Thursday, July 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab vigilance raids: Centre can intervene
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, today added a new twist to the ongoing war of words between the Punjab Government and the Centre, saying the Central Government had the right to intervene in matters of the state to uphold the Constitution. This was allowed under Article 256, of the Constitution said Mr Swami while addressing a press conference here this afternoon.

When asked about his response on the issue of Mr Prakash Singh Badal calling the acts of the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab as anti-Sikh, Mr Swami, who belongs to the BJP, said there was no wisdom on the part of the Akalis to communalise the issue.

It may be recollected that the Shiromani Akali Dal had been issuing advertisements and making open statements, terming the acts of the Vigilance Department as “anti-Sikh.”

Mr Swami, who is junior to Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani in the Home Ministry, refused to comment on what Mr Advani had said a few days ago about the happenings in Punjab. But, he added that it was baseless for the Punjab Congress to say that it was an internal matter of the state and the Centre should not intervene.

Mr Swami who was accompanied by former local MP and counsel for Mr Advani in the Ayodhya case, said: “Anything which is vindictive has to be curbed.” Mr Swami said he did not know about the composition of the NDA team which was scheduled to visit Punjab on a fact finding mission. “If the need arises the team can even meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and it will find out through its own sources about the matter on Badal,” he added.

When asked about the alleged role of an IG level police officer of Punjab in getting 10,000 people of a particular community settled along the border with Pakistan, Mr Swami said the matter had just come to his notice. No detail were yet available.

Mr Swami said 45 new battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force would be raised. Besides this, the Centre had set aside Rs 1000 crore for modernisation of the police force to acquire sophisticated weapons to deal with militants.


Badal hints at replacing SGPC President
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal today indicated for the first time that the SGPC president may be replaced by saying that the issue would be discussed after July 16. Mr Badal is slated to perform the “bhog” in connection with the punishment awarded to him by Akal Takht on July 16.

Talking to newsmen at the residence of Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra at Rakhra village near here. Mr Badal, however, made it clear that no decision had been taken to replace the SGPC chief. He said, similarly, no discussion had taken place at any level to remove Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as head of the SGPC.

However, Mr Badal did indicate that some change may take place after July 16. Responding to a question asking who was being appointed as the new President of the SGPC after the patch-up with Akali veteran Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Akali leader said a decision on this would be taken after July 16.

Speaking on corruption drive launched by the Congress government, the Akali leader said it was strange that the Congress government was targeting only Akali leaders. When pointed about the recent dismissal of Congress minister Harbans Lal following a complaint of corruption, Mr Badal said the dismissal was a right step.

He said Akali leaders and their sympathisers were not only being harassed but also being implicated in false cases to pressurise them to give statements against him and his family.

TALWANDI SABO: Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, said on Wednesday that he would abide by the decision taken jointly by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra pertaining to any change in the present set up of the SGPC.

Mr Badungar pointed out that he would abide by the decision taken by the SAD (Badal) leadership to make Mr Tohra president of the SGPC.

Mr Badungar, who was here to preside over a function organised in connection with a seminar on martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh, while claiming that there was a complete merger of the SHSAD into SAD (B) said some vested interests, who were playing in the hands of the Congress leadership, were trying to form a new Akali Dal.

Prof Badungar alleged that it was known to everyone that the Congress always tried to acquire power by dividing people on caste, religion and regional lines.

Prof Badungar pointed out that the SGPC was making efforts to promote Gurmukhi dialect and an academy in this connection had been opened at Khadoor Sahib.


Register cases against Cong ministers also: Badal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal, July 9
Former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while accusing the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of unleashing a rein of terror on the Akalis under the garb of anti-corruption drive, urged him to register criminal cases against the Congress ministers of the Beant Singh government, who were indicted by the Lok Pal for their various acts of omission and commission.

“If Capt Amarinder Singh is serious about the anti-corruption drive then why has he not taken action against the Congress ministers of the late Beant Singh government, who have been indicted by Lok Pal,” asked Mr Badal.

“A number of former Akali ministers were arrested after registering corruption cases against them though they were not indicted by the Lok Pal or any other agency. A criminal case has not been registered against Dr Harbans Lal, a Congress minister, who was sacked from the Cabinet by Capt Amarinder Singh for his involvement in the tree-cutting scam. Is sacking from the Cabinet enough”, asked Mr Badal while talking informally to mediapersons here today.

Mr Badal was in his native village to attend the bhog ceremony of Rajinder Kaur, mother of Mr Paramjit Singh Lalli, member, Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), and a close kin of Mr Badal. The function, which attracted a huge gathering, was also used to ask the Akali workers to prepare themselves to fight the atrocities being committed by the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government on them.

Mr Badal said that about eight months ago, 11 MLAs belonging to the SAD (B) had given a representation to Capt Amarinder Singh to take action against the six ministers of the previous Congress government, but no action had been taken so far. After getting no response from the Congress government, these MLAs had now approached the high court.

Even the Lok Pal had passed serious remarks against a section of former Congress ministers in which it had been mentioned that they had indulged in anti-national activities apart from corruption, the former Chief Minister added.

Mr Badal, who is the President of the SAD (B), said the truth would emerge victorious and all false claims and propaganda of Capt Amarinder Singh would be exposed. No government could go on for long which mislead the public and did not carry out the development works, he added.

He claimed that the BJP-led NDA government was not shy of helping them and had extended support to the SAD (B) according to the constitutional provisions. Moreover, the Akalis were strong enough to fight against all atrocities and injustices. “We fought against the Emergency imposed by the Congress government in the country and we can fight against all adversities now, claimed Mr Badal.

He said no NDA government team was coming in the near future to assess the law and order situation in Punjab. The Central Government had kept a close watch on all the happening.

When asked whether he feared that Capt Amarinder Singh would harass the members of the SGPC again as election of its executive were approaching near, he said none knew, who would be ruling Punjab at that time.

When asked if the Akalis would demand the sacking of Punjab Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who also faces corruption charges, from the Cabinet, he said it was an internal matter of the Congress government and Akalis would not like to interfere.


Harbans Lal’s men hold protest meeting
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 9
Supporters of the sacked Minister Dr Harbans Lal, organised a meeting of party workers at Sirhind town today in protest against his dismissal from Cabinet as well as to extend support to the family. Only a few supporters came to attend the meeting. Interestingly none of the prominent Congress leaders and workers from area attended the meeting. Sources said Congress leaders did not attend the meeting as they had expressed displeasure over the open criticism of the Chief Minister by the family of the minister during a recent press conference.

Addressing the meeting Mr O.P. Tangri, Member Planning Board termed the incident as unfortunate and said every person in the area knew that Dr Harbans Lal was innocent and he had never indulged in any unfair means.

He had been serving people of the area selflessly and had converted this constituency into a Congress stronghold, whereas earlier it was SAD stronghold. He said that he himself had visited Mirzapur village and the panchayat said that since 2000 no tree had been felled by any contractor. Even Lachman Singh, contractor, had given statements proving Dr Harbans Lal was innocent. He demanded that justice should prevail and he should not be made a scapegoat. They urged the Chief Minister to give him a chance to prove this innocence and to reconsider the decision of dismissing him from Cabinet.

With the dismissal of the minister, a sharp division have come to fore with in the Congress workers and supporters. Those, who fully enjoyed power during the ministership of Dr Harbans Lal are condemning his dismissal and those, who suffered during his rule are celebrating his dismissal. By and large the trusted and old Congress are appreciating the step of the Chief Minister terming it as a bold decision against corruption

Sources in the Congress said with the dismissal of the minister from Cabinet all those, who were forcibly installed by the minister as presidents of the various elected bodies, were likely to suffer. The elected members told The Tribune that the presidents were forced on them against their wishes and now the members had started organising meetings at their own to replace the minister’s candidates. Similarly the newly-elected sarpanches had started thronging the residence of the District Congress President.

The District Congress president, Vaid Hari Krishan said they had full sympathy with Dr Harbans Lal but he should not have violated party discipline and should not have given any statement against the Chief Minister and should have presented his case to the party president H.S. Hanspal.

Mr Gagandeep Singh Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Ashok Gautam, Mr Kulwinder Singh Ambey Mijra, Bunti Joshi and Mr Harinder Singh Kang all addressed the meeting.


Punjab rejects Centre’s formula on poverty
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Abandoning the earlier formula of declaring the families with annual income less than Rs 20,000 as the ones living below the poverty line ( BPL) in the rural areas, the Union Government has adopted new criteria to identify such families.

Under the new formula, which has been opposed by several states, a quota of BPL families has been fixed for all states. For instance, there can’t be more than 3.26 lakh BPL families in official records of the Punjab Government though their actual number may for more in the rural areas.

Rejecting this “unrealistic” approach, the Punjab Government has asked the Union Government to review the new criteria and do away with the quota system for the rural areas. The state should be allocated funds as per the actual number of BPL families in villages, which is for more than that fixed by the Union Government.

Sources said as per a sample survey conducted by the Union Government in the rural areas of various states in 1999-2000, there were 386.48 lakh BPL families.

When the states raised a hue and cry branding the survey as absurd, the Union Government jacked up the number of such families under an adjusted share formula to 488.05 lakh, thus raising the figures of such families in each state.

However, while raising the number of such families, it appears that the Union Government clearly favoured certain politically influential states such as Andhra Pradesh where the number of BPL families in the sample survey was 11.62 lakh which was hiked to 27.52 lakh, showing an increase of 150 per cent. In the case of Haryana, the number of such families was raised from 2.38 lakh to 6.09 lakh.

As per the latest instructions in this connection, the states have been asked to increase the figure by 10 per cent above the “adjusted share”. For instance, if as per the adjusted share, the number of BPL families is 6.09 lakh in Haryana, the Union Government will approve the figure of 6.69 lakh. Likewise, if the number of such families is 2.96 lakh in Punjab, the Union Government has approved 3.26 lakh for the state. In Himachal Pradesh, the figure of BPL families is 2.56 lakh but it will go up to 2.81 lakh on the basis of a 10 per cent increase.

A top bureaucrat commented: “I do not know who has advised the Union Government to act like this in the case of BPL familie. In no state can a quota of poverty be fixed. Poverty was a problem which required to be tackled realistically and not by fixing laughable quotas”.

The Punjab Government has asked the Union Government to review its quota policy regarding poverty and come out with some rational scheme to address this problem.

Under the new model, the Union Government has listed 13 parameters to measure the level of poverty in a particular family. In fact, the Union Government has tried to tabulate poverty by fixing the maximum of 52 points, four points for each parameter like house, clothes, sanitation, provision of latrines etc.


Sonia leadership issue ‘not negotiable’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The three-day Shimla summit has not only reaffirmed ideas, vision and the leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi but given a categorical message to people of the country that if the Congress returns to power with or without coalition partners , she will be the Prime Minister.

“The summit was a great success both from organisational and political angles”, says Mr Ashwani Kumar, MP, and Chairman of the intellectual cell of the party, maintaining that the party is unanimous that “leadership issue is not negotiable with any coalition partner”. In an exclusive interview with The Tribune here this evening, he said there was a unanimous endorsement of ideas, vision and priorities of the Congress in the altered context of a fractured polity. The declaration made at the summit about the willingness of the party to consider coalition with other political parties was a recognition of current political realities.

“The most significant decision reached at Shimla was a resolve to define the course of the Congress ideology with the ‘pen of nationalisation’. The Congress has defined its USP by reiterating a nationalist perspective of an umbrella party, which it was and which it is,” he said.

Besides, he said, the Congress had clearly defined its brand of secularism by committing itself to the vindication of secular values as enshrined in the Constitution.

The party leadership held that previously, the secularism of the Congress was misconstrued as “minorities”. The summit gave a clear message that pursuit of the values of the republic would be the guiding principle of secularism.

Mr Kumar, who was a member of the election preparedness and organisational reforms committee at the summit, said discussions resulted in a consensus that the politics of the country shall be determined by a sharp ideological focus of the parties. The Congress had come out clear with its Shimla “sankalp” of its ideological preferences.

Speaking of a synthesis between “rajniti” and “lokniti”, the Congress had reiterated its social commitment in politics. Mrs Sonia Gandhi made it clear that the Congress brand of politics must not begin or end with elections.

She also made it clear that the quest for power would be defined and legitimatised by the ends to which it was applied and in this context the beacon would be “Congress ka haath, garib ke saath”. The future Congress leadership would be drawn from among the youth, women, intelligentsia, professionals and the underprivileged sections of society, he added.


PSU sell-off ‘under review’
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 9
The Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, announced that the recommendations of the Punjab Public Sector Disinvestment Commission were being reviewed, after which only five of the 29 public sector units (PSUs) recommended for disinvestment would be up for sale and the remaining would be put back on the track.

The minister was speaking at the installation ceremony of the new Chairman of the Electronics Systems Punjab Limited (ESPL) here, which is one of the 29 PSUs recommended to be disinvested. Stating that the Congress government was thinking of reviving a majority of the units recommended for disinvestment by the Akali government, the minister, however, pointed out that the units under fast-track disinvestment would be sold.

The Public Sector Disinvestment Commission in October 2002 had recommended the disinvestment of 29 companies and corporations established since the late seventies in the state, with a majority of shares belonging to the government. A complete sell out of the government shares in these units was recommended by the commission. Some of these units were recommended to be disinvested immediately while others were to be disinvested in phases over a period of some years.

Among the fast-track PSUs up for disinvestment are Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), Punjab Communication Limited (PUNCOM), Punjab State Container and Warehousing Corporation Limited (CONWARE), Punjab Tourism Development Corporation Limited (PTDC) and Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Limited.

Thousands of employees working in these units faced retrenchment following disinvestment. In most of the units listed for disinvestment, VRS was offered to the employees and in some cases as many as 50 per cent of the employees had opted for voluntary retirement.

While ESPL employees and the management were agog with this announcement made by the minister that they had been taken off the disinvestment list of the government, informed sources said this sudden change had more than populist motives. ‘‘The fact that politicians were being made chairpersons of these units, with the units bearing the burden of their salaries, was obviously a step towards their disinvestment and not revival.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the ESPL, Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, who is an MLA from Jalandhar central, stated that he would try his best to bring the company back to earning profits.


‘Murdered’ man walks into court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Nearly 17 months after Jharkand resident Rakesh Mirdha, working in Batala district, was “murdered” for having “illicit relationship” with two girls, the “deceased” today walked into the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking security cover.

According to the first information report registered at a police station in Batala under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of secret information, Mirdha, working in a dera, was murdered in February, 2002, by Sukhjit Singh and three others.

The prosecution had claimed that Mirdha’s body was, subsequently, packed in a gunny bag and taken to “an undisclosed place in Sukhjit Singh’s Maruti car”. Regarding the motive behind the offence, the prosecution had asserted that Mirdha had illicit relationship with two nieces of Sukhjit Singh.

Appearing before Mr Justice Virender Singh of the High Court, Mirdha asked for directions to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for ensuring his safety. After hearing Mirdha, the Judge asked Batala’s SSP to “ensure the safety of the petitioner’s life and limb as his apprehension appeared to be justified”.

Taking up a related petition filed by Sukhjit Singh seeking the quashing of the FIR registered in the matter in June last year, the Judge directed Sub Inspector Dilbag Singh to file an affidavit disclosing the name of the secret informer.

The SSP was also directed to file a separate reply regarding the “investigation done in the case till date”. Issuing notice of motion, the Judge also stayed further proceedings in the matter.

The case will now come up for further hearing on July 17.

CAT order

The High Court, in a significant judgement, has upheld an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal directing the Union of India and other respondents to consider for regularisation the cases of 21 employees recruited through a “contractor”.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice N.K. Sud ruled: “Whether the employees of Central Excise Department could be deprived the benefit of regularisation of service on the pretext that they were engaged through a contractor is the question that arises for consideration in the petition filed by the Union of India and others...”

Going into the background of the case, the Judges observed that the respondents were engaged from 1993 to 1999. In 2001, they filed application for regularisation of their service. The petitioners, on the other hand, objected saying that the respondents were employed through a contractor and were not department employees. The Tribunal, however, overruled the objection after observing that the “so-called contractor did not have a licence as required under the provisions of Contract Labour (regular and Abolition) Act of 1970”.

After hearing the arguments, the Judges held: “The finding recorded by the Tribunal on the nature of employment of the respondents and their right to seek regularisation does not suffer from any error of law warranting interference by the Court....”


In a rejoinder filed before the High Court, Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s officer on special duty Hardeep Singh today claimed that the investigating agency was proceeding in a malafide manner.

He asserted that their intentions were clear from the fact that Badal’s relative Narrotam Singh and Whimpy employees were booked in a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act even though there was no financial dealing with them. This, he asserted, was done with a view to making them depose against Badal.


PSEB staff unions withdraw strike call
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 9
All employee unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have decided to withdraw the two-day strike slated for July 9 and July 10 following talks held between the board management and the unions recently. Major Unions of PSEB employees comprising the Employees Struggle Committee, the Employees Federation, the Council of the Junior Engineers, the Bijlee Mulazim Front, the Punjab Raj Bijli Mazdoor Sangh and the Workers Federation (Intuc) have in a joint statement said that some of the main demands of the unions have been conceded by the board.

Engineer Davinder Singh, General Secretary of the Council of Junior Engineers PSEB stated that the state government had agreed to their main demands, including meeting of employee unions with government officials before implementing any move regarding the restructuring of the Board, clearance of priority employment on compassionate ground cases, release of schedule of nine/16 years time-bound promotional and revised scales, gazetted status for Junior Engineers after 16 years of service, filling up of vacant posts and holding Zonal Pension Adalats for the release of pensionary benefits on the day of retirement.

Various Union Leaders Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Radhey Shyam, Surinder Singh, Engineer Sukhdev Singh, Karam Chand Bhardwaj, Harbhajan Singh and Faljit Singh jointly informed that they had agreed upon the constitution of a joint negotiation Forum up to the divisional level and will evolve strategies to implement internal reforms in consumers interest. Next meeting of the unions will be held on July 14 at Ludhiana.


Vigilance for withdrawing reinstatement orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has sought the withdrawal of the reinstatement orders of two officials of the Punjab Nursing Council, who were placed under suspension following their arrest in a question paper leakage case.

Vigilance officials, have in a letter issued to the Director Health Services, Mr D.P.S. Sandhu, sought an explanation as to how Superintendent Gurmail Singh Kang and Junior Assistant Charanjit Singh had been reinstated pending their trial in a corruption case.

The letter stated that “posting them back to the place from where they were arrested in the said case amounts to the mockery of the Vigilance Department and will help them doctor evidence.”

The officials were booked under Sections 420, 166, 167, 120-B IPC, and Section 7 (13) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in November following their involvement in the leakage of question papers.

Following investigations, the papers were cancelled and after the registration of a case the two were suspended.

Mr D.P.S Sandhu, who is also the President of the Nursing Council, reinstated them, pending inquiry.

Dr Sandhu, when contacted, said the matter was in court and since no charges had been framed against them during the past six months, there was no justification for keeping them under suspension.


Punjab finalises raj samman scheme
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Punjab Government has finalised an ambitious raj sanman fellowship scheme for honouring eminent persons for their valuable contributions in the fields of art, literature and culture.

The Rs 10-cr scheme has been sent to the Planning and Finance Departments for approval before it is endorsed by the assembly.

Under the scheme, eminent artistes, historians, scholars, artists, musicians and others will be given an honorarium of Rs 10,000 per month each for life. Initially, a 20 persons will be shortlisted for this lifetime fellowship. A grant of Rs 1.25 lakh can also be given per annum, if required.

Mr N.S. Rattan, Secretary, Higher Education and Languages Department, said the scheme would take care of the financial needs of writers, artists and scholars. “It will be a sort of a lifetime achievement award in instalments”, he added.

The seeds of the scheme were sown after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh got an insight into the pathetic plight of some old scholarly people, including Prof Kirpal Singh, a former head of the Department of History, at Punjabi University, Patiala, recently.

As per the eligibility criterion laid down, such persons would have to be of Punjabi origin not below 65 years of age.

In the category of writers, those who write Punjabi in Gurmukhi, Hindi/Sanskrit in Devnagri, Urdu in the Persian script and English in the Roman script would qualify for the fellowship. Among performing artistes who actually sing, perform folk and classical dances, play instruments will be eligible. And in the case of writers, those who have contributed to fiction, poetry or prose in any language will be eligible.

The guidelines specify that a selected person should at least be a state Shiromani awardee or a central akademi awardee such as Sahitya Akademi award winner (Literature), Lalit Kala Akademi Award (Arts), or the Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (music), besides a Jnanpith award winner.

In the case of scholars and Professors, those eligible should have to their credit at least seven books and 10 papers published in various national/international journals.

Mr Rattan said a committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister to shortlist these persons. Donations in the form of immovable property and gifts would be accepted for sustaining the initial grant of Rs 10 crore for the scheme.


Mentally sick chained for 3 years
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 9
Mr Bikar Khan (35), a patient of psychiatry chained to a beam in a room for the past three years in Badrukhan village near here, was brought today to the local Pingalwara, a branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, by the Pingalwara authorities, including Mr Tarlochan Singh Cheema and Mr Rajesh Kumar, honorary chief administrator and branch incharge, respectively.

Mr Cheema said Mr Bikar Khan was brought to the Pingalwara on the directions of Dr Inderjit Kaur, President All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar. He said Dr Inderjit Kaur also instructed him to get Mr Bikar Khan treated at the Pingalwara here or at any other place.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, branch in charge of local Pingalwara, told the Tribune that Mr Bikar Khan belonged to a very poor family. He had four brothers who has been residing in separate houses while Bikar Khan had been living in a dilapidated house with his mother before his arrival in the Pingalwara. He said Mrs Jamero Bibi, mother of Mr Bikar Khan, told the Pingalwara authorities that Bikar Khan had been mentally sick for the past 15 years. But he started turning violent some years ago and injured his brothers and father on different occasions. Due to his violent attacks, the family was compelled to chain him to the beam three years ago, he added.

It is also learnt that once he was treated at Dhanula village, from where he ran away to his village. However, the family members could not get him treated due to poverty. He was nowadays living in an isolation in a room at his village, tied with chains. The family members had tied his right wrist and left leg with chains.

Mr Rajesh Kumar said the Pingalwara authorities would watch his activities day and night today to explain his case before Dr Surinder Vohra Psychiatrist, tomorrow. He said in case Dr Vohra suggested to keep Mr Bikar Khan at Pingalwara, then they would arrange treatment facilities for him here.

When this correspondent asked Mr Bikar Khan “What is his name?”, he simply said “Harbans”. This shows that Mr Bikar Khan’s mental condition is still not good, and needs treatment.

Mr Bikar Khan was handed over to the Pingalwara authorities by the villagers, including sarpanch and other respectable persons.


Hospital is their home for the past 58 years
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Two mentally challenged persons, Sawan Singh and Rama both in their 90s who were admitted to a mental hospital (Borstal Institute) in Lahore before Independent, are still in the Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital, where they were shifted after the partition.

For the more than 58 years they have been living in the hospital. Sawan Singh, who was admitted to hospital (in Lahore) in 1945, had killed his mother being suspicious of her character in 1941. He had also attempted to kill his stepmother. He was given life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. He was initially kept in a jail, where he lost his mental balance and was admitted to the hospital. Rama was admitted to the mental hospital in Lahore on the recommendation of the then Deputy Commissioner of Shimla. He did not even remember his name. He was given the name ‘Rama’ by the hospital staff. The two persons barely talk and advancing age hand left them unable to walk properly. The staff say they are a part of the hospital and they sometimes help the staff also as they can carry out normal work.


Talhan: SC panel for action against erring officials
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 9
Mr Bijay Sonkar Shastry, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, today said he would ask the Punjab Government to take stern action against those officials, whose laxity led to deterioration of situation in Talhan and caste clashes.

Mr Shastry maintained that the Talhan incident had a bearing on the image of India in other countries and an immediate outcome of the violence on Dalits was that the British Government had stopped huge amount of aid, which was to be given for the upliftment of Dalits.

Addressing mediapersons here today after visiting Talhan and Buta Mandi areas, Mr Shastry, said sincere efforts on part of the officials concerned could have saved the situation in time and clashes could have been prevented.

“We have keeping an eye on the situation in Talhan for about five months and the commission had even given 20 days to the Director-General of Police and the Chief Secretary to solve the problem. But there were no sincere efforts, a minor clash in Talhan on June 5 stirred casteist violence in the state. Though I was denied permission to visit Talhan on June 13, but permission was granted to some politicians from New Delhi and their supporters to visit the village. I will submit a detailed report about the factors behind the caste conflict to the President and the Prime Minister within two days,” said Mr Shastry.

Mr Shastry said he was happy over the return of normalcy in the village, but was not satisfied as the peace agreement was not being implemented in its letter and spirit. “The promises about the release of those lodged in jails for violence, payment of remaining amount of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Vijay Kumar Kala, and payment of enhanced relief to those injured in alleged police firing are yet to fulfilled. I will take the matter up with the state government,” said Mr Shastry.


Cultural troupe back after winning hearts in UK, France
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
The college girls cultural contingent won the hearts and acclaims during their 14-day tour to England and France. The Principal of the BBK DAV College for Women, Mrs J. Kackria, who led the cultural troupe was accorded a warm reception at the college campus here today.

Talking to newspersons, Mrs Kackria said Indian folk art and dances have left an indelible mark on the minds of the British and the French people during their two-week tour. She said the girls had touched an emotional chord in the hearts of the Indian community in England.

The cultural troupe was invited by the Kent County Council of England and Calais in France to participate in 14 folk festivals in both the countries. Mrs Kackria said they also participated in exhibitions organised by these counties in various parts of the region. The performances were acclaimed by all spectators, who wanted repeat performances of their folk dances and exhibitions.

The exhibitions displayed by the college contingent included the traditional Punjabi embroidery, jewellery pieces, Phulkari and hand-painted items. Mrs Kackria said that they would sign MoUs with various institutions in France and England for a long-term arrangement with them.


Firing incident: clean chit to cop
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
Despite a complaint filed by Punjabi University that a Punjab police Inspector had fired rounds in the air after consuming liquor outside hostel number six at around 2.45 am on Monday, the local police has given a clean chit to Inspector Manmeet Singh Dhillon. It claimed that investigations had revealed that a single shot had been fired “accidentally” on the occasion.

The university Public Relations Director, Dr B.S. Sandhu, said yesterday that the university Security Officer had filed a complaint with the local police in which he had stated that the police officer had fired at least four rounds in the air from his service pistol. He said the police officer had been handed over to the police along with a friend accompanying him. The two were travelling in a Bolero vehicle which was also handed over to the police.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed that the Punjabi University authorities have not taken kindly to a statement made by district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal saying that the police did not have any complaint in the case. The sources said the VC rang up the SSP today and told him explicitly that the police could not shift its responsibility on the university.

The police has moved fast on its part to give a clean chit to the police officer as well as his friend. Though Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal could not be contacted, the Sadar police station authorities claim that the police officer did not commit any wrong.

Sadar station in charge Shamsher Singh said investigations had revealed that the pistol of the police officer went off when it fell down while it was being handed over to his friend for safekeeping. The SHO said the police officer had handed over his pistol to his friend to be kept aside after he got into the Bolero vehicle. Mr Shamsher Singh said it was then that the pistol fell down and a shot was fired accidentally. The SHO has also given a clean chit to both Mr Dhillon and his friend as far as the complaint of consuming liquor was concerned. He said the police officer had not consumed any liquor.

When told that the police version was an exact opposite of the complaint filed by a senior university official who had reached the site of the incident within 10-15 minutes of its occurrence, the SHO said later investigations had corroborated the version given by Mr Dhillon. He said due to this the police had decided to close the case.

The police action in the case has become a joke on the university campus as there were many onlookers who saw the Inspector being handed over to the police in a drunken state. The police authorities are yet to explain why no medical examination was conducted on the Inspector despite a compliant that he had fired into the air in a drunken state. The police also does not have any answer as to what the Inspector was doing in the university at 2.45 in the early morning when the incident took place.


Kurali to have dairy development centre 
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 9
The Punjab Government has chalked out a comprehensive plan to develop the villages in the state as model villages. This was disclosed by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandary, Dairy Development and Fisheries Minister, Punjab, while addressing a function organised at Morinda to felicitate the newly elected panches and sarpanches of Morinda block. Mr Kang said under the programme the villages would be provided with the facilities that were available in the urban areas.

He appealed to the newly elected panchayats members to work for the development of the villages as per the wishes of the people to ensure proper utilisation of the funds and grants provided by the government for the uplift of rural areas. He expressed happiness over the fact that about 83 per cent of the Congress-backed panchayats had been elected in the Morinda Assembly constituency while 41 panchayats had been elected unanimously.

Mr Kang said he would pay maximum attention to solve the problems like those of drinking water, link roads and power supply being faced by the villagers. The minister also informed that a dairy development training centre would be set up at Kurali in Ropar district to encourage dairy business in the district and particularly in the Kandi area which would help improve the economic condition of the people of the area.

While addressing the function, Additional Deputy Commissioner of (Dev) Ropar, Harpreet Singh Garcha and SDM Daljit Singh also congratulated the newly elected panchayats and assured that the administration would ensure time-bound implementation of various development schemes.


Corporators take Commissioner to task
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
The general house meeting of the Municipal Corporation today saw corporators taking the Municipal Commission to task for passing a water chlorination work order by keeping the Mayor in the dark, besides demanding the later recommend suspension of water supply Executive Engineer M.M. Syal.

Senior Deputy Mayor Kabir Das and corporator Pawan Nagrath questioned the Commissioner about the work order of Rs 26 lakh at the onset of the meeting itself. The corporators said while a work order for chlorinating water was passed on June 6, the issue was put up before the Finance Committee which was to give approval to it on July 3.

The corporate argued that even if the work order was to be given immediately, the matter should have been brought to the notice of Mayor Vishnu Sharma for permission. They said in case of any emergency, permission had to be taken from the Mayor before implementing any decision. Mayor Vishnu Sharma claimed that he had been kept in the dark about the work order and had come to know about it only at the meeting of the Finance Committee.

Corporation Commissioner Sanjay Kumar maintained at the meeting that he was very much within his rights to issue the work order. Quoting corporation rules, he said he had taken a decision to issue the work order as the work was urgent in nature as chlorination had to be done before the arrival of the monsoons.

However, it is that all is not well between the Mayor and the Commissioner. This is because the corporators who are with the Mayor also attacked water supply Executive Engineer who was responsible for implementing the work order. The corporators passed a resolution recommending suspension of the Executive Engineer. An attempt was also made to further zero is on the Executive Engineer with some corporators demanding that the role of the Executive Engineer should also be examined with regard to a road which was being constructed outside his residence as its estimate had not been passed.

The general house also tried to further marginalise the Commissioner by restoring the financial powers of both the Secretary and the Joint Commissioner of the corporation. Both officers were earlier allowed to spend Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000, respectively, for various official works. The Commissioner had recently withdrawn this power. The general house passed a resolution restoring the power back to them.

The general house also demanded that the report should be submitted into the case involving evasion of octroi by the Oriental Traders situated in Dharampura bazar. It said the guilty officials should be identified and action taken against them as the corporation had suffered a loss due to their actions. It also passed another resolution calling for the investigation of uprooting of notices put up by the corporation in outer colonies, warning the people against buying property in unplanned areas.


Bitta opposes Lahore bus service
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Former Youth Congress President Maninderjit Singh Bitta today favoured bullet-for-bullet policy in Kashmir to fight the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Addressing a news conference Mr Bitta said that India could not afford to trust Pakistan which had unleashed proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir for past almost two decades. He expressed apprehension that the talks between India and Pakistan could never be fruitful till Pakistan stopped training terrorists for jehad in Kashmir and restrain the ISI activities in India. Advocating pro-active approach for India Mr Bitta felt the need to curb terrorists activities and suggested to appoint former Punjab Police Chief K.P.S. Gill as Governor of J&K.

Mr Bitta said that all political parties must work for a consensus on Kashmir as half-hearted attempts had failed to yield results. He said that terrorists in Kashmir had lost local support. He decried policy of healing touch adopted by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayyad. He said that such a move was counterproductive in wake of Pakistan’s support to the elements out to disrupt peace in the region.

Mr Bitta said that dialogues with Pakistan would prove to be futile till super-powers like the USA, England and the United Nations guaranteed Pakistan would not support cross-border terrorism. He said India had lost many brave soldiers during three wars with Pakistan.

Mr Bitta said that his front would oppose the resumption of the Delhi-Lahore bus service and would organise protest rallies in the country against the bus. He said that the agitation would be peaceful to arouse public awareness against Pakistan which had always tried to destabilise our country.

Clarifying his stand on opposing bus and rail service Mr Bitta said that this would be used to send arms to India to disturb peace in the country. He said that there were several instances of the ISI having sent arms and ammunition and drugs to India through innocent people. He said that till Pakistan denounced terrorism and closed down terrorists training camps in its territory and give up its claim on Kashmir, India should never hold talks with Pakistan. He opposed trade with Pakistan.


Stop harassment of doctors: IMA
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 9
A delegation of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab, led by its state president, Dr Kuldip Singh, yesterday called on the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Rajan Kashyap, and the DGP Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhullar, and apprised them of the incidents of harassment of doctors in the wake of the death of a patient and the subsequent registration of a case against the doctors concerned under Sections 304 and/or 304-A of the IPC.

A press note issued here today by the IMA said that the delegation had explained to Mr Kashyap and Mr Bhullar that no doctor had ever any intention to harm or kill his patient but at times things go beyond doctors’ control. They also brought to their notice the high-handedness of some police officials while handling such cases. It was demanded that adequate protection should be provided to hospitals/nursing homes staff to save them from mob fury and unnecessary harassment of doctors.

The Chief Secretary and the DGP assured the delegation that the Punjab Government would take effective and appropriate measures soon in consultation with law experts and the department concerned in this regard.


Choe breaches not plugged
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 9
A portion of a mini bypass constructed on the left side of a protection guide bundh on the Nasrala choe between RD 9000’ to 10000’ was washed away during the recent floods in the choe causing the suspension of vehicular traffic.

A 3.50 km long protection guide bundh, and a pucca mini bypass was constructed to protect the nearby localities and Bahadurpur area.

The vehicular traffic from Tanda, Dasuya, Chintpurni, Dharamsala and Chandigarh used to cross from this-mini bypass. But nothing was done to protect it from the fury of floods. There were about 12 breaches of about 12000 feet-wide on the right and left side of the protection bundhs of the choe.

The Drainage Department had sent a proposal to the NABARD authorities for financial assistance for plugging these gaps in 2001, till date it had not been cleared.

According to Mr Ram Lal Sandhu, Executive Engineer, Drainage Department, the total length of protection bundhs on both right and left sides of the Nasrala Choe from Manjhi to onward was about 16 km. The gap caused due to breach in both sides of these bundhs was about 4 km. long. He said the proposal for plugging these gaps were sent to the state government many times but no funds were available.


2 women electrocuted

Sangrur, July 9
Three people, including two women, were electrocuted in two separate incidents during the last 24 hours.

According to information, Murti Devi was working on the rooftop when a high voltage wire fell on her here. Jugraj Singh tried to save her but in vain as both were electrocuted.

In another incident, Kulwant Kaur, native of Gholla village, was electrocuted when she switched on a fan. — UNI


Surprise check by DC

Kapurthala, July 9
The Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Rakesh Kumar Verma, today conducted a surprise check on the District Transport Officer (DTO) and found many discrepancies in the functioning of the department.

Following a large number of complaints in the functioning of the district transport office, the Deputy Commissioner conducted a surprise check and found a private person working in the official records home.

The Deputy Commissioner deputed Assistant Commissioner General who recovered the official records.

In the checking, it was found that the District Transport Officer, Mr Ajmer Singh, had not signed on the licences since June 23, causing great harassment to the public.

The Deputy Commissioner told reporters that more than 50 persons complained to him about the ill-functioning of the District Transport Officer. — PTI


Punjab adopts Singapore sanitation model
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 9
Punjab has decided to go the Singapore way in ensuring that citizens don’t taking it easy when it comes to sanitation and public health. Issuing fresh instructions for the implementation of the Punjab Municipal (Sanitation and Public Health) Byelaw 2003, the Department of Local Government has asked various municipal bodies in the state to fine up to Rs 1000 for every violation of the law and up to Rs 500 per day for regular violation.

The act includes prohibition on spitting and easing oneself in public, scattering of paper and other litter on public streets, throwing of cigarettes on public streets, collection of construction material and malba on roads and parks, throwing of garbage on roads and parks and spreading and throwing of water out on roads while washing vehicles among a long list of do’s and dont’s.

According to a letter issued by the Department of Local Government to various municipal councils, corporations and village panchayats, the municipal bodies have been authorised to collect this fine on the spot, issue the violator a challan and even get him booked under Section 65 of the IPC.

Hoping that the new penalty clause will make the already existing law more effective, sources said that these prohibitions have been in existence for a long time but since the penalty was nominal, strict implementation could never be done. According to Mr Kulwant Singh, president, Municipal Council SAS Nagar, where the Local Government Department’s letter was received last week, the MC is all set to adopt the byelaw and if passed by the house, will start fining violators from tomorrow.

The byelaw has added clauses regarding provision of incinerators by hospitals and nursing homes to ensure that biomedical waste is safely disposed of and provision of temporary bathrooms for every organisation employing ten or more permanent workers. The municipal bodies have been made responsible for the implementation of these clauses.


Rice mill owner arrested

Kapurthala, July 9
The police today claimed to have arrested an owner of Zamindars Rice Mills Dhilwan on the charge of committing a fraud of Rs 50 lakhs with a government-owned procurement agency.

District police Chief R.N. Dhoke said that accused Devinder Singh and Jaspal Singh, both partners of the rice mill had entered into an agreement with PUNSUP for milling 96,000 bags of paddy in 2001-02.

But the firm did not deposit the rice with the department after shelling and committed a fraud of over Rs 50 lakhs.

Devinder Singh has been arrested. The police has registered a case of fraud against Devinder Singh and Jaspal Singh. — PTI


Two booked in murder case
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 9
The police has arrested Gurdeep Singh and Arwinder Kumar, both of Bholath village involved in the murder of Amru, a married woman of Ibrahimwal village in Bholath police station.

The body of Amru was found in the hilly areas of Hoshiarpur district in March 2001.

Gurdeep Singh and Arwinder Singh confessed to having committed the abduction and murder of Amru, a class IV employee of the PWD.

They named two others as their accomplices in the crime.

They told police interrogators that Amru was having an illicit relation with constable Surjit Singh. This was not liked by his son Harjinder Singh who along with Gurdeep Singh, Arwinder Kumar and Ranjit Singh planned to eliminate her. The police has registered a case under Section 302 IPC in this connection.


Drug addict kills nephew, injures sister
Our Correspondent

Patti, July 9
A drug addict Harjit Singh, resident of this border township killed his nephew and injured his sister here.

The accused, booked under Section 304 of the IPC, absconded after committing crime. The sources told this correspondent that Harjit Singh, of Karmuwala village was residing with his sister at Patti. He was preparing his meal in the morning on the heater for which his sister stopped him. He got angry and picked up an iron rod. In a fit of rage he tried to hit his sister but hit his two-year old nephew, who died on the spot.


Teachers fail to spell ‘tuition’
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 9
Imagine the state of the higher education in government schools in Kharar, where a majority of teachers in high schools cannot spell the word “tuition” correctly.

This fact was brought to light when the Kharar MLA and Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today inspected two schools in Gobindgarh and Sakrullapur villages in the Kharar subdivision. Students from these schools had fared poorly in the recently held matriculation examinations.

Surprisingly, out of 17 teachers in these villages, only two could spell “tuition” correctly when asked by the Deputy Speaker to do so.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh first visited the school in Gobindgarh village. Although there was a mathematics teacher in the school, but out of 65 students only 20 had passed in the subject, he said. He said he had recommended the transfer of the Principal and a social studies teacher. He said he had also recommended a departmental evaluation of the mathematics teacher, adding that two teachers who had performed well would be honoured on August 15.

Similarly, in Sakarullpur village, he evaluated the performance of teachers and said the results were only 18.8 per cent. He said one teacher was found to be a chronic alcoholic. He said he had recommended his transfer besides a departmental inquiry in the case.

Another teacher was found to be mentally upset and Mr Bir Devinder Singh recommended his examination by a board of doctors.

He said three teachers who had performed well would be honoured on August 15. He said the headmistress had been given one year’s time for improvement.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh urged the Punjab Education Minister to transfer only those teachers to his constituency who had shown good results during the past five years.


School staff seek salary
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 9
The Democratic Teachers Front and The Ministerial Staff Union respectively in separate press statements issued here on Tuesday have said that salary bills of thousands of teaching and non-teaching employees of government schools in the district were not being entertained by the local Treasury officer, Mr SN Makker.

A copy of the letter from the AG, Punjab, issued in continuation with the letter NO DC-9/DDO powers/2003-04/75-113 dt. 17.4.2003 for the purpose of establishing link with the letter No DC.9/DDO powers/2003-04/403-420 dated June 23, has been made available to the Treasury Officer. The Treasury Officer has been making inquiries from the other districts from where he has got a confusing response.

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