P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Brick-kiln owners protest against order on ash
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 9
More than 150 brick-kiln owners of this district, under the leadership of Mr Kewal Krishan Longowalia, district president of the Brick-Kiln Owners Association, today staged a dharna for about four hours in front of the district administration complex here.

They were protesting against a notification of the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests that forces the brick-kiln owners to mix at least 25 per cent of ash (fly ash, bottom ash or pond ash) with soil on a weight-to-weight basis in the manufacture of clay bricks and tiles.

Mr Longowalia opposed the cancellation of permits of brick-kilns by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for not following the notification. He said the permits of 230 brick-kilns in the district had been cancelled about a week ago.

He also informed brick-kiln owners about a decision of the Delhi High Court on August 5, according to which the brick-kiln owners who did not follow the notification could be imprisoned for up to five years besides being fined Rs 1 lakh. He said the All-India Bricks and Tiles Manufacturing Federation was examining this decision to go for an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Mr Mehmood Akhtar Shad, general secretary of district unit of the association, said if the Union Government did not withdraw the notification, it would ruin the industry, besides affecting the labourers.

A memorandum was also submitted to the administration to be forwarded to the Prime Minister.

Hundreds of brick-kiln owners of this region today staged a dharna in front of the district administrative complex (DAC) to lodge their protest against the order of the Central Government under which it has been made mandatory for them to use fly ash from 25 per cent to 50 per cent to make bricks.

The brick-kiln owners, who raised slogans against the government, submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, through the district administration in connection with their demands.

The brick-kiln owners pointed out that the Central Government had imposed the condition that any brick-kiln owner who would not use fly ash for bricks would not be able to run his kiln and would be liable to five years’ imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh as fine. After one year, any such brick-kiln owner would be liable for seven years’ imprisonment.

They pointed out that the use of fly ash would increase the cost of production of bricks from Rs 400 to Rs 500 per thousand and thus it would go beyond the reach of commoners. The mixing of fly ash with the normal sand while making bricks would pose a serious threat to the health of the labourers.

They added that instead of decreasing pollution, the use of fly ash would increase the same as its dumps on the brick-kilns would create air pollution when it would rise in the sky due to strong winds in Punjab. They said that brick-kiln owners had already spent lakhs of rupees on constructing new chimneys at their kilns to bring the pollution level to zero.

Jalandhar: Members of the Jalandhar District Brick-Kiln Owners Association today gave a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, citing a number of problems faced by the industry.

Brick-kiln owners contended that the industry was facing problems on account of failure of the government to supply adequate coal to kilns and for use of fly ash generated by power houses, which was made mandatory by a government notification stating that brick-kilns within a radius of 100 km of power houses would have to use fly ash while making bricks. Kiln owners maintained that since fly ash was hazardous to health, labourers working at kilns were not ready to use it. They also demanded that a separate labour law should be made for kilns to put an end to their exploitation at different junctures and by different hands.

Fatehgarh Sahib: On a call of the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, the district unit of the Brick-Kiln Owners Association today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. As many as 46 brick-kiln owners, along with labour union leaders, participate in the dharna and raised slogans against the “anti-trade” policies of the government.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Purshotam Singla, district president of the association, said they had been forced to adopt the path of agitation by the government.

He said the government had made the use of fly-ash compulsory in the manufacture of bricks by brick-kilns, which had affected the trade.

He said it was not possible for brick-kiln owners to mix fly-ash with clay to make bricks manually and there was mixing machine available for the purpose.

PATIALA: Members of the Patiala Brickkiln Owners Association staged a dharna in front of the Mini-Secretariat in support of their demands here on Thursday.

The general secretary of the association, Mr Surinder Singla, demanded that the notification issued by the Environment Ministry regarding compulsory mixing of fly-ash with clay should be withdrawn immediately.


HC refuses to stop sale of Punwire
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh/Mohali, September 9
In a major setback to the proposed revival of Punjab Wireless Limited, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed an application filed by the Punjab Government seeking the stay on its sale. The application moved by the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) seeking directions to the official liquidator to defer the sale of assets of Punjab Wireless Systems (Punwire) was taken up for hearing by Mr Justice M.M. Kumar.

In its application, the PSIDC, that promoted Punwire, had stated that a core group headed by Finance Minister constituted by the Punjab Government has decided to revive the sick company. The core group had asked the PSIDC to seek permission from the High Court, which had ordered its winding up on February 1, 2001, to get the plant and machinery of the sick company inspected by a panel of experts.

The experts were to assess the present condition of the machinery and suggest the expenditure need to upgrade the existing facilities so as to make the unit viable. The applicant-corporation said that it needed six months to complete the inspection as well as conduct a market study.

It had requested the court that since the official liquidator has already issued advertisements in newspapers calling for bids for assets of the company, he should be stopped from completing the process.

On the last hearing, the court had asked counsel for the PSIDC to tell it if the government was ready to shell out hundreds of crores of rupees needed to settle the outstanding of the company. However, today, while dismissing the application, the Bench said that since no specific proposal to revive the unit was presented by the government, the application could not be allowed.

The PSIDC had moved the application in the court following a decision to this effect taken on July 20 during the second meeting of the core committee. The committee headed by Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab had decided to ask the court for a six month’s stay on the sale of assets of Punwire in view of the fact that the Punjab Government was seriously examining the possibility of the company’s revival.

Punwire, the once blue chip company worth Rs 500 crore, owes over Rs 600 crore to its various creditors. On April 12 this year, a 10-year revival plan was mooted by a core group formed by the government for the purpose under the chairmanship of Sardar Lal Singh, the then Finance Minister during which a revival scheme prepared by Mr B.S. Baidwan, a former president of the Mohali Industries Association was discussed.

In the meantime, the official liquidator appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court had on June 25 put up the company for sale through an advertisement.


Accused spotted in SGPC office as cops look all over
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
SGPC member Baldev Singh, who was believed to have absconded after being booked by the Chhehrta police on charges of molesting the wife of an assistant raagi, was spotted in the Shiromani Committee office here today even as the police claimed that raids were being conducted to nab him.

However, the suspect claimed that he was innocent and had been framed at the behest of certain rival Akali leaders. He said he was ready to appear before Akal Takht to prove his innocence. He said he was ready to undergo any punishment if the complainant repeated the allegations before Sikh high priests.

Meanwhile, the complainant, Ms Manjit Kaur, her husband, Raagi Ranjit Singh, and senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), including Bhai Ram Singh, Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa and Mr Daya Singh Kakkar, urged the Akal Takht Jathedar to take suo motu action against the SGPC member.

Both Ms Manjit Kaur and Raagi Ranjit Singh alleged that they were being threatened by the accused through certain senior officials of the SGPC. They claimed the family had also been receiving blank phone calls threatening “dire consequences” in case they did not withdraw the complaint.

The SAD (A) has also formed a two-member committee, comprising Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa and Mr Kakkar, to probe into the complaint. It would submit its report to the party in three days.

Interestingly, Mr Baldev Singh has confirmed that he did visit the house Raagi Ranjit Singh on September 5. However, he claimed that that relatives and a son of the complainant were present in the house. He said he had arranged the transfer of Raagi Ranjit Singh to Amritsar on the recommendation of his tenet, though he did not know him (Ranjit Singh) personally.

SAD (A) leaders said Mr Parkash Singh Badal must clarify his position on the incident and explain why he had not taken any action against Mr Baldev Singh even after the registration of a criminal case against him.


Gurdwara election panel to seek action against DCs
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
The Gurdwara Election Commission will soon be seeking action under the Service Conduct Rules against the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur. The Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections, Justice Jai Singh Sekhon, is reportedly writing to the Union Home Department in this regard. Justice Sekhon is likely to recommend major penalty proceedings against the two officers.

The sources in the commission say that the two DCs had submitted their replies before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Justice Sekhon. But the Chief Commissioner was not satisfied with their replies.

Coming down heavily on the DCs for their failure to produce the relevant records despite commission’s orders in this regard, Justice Sekhon had earlier directed the issuance of notices to them.

Hearing petitions filed by three senior Akali leaders, the Judge had also asked them to show cause why proceedings should not be initiated against them for disobeying the commission’s orders.

Accepting the petitions, the Judge had also quashed the orders passed by the DCs rejecting the candidature of the three leaders for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

The candidature of the three leaders was cancelled as huge amounts were allegedly outstanding against their wards admitted under the NRI quota to SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Dental College

The Amritsar DC was, subsequently, grilled by a Division Bench of the High Court during the hearing of petitions filed by the three leaders, challenging the decision of rejecting their nomination papers.

Taking up the matter, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt, had come down heavily upon the DC for refusing to follow the Chief Commissioner’s orders.

After asking him to file an affidavit explaining his actions and conduct, the Bench had also directed him to specify under whose instructions had he refused to follow the orders.

The Judges had observed that the DC had acted in a wrong way and he could not be allowed to go scot-free after committing the act. The Bench had further questioned the DC if he knew the repercussions of acting in “such a manner”.


They fought terror then, lose security now
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 9
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhikhiwind, who had been awarded Shaurya Chakra, along with three other members of his family, for bravely fighting terrorists during the militancy period, today threatened to return the remaining two security personnel provided by the state government.

He had alleged that the police department had withdrawn eight securitymen provided to them on the one pretext or the other.

Mr Balwinder Singh, along with his wife Jagdish Kaur Sandhu who was also honoured with Shaurya Chakra in April 14, 1993, by the then President, Dr Shankar Dyal Sharma, alleged that this was for the third time that their security had been withdrawn even as reports of revival of terrorism appeared in the media. They alleged that they were getting frequent threats by terrorist groups taking shelter in the neighbouring country.

He said the attitude of the police department was demoralising for the persons who had sacrificed for the sake of country’s unity during militancy.

He said that to serve its own interest, the government had earlier made documentaries on them such as Punjab Ek Yatra, Kabhi Na Chhade Khet etc, which were shown on national TV for encouraging people to fight terrorism. But now they were hesitating even to provide security to them, he lamented.

Jagdish Kaur said every time a new government and new officials came, they withdrew the security provided to the family. She said their family won’t beg for security now. They would return the remaining two securitymen, if the government failed to provide them with adequate security.


10 Punjab MLAs among 19 new chairpersons
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
To consolidate his position further in the Congress Legislative Party (CLP), the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, tonight appointed 10 MLAs besides 10 other political figures, as chairpersons of various government undertakings such as boards, corporations and Improvement Trusts, etc.

In all, 19 chairpersons were appointed today. Even those Ministers, who were dropped from the Council of Ministers four months ago, have been rehabilitated as chairpersons. Patiala, home district of the Chief Minister, has got a major share as six politicians from the district have got this appointment.

More such lists are expected in the days to come as the Chief Minister would like to be on a firm footing not only in the CLP but also in the party. Recently, reports had started appearing in the media regarding regrouping of the dissidents. The CM has been keeping a watch on such activities. Today’s appointments are clearly a part of the political management exercise on his part.

The best slot has been given to Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, MLA and a former Minister of Forests. Mr Bajwa, who was dropped from the Council of Ministers, has been appointed as Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, one of the most important organisations. Mr Bajwa was earlier in the dissident camp but had recently come close to the Chief Minister. Mr Joginder Singh Mann, another MLA, who was also dropped from the Council of Ministers, has been appointed as Chairman of the Punjab Agro Foods Limited.

Dr Mohinder Singh Rinwa, MLA, who was earlier dropped as Parliamentary Secretary, has been appointed as Chairman of PUNCOM, another important organisation in the process of tying up with certain foreign universities. Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu (Babbal), MLA, who was also dropped as Parliamentary Secretary, has been readjusted as Chairman of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation.

Mr O.P. Soni, MLA from Amritsar, has been appointed Chairman of the PSIDC and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, another MLA from Amritsar, has been appointed Chairman of the Improvement Trust there. Mr Shavinder Singh Kathunangal, MLA, has been appointed as appointed as Chairman of the Punjab Agri Export Corporation. Mr Randeep Singh Nabha, MLA from Nabha, has been given the chairmanship of Punjab Infotech. Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, MLA, who was earlier in the dissident camp and now considered close to the CM, has been appointed Chairman of the Improvement Trust of Faridkot. Mr H.S. Thekedar, MLA, has been appointed Chairman of the Forest Corporation.

Mr Brahm Mohindra, former Minister and three-time MLA from Patiala city, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Agro Industry Corporation. Mr Brahm Mohindra, who was earlier at loggerheads with the CM, had patched up with the CM during the last Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, a trade union leader and former Akali MP, who was at one time close to a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board. He had quit the Akali Dal, several months ago, to become a camp follower of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mrs Ratna, who was asked to resign as Chairperson of the Improvement Trust of Amritsar to accommodate Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, has been appointed as Chairperson of the Punjab State Social Welfare Board. Mr R.S. Jaura, a relatively unknown political figure at the state level, has been appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Agro Food Corporation. Mr Prem Gupta, a former Minister, has been made Chairman of the PEPSU Rajpura Township Board, Rajpura in Patiala district.

Mr Anil Dutta, who has been helping the Chief Minister to manage his political affairs in Delhi, especially at the Congress high command level, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Infotech. At one stage, Mr Dutta was close to Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal but, of late, he has been seen in the company of the Chief Minister.

Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, who is considered close to Capt Amarinder Singh, has been made Member of the Punjab State Electricity Board. However, it is not clear whether he has been appointed as Administrative Member of the PSEB or in some other capacity.

Mr Mewa Singh Sidhu, has been appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Agri Export Corporation. He is also said to be close to Capt Amarinder Singh’s family. Mr Sukh Sarkaria, a politician from the Amritsar area, has been appointed as Chairman of the PEDA.


Punjab never had any problem with the girl child
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
For the past several years, Punjab has been at the receiving end on the issue of sex ratio. It has been virtually painted black in this regard. It has even been dubbed as “kuri maran da desh” which, if translated into English, means “land of girl killers”.

However, facts and figures tell a different story regarding sex ratio in the state. Those who have been ridiculing Punjab on the sex ratio issue have not tried to have a glance on its history in this connection. Forget for a while the data of census conducted in 2001.

Come straight to the year 1911. Since then the female ratio has been improving in Punjab tremendously. The trend continued till 1991. Contrary to it, this ratio deteriorated at the national level almost constantly. In 1911 the per thousand number of women in Punjab was 780 and the all-India average was 963. In 1921 the female ratio further improved to 799 in Punjab and went down to 956 at the national level. In 1931 it further improved to 815 (1000) in Punjab while the national average went further down to 950 (1000).

Punjab's long march regarding improvement on the female ratio front continued. In the census conducted before the Independence in 1941, the sex ratio in Punjab further improved to 836 (1000) but declined to 945 at the all-India level. Immediately after the Independence, when Punjab was partitioned, the sex ratio touched a figure of 844 per thousand, while at the national level it also showed slight betterment. The national average recorded was 947.

But in 1961 the sex ratio at the national level declined to 941 whereas in Punjab it went up to 854. It continued to improve in Punjab in 1971,1981 and even 1991. The figure during these years in Punjab was 865, 879 and 882, respectively. However, at the national level the reverse trend continued. At the national level the recorded figure of female ratio in 1971 was 930 but it showed slight improvement in 1981 when the figure went up to 934 but again declined to 929 in 1991 at the national level.

However, a break in the improvement of sex ratio in Punjab came in 2001. Its data requires to be carefully scrutinised as it raises serious doubts about its accuracy.

The sex ratio recorded during the 2001 census was 874 in Punjab while at the national level it was 933, a figure better then the previous census conducted in 1991. The question arises that if pre-natal tests and female foeticide are countrywide phenomena, then how come the sex ratio improved at the national level? Only census people can answer this question.

While the sex ratio in Punjab has been constantly improving for eight decades till 1991, at the national level there have been ups and downs.

People have been attributing to the decline in the sex ratio during the period of 1991 to 2001 to female foeticide in Punjab. There are several other socio-economic reasons which no one is trying to find out. No one has spared a thought regarding the tremendous improvement in sex ratio made by Punjab in the 80 years starting from 1911.

One fact that has been established by history is that people of Punjab had no problem with the girl child for 80 years. They accepted its birth happily. Because of this reason, there was improvement in the sex ratio. Otherwise, historically looking at things, the sex ratio imbalance in Punjab was the worst at the beginning of the last century. It almost came near to the national average, that is 933, in the past few decades.

Therefore, it will be inappropriate to dub Punjab as "kuri maran da desh".


Post offices to facilitate payment of power bills
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 9
As part of public welfare schemes being offered by the Department of Posts, a new scheme of making payment of electricity bills at post offices is likely to be started in the city soon.

This was stated by Mr L.K. Puri, Chief Postmaster General, Punjab and Chandigarh Circle, during the inauguration of a post office in Guru Amar Dass Nagar here today. Mr Puri said that he was holding talks with the Chief Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Jalandhar zone, and he was hopeful that the modalities for the implementation of the scheme would get materialised by next month.

Mr Puri said that the scheme had already been started for some villages falling in Gurdaspur, Patiala, Ropar and Ferozepore. He said that all electricity bills throughout the state were currently being dispatched through postal services.

He said that even water and sewerage bills were being sent through mail in Chandigarh and the same idea might get implemented in Punjab as well. The Department of Posts has also tied up with Reliance India Mobile for payment of bills at post offices throughout the state, he added.

Explaining the purpose of the services, Mr Puri said that these were being provided with an aim to make post offices as “one-stop service offices” where the residents of the surrounding areas could pay all kinds of bills and taxes. “Under present circumstances, a consumer has to go to the PSEB office, the MC office, telephone office to pay different bills. But when all such services will be provided at post offices, it will add to their convenience”, he pointed out.

Mr Puri said that the department was currently busy arranging for 150th anniversary celebrations of postal services that fall on October 16. He said that the main function would be held at Patiala on that day but the celebrations would begin from September 18 with a philately exhibition to be held in Ferozepore. He said that exhibitions would eventually be held at Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Gurdaspur and Sangrur.

He added that stamp designing competitions were also being arranged in Jalandhar, Ferozepore, Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

The series of events would be extended further by holding philately seminars in Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Patiala, said Mr Puri. Likewise, philately workshops would also be held at Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. In Chandigarh, a painting contest would be held for school students in October. The activities would culminate with a philately quiz to be organised in Chandigarh and students from the UT, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh would be invited to participate.


Badungar dispels media speculation
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 9
Putting media speculation at rest, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC President, said today that he was not in the race of the SGPC presidentship as it was for party President Parkash Singh Badal to decide whom to make SGPC President.

Denying he was among hot contenders for the post, Prof Badungar said in case Mr Badal assigned him the responsibility, he would perform it as per panthic wishes. A person with a clean image should be relevated to the post, he said.

He took to task the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, for misleading the Sikhs at the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. A sum of Rs 55 crore was sanctioned for the Galliara Yojna at a meeting with then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani on June 14, 2003, he said.

The sanctioned amount had even reached the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, he claimed. However, the present Punjab Government, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, had politicised even the yojna.


Shortage of teachers: problem discussed but no decision taken
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
At last the Punjab Council of Ministers, which held a meeting here today, woke up and realised the acute shortage of teachers and doctors in the state but failed to take any concrete decision to overcome the problem. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, presided the council’s meeting.

Interestingly, the issue of thousands vacant posts in schools is hanging fire for the past over two-and-a-half years, when the government led by Capt Amarinder Singh came to power in the state. Though the issue was discussed several times at the top level but no effort was made in this connection. In fact Mr Khushhal Bahl, who was dropped from the Council of Ministers a few months ago, made several statements as Education Minister to fill the vacant posts in schools but he failed to do so.

Mr Harnam Das Johar, new Education Minister (Schools), have now started making statements on the lines of his predecessor. However, the problem of vacant posts, because of which thousands of students suffer in the countryside, continues to torment students and parents. According to an estimate, about 20,000 posts are vacant in schools.

The Council of Ministers today only discussed the issue. The statement of the Government on this issue says that various suggestions to overcome this problem were also discussed at the meeting. However, the statement is silent on the solution of this problem and it has been left to the Chief Secretary to submit a detailed proposal to the Cabinet Sub Committee on Fiscal Reforms for further discussion on the issue.

No wonder, teacher absenteeism and student dropout rate is very high as revealed by the recent World Bank report. Even the absenteeism among doctors is very high.

In fact those who have been pressing the state government to fill the posts say that wards of politicians, rich and the elite people study in best public schools whereas government schools have been left for only the common people, who do not figure on the agenda of the government when it comes to provide education and health delivery system.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers also approved to amend the rule 2 of the Punjab General Sales Tax (Deferment and Exemption) Rules, 1991, thereby granting sales tax-based incentives to industrial units under Special Package of Incentives for Information Technology Industry with effect from March 15, 2000.

The Council of Ministers also approved merger of Weights and Measures Department in the Food Civil Supplies. The Council of Ministers today gave approval to shift and rehabilitate the kabari market from Bahera Road, Patiala, to near the truck union there . It also approved the booking agency scheme of Improvement Trust, Patiala.

The Council of Ministers also approved to amend the Punjab Legislative Assembly Speaker’s and Deputy Speaker’s salaries Act, 1937, making the reimbursement of telephone charges on annual basis, Rs 1,20,000, instead of Rs 10,000 per month.

The Council of Ministers expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Mr Kultar Singh, the younger brother of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

The Council of Ministers also unanimously adopted a motion of thanks thereby expressing gratitude to the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for participating in the celebrations on the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple. It thanked the Prime Minister for announcements he made for the socio-economic development of Punjab. 


Hanspal flays BJP’s ‘Tiranga’ march plans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president H.S. Hanspal today criticised the BJP leadership for its proposed “Tiranga” and “Sarvarkar” march plans to be led by Uma Bharti and Sushma Swaraj, respectively.

In a statement issued on his behalf by the PPCC office, Mr Hanspal said having lost power, the BJP was at its wits ends to make its presence felt and had now devised such a march to “attack” Sonia Gandhi. BJP’s second and third-rung leadership forgets that Ms Gandhi had led the Congress to victory and UPA Government was truly a “people’s government”. The so-called firebrand ladies of the BJP shouting brigade were no patch on Ms Gandhi.

Ms Gandhi had made “sacrifice” by not becoming Prime Minister and instead had picked up an economic wizard, Dr Manmohan Singh, for the top political and executive post, whereas the BJP was still unreconciled to being out of political power. The aim of the two women and leaders like Arun Jaitely and Pramod Mahajan was clear — to divide the country on communal lines, which a secular Congress and its allies would not permit.


Kultar messiah of the poor, says Chief Minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today received the mortal remains of Kultar Singh, the younger brother of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, here at Kisan Bhavan.

After placing the wreath on the mortal remains, Capt Amarinder Singh said that Kultar Singh was a messiah of downtrodden people and led a very simple and contented life.

The Chief Minister said that it was a matter of great pride that none of the family members of Shaheed Bhagat Singh ever demanded anything personal from the government.

He said that Khatkar Kalan — the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh — had been developed on modern lines as a true homage to the great martyr.

The mortal remains were brought by Mrs Parkash Kaur, sister of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Mr Zorawar Singh and Mr Kirandeep Singh, both sons of the late Kultar Singh. These were kept for some time at Kisan Bhavan to enable the people to pay tributes and respects to their beloved leader.

Prominent among others who paid floral tributes to Kultar Singh were Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Irrigation and Power Minister, and Mr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary.

Earlier, Mr Hanspal, president PPCC, along with Mr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, and Mr Opinder Sharma, general secretary, PPCC, received the mortal remains at Zirakpur after its entry into Punjab. 


Students, bus operators ‘reach compromise’
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 9
Even as the district administration claimed that a compromise between students belonging to different unions and the representatives of the private bus operators of the district, who were at loggerheads over the issue pertaining to the facility of concessional travel to the students in private buses, was reached here today, the common front of students union claimed that no such compromise had been reached.

In an unsigned press note issued by unidentified authorities here today, it was claimed that under the compromise reached between the students and the bus operators, the students with travelling passes issued by the PRTC would be able to travel free of cost in private buses henceforth. Apart from it, the students, who are not having travel passes issued by the PRTC, would be able to get the travel passes from the private bus operators at the same pattern and cost.

On the other hand, the different organisations of students, including the All-India Student Association (ASIA), the Students Federation of India (SFI), the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU), and the All-India Democratic Student Organisation (AIDSO), which had been holding an agitation against the private bus operators claimed that no compromise had been reached yet and they would hold their agitation tomorrow in which the effigy of the Transport Minister of Punjab would be burnt.

The students and private bus operators were at daggers drawn after a clash between students and bus operators, which took place on the link road of this town. Three students were injured and two private buses were damaged on August 27.

The common front of various students’ organisations succeeded to a great extent to stop the private buses to ply on the roads in this district on September 6 while holding jams at various places to lodge their protest against the high-handedness of private bus operators. After finding that students are not allowing them to ply their buses, the private bus operators also jammed traffic on the Mansa crossings by parking their vehicles on the roads.

Though the district administration had been trying to bring a compromise between the agitating students and the bus operators by holding meetings since August 27, the talks failed every time.

Today the students and private bus operators agreed to reach a compromise as a number of facilities were extended to the students in connection with their travelling on private and government buses, claimed the district administration. Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the district administration had also sounded the students that it would not allow the non-student organisations to make any mischief in the district under the garb of a strike. The district administration had also instructed the police authorities to maintain the law and order situation in the district.


Child crushed to death; villagers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bolina (Jalandhar), September 9
Angered by the tragic crushing of a school-going son of a panch by a tractor-trailer, second such incident in the district within a month and a half, and the alleged effort of a police official to hush up the case, hundreds of residents of this village blocked the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road for hours and staged a protest demonstration against the police today.

The incident took place when Nitish, Amrit and Jyoti, children of Mr Vijay Kumar Arora, a panch of Bolina village, were on their way to the Government Primary School in the village on bicycles and a tractor-trailer hit Nitish, who died on the spot. Bhupinder Singh, a labourer, who, according to Mr Arora, was driving the vehicle, fled the spot immediately. The other two children, however, escaped unhurt.

Villagers blocked the road in protest against the alleged biased approach of Sub-Inspector Gurmail Singh of Sadar police station, who allegedly tried to mislead the family of the victim and favour the accused party.

The situation was brought under control only at 1.45 pm, when the DSP (Rural) reached the spot and pacified the crowd by informing them that owner of the tractor-trailer Satpal had been detained and the Sub-Inspector sent to the police lines for dereliction of duty. The protesters also alleged that the driver was unable to control the vehicle as his eyesight was partially impaired.

Over a month ago, Manisha, a two-month-old girl, was also allegedly crushed to death by a tractor-trailer on the outskirts of Rama Mandi as she was being carried by her mother Veena, a resident of Bura Pind. Following that episode, residents of Bura Pind had also staged a protest and burnt the tractor-trailer involved.


Power cuts are back
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 9
Power cuts are back in Punjab. The urban areas are reeling under four to six-hour power cut while the situation in rural areas is even worse with the power cuts ranging from eight and 12 hours. The recent power situation has shaken the faith of the industry in the state. Industrialists already finding the neighbouring states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh more lucrative destinations due to tax concessions and better power availability.

PSEB engineers are blaming the failure of the Punjab Government to invest in generation capacity addition in the state as the basic reason for the present power crisis. For the past quite some time the state has not invested in the generation capacity addition that was a must in view of the growing demand.

Many proposals submitted by the PSEB for addition in capacity generation were turned down by the Finance Department with a view that after the passing of the Electricity Bill, 2003, the state could easily buy power from outside. However, the present lean period throughout the country has put the PSEB in the soup. The shortsighted policies of the government have burdened the PSEB with purchasing power at higher rates.

The Shahpur Kandi project is one such power project. Due to the non-completion of the project the state is losing about 600 MW hydro power. It includes the 168-MW conceived from the Shahpur Kandi project and 132 MW from the UBDC (stage-III) project. Besides, after the construction of the Shahpur Kandi project the state will also be able to harness the full 600 MW generation capacity of the Ranjit Sagar project at least during the peak hours. Presently just 200 to 300 MW of power is being generated at the Ranjit Sagar project as there is no Shahpur Kandi project to absorb the water to be released after full generation.

Though after the present power crisis the state has started meeting of the high powered committee on the Shahpur Kandi project nothing has transpired at the meeting as yet the sources said.

Besides the Shahpur Kandi, the Lehra Mohabat (stage-II) project in which two turbines with a generation capacity of 500 MW were to be added to the plant has also been delayed. Engineers say even if the work starts now it would take another three years for the completion of the project.


Plots for those without houses
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 9
The Punjab Government has decided to initiate a survey to identify houseless people in the state so that they may be given 5-marla plots to construct houses.

These plots will be given in clusters of 300 to 400 persons from the shamlat panchayat lands. By this way new villages will be developed, said Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, addressing a public rally after inaugurating the new building of panchayat samiti of Khamano town in the district.

He said these new villages would be developed on the pattern of new architecture design, having all modern amenities and the residents would also be provided 1 marla land for dumping of garbage and 24-hour power supply would be ensured.

He said on initial stage two to four new villages would be developed in every block. He said the Punjab Government was making efforts to revive its economy.

He said economy of the state depended upon the farming community, so the government was aware to protect the rights of farmers.

He said the government was getting only Rs 350 crore from farmers through bills, whereas the government had to spend Rs 1,350 crore for providing electricity to farmers.

He said thus the government was giving subsidy of Rs 950 crore to state electricity board.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Harbans Singh Pandher, Chairman, Block Samiti, Khamano, also addressed the rally.


Baba Farid Mela from September 15
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 9
The district administration has made all arrangements for the forthcoming Baba Farid Mela to be organised here from September 15 to 23.

The mela would be kicked off with the ‘bhog’ of an ‘Akhand Path’ at Gurdwara Tilla Baba Farid on September 15. On the same day, a state-level painting workshop would be held at Government Brajindra College followed by the Sheikh Farid National Punjabi Drama festival at Darbar Ganj. These two events would continue till September 18.

A number of sports tournaments would be organised. The first one in the series is a cricket tournament, which would be inaugurated on September 17 followed by football and volleyball tournaments that would start on September 19. The All-India Gold Cup Hockey Tournament and a Bhagwant Maan nite would be the other attractions.

On September 20, kabaddi and basketball tournament would be kicked off. Sufi Foundation India would organise a seminar and mushaira on the same day. September 21 would showcase Tarksheel Mela and national folk dance festival.

On September 22, the famous rural sports fair would be organised, besides a kirtan darbar at Gurdwara Godri Sahib. A nagar kirtan would be taken out on September 23. Punjabi singer Harbhajan Maan would also present a programme the same day. Some Pakistani artists are also expected to participate in the programme.


SGPC to honour Chautala
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
Even as the SGPC had declined a “siropa” (robe of honour) to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, on the eve of quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib, his Haryana counterpart, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, would get the same in the SGPC’s Information Office here tomorrow.

Mr Dalmegh Singh, SGPC secretary, confirmed that Mr Chautala would be honoured with a “siropa”. Mr Chautala would be accompanied by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities.

It is reliably learnt that Mr Tarlochan Singh had spoken to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, for giving due honour to Mr Chautala who would pay his obeisance at the Golden Temple tomorrow.

Mr Chautala would also meet Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht.

Later, Mr Chautala would cross over to Pakistan in connection with the tercentenary celebrations of “Bakshish Day” of Bhai Ghaniaya.


SGPC seeks permission for jatha to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 9
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) sought permission of the Central Government to allow them to send a jatha of Sikh pilgrim to Pakistan for the first time ever to observe the death anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on 
September 22.

The secretary, SGPC, Mr Raghbir Singh, in a press note issued here today said that they had urged the government to allow a jatha of 500 devotees to visit Kartarpur Sahib where Guru Nanak Dev spent his last days.

He added that, besides the visit to holy gurdwara at Kartarpur, the pilgrims would like to other important shrines at 


Path to atone for sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 9
The akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib was started here today in Gurdwara Giansar, Satnampura, Phagwara, to observe penance for the sacrilege of two “birs” at gurdwara Dashmeshpuri, Bhanoki road, Kotrani village near here yesterday. A woman sevadar, Balbir Kaur, and a visitor Balbir Singh of Bisrampur village in Kartarpur tehsil were booked and the woman caretaker was arrested for the desecration.

After its bhog on September 11 in observance of penance, the desecrated birs would be taken in a procession to Goindwal Sahib for their ceremonial cremation there. These birs were shifted to the local Gurdwara Giansar. All other birs, which were otherwise intact, were shifted here from the Kotrani dera.

Mr Joginder Singh Mann informed that a langar for 500 persons would also be held on September 11.He demanded that Sant Swaran Singh, who is the head of the dera where these birs were desecreted, should also be booked for criminal negligence.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said that the main culprit Balbir Singh had been rounded up by the police. However, local DSP Jaspal Singh said that police parties had been despatched to nab the culprit. He confirmed only the arrest of Balbir Kaur.


Martyr Abdul Hamid remembered
Our Correspondent

Asal Uttar (Tarn Taran), September 9
Company Havildar Abdul Hamid, Paramvir Chakra winner and hero of 1965 Indo -Pak war, was remembered today at this border village which was described as the grave yard of the famous American Patton tanks. A function was organised by the SAD with the help of the village panchayat in the memory of the martyr.

The Golden Arrow Division of the Indian Army also organised a special memorial function on the 39th anniversary of the martyr. Senior military and civil officers joined by local public paid tributes to the hero of 1965 war. Wreaths were laid on the “mazar” of Abdul Hamid. Later the Army organised a medical camp for the local population of the area.

Dr Rattan Singh, MP and SAD leader, while addressing the conference organised on the occasion, condemned the ruling Congress party and the Punjab Government for getting the anniversary. He said that no project announced by the state government last year had been started. The grant of Rs 10 lakh announced for the development of the village by Capt Amarinder Singh Chief Minister, had not been released. Ms Gurwinder Kaur, sarpanch, Prof Virsa Singh Valtoha, former member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, and other SAD leader too spoke on the occasion.


Farm labourers seek 180-day employment
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 9
The Pendu Khet Majdoor Union and its other associate bodies today protested outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner in favour of their demands.

Addressing the gathering, union leaders said the introduction of new techniques and advanced machines in the agriculture had made it difficult for the farm labourers to earn their livelihood. They demanded that instead of the present 100-day employment being provided to them they should be given a guarantee of employment for 180 days, besides one-and-a-half times hike in their wages.

They said the government should change the below-poverty-line criteria to benefit farm labourers. They should be provided wheat at a rate of Rs 2 per kg at ration depots. Various pensions like old-age pension and widow pension should be relaunched and a minimum of Rs 1,000 per month be given as pension, they demanded.

Labourers working in Punjab farms should be provided with potable water and health services free of cost as they could barely make both ends meet with a daily wage of Rs 100.

They demanded that their power bills and debts be waived off and they be provided loans for purchasing land for houses. Later, the leaders handed over a charter of demands to the Deputy Commissioner.


Withdraw FIR against JE, say power staff
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 9
Hundreds of Punjab State Electricity Board employees today staged a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office and blocked traffic at Joginder Singh Chowk seeking cancellation of an FIR lodged against Junior Engineer. Jarnail Singh following the death of two persons in a fire at a transformer at Akalsar Chowk in May.

The blockade hit traffic flow on the GT Road, leading to Ludhiana, Faridkot and Ferozepore. They also held a protest rally from the office of the Deputy Commissioner to the main square. Addressing the gathering outside the office, members of the PSEB Joint Action Committee said the Deputy Commissioner had ordered a magisterial probe into the matter and it had held no electricity board employee responsible for the incident.

They alleged that despite the probe, police officials registered a case against Jarnail Singh on the basis of a police inspector’s report. They warned that if the FIR was not cancelled, they would intensify their agitation.

Various power employees bodies, including the PSEB Employees Union and the Technical Services Union, participated in the protest.


Ex-PEPSU CM Brish Bhan remembered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 9
On the occasion of the birth anniversary of a renowned freedom fighter and former PEPSU Chief Minister, Babu Brish Bhan, a free eye check-up-cum-operation camp and a dental check-up camp were organised by the Lions Club, Moonak, in collaboration with the Moonak branch of Punjab National Bank at Aggarwal Dharamshala at Moonak, about 60 km from here, today.

According to information received here, more than 650 patients were examined at the free eye check-up camp, of which 72 patients were identified for eye operation. More than 225 patients were examined for various dental diseases. Medicines were given to the patients free of cost at both the camps.

A function was also organised on the occasion which was presided over by Mr Dharam Pal Gupta, SDM, Moonak.


Army jawan cremated
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, September 9
The body of an Army jawan, Jasvinder Singh of 101 Engineer Core, was consigned to flames with full state honours here yesterday. A resident of Wada Daraka village, 25-year-old Jasvinder was deployed on the Indo-China border in Sikkim. The jawan’s body was brought to his native village yesterday.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Darshan Singh Garewal, and the Faridkot DSP were among those present at the cremation ground. Jasvinder got married to Simarjeet Kaur about one and a half years ago and they have an eight-month-old boy, Mandeep. Mr Darshan Singh announced that the district administration would ensure that a compensation of Rs 5 lakh from the state government and Rs 2 lakh from the Central Government was provided to the jawan’s family soon. He said the administration would also by to help his wife secure a government job.

The village panchayat requested the Additional Deputy Commissioner construct a memorial in the memory of Jasvinder Singh.


General JJ Singh visits Bathinda
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Lt-Gen J.J. Singh, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Command, yesterday assessed the operational preparedness of the formation and desired training concept in accordance with the recently enumerated war doctrine at the local cantonment.

After visiting various formations, he expressed his satisfaction at the standard of operation preparedness existing at the local cantonment.

In a press note here today, the Army authorities said that Ms Anupama Singh, wife of Lt-Gen J.J. Singh, visited the military hospital and enquired about the welfare of patients. She also interacted with the children at Chetak Asha School and visited the mobile library. She also attended the AWWA meeting organised at Chetak Park.


Kanjhla’s wife cremated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 9
Mukhtiar Kaur, wife of Sherpur MLA Gobind Singh Kanjhla, was today cremated at Kanjhla village, 12 km from here. She died at the PGI, Chandigarh, last night.

Mr Amandip Singh, the elder son of Mr Kanjhla, lit the pyre. Hundreds of persons joined the funeral.


Dalits hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 9
A dharna was organised by the Dalit Chetna Manch, Punjab, outside the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Office here today in protest against the illegal occupation of public paths by influential persons in Gigemajra village which led to inconvenience to many Dalit families.

The protesters demanded that justice should be meted out to the affected persons within 15 days.

Mr Shamsher Purkhalvi, president of the manch, said a deputation had met the Ropar Deputy Commissioner on July 20 to get the encroachments removed. Later, the matter was brought to the notice of the Director, Welfare Department, and even the minister concerned but to no avail. Instead, the complainant was allegedly threatened by the Panchayat officer concerned.


Mason falls off building, dies
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 9
A mason died after he fell off while fixing shuttering material during the construction on a building here yesterday.

It is learnt that Sadhu Singh (50), who fell from a height, was taken to a private hospital here but he had reportedly died on the spot. His body was sent to his native village Jhungian in a taxi and some labourers had accompanied the body.

It is alleged that instead of handing over the body, it was left in front of the house. This led to some resentment and some persons had gathered at the Civil Hospital, where a post-mortem was to be conducted here today. However, the matter ended in a compromise.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.


Rally by bank employees
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 9
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation today organised a rally and demonstration in front of local branch of the State Bank of Patiala on the GT Road in protest against the stubborn attitude of its management regarding acceptance of the employees’ demands, including fresh recruitment of clerks and peons, job on compassionate ground to a child of those employees who die and an end to the contract system.

The protesters declared that employees of all branches of the State Bank of Patiala would go on strike tomorrow for a day in case the management did not accept their demands. The rally was addressed by Mr S.P. Mall, Phagwara secretary of the federation, Mr V.K. Verma, Mr B.V. Sharma, Mr Avtar Singh Dardi, Mr Jagan Nath, other leaders.


High Court
Notices issued to Ropar SSP, Kharar SHO
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 9
The High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Senior Superintendent of Police of Ropar and Station House Officer of Police Station, Kharar, in the petitions seeking handing over of investigation in the July 2 incident at Kharar, in which exchange of fire between two groups of Shiromani Akali Dal supporters left two persons dead and many injured, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The notice was issued by a Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla for September 20.

On an earlier hearing, the court had issued notice to the Punjab Government and Punjab Director-General of Police in the matter.

The petitions filed by Youth Akali Dal leader Kiranbir Singh Kang, one of the main accused in the case, and Mr Pavittar Singh and Mr Gurpreet Singh, both of whose brothers died in the incident, have claimed that in view of political pressure and biased attitude of the Ropar police, the investigation in the case be should be handed over to an agency like the CBI.

Kang, who is still absconding after allegedly escaping from police custody from the PGI, Chandigarh, has claimed that he has been falsely implicated in the case.

He has also levelled serious allegations against the Ropar police, including Senior Superintendent of Police Surinder Pal Singh. Kang was booked by the Punjab Police for the murder of Akali leader Harbir Singh and worker Paramjit Singh at a public rally.

The other petition states that despite repeated attempts on the day of the incident, the Kharar police did not listen to their pleas for registration of cases. They have claimed that wrong persons have been booked by the police in the case. 


Addl A-G quits in protest against pay cut
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 9
In a day of fast-moving developments, one of the law officers, who was shunted out in the latest reshuffle in the office of Punjab Advocate-General moved court against his removal, while another law officer put in his papers.

Advocate Sushant Maini, who was Deputy Advocate-General in the last team, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging his termination on the grounds that his appointment was not contractual.

In his petition, Mr Maini has said that he was appointed as a law officer in 1997 and his appointed was not renewed every year as is the case with law officers.

This time, the petitioner says, he was under the impression that he was still in the post, the AG has not given him any legal work, nor is his name present on the duty roaster of law officers.

Today, the Division Bench of Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice J.S. Narang issued notice for stay. The case will now be taken up on September 14.

Meanwhile, Punjab Additional Advocate-General Dharam Vir Sharma today resigned from his post on personal grounds.

However, sources in the office of Punjab Advocate-General said that Mr Sharma was not happy with the sharp cut in salary payable to him and hence chose to resign. In his resignation letter addressed to Punjab Principal Secretary (Home),

Mr Sharma, who was handling important cases before a Division Bench of the High Court, said that though he had been appearing in special matters on September 2 and 3 on the asking of the Advocate-General, he cold not continue further and hence should be relieved.

He has also stated that in case the government thought that he should have given one-month’s notice before quitting, the amount of Rs 15,000 (one month’s salary) should be deducted from the arrears of his pay “which is outstanding for a long time”. His resignation was routed through the Advocate-General.

While forwarding the resignation, the Advocate-General mentions that he was losing a good lawyer and a good law officer.

It may be recalled while it failed to bring down the number of law officers considerably, the Punjab Government ordered a sharp cut in salaries and allowances payable to its law officers.

Ironically, the same Punjab Government did not think twice before importing legal eagles from New Delhi at huge costs to the public exchequer to fight the petitions in the controversial selections of Deputy Superintendents of Police.

The selection of the kin of high and mighty of Punjab, whose legality is under challenge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, were made allegedly after throwing all norms to the wind. The High Court had recently reserved its judgement on the issue.

Meanwhile, some law officers, who were demoted in the recent reshuffle, have still not joined. They include Mr Kuljit Singh Sidhu, who was demoted from Senior Additional Advocate-General to Additional Advocate-General.


MC chief faces inquiries
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 9
The Municipal Council President, Mr Joginder Pal Jain, is facing a number of inquiries besides a no-confidence motion which will be taken up soon.

Now, the local bodies department has also started inquiring into various allegations, relating to amassing of property worth crores during his tenure as the Improvement Trust chairman, levelled against him.

The Vigilance Bureau is already investigating a complaint about disproportionate assets against Mr Jain.

The Deputy Director of the Local Bodies, Mr S.R. Kaler, yesterday checked the records on the basis of three complaints against Mr Jain and also recorded the statement of one of the complainants, a former MC chief Dr K.S. Gill.

On the other hand, the council officials failed to make available all records to the Vigilance Bureau yesterday. However, the DSP, Vigilance Mr Surjeet Singh Khosa, has given them time till Friday. According to Mr Kaler, Shiv Kumar, Inderjeet Singh and Dr Gill had complained in February that Mr Jain was using a house for commercial purposes for the past 30 years, besides not paying house tax, water tax and sewerage tax to the council.

The water connection for the commercial establishment was also in the name of some other person. Mr Jain was also facing allegations of misusing official vehicle and amassing benami property worth crores through hawala transactions. Mr Kaler said that after receiving another complaint the department officials asked him to enquire into the matter and submit a report.

He said he received the records from Executive Officer, Tejinder Singh and also recorded the version of Mr Jain who denied the charges levelled against him. He said of the three complainants, only Dr Gill could be traced and he was called to give his statement.

Surprisingly, Dr Gill said he didn’t complain against Mr Jain, but at the same time he didn’t term the charges levelled in the complaint as baseless.

Recently, the Vigilance Bureau also started probing into the alleged irregularities in giving contracts of development works of the Municipal Council. The Vigilance officials had summoned the former Executive Officer, Mr R.K. Mittal, in this connection earlier this week, but he expressed his inability to appear before it.

The probe came after a contractor, Mr Baljinder Singh, complained to the Chief Minister and the buearu regarding ‘anomalies’ in giving contracts. In his complaint, he alleged that the council suffered losses to the tune of lakhs owing to these ‘anomalies’.


Regularisation policy to decide on violations: MC chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 9
Mr K.S. Kang Municipal Commissioner, today said a councillor barged into the swimming pool at Goal Bagh during the ladies’ timings along with seven others and created a stir. He was answering a question about a councillor who had alleged that the Municipal Commissioner had talked to him in an insulting manner at the MC house meeting here yesterday.

Mr Yonus Kumar, councillor of ward 28 had alleged yesterday Mr Kang had insulted him. Mr Avtar Singh, an independent councillor had also alleged that he was asked to wait when he sought a meeting with the Municipal Commissioner. Mr Yonus, when contacted denied the statement while Mr Avtar Singh could not be reached for comments.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Commissioner said the new state policy on regularisation would decide about any action on building violations.

While admitting corruption in some instances, the Commissioner said despite the grim financial scenario Rs 4.56 crore was collected against the projected income of Rs 4.50 crore in budget, from compounding and building plan fees alone.

About an extension for contractual employees and new recruitments, the commissioner said they were short of staff to run tubewells.


PRTC to induct 100 new buses next year
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 9
Mr G.S. Grewal, Managing Director, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), told this correspondent today that 100 new passenger-friendly, semi-delux buses with cushioned seats would be added to the PRTC fleet next year. Already 100 such new buses were being added this year, he claimed in the presence of former Punjab minister and MLA Joginder Singh Mann. Out of these, 40 were already on the roads while the remaining 60 would be operational by November end this year, he said.

These new buses were flagged off at Patiala by the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh a few days back. With the recent addition, the PRTC fleet would have 1,182 buses, besides 103 buses plying under the kilometre scheme, he said. The new 200 buses would cost Rs 18 crore, which would be raised through bank loans, informed Mr Grewal. The new buses would be fabricated keeping in mind the convenience of passengers, he added.

A new bus stand would come up at Patiala while the bus stands of Sangrur and Bathinda would be renovated, disclosed Mr Grewal.

The Phagwara bus stand would be modernised at a cost of Rs 2 crore and its foundation stone would be laid after October 15, he said. It would be a self-financing project and the funds for it would be raised through bank loan. 


Three activists of BKU (Ekta) arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Three activists of the BKU (Ekta), who were allegedly involved in an attack made on commission agents and stalling the proceedings of auction of a piece of land held at Chathewala village a few months ago, were arrested by the Kot Fathe police station today.

The police arrested three members of the BKU (Ekta), identified as Hakam Singh, Sadhu Singh and Malkit Singh, today despite the fact that a case was registered against them in Kot Fathe police station on June 24 for their alleged involvement in the beating up of the bidders (mostly commission agents) at the auction of a piece of land held at Chathewala on June 16, holding a threat to gherao the revenue officials and snatching of camera of videographer.

The police authorities failed to arrest any of the accused, 17 of which have been identified and named in the FIR registered at Kot Fathe police station under Sections 379, 341, 323, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC. The auction was to be held on the order of Mr N.K. Gaur, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Talwandi Sabo. Mr Gaur had also ordered the auction to be vediographed.

Though the police officials failed to arrest the accused, Mr Gaur himself lodged a complaint with the Talwandi Sabo police and got another case registered against those who created obstruction in the execution of warrants issued by his courts in connection with the auction of a piece of land.

After having fed up with the “response” of the police authorities in this case, the commission agents of the district, in an unprecedented move, announced that they would observe a bandh on September 10 by holding no auction of foodgrains in the markets to lodge their protest against the failure of the Talwandi Sabo police to arrest the accused farmers against whom two criminal cases were registered in June and July.

Apart from it, the members of the District Arhtiyas Association had also decided to jam traffic in this city, apart from staging a dharna in front of the office of the district police chief, on September 10.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, Station House Officer, Kot Fathe, when contacted, said that raids were conducted on the premises of other accused but they were not at home and hence could not be arrested.


BKU (Ekta) leaders booked for holding PSEB men hostage
Case registered against the union leaders
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 9
The state general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri, its district chief, Mr Trilok Singh Himmatpura, and about 50 other farmers have been booked for holding Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials hostage at Nathuwala Jadeed village on Monday.

The police has registered a case following a complaint of the Nathuwala SDO, Mr Surjeet Singh Brar. The complainant stated that the Executive Engineer (suburban) and an SDO from Badhani Kalan had come to the village for routine checking. Mr Kokri and other BKU leaders, who got an air of their visit to the area, reached the board office and held them hostage for about 11 hours. Mr Brar said the farmers told him that they were angry because the board snapped power connection of Mr Kokri owing to non-payment of a bill. The complainant alleged that the farmers misbehaved with them and interrupted their official work.

On the basis of his statement, the police has registered a case against the union’s state general secretary, Mr Kokri and Mr Himmatpura, Mr Gurmail Singh and about 50 other farmers. However, no arrests have been made 
so far.


Villager found murdered
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 9
A subzi seller Joginder Singh (63), was found murdered in his house in the nearby village of Chokra in Phillaur subdivision late last night. The body of the deceased was found tied with a rope with his bed, the police said.

The police said some unidentified miscreants perhaps entered his house for theft, but when he woke up and resisted, the culprits beat him up and tied him with his bed. He was seen by another villager next morning.

The deceased was living alone in the house of NRI Tersem Singh. The wife of the deceased had died about 20 years back. The body of Joginder Singh was sent to the Civil Hospital, Phillaur, for a post-mortem examination.


Selection was fair, says candidate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
Close on the heels of a protest by Nagma Virk, a two-time gold medallist who had been rejected for a job of technical assistant in the Psychology Department of Punjabi University, another girl who was selected for the job today said she too was a gold medallist from the same department and that the entire procedure of selection had been carried out in a fair manner.

Ms Ruby Gupta, who was one of the three candidates selected for the job last month, said she too had secured the gold medal from the Psychology Department in the 2002 -03 session. She said the posts were filled by following the normal procedure of selection and that no one had raised any question about the integrity of the Selection Committee as a whole or its members before the selection process.

The selected student said a gold medal could not be the only criterion for selection and that if that was the case there was no need to hold interviews. While taking a swipe at former Punjab Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh without actually naming him, Ms Gupta said the politician had taken upon himself to scandalise the issue by denigrating the selected candidates in public.

She said appropriate measures should be taken to restrain disgruntled elements from intervening and disrupting the procedures and functioning of the university.


PTU tele-education a non-starter
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 9
The much-publicised tele-education programme of Punjab Technical University for its students enrolled in distance education courses, that was formally launched by Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam last fortnight, has proved to be a non-starter till date. Not a single student in any of the 13 centres connected by V-Sat so far has been able to attend an online session after August 25, the day of its launch. The university authorities are still testing the system as only rehearsals for the relay, with engineers posted in various centres, have been held from the PTU studio so far.

The rehearsals, thus, held have also not been successful as even yesterday only seven centres could remain in touch with Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, who was testing for signals at the university studio. Rest of the six centres failed to establish the links. This came to the notice of the PTU authorities when the Vice-Chancellor sought a feedback from its centres after the day’s rehearsal.

While the local centre is suffering from modem failure, technicians based in Amritsar centre said they were not ready with the system during the rehearsal. The Mohali centre authorities, on the other hand, said they had not received any message pertaining to the testing that was scheduled to be held today.

Dr Salwan, however, said these were some teething problems and that regular transmission would begin soon. He said systems set up at seven centres, including Chamber School of Commerce in Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Indore and Jabalpur were responding well. He said he would soon send his engineers to other centres to check for technical errors.

Yet another factor that has led to the delay is that the owners of three centres in Kapurthala, Amritsar and Mohali have demanded free UPS and Internet connectivity from Mindlogicx Ltd, a Bangalore-based IT company, in addition to V-Sat connection. The university authorities have outrightly rejected their demand and said that they should pay for the expenses.

This was confirmed by Mr S.K. Bhatia, Director, Distance Education Programme. Mr Bhatia said he had given them an ultimatum till September. “If they do not fall in line by that time, the V-Sat connections worth Rs 82 lakh established at their centres would be shifted elsewhere. We tried to convince them by telling that they would also be saving on books and CDs for all such equipment would be provided by Mindlogicx Ltd,” he added.

Mr Bhatia further added, “if such centres refuse to budge, they would themselves be affected as the students would automatically shift to other centres connected through V-Sat. Under such circumstances, they would be losers.”


Rs 30 crore surrendered in black money
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 9
Some industrial houses in Ludhiana have made a surrender of blackmoney to the tune of about Rs 30 crore to the Income Tax Department and further investigations are in progress. The police has also registered a case of alleged fraud again stone chartered accountant on a complaint by a bank and arrested him.

Enquiries reveal that during survey operations officials of the Income Tax Department seized incriminating documents from the house of a chartered accountant a month ago. The investigations by the Income Tax Department led to the sensational revelation of converting black money into white by the said chartered accountant by dubious means. The officials got hold of the details of those who got their black money converted into white and the department launched proceedings against the alleged defaulters.

According to sources close to the Income Tax Department, the chartered accountant was allegedly helping in the conversion of black money into white by arranging false entries and making capital gains. Gifts were even being arranged from abroad. During the investigations one single party made a surrender of Rs 6 crore and this was the biggest surrender made by an individual. The other surrenders range from Rs 3 crore to Rs 1 crore and several surrenders of lakhs of rupees. The number of people involved is quite large.

Enquiries further show that black money is accumulating with the industrial houses and they make efforts to convert the same into white. The department officials disclose that those engaged in this business charge 2 per cent to 5 per cent commission as conversion charges.

The Ludhiana police arrested a chartered accountant a few days ago who was allegedly engaged in making forged income tax returns and balance-sheets to procure loans from the banks for industrial units and construction of houses. The private banks in particular are engaged in advancing huge loans for housing purposes. The complainant in this case is a private bank.

The police has allegedly found a large number of income tax returns and balance sheets from the house of the chartered accountant. Police investigations into the case are in progress. The police also found some stamps of the Income Tax Department.

The Income Tax Department has now plugged the loopholes and it has been decided that all returns submitted to the department will be computerised daily and counted as well. The verification of the returns would be done by the officer not below the rank of an Income Tax Officer and that too only by the officer of the area concerned.

Sources said the CBI was looking into a number of cases of alleged fraud and conversion of black money into white.


Markfed defers decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Markfed’s Board of Directors has deferred the decision to disinvest a sugar mill at Malout. The Board was apprised of the mill’s financial status, but a final decision on the issue has not been taken.

The mill — set up in 2001 — is “wholly owned” by Markfed. A study into the mill’s affairs was recently conducted by a Gurgaon-based consultant. The issue pertaining to the mill’s disinvestment was discussed on its recommendation.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |