the Congress-sponsored candidates.

Mr Sadhu Ram, president Sirhind block, Gurdial Chand of Khera block, Darbara Singh of Bassi Pathana block, Singara Singh of Amloh block, Harchand Singh Limba of Gobind Garh block and Sukhdev Sharma of Khamano block also addressed the gathering.


Corruption in PAU, alleges Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran Communist leader, expressed surprise over recent remarks by the Vigilance Director, Mr A.P. Pandey, as reported in a section of the press. He had reportedly commented that ‘nothing’ was found in the allegations of corruption in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Dang reminded him that he had written to him earlier also about widespread corruption at PAU.

Mr Dang further stated that he had definite information that a report was submitted by the DSP, Vigilance, who had enquired into the allegations levelled by Dr Balwant Singh who had retired from PAU. The said report forwarded by the SP, Vigilance, Mr Angre, had found the allegations to be correct.

Dr Balwant Singh as complainant had been requesting to be given a copy of the report but to no effect, he added.

Mr Dang stated that the Chief Minister’s effort at transparency in administration would have no meaning if this report was treated as a ‘confidential’ document. As the matter involved the future of PAU, he urged the Chief Minister to immediately release the report to the media.


Pay pension arrears by June 30: HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Government to clear by June 30 all arrears of pension of those who retired on or after January 1, 1996, from the government aided recognised private schools.

Passing the order Mr Justice V.M. Jain and Mr Justice S.S. Saron, have also directed the state government that “with regard to the arrears of pension, gratuity etc to be paid to the retirees, such retirees are also entitled to the grant of revised pension etc.”

Pensioners concerned, mostly teachers, had filed several petitions in the high court seeking justice in this connection as the government was dilly-dallying with regard to the payment of arrears as per the revised pay scales.

As many as 3000 retirees or their wives will be benefited by the directive of the high court. The order has been passed in the light of the Punjab Privately Managed Recognised Aided Schools Retirement Benefits Scheme, 1992, that was enforced with retrospective effect on February 5, 1987. The pensioners have already been paid the pension and gratuity as per the un-revised pay scales.

However, after the revision of the pay scales with effect from January 1,1996, petitioners became entitled to the revision of their pension which was not paid to them till date. On July 21, 1998, the government had issued a notification declaring that the pensioners will be given pension on the basis of revised pay scales. However, this notification was not implemented. While appearing in the court in the capacity of Secretary, Education, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, submitted that the government was prepared to pay revised pensionry benefits. However, financial constraints have come in the way of implementing the decision in this connection.

Through the letter dated May 28, the Education Department informed the court in writing that the Council of Ministers had taken a decision, that is favourable to pensioners, at its meeting on May 22. It was intimated to the court that the Council of Ministers has also decided that the existing pensioners, who retired by May 31, should be paid arrears of pension in 36 equal monthly installments. And the funds for the payment of pension will be provided through supplementary estimates which will be available only after passing of the supplementary estimates by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha ,which is likely to meet some time in November-December.

However, the court did not agree with the contention raised on behalf of the state that financial constraints are making the government not to pay the arrears. The court in order said that “It is well settled that the pension is not bounty to be paid at the sweet will of the employer. It is a postponed earned payment which an employee is entitled after retirement for the services already rendered by him. In our opinion the state of Punjab is not entitled to postpone the payment of the pension to the petitioners in the manner in which it is trying to do. Apparently, the action of the respondents in not releasing the pension is arbitrary and illegal.” The court directed the Government to pay the arrears latest by June 30.

Meanwhile, hailing, the judgement, Mr K.K. Tandon, Mr M.L. Chopra and other leaders of the Pensioners Cell of the Punjab Aided School Teachers and Others Employees Union has urged the Punjab Government to pay the arrears by the date fixed by the court.


Virpal Kaur issued duplicate passport
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Ms Virpal Kaur, who was recently presented before mediapersons by the Lok Bhalai Party’s President, Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, at the Chandigarh Press Club was issued a duplicate passport here today. The party is now hopeful of getting her green card back also.

The Tribune had highlighted her plight wherein she had stated that she had been abandoned by her husband, Napinder Singh of the USA, and her travel documents, including the passport, green card etc, were in the possession of her brother-in-law Jaswant Singh, a Warden in the Central jail of Bathinda.

Giving this information, Mr Sanjay Pandey, chairman, legal cell, Lok Bhalai Party, said here today that the passport had been issued by the Regional Passport Office following the registration of a case and added that they were simultaneously pursuing the case for her green card with the US Embassy.

Ms Virpal Kaur, who is eight-months pregnant, will now be able to go back to the USA for the delivery, thereby making the child eligible for the US citizenship.

Ever since her husband left her back in India in March she has been running from pillar to post to get back her documents so that she is able to go back to the USA for the delivery and earn a living for herself and her child.

In the conference organised by Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, she had appealed to the Minister of Prisons and other authorities concerned to intervene and help her get the documents.

The minister had subsequently directed Mr Jaswant Singh to return her documents or face dismissal.

But Mr Jaswant Singh denied possessing those documents.

Earlier, Ms Virpal Kaur had alleged that her brother-in-law had promised to return her documents vide a panchayatnamah, but had reneged on his commitment saying that he would give them back only if she signed the divorce papers.


BSNL to provide 2,500 WLL connections
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 5
The Sangrur district BSNL authorities will provide 2,500 Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) connections in the district during the current financial year. Work on the construction of plinths for erecting towers for the purpose is already in progress which will be completed by June 15.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL, Sangrur, said besides the existing 19 towers, another 12 additional towers for providing coverage through WLL system in scattered and remote rural areas would be constructed at Longowal, Andana, Mehlan, Jalaldiwal, Gehal, Mehal Kalan, Thuliwal, Cheema, Roorki, Amargarh, Kanjhla and Meemsa villages. He said the erection of towers at Mehal Kalan, Jalaldiwal and Roorki would start shortly. He said each WLL connection would operate within a radius of six to eight kilometers from the tower.

The General Manager also stated that the new Sangrur district telephone directory (issued in 2003) had been released a couple of days ago and was now available to the subscribers at all customer service centres and telephone exchanges at Sangrur, Sunam, Dirba, Lehragaga, Barnala, Tapa, Malerkotla, Ahmedgarh and Dhuri.

He also stated that all five cash counters at Sangrur, Sunam, Barnala, Dhuri and Malerkotla had been computerised for the convenience of the subscribers. He also stated that the 142 telephone exchanges in the Sangrur district were working on the reliable optical fibre cable (OFC) media. Telephone connections in all 142 exchanges were also available on demand, he added.

Mr Labh Singh further said Internet connection and mobile phone connections were also available on demand in the district and the Internet connections were being provided the same day. He said an open house session to resolve the problems of the subscribers would be held on June 11 at Sangrur.


Row over masking of inauguration plaque
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 5
Heated arguments today took place between Mr Sham Singh, Chairman of the Sangrur Zila Parishad and Mr Sarbjit Singh Dhaliwal, a loyalist of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in the office complex of the zila parishad here over the issue of the covering of an inauguration stone plaque with a framed scenery in the zila parishad complex here.

Mr Sarbjit Dhaliwal alleged the stone had been covered with a scenery on the “direction” of Mr Sham Singh to hide the fact that Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had inaugurated this office building of the Executive Engineer, Panchayati Raj here in 1995.

The trouble started when a photographer tried to take a photo of inauguration stone and the scenery.

Mr Vasakhi Singh, son of Chairman Sham Singh, tried to snatch the scenery from the hands of Mr Sarbjit Singh Dhaliwal.

During this altercation, the scenery broke into two, and following this heated arguments were also exchanged between the two.

However, Mr Sham Singh alleged that the scenery was put up by his opponents.

He said he was not against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and also did not belong to any group in the Congress.

He said the covering of the stone was condemnable act.

He even alleged that this conspiracy had been “hatched out” by Mr Sarbjit Dhaliwal to defame him.

Earlier, talking to mediapersons, Mr Sarbjit Singh Dhaliwal, who was reportedly a strong aspirant for the post of the Chairman of the Zila Parishad in the recently held elections as a candidate of the Bhattal camp, alleged that after Mr Sham Singh took over as chairman of the zila parishad, a scenery was put to cover the inauguration stone. He said this was brought to the notice of the zila parishad members during the meeting today and members condemned this act.

Mr Sarbjit Singh Dhaliwal demanded that the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, send an independent observer to hold an inquiry to the issue and take disciplinary action.


2.50 lakh mutation cases cleared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Under a sustained campaign, the Revenue Department, Punjab, has cleared the pending 2.50 lakh mutation cases. All districts were covered under this drive.

Tehsildars and other officials concerned were directed to visit the villages on regular basis to clear all pending cases in four weeks.

This was disclosed today by Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, State Minster for Revenue. He said that the next step would be to resolve lakhs of pending cases pertaining to the division of landed properties.

He said that over the years lakhs of such cases had accumulated.

There were thousands of cases in which one share holder sold the entire immovable property by cheating other family members.

There are also cases of the sale of property of NRIs by their close relations illegally. Various steps had been taken to stop the occurring of such cases in future.

The computerisation of the revenue records was one of them, he added.

The revenue receipts of his department had gone up by Rs 117.53 crore in the last financial year.

It was Rs 453.44 crore by March 31, 2002, while during the last financial year it touched a figure of Rs 570.97 crore.

It happened because of the tight control on the administration of the Revenue Department at headquarters and field level, he said.

All District Collectors( DCs) had been empowered to fix minimum market price of immovable property.

Such rates would be reviewed every year and made effective from April 1.

The rates will be displayed at all property registration offices in the field. No discretion has been given to the registering officers to decrease the fixed price by DCs.

The tenure for the posting of Tehsildar, Naib Tehsildar, Kanungos and patwaris has also been fixed.

The on duty Sub -Registrars, Joint Sub Registrars and Registry clerk has been allowed to retain personal cash up to Rs 1500, Rs 1000 and Rs 500, respectively.

In case the personal cash is more than the fixed limit, then it will have to be declared by the official concerned before the appropriate authority.


Minister conducts checks in offices
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 5
The Minister for Social Security, Women and Child Development, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, today conducted a surprise check at the Ropar based offices of his department. He arrived at the department office in the mini secretariat at sharp 9 am. During the checking, two data entry operators were found absent from duty. In the project office, also one senior assistant was found absent from duty.

The minister marked the missing employees absent and later told newsmen that action would be taken against them if they were not able to explain their absence satisfactorily.

The minister also found 192 cases of petitioners under various categories of pension schemes lying pending in the office of Child Development Project for the past three years. Unsatisfied with the explanation of the officer, he warned that action would be taken against those responsible for delaying the cases. He also lamented the lack of coordination between the office of the CDPO and the SDM that allegedly caused the delay in sanctioning of the cases.

The minister said to avoid such delays in future, orders had been given to deputy commissioners to hold monthly meetings to supervise the sanction of deserving pension cases.


Fire in exchange hits telecom services
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 5
Fire broke out in the 4,000-line C-DOT telephone exchange of BSNL at Hariana, 15 km from here, at around 8.30 a.m. this morning. The entire telephone service in the town was paralysed because of this. On receiving information Mr Ghail Chand, General Manager, Telecom, along with Mr Gautam Lal, Deputy General Manager, rushed to Hariana and inspected the rescue operations.

It is reported that security guard Paramjit, who resumed duty at 8.30 a.m. saw smoke coming out of the computer room. He broke open the doors of the room and tried to control the fire with a fire extinguisher but did not succeed. He immediately informed Mr Rajwant Singh, SDO of the exchange. On reaching the spot he realised the gravity of situation and informed the police and municipal fire brigade, Hoshiarpur. The fire brigade had to face a lot of difficulty in reaching the spot as the exchange is located in a thickly populated area of the town. After struggling for an hour the fire brigade controlled the fire. The actual cause of fire was yet to be ascertained. However, it is suspected that an electrical short circuit had caused the fire. No loss of life has been reported.

Mr Ghail Chand, General Manager (Telecom), told that about 500 lines had been damaged in the fire. 


Villagers pledge not to sell votes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 5
A large number of residents of Uppali village, near here, today held a rally in the village, pledging that they would not cast their vote in lieu of intoxicants or any other temptation during the ensuring panchayat elections.

The rally was flagged off by Mr Jasbir Singh, former Punjab minister and a senior Congress leader. Mr Dalip Singh, president of the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Uppali, Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, one of the organisers of the rally, and other prominent persons, including Mr Nirbhey Singh, Nambardar, participated.

Mr Jasbir Singh said, perhaps, this was the first time that a campaign against distribution of intoxicants in the panchayat elections had been launched.

Mr Gill said the campaign would send a positive message throughout the state. He said the organisers had also urged the voters to boycott candidates trying to distribute intoxicants or money among the voters.

Mr Dalip Singh, president of the Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Uppali, said the villagers had earlier launched three campaigns against certain customs and rituals.


Cops fail to give warrants to MP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 5
The police team which had gone to the Motihari constituency in Bihar to deliver non-bailable warrants to its MP Radhe Mohan with regard to a criminal case registered against him for conspiring in the kidnapping of a minor girl, returned emptyhanded yesterday.

This is the second time that a local team which has gone to Bihar has failed to deliver any warrant or even involve the Motihari MP in the investigation being carried out against him in which he is charged of being part of the conspiracy to kidnap a minor girl of the city. The team recorded its statement in a local court here yesterday detailing the visit and why it could not hand over the summons to the MP.


Medical representatives begin 3-day strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives Union today started a three-day strike in support of their demands. The marketing of some of the pharmaceutical companies was affected in the area due to the strike.

Mr Inderjit Singh, president of the union, said the strike in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh was part of the nationwide agitation of the unions of medical and sales representatives affiliated to the National Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Unions (NFMSRU).

He said they urged the government departments concerned and pharmaceutical companies to accept their demands, but none of them had taken any action in this regard. He said they wanted that the prices of medicines, including those of the life saving drugs, should be reduced so that black marketing and sale of spurious and sub-standard drugs could be curtailed.

Mr Singh said their other demands included no change in the Indian Patent Act, 1970, scrapping of the contractual and franchise system for medical representatives and the payment of minimum wages and bonus according to different Acts of the government.

The union has given a call for relay strike throughout the nation. The different unions of medical representatives have been going on strike on rotation from May 8. In each state strike is observed for three days.

SIRSA: Medical representatives and sales persons in the district remained on strike today in response to the call given by the Federation of Medical Representatives Association of India. While addressing a meeting of the protesting medical representatives, the general secretary of Haryana unit of the union said Indian pharmaceutical industry was on dialysis because of the economic policies of the Central Government under the pressure of WTO, World Bank and IMF. He said there was no employment security in this industry because the bigger companies were involved in promoting unemployment of the literate under the instructions of OPPI and IDMA.


Panel visits Central Jail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
The District Sessions Judge, Mr M.R. Batra, said they would recommend to the Punjab and Haryana High Court to take up the issue at the need to deport Bangladeshi national languishing in the Central Jail here to their country with the Central Government.

Mr Batra said this during his annual visit to the Central Jail yesterday to interact with inmates and to listen to their grievances. Mr Batra said the prolonged stay of these Bangladeshi nationals in the jail was adding to the problems and also causing financial burden.

Mr Batra who headed a four-member committee comprising of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, SSP Narinder Pal Singh and SSP Majitha Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi who visited the jail yesterday also looked into the cases of parole for prisoners.

Earlier the committee visited various cells in the jail and listened to the complaints of inmates and the committee resolved several complaints on the spot. The committee directed the Jail Superintendent to provide better facilities to visitors. 


Plea on edict against Romana
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 5
A large number of lawyers of the Faridkot District Bar Association have appealed to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, to reject the edict issued by Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, declaring Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, chairman of the management committee of Takht Patna Sahib as tankhaiya last month.

In a press statement issued here today, they requested Jathedar Vedanti to resolve the matter on a priority basis in the interest of the Sikhs as well as for Akal Takht.


Dharna blocks traffic
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 5
Thousands of tourists going to and from Dalhousie, a tourist spot in Himachal Pradesh, were stranded due to a dharna by hundreds of residents from Badani and surrounding villages yesterday in protest against the non-availability of potable water.

The tourists waited for more than four hours, braving the scorching heat, for the dharna to be lifted. This was done at the instance of the administration which persuaded the agitators to make way for the stranded vehicles.


1 dies of sunstroke in court complex

Mansa, June 5
A teenager, Rimpy, resident of Nangal Khurd village in the district died of sunstroke in the new court complex here yesterday. There is no arrangement for sunshade in the complex. He had gone to the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in connection with a traffic challan and was waiting outside the court complex when suddenly he fainted. He was taken to a nearby private doctor who declared him brought dead. He was the only son of his parents.

In an another incident an undertrial, Jethu Ram, brought to the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, here from Bathinda by the police today became unconscious because of heat in the new judicial lock-up here while he was waiting for his case. OC


2 motorcyclists die in mishap

Abohar, June 5
Two motorcyclists were killed as a truck hit them on the National Highway No 15 today. Sources said Surjit Singh, resident of Moga, along with his nephew Saranjit Singh were coming to Abohar from Rajasthan today when they met with the accident near Sayyedwala village. The two were injured seriously and rushed to the local Civil Hospital where they died.

A case has been registered against truck driver Harbans, resident of Moga. The truck has been impounded and the driver arrested. OC


1 hurt in blast

Fazilka, June 5
A resident of Mohammad Pira village sustained injures due to a mine blast. According to reports, Pohla Singh and Kanta Singh found a mine in a field in the village. They set the mine on fire, which resulted in a blast. 

A woman, sitting outside her house, was injured in the process. OC


Cycle rally on female foeticide

Amritsar, June 5
A cycle rally was flagged off from the Wagah joint checkpost to Amritsar to create awareness about the scourge of female foeticide. As many as 15 girl cadets of Punjab Girls Bn NCC, Amritsar, participated in the rally sponsored by the National Institute of Fashion Designing (NIFD) here today. The rally was flagged off by Mr D.K. Sharma, commandant, 19 BSF Bn, at 7 a.m. OC


BKU protests against arrest of farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
More than a hundred activists of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) today staged a dharna in front of the Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) to protest against the alleged arrests of the farmers who had failed to repay their loans taken for agricultural and allied purposes.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president of the BKU (E), who led the protesters, said the farmers were being arrested for not repaying their loans and that was against the statements of the Punjab Chief Minister. He said the state government had been advocating the diversification of the agriculture and the farmers had raised loans for the same. He alleged that now the loans raised for these purposes were being considered non-agricultural loans and the farmers were being arrested for not repaying these. He claimed that more than 20 such farmers had been arrested and sent to the local central jail.

Mr Shingara Singh Maan, district general secretary of the union, alleged that thousands of crores of rupees of big industrial houses were being written off every year but the farmers were being arrested for not repaying their nominal loans. He alleged that the police had not arrested a seed dealer against whom a case under Sections 420 IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act had been registered for selling spurious seeds, under the name of reputed companies. He said fake seeds, adulterated pesticides and insecticides had caused huge losses to the farmers of the cotton belt.

Mr Maan pointed out that the police had registered a case under Section 306, IPC, against a commission agent of Raman Mandi but the accused had not been arrested so far.

The activists raised slogans against the state government, bank officials and submitted a memorandum to the office of the Deputy Commissioner after leading a token rally.


Wheat worth 5.5 cr sent to Rajasthan
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, June 5
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today said the state was under a debt of Rs 4,772 crore, besides it had to adopt over drafting of Rs 3,781 crore to meet the expenditure.

While flagging off trucks loaded with wheat to drought-hit areas of Rajasthan from here today, Mr Lal Singh said they were making efforts to improving the economic situation in the state. He claimed that before the Congress formed a government in the state, Punjab was under a debt of Rs 5,519 crore. He added that earlier the treasuries used to remain closed for 145 days, as there were no funds for making transactions, however, now the treasuries close only for 52 days in a year, he claimed.

Mr Lal Singh flagged off 85 truckloads of wheat for Jalaur, Nagaur, Jaipur, Tonk, Swai Madhopur and Jaisalmer areas of Rajasthan. The Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and Punsup have sent the wheat. He said Punjab had sent wheat worth Rs 5.5 crore to Rajasthan.

He said the Centre was giving stepmotherly treatment to the state as far as the problems of farmers were concerned. 


1,800 govt employees to be on poll duty
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 5
All arrangements have been finalised to ensure free and fair elections of 181 Gram Panchayats to be held in the district on June 29. In a press note released here today, over 1,800 government employees will be on duty to help voters excercise their franchise. In addition to these, 24 Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers would also look after the process by making a group of 14 to 16 villages, said Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer, Faridkot.

The nomination papers of the contestants will be accepted for four days from June 16. The scrutiny of the nomination papers will take place on June 20 and these could be withdrawn on June 21. Rehearsal for the polling officers will be held on June 23, 26, and 28 here to apprise them of the election process.

The Deputy Commissioner further stated that 23 seats had been reserved for women candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes, 37 seats for women contestants of general category, 46 seats for Scheduled Caste category and the remaining for general category candidates.


Ensuring discipline, DC style

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 5
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, has been conducting raids on various departments to ensure regularity, punctuality and discipline among government employees. He also celebrates the birthdays of employees from all ranks by calling them to his office early in the morning.

He offers them refreshments and gives them a letter of greetings and a token gift. While the raids have created panic among erring employees, this humane gesture has served as a morale booster to employees to dedicate themselves to work. OC


Mother, son remanded in custody

Moga, June 5
The mother-son duo, who were arrested by the Nihal Singh Wala police on June 2 for allegedly cheating a man of Rs 2.5 lakh on the pretext of sending him abroad, have been sent in judicial and police remand, respectively.

When the mother and son, Chinder Kaur and Gurpreet Singh, were produced in the court yesterday after the expiry of their two-day police remand, the judge extended the police remand of Gurpreet Singh till June 14, whereas Chinder Kaur was sent in judicial remand till June 13.

The two other accused, Amrik Singh and Gurdip Singh, are still absconding.

A case was registered against the foursome on the complaint of Surinder Pal Singh who alleged that the accused after taking money from him did not send him to the promised destination and he was rather sent to Ukraine along with Amrik Singh where the former suffered from frost bite and remained unconscious for many days.

The complainant further alleged that without informing the Ukraine authorities, Amrik Singh brought him back to New Delhi after which he fled. UNI


Sex racket in Hoshiarpur busted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 5
The Sadar police here yesterday unearthed a sex racket when it arrested its kingpin Baljit Kaur, alias Baby, wife of Santosh Kumar of Dhadial village, Adampur police station. She was allegedly running a brothel in the house of her father Ajit Ram of local mohalla, Ravi Dass Nagar.

Mr Randhir Singh, DSP (R), along with a police party raided the house of Ajit Ram and caught red-handed Baljit Kaur, Amandeep, daughter of Lekh Raj of local Adda Mahilpur, Harbhajan Kaur, wife of Pritam Singh of Bachola village of Kapurthala district, Balbir Kaur, wife of Surjit Singh of Noorpur Bet, Phillaur, and their customer Devinder Kumar Gill, son of Ram Rattan Gill of Sector 24-D, Chandigarh. A case under Sections 3, 4, 5 of the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girl Act has been registered against them.

Sources said Baljit Kaur charged Rs 500 for providing a girl along with accommodation in her house during day hours. A sum of Rs 1,500 was charged for taking the girl out for a night. The arrested women used to come to Baljit Kaur and stay with her for some days.


Cousin booked for man’s murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
A resident of Guru Gobind Singh Nagar was murdered allegedly by his cousin at Ajit Road in the city last night.

As per reports Sanjeev Kumar (25), had gone to the residence of his aunt at Ajit Road in the city yesterday evening. His family got worried when he did not return till late in the night.

On reaching the residence of his aunt they found that he had suffered injuries on his neck after allegedly being attacked with a knife by his cousin, Vinod Kumar. He was taken to hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

A case under Section 302, IPC, has been registered against Vinod Kumar.


Poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 5
The Sadar police on Tuesday arrested a man on the charge of possessing a bag of poppy husk in the area of Kala Sanghian village. Dr R.N.Dhoke, SSP, identified the person as Rajinder Singh of Kalasangian village and recovered 35 kg of poppy husk from him. A case under provisions of the NDPC Act has been registered against him. 


Jobless B.Ed teachers seek ETT posts
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 5
Unemployed B.Ed teachers are sore over the alleged discriminating and dilly-dallying attitude of the state government. They allege that though the government had recruited ETT teachers against 7,230 and 3,311 posts advertised in the recent past, the fate of the unemployed B.Ed teachers aspiring to be recruited against these advertised posts of ETT teachers is yet to be decided.

They have urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behl, to take immediate steps to recruit B.Ed teachers against ETT posts as per the waiting list.

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