P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dalit dies in police custody
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The functioning of the Punjab Police has come under a cloud again with yet another Dalit allegedly dying in police custody. Rajinderjit Singh, a resident of Phool Khurd village in Ropar district, who was allegedly tortured by the Ludhiana police, died at the PGI here late last night.

Rajinderjit, along with two other persons Amarjit Singh and Kala, who went missing on February 2, were shown as arrested by the Sunder Nagar police post personnel in Ludhiana on February 5, under the Arms Act. While Amarjit and Kala were later released, the deceased was tortured in the police custody by giving him electric shocks when he resisted police attempts to implicate him in another false case, Mr Davinder Singh Chauhan, his cousin, alleged.

As his condition deteriorated, he was remanded into judicial custody and admitted to Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, on February 6. Further, he was referred to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, yesterday from where he was shifted to the PGI here last evening in a serious condition where he died of acute renal failure, PGI sources said.

On the other hand, Mr Harbans Singh, in charge of the Sunder Nagar police post, while refuting the allegations of torture, said a loaded .12 bore pistol was recovered from him and he was booked under the Arms Act.

He claimed that the deceased was a drug addict and his condition deteriorated due to “withdrawal symptoms” when he did not get drugs in judicial custody. The medical examination at the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, showed that there were no injury mark, he added.

In the meantime, the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), constituted a team comprising Mr Ravinder Singh Bassi, Mr Arvind Thakur and Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan, to follow-up the case. A CD prepared by the team showed that electric shocks were given to the deceased as his body had torture marks and had turned blue, Mr Thakur alleged.

Mr Thakur alleged that even when he was being treated at the PGI, he was chained to the emergency bed which was in violation of the Supreme Court judgements.

Later, talking to reporters, the LHRI president, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, demanded a high-level inquiry into the death and the registration of a case under Sections 302, 120-B and 34 of the IPC against the guilty police officials. He also demanded compensation of Rs 15 lakh for the next of the kin of the deceased.

Mr Navkiran Singh, LHRI general secretary, alleged that the judiciary and the executive had proved to be ineffective in protecting the human rights violations in the state.


Illegal custody of youth: ASI suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
The district police has registered a case against Mr Ram Singh Assistant Sub-Inspector of Punjab Police, for allegedly keeping a youth in illegal custody, snatching his mobile phone, impounding car and some cash on February 5 without any reasons.

Police sources said that the complainant, whose name was also Mr Ram Singh, was objecting to the activities of a woman staying in the locality where he was residing. One of the associates of that woman, who had been visiting her house frequently, made a false complaint to the police that Mr Ram Singh (complainant) had been indulging in sale of narcotics.

After getting the complaint, the ASI picked up Mr Ram Kumar (complainant) and took cash from him, His car and mobile phone were also taken. The complainant was kept in illegal custody for hours together.

Mr Kapil Dev SSP, said that after coming out of illegal custody Mr Ram Singh lodged a complaint with him. On the complaint he ordered an inquiry to the DSP (City), Mr Darshan Singh.

After the ASI, Mr Ram Singh, was found guilty, a case was registered against him under Sections 342 and 468, IPC, and Prevention of the Corruption Act.

The ASI had also been placed under suspension and sent to police lines.


Pak to spend Rs 2 crore on Katasraj temple: Chautala
Our Correspondent

Wagah, February 11
The Pakistan Government has decided to declare Katasraj, an ancient Hindu temple of the Mahabharta period in Chakwal district, as a religious tourist centre and spend Rs 2 crore on its renovation. At present the temple is in a dilapidated condition.

Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister, Haryana, stated this while talking to media persons after returning from Pakistan here today. He had gone to participate in the four-day Jashn-e-Bahar Basant (spring) festival in Lahore along with 24-member group of his state.

Chaudhary Pervez Elahi, Chief Minister, West Punjab (Pakistan), had assured Mr Chautala that his government would develop the district accordingly. Mr Chautala had donated Rs 1 lakh for the temple from his personal earning.

The ancient temple is linked with the Mahabharata period. A tale has it that the questioning session between the Pandavas and the Yaksha had taken place here.

Satisfied with his visit to Pakistan, the Haryana Chief Minister said he and other members of the delegation were immensely happy after participating in the spring festival. He said warmth and affection of the people in Pakistan was overwhelming.

Avoiding any query on the Haryana elections, Mr Chautala requested that questions should be asked regarding his Pakistan visit only.

He said that he would soon meet Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, to urge him to relax visa rules for the citizens of both the neighbouring countries. He opined that commerce and cultural activities could take the relations of the two countries to new heights.

He said that due to some incomplete paper work his gifts, including a buffalo, a tractor and a bike, could not reach Pakistan.

Mr Chautala had offered assistance of his state to Pakistan’s Punjab in the information technology sector. He extended this offer to Information Technology Minister Aleem Khan, who had hosted a reception for him and his troupe in Lahore last evening.

He said that Mr Khan had evinced a keen interest in his proposal and had stressed the need for cooperation between Pakistan and India in the IT sector. The cooperation in this sector could open new avenues of economic progress and prosperity in the region, he said.

Mr Chautala said that both countries could learn from each other’s technical and professional experience in many sectors. They could also ensure better job opportunities for their people through joint planning, he added.

He said Mr Khan felt that development of information technology in Haryana, especially in Gurgaon, had set an example for Pakistan.

Mr Chautala also met the World Punjabi Congress delegation led by Fakhar Zaman. He believed that the body had played a vital role in bringing people of both countries closer.

He said he had accepted the invitation of Mr Zaman to participate in the next feature of the World Punjabi Conference scheduled to be held in Lahore in April.


Miniature painter returns to family’s old backyard
Pak artist to showcase Patiala miniature tradition
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 11
His forefathers once "ruled" the Patiala court. He has come back to reclaim his heritage by showcasing the distillation of the best of seven generations of miniature art tradition through an exhibition which opens at the Art Gallery in Punjabi University tomorrow.

For S.M. Mansoor, the visit to Patiala is like coming back to his roots. ''My forefathers — Ustad Allah Ditta and Bashharat Ullah — were court painters of the Patiala “darbar” and it was this training in Patiala Gharana which enabled my grandfather Haji Mohammad Sharif to be acknowledged as the “national painter” of Pakistan.

Mansoor has not only retained the best in Patiala Gharana of miniature paintings but has also taken the process a step further. While retaining the best in the classical tradition, he has related his miniature art to the life of the ordinary man and the present times. “It was the necessity of the day to take miniature art out of the court and relate it to the man on the street,” he says, adding the innovations have neither altered formal shapes nor features of miniature elements.

The miniature artist would, however, like to go even more forward. “I want to modernise the miniature art form,” he says, adding he had chosen to come to India because of the thriving modern art movement in the country.

“I chose Patiala because of my family's close association with the former princely State,” he adds.

Speaking about the state of art in Pakistan, he says calligraphic art had dominated the art scene after the formation of the Pakistan, adversely affecting other art forms. He said figurative, modern and miniature art, however, got a breath of life during the regime of Benazir Bhutto and has prospered further in present times.

Speaking about his art, Mansoor says he is using bold colours and using innovations like decorated borders with vivid contrasts to arrest the attention of the viewers.

The artist says, besides this his art, he tries to imbibe the traditional values and project them in appropriate light. This for him is very important as it means change without changing the core of the tradition.

The artist is here with his wife, Razia, who says she is delighted to be back in her husband's former backyard.


Kidnapping case: records of various
gangs scrutinised
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 11
Even as the police has mounted pressure and scrutinised records of former “police cats”, inter-state gangs and rounded up some of them for questioning, the kidnappers of Prabir Singh (Guddu), a student of local DAV Public School, seem to have adopted the policy of “wait and watch”. The kidnappers are unlikely to approach the family for ransom in the next couple of days due to pressure from all sides.

A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, said the kidnappers would act or make demand for ransom only after the pressure was lessened. He said during the days of terrorism in the state, kidnapping cases were solved quickly and not publicised much. The much-publicised kidnappings and pressure normally makes kidnappers more demanding, he added.

The high-level meeting of police officials, presided over by Mr J.P. Birdi, Additional DGP (Crime), worked out strategies to secure the safe return of the boy. Mr Birdi said though the record of all gangs operating in Punjab had been scrutinised, the involvement of inter-state gang in the crime could not be ruled out. He said police teams had been asked to keep round-the-clock vigil on the state borders . He, however, confirmed that nobody had yet approached the family of Guddu for ransom. Mr Birdi said the police had not yet arrived at any conclusion about the actual intention of the kidnappers.

The police force is under pressure from the Chief Minister himself, who has been personally keeping track of the matter, he said.

Meanwhile, students of various schools took out a peace march on the fifth day on Court Road for the safe return of Prabir Singh.


Shocking facts about PSEB
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Electrifying facts about the functioning of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB): In 2004, the Board's internal vigilance wing recommended major penalty proceedings against 40 employees right from junior engineers to chief engineer. The allegations ranged from embezzling employee's provident fund to disconnecting power supply for harassing the consumers.

PSEB's Internal Vigilance wing has written to the board's Chairman asking him to act on the recommendations made against the erring employees. The wing has reportedly asserted that action was not being initiated against a large number of employees despite recommendations of penalty proceedings.

The sources in the PSEB revealed that inquiry proceedings in 24 cases were finalised in 2004. At least a dozen officers — against whom action has been recommended — were occupying the posts of executive engineers and above. In some of the cases, removal and initiation of disciplinary proceedings was recommended.

Besides major penalty proceedings, the registration of criminal cases against two employees — under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act — was also advocated.

The wing further suggested minor punishments in at least four cases, besides the transfer or removal of 12 employees from sensitive posts. At least three of the employees — to be transferred out — belonged to the Patiala circle.

A substantial number of the inquiries were conducted under the direct supervision of Punjab's Director-General of Police — in charge of PSEB's internal vigilance wing — Lalit Bhatia.

Giving details of the cases, the sources said the officers were accused of possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, besides demanding bribe for releasing illegal connections. In some cases the connections were released even though the facts had been misrepresented.

The sources added that the wing also unearthed cases where officers had furnished false date of birth certificates for gaining employment. This was not all. The government money was blocked after transformers were purchased by the officers concerned, even though they were not required. Several of the transformers were lying idle. They added that some of the purchases were made from a single source.

The sources further claimed that a labour scam and "HT motor" repair scam was also reported from Guru Gobind Thermal Plant at Ropar. Besides this another scam came to light in which bogus certificates were issued to the daily wagers in Phagwara.

Mr Bhatia, when contacted, said the PSEB Chairman had been asked to upload information about convictions, dismissals, besides the initiation of other action against the officers, on the Board's official website.


Congress leader Safdipur arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 11
The ongoing war of words between local Congress leader Balwinder Singh Safdipur and Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa has taken a new turn with the police today arresting Mr Safdipur when he visited his wife who is admitted to the Government Rajindra hospital.

Mr Safdipur had been arrested on a complaint by Bahadurgarh sarpanch Darshan Lal Sharma who has accused Mr Safdipur’s relative Mastan Singh of attacking him.

Mr Safdipur was included in the list of the accused following a report lodged in this regard by the police for being a part of the conspiracy which led to the attack.

The case was lodged by the sarpanch one day after the signboards of the welfare organisation being run by Mr Safdipur in Bahadurgarh were dismantled by the police.

Mr Safdipur was produced in a local court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The Congress leader, while talking to newsmen in the court, claimed that he had been arrested at the instance of Mr Randhawa.

Meanwhile, supporters of Mr Safdipur collected in front of the court complex and marched to the residence of Capt Amarinder Singh. There they handed over a memorandum claiming that their leader had been victimised because he was becoming popular due to welfare activities carried out by him in Ghanaur constituency.

Mr Safdipur had opened outlets for the distribution of free ration to the poor at 14 places in the state with the head office being at Bahadurgarh.

The outlets, which are called Guru Nanak Modikhanas, have been active since the past six months. Last month the police sprung into action to dismantle the signboards and other material of the Modikhana in Bahadurgarh.

Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa had claimed that he had asked the police to do so as Mr Safdipur was openly encroaching upon government land.

The Minister said he could not allow this to happen.


‘Little Terrorist’ makes it to Oscar nomination
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 11
With an Indian documentary film, “Little Terrorist,” written, directed and produced by Ashvin Kumar, making it to the Oscar nomination, Amritsar residents have double reason to feel happy.

They have witnessed terrorism and have high curiosity about the film. The other lesser known reason is that the young filmmaker who has only one other documentary to his credit “Road to Ladakh” which, too won rave reviews, is the maternal grandson of a reputed family of the city — the late Puran Chand Mehta and Lila Mehta. Ashvin is the son of Ms Ritu Kumar, one of India’s most gifted fashion designers. Ritu is also the costume designer of the film.

Interestingly, its reverberations are also being felt in neighbouring Pakistan and in war-torn Afghanistan. Pakistani, Mr Rashid Noor, a senior executive in a foreign relief organisation working for rehabilitation in Afghanistan says: “Anything Indian is of interest, more so when it is the Indian film that makes it to Oscars. Since it is a documentary it would be only available for home viewing.” Dr Heena Raza from Lahore says an Indian film especially an Oscar recognition will increase its popularity in Pakistan.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Rajiv Mehta and his wife Mrs Anila Mehta, maternal uncle and aunt of Ashvin, said they would be thrilled if Ashvin’s film won an Oscar given that it was shortlisted in the last six nominees.

The academy awards function would be held in Los Angeles in mid-February “Little Terrorist” nominated for best live action short film category at Oscars is based on a true-life story. The film is a moving saga of Pakistani Muslim boy, Jamal, who accidentally crosses the Indian-Pakistani border. He ends up in a strange country that regards him as a “terrorist”. An orthodox Hindu, Bhola, hides him from Indian soldiers. Humanity triumphs over prejudice when Bhola risks his own life to help Jamal cross the border again.

Infiltration theme is reason enough for the folks here to be curious about the film

In the past, only Satyajit Ray (lifetime achievement) and Bhanu Athiya (best costumes in “Gandhi”) have received the Oscar, while Mira Nair “Saalam Bombay”, Ashutosh Gowartikar “Laagan”, Mehboob Khan “Mother India” have been nominated to the Best Foreign Film Category and Vidhu Vinod Chopra for short film category. “Little Terrorist” with a new cast of Julfiqar Ali, Sushil Sharma, Meghnaa Mehta has won top honours at the Montreal World Film Festival, 2004, besides the most prestigious award at international fests in London, Bangkok, Manhattan and Teheran. 


Capt dares Badal to face trial
Pawan Kumar

Bagga Kalan, February 11
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today dared the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, to face trail in the court for his alleged “misrule”, rampant corruption and accumulating huge properties disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Addressing a rally in support of the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, here, near Ajnala, the Chief Minister said that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had already dismissed their plea and they had now gone to the Supreme Court to seek stay on the trial proceeding in the case against them. He cautioned that the law would take its own course and they would have to face trial once the apex court pronounced its verdict. The Chief Minister said that arguments were already over and hoped that the judgement would come any moment. He asked that if Mr Badal and his son were innocent, why they were evading trial.

Coming heavily on the Akali Dal chief, he said Mr Badal was misleading the people by saying that he had deliberately targeted Akali leaders in the corruption cases due to his (Captain’s) anti-panthic approach. He said how Mr Badal considers himself and his coterie as panth?

Criticising Mr Badal for his alleged dubious role, the Chief Minister alleged that he misled the innocent youth of Punjab to take up the path of militancy, thereby exploiting their religious sentiments. He held Mr Badal and his Akali Dal responsible for pushing the state in the black days of terrorism.

He said it was the duty of the government to conceive a blueprint of the planning process taking in account the future projections for the next 20 to 25 years. He said the Akalis had miserably failed in projecting the ever-increasing demand of power supply in the state and generating additional sources to overcome its shortage.

Capt Amarinder Singh held Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala responsible for the non-development of the region.

The Chief Minister addressed election rallies at Bhoiwali, Riar and Jagdev Khurd villages.


Complex built with people’s aid opened
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 11
It is a government building with a difference. Residents contributed about Rs 25 lakh to complete the construction work of the tehsil complex at Nihalsinghwala, which was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, today. The construction work of the complex came to a grinding halt in 2001 owing to the paucity of funds and that too when the state government had pumped in Rs 90 lakh into the Rs 1.25 crore project.

The complex stood incomplete from 2001 to 2004 when residents of the area decided to contribute whatever they could to build it. Sources said that the complex was in a shambles and it had set alarm bells ringing for people of the area who chipped in to save the complex.

Last year the then SDM of Nihalsinghwala, Mr Harcharan Singh Sandhu, formed a donors’ committee and appealed to trade organisations, NRIs and common people to donate with a open heart. Residents’ endeavour bore fruit and soon the double-storeyed complex, spread over 2.5 acres and having 30 rooms, a meeting hall, and spacious verandahs for people, was ready.

Inaugurating the complex, the Deputy Commissioner lauded people’s role in its completion and said had they not taken the initiative in time Rs 90 lakh spent by the government would have gone waste. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Neelkanth Ahvad, said that the complex would help area residents to get their government work done under one roof.

The SDM, Surinder Kaur, thanked the donors, while the Deputy Commissioner presented shawls to them. Prominent donors included Mr Karamjit Singh Saidoke, Mr Dashmesh and the Janta truck unions, Mr Jagdish Singh Deesha, Brick-Kiln and Sheller unions, and Mr Gurcharan Singh Brar Khote.

Earlier, the district administration officials participated in the bhog of an akhand path organised at the complex. A langar was also held on the occasion.


Special girdawri begins to assess loss
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Makha (Mansa), February 11
Mr P.K. Verma, Financial Commissioner, Development, Punjab, today said that officials of the state Agriculture Department would assist officials of the Revenue Department in carrying out the special girdawri, which was started today on the order of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. The girdawri has been ordered to assess the damage caused to different crops by hailstorms and heavy rains in Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar districts and other parts of Punjab recently.

Mr Verma, heads a high-level team constituted by the state government, to make an on-the-spot asessment of the loss suffered by thousands of farmers due to hailstorms recently.

Mr Verma and Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, also a member of the team, who along with other officials, today visited a number of villages, said the help of agriculture officials would be taken in the special girdawri to ensure that all affected farmers get suitable compensation.

Wheat, sarson, fodder and other crops in hundreds of villages of Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar districts were flattened after the region was hit by hailstorms accompanied by storng winds on February 9. Besides, hundreds of trees, electric poles and other structures were uprooted.


Talk delivered on healthcare
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 11
As part of the drive to bring the best in healthcare information to the people of the region, Dr G.S.Kalra, Director, Interventional Cardiology, and Dr Jaswant Rai, Director, Orthopaedics, at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, gave an informative talk on ‘preventing heart diseases’ and ‘joint problems in old age’, to ex-servicemen belonging to the district here at Punjab Mata Vidhyawati Bhavan.

Dr.Kalra, while speaking on his topic, said that the cardiac ailments could be prevented by altering lifestyle. He advised regular exercise and quitting smoking and 

Dr Rai, delivering a lecture on the causes of knee problems in elderly (osteo-arthritis), said that it was mainly a genetic factor. Besides, obesity and mis- use of knee ( playing or jogging on hard surface) were other main causes of the problem. At an early stage, it could be controlled by regular physiotherapy. At a late stage, replacement of knee was required.

Lt Col. Jernail Singh and Lt Col.Gurjit Singh, vice- president and District Sainik Welfare Officer of the District Sainik welfare Board, respectively, apprised the ex-servicemen of the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) launched by the government for providing better healthcare facilities to them.

By becoming members of the ECHS, they could avail of free medical care – consultation, diagnostic, in-door procedures etc. for any ailment at the ECHS empanelled hospitals, they said.


Rotaracts return with sweet memories
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
The eight members delegation of Rotracts (Young Rotarians) from Mumbai, which had gone to Lahore as goodwill ambassadors from India under international friendship exchange program, today returned with sweet memories from Pakistan through Wagah about 26 kilometres from here.

Overwhelmed by the love and affection showered by their Pakistani counterparts and the people, the delegation said that it their unique experience and was best tour to any country. They said that their all fears, which were in the delegation’s mind before leaving from Pakistan, had now disappeared. Mr Dharmendra Gangrade, leader of the delegation while talking to ‘The Tribune’ said that the initiative “Pahel- Friendship beyond boundaries” was a part of the efforts made by rotaracts in Mumbai to promote the friendship.


‘Withdraw false’ case against scribe
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, February 11
A section of the press reporters belonging to this town and working for different newspapers today urged the authorities to cancel the false case registered against Mr Lovely Goyal, press reporter, in Sangrur district after getting the matter investigated from an independent agency.

At a meeting of the press reporters, it was alleged that a false case was registered against Mr Goyal on flimsy grounds by the Sangrur police despite the fact that the same complainant had moved applications against Mr Goyal before Bathinda and Mansa district police athorities and could not get anything as his allegations were found false.

They said that they had requested the SSP, Sangrur, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, to make arrangements for a fair probe into the matter by keeping in view the background of the complainant, who had been moving application against Mr Goyal to settle personal scores with him and his family members.


Retired civic staff seek DA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
There is resentment against the Punjab Government among retired employees of municipal committees. The Municipal Corporation Pensioners Association, Punjab, said today that the local authorities concerned were not implementing the orders with regard to the payment of dearness allowance to retired employees.

The association said that orders were issued by the authorities concerned to pay dearness relief as sanctioned in July, 2003, to employees with effect from April, 2004. Later, an order was also issued to grant 3 per cent dearness allowance and merger of 50 per cent dearness relief in the basic provident fund from April 1 last year, besides the granting of the old-age allowance. But nothing had been done in this connection. Even pensions were not given on time.


Anti-social elements grab home for elderly
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
Mr Nachhattar Singh, who spent all the money he got after his retirement from the state government to set up a trust for running home for elderly in this town a few years ago, is running from pillar to post to get possession of the premises after the same was gabbed by unscrupulous elements a few days ago.

After getting an application in this connection, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, has ordered an inquiry into the matter. He had asked the SDM, Bathinda, Mr S.K. Singla, to conduct an inquiry and submit the report shortly.

In his application moved to Mr Sinha, Mr Nachhattar Singh, who gave one of the rooms of the elderly home for running a dispensary and library, alleged that some unscrupulous elements had grabbed the premises, located in Farid Nagar by breaking the locks.


Army celebrates Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
The 70 Armoured Regiment celebrated its 37th Raising Day and second reunion in the western sector today.

A large number of retired and serving officers gathered to celebrate the function. The regiment was raised on February 11, 1968. In just three years, the regiment fought the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and gave a glorious account of itself. In the Fazilka sector, the regiment drew its first blood when an enemy tank was destroyed by its missile detachment.


A correction

The news report “NABARD launches Kisan Club” carried in these columns yesterday should be read as “Rural bank launches Kisan Club”. The error is regretted.


Court asks PSEB to pay damages to 4 farmers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
A case which was filed against the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on May 25, 2004, in the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) by four local farmers, for the recovery of damages on account of the death of six buffaloes due to electrocution, has been solved in just 254 days.

According to Mr Jatinder Singh Gill, advocate, four farmers Mr Nath Singh, Mr Lachman Singh, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Baldev Singh of Shahpur Kalan village had filed cases on May 25, 2004, in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) for the recovery of damages on account of death of their buffaloes due to PSEB negligence. Mr Nath Singh and Mr Jaswant Singh had sought damages worth Rs 22,000 and Rs 13,000, respectively, on death of two buffaloes each, while Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Lachman Singh had sought damages worth Rs 16,000 and Rs 5,500, respectively, on death of one buffalo each. These cases had been filed against the PSEB through its Secretary; Subdivisional Engineer, PSEB, Cheema; and the Chief Electrical Inspector, PSEB, Patiala.

The plaintiffs said the buffalos died due to electrocution as an electricity pole had been installed by PSEB in the pond of Shahpur Kalan village.

On February 2 Ms Neelam Arora, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Sangrur, stated that the buffaloes died due to PSEB negligence. She passed decrees for the recovery of Rs 16,000, Rs 13,000 and Rs 5,500, in favour of Mr Baldev Singh, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Lachman Singh, respectively.


Dowry death case: bail plea of ex-Chief Engineer rejected
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr G.S. Saran, yesterday rejected the bail of a former Chief Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Mr Harjinder Singh Khurana, in a dowry death case. Mr Saran and his family members had been booked for allegedly strangulating his daughter-in-law Harneet Kaur (24) to death. However Gurpreet Singh, brother-in-law of the deceased and fourth accused in the case, was still absconding.

The police had arrested Kanwarpreet Singh, husband of Harneet Kaur. A case under Sections 304-B, 34, IPC, has been registered. Harneet kaur was married to Kanwarpreet singh only a year ago.

Dr Jaspal Singh, a resident of Shimla and father of the girl, had alleged that he got a call from the family around 3.00 am on January 4 that Harneet had fallen unconscious. Soon after he received another call informing that she had died. He claimed that Gurpreet Singh, who had returned from the USA, had gone into hiding after the incident.

Mr Punit Pal Singh, brother of the girl, alleged that she was being subjected to mental and physical torture for bringing insufficient dowry.

Police sources claimed that there were marks of strangulation on the victim’s body.


A replacement for diesel
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 11
Bio-diesel (plant oils converted to their esters) can be a very good alternative of diesel as a fuel. It is a renewal fuel and can reduce the dependence on diesel. This will save large amount of foreign exchange as the petroleum product’s import bill has already crossed Rs 80,000 crore. It will also help in employment generation and poverty alleviation.

According to Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, a good amount of research on conversion of plant oils to bio-diesel and use of bio-diesel as a substitute fuel in diesel engines has been done in the College of Agricultural Engineering in the School of Energy Studies. In the beginning edible oils were used to produce bio-diesel but India cannot afford to spare edible oils for this purpose. So the emphasis was shifted towards production of bio-diesel from non-edible oils.

The Vice-Chancellor says that although work has been done on a number of non-edible oils, yet jatropha cureas plant seems to be a very good alternative. Jatropha cureas oil has some toxic chemical element and as such is non-edible. It is well adapted to arid and semi-arid conditions.

According to Dr J.P. Gupta of the School of Energy who has been working on this project, it has been found that jatropha bio-diesel has very good fuel properties and can be successfully used as a substitute for diesel fuel. A tractor has been run on jatropha cureas for more than 500 hours for carrying out farm operations.

At present jatropha cureas oilseed is available at about Rs 5 to Rs 6 per kg in some states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Jatropha cureas oil costs about Rs 15 to Rs 18 per kg. It is estimated that cost of oil extraction and oil to bio-diesel conversion on a commercial scale may come to Rs 20 to Rs 22 per litre.


Brothers suspect in-laws for man’s murder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 11
The decomposed body of a man, recovered from an isolated building in the fields on the Badala road yesterday, was today sent to Medical College, Patiala, for postmortem.

The police has identified the deceased as Ajaib Singh, resident of Mirzapur village in Patiala district. The police is working on the theory that the man was murdered and his body dumped at the isolated place.

The body was noticed by some children who later told their parents. The matter was brought to the notice of Mr Sardara Singh, who runs a saw unit in the area. He informed the police.

Ajaib Singh had come to meet his in-laws here about a week ago but did not return. Later his brother, Mr Gurdeep Singh, came to look for him on February 2 but Ajaib Singh in-laws told him that he had not come to Kharar. Some dispute had allegedly been going on between Ajaib Singh and his wife.

The brothers of the deceased suspect some foul play in the death and have written to the SSP, Ropar, to register a case against the in-laws of Ajaib Singh and not against unidentified persons as had been done by the police yesterday. A case had been registered under Section 302 of the IPC. 


Rs 9 lakh stolen from commission agent’s shop
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 11
In a daring act, miscreants took away a safe vault weighing 2.5 quintals with more than Rs 9 lakh after breaking open the entrance door of a commission agent’s shop in the old grain market here.

Locks along with the grill of the main gate at commission agent’s shop, S.K. Enterprises, were found broken when sanitation worker Vicky arrived early in the morning today. Later, the shop-owner found that the safe vault was missing. He claimed to have left more than Rs 9 lakh in it while leaving the shop last night.

Another theft was committed by drilling a hole in the roof of a medical store near the clock tower. More than Rs 59,000 and medicines costing about Rs 21,000 were reported missing from the store.

Miscreants also targeted three shops on the first floor of two buildings inside the old grain market. A clinic on the South Circular Road and a kiryana shop on the Old Fazilka road, too, were targeted by thieves.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Commission Agents Association, led by president Mr Anil Nagori, met DSP Narenderpal Singh this evening to express resentment over the incidents of theft.


Finance firm’s partners booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 11
The police has registered a fraud case against the partners of a finance company for duping investors of crores of rupees.

The complainant, Gurpiar Singh, had alleged that the partners of JSB Finance Company misled people into investing in their company by luring them with handsome interest. He alleged that the company had falsely claimed to be recognized by the Reserve Bank of India.

He alleged that Joginder Singh Brar, a partner in the firm, persuaded him to invest Rs 11 lakh in his firm and promised him more interest as compared to banks. Mr Brar is also the standing counsel of the Union Government at Faridkot. He further alleged that a couple of months ago four partners of the company said its managing director had fled away with the investors’ money. Later, they recovered dues from the company’s borrowers and misappropriated the same, he alleged. These partners have been identified as Joginder Singh Brar, BKU leader Jaswant Singh Samag, Puran Singh Sarawan, and Swaran Singh.

It was also alleged that these partners of the company first misled the people into investing their hard-earned money in their firm, then encouraged the firm’s MD, Makhan Singh Sarawan, to run away with their money, and finally embezzled the dues recovered from the borrowers. Sources said that people from nearby areas had invested lakhs of rupees in the company, as it had earned a good reputation in its many years of its operation in the city.

A few days ago, the firm’s MD had reportedly fled away with Rs 25 crore of the investors.

The police has booked the firm’s partners under Sections 420, 468, 471 and 120B of the IPC.


732 students get degrees
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
As many as 404 postgraduate and 328 graduate students of DAV College were awarded degrees at a convocation held here today.

Prior to the convocation, Mr A.R. Kohli, Governor of Mizoram, and his son, Nalin Kohli, interacted with the students of MBA and MCA of different colleges. The father-son duo answered various questions pertaining to the scope in different working sectors. They told the students that lot many new job opportunities were available for them now-a-days and they must keep their eyes and ears open.

Mr Kohli told the students that after receiving their degrees they were entering a new era of their life where they would not look for the support of their parents and their teachers as they had been doing till they were students. He told them that the job of the parents and the teachers was over and it was now their own responsibility to look for job avenues or exercise their entrepreneurial skills.

On the occasion, two staff members who had undergone faculty improvement programmes to achieve a higher degree were also honoured. The two teachers were Dr Ashwini K. Sharma, who did his PhD in political science from Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr Narinder Kumar, who has been awarded a doctoral degree for his work on the novels of Shobha De.


College teachers proceed on mass leave
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
A protest rally by teachers of colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University under the banner of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union was held here in front of the District Courts today.

The rally was addressed by Dr Jagwant Singh, union general secretary, Prof RS Brar, besides Dr Kuljit Kaur, convener of the women’s wing, and others. The teachers made an appeal to the Chief Minister to intervene and ensure acceptance of their demands.


DC cautions principals against poor results
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
Exhorting them to fix targets for good, Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta, yesterday said headmasters of government schools who failed to show up good results during the current academic session would have to face strict action.

“Every school must fix targets with not less than 50 per cent definite increase in results as compared to previous year,” said Mr Gupta.

He said targets fixed by the district administration for government schools had resulted in improvement of results by 9.82 per cent for metric and 5.85 per cent for class XII in 2004, adding that a significant number of students passed the examinations simply by fixing targets beforehand.

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