P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VB seeks amendment to CrPC
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
In an effort to get more teeth in controlling its own employees indulging in corruption, the Punjab Government has sought the intervention of the Central Government to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The amendment has been necessitated as the Punjab Vigilance Bureau has no powers to arrest or book any employee of the state government posted at Chandigarh.

Due to territorial jurisdiction, the area of the state capital, the Punjab Civil Secretariat, the Mini Secretariat and hundreds of offices of Punjab come under the Chandigarh Administration.

Thousands of employees of Punjab are posted at Chandigarh. However, due to this technical glitch, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau cannot take action against Punjab employees.

Sources in the government confirmed that the Punjab Law Commission was examining the matter.

The Vigilance Bureau had taken up the matter saying that hundreds of sensitive files were dealt with in Chandigarh, thus the control to keep a check should be with them and not the vigilance wing of the Chandigarh Administration.

The Punjab Government has sought insertion of a clause in Section 181 of the CrPC that will allow the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab to book people under cases relating to the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The state government wants that the territorial jurisdiction of the Ropar courts should be applicable to its employees serving at Chandigarh.

Currently, the jurisdiction of Chandigarh courts applies, which means the employees are out of the ambit of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Interestingly, to bolster its case, the state government had asked the Chandigarh Administration if any case had been registered against any Punjab employee in the past 10 years.

In November, the Chandigarh Administration in its reply stated that no Punjab employee had been arrested by them during the past 10 years and no case had been registered.

On December 1, the Chandigarh Administration’s Vigilance Wing arrested a Punjab employee from the Punjab Civil Secretariat, creating a furore in the official circles. Senior IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj had asked the Chief Secretary to look into the matter.

Sources in the Home Department, Punjab, said the anomaly would be sorted out as it could lead to an embarrassing situation later.


Tribune Impact
PHRC orders police probe into dowry case
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Coming to the aid of a girl, here allegedly cheated by a youth who was engaged to her but refused to marry as her family was not able to meet to his demand for dowry, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, (PHRC) has directed the SSP, Ludhiana to look into the case.

Following a complaint from Mr K.B.S. Sodhi, a retired professor, the PHRC took up his daughter’s case and directed the police to investigate it.

Her plight was highlighted in these columns a few days ago.

Mr Sodhi had complained to the police here also demanding action against six persons including youth Manjeet Singh. The police, however, did not register any case.

Mr Sodhi had alleged engagement ceremony of his daughter with Manjeet Singh was organised on April 9 in a hotel here and the marriage was fixed for November 13, 2005. But it could not be solemnised as the groom’s family started demanding Skoda car, Rs 5 lakh in cash besides asking to organise the ceremony in a five-star hotel and serving foreign liquor to guests.

The complainant told The Tribune that after directions of the PHRC, the Ludhiana police expedited investigations and visited his house today to record statements.

He demanded a case of dowry, fraud and damage to the reputation of his family be registered besides seizure of passports of some NRI co-accused so that they could not leave the country.

Meanwhile accused youth, Manjeet Singh told The Tribune that the alliance was broken as the family had kept him in the dark regarding the age of the girl. He added after the engagement he came to know that the girl was elder to him.

However, Mr Sodhi refuted his claims stating that he had clarified to Mr Manjeet Singh about the girl’s age before the engagement. “He had agree to the alliance and said that he had no problem with her being older to him.”


Elahi figures in Punjab calendar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today released the State Government’s calendar for the New Year-2006. It has a beautiful photograph of the Golden Temple on its first sheet. Besides, there is also a photograph of the historic Katasraj Temple in Chakkwal district of Pakistan in the calendar.

Interestingly, in a six-sheet calendar, the Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab, Mr Pervaiz Elahi, figures in two pictures. It is perhaps the first time in the history of Indian Punjab that its official calendar carries the picture of the Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab.

In one picture in the calendar, Mr Elahi is standing alongside Capt Amarinder Singh at Katasraj Temple complex. The other picture in which Mr Elahi figures is regarding the handing over a part of golden palki to the management of Gurdwara Sri Jananasthan of Sri Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib. The former President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, is also seen in this picture. Mr Elahi is a close friend of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Elahi also figures in a single sheet calendar of the State Government meant for hanging in government offices.

It has been published on glazed paper. Almost all senior Ministers and officers of the Punjab Public Relations Department and the Punjab Printing and Stationery Department were present at the time of the releasing of the calendar.


Rice millers launch stir against corrupt FCI officials
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 27
A major section of rice mill owners of this district today launched a campaign against corrupt Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials.

Another section of millers of Ferozepore district have approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court through a writ petition seeking directions for FCI officials to accept rice from them in the levy quota scheme. They have alleged that a section of FCI officials had been ignoring the quality of rice and considering only the bribe money as main criterion for the acceptance of rice.

What has been main concern for the authorities concerned is the fact that due to alleged highhandedness of the FCI officials, the milling of paddy is getting delayed. The FCI authorities have been finding it difficult to meet the demand of rice being raised by the rice consuming states due to the fact that Punjab rice millers are not able to supply rice to it adequately daily.

The rice millers of Patiala staged a dharna in front of the FCI godown situated at Rauni village of district. The rice millers, while taking a pledge that they would not bribe any official of the FCI for facilitating the acceptance of their rice stock, announced that they would fight to any extent to get back the money which they had been forced to pay the FCI officials as bribe last year.

Not only this, the millers also announced that they would meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh shortly and urge him to institute an inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau into the huge assets acquired by the FCI officials.

They also made the names of five officials of the FCI, who were demanding bribe, public and said they were ready to submit affidavits in support of their allegations to the authorities concerned.

A cross section of rice millers to whom The Tribune talked to pointed out that FCI officials had been taking bribe ranging from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per 500 bags despite they had been supplying best quality rice meeting all the specifications laid down by the FCI.

They alleged that officials were accepting poor quality rice from an influential miller. He had earned crores of rupees within the past six or seven years by cheating the FCI in connivance with its officials. The millers have demanded a probe by the CBI into this case too.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the FCI authorities had not been accepting rice from around 80 rice mill owners of Jalalabad, Tapa, Nihalsinghwala, Bareta, Maur and Bagapurana. These rice millers had been asked to replace the stock of poor quality rice supplied by them to the FCI last year first and then start supplying the fresh rice under the levy quota scheme.

Mr T.C. Gupta, Senior Regional Manager (SRM), FCI, Punjab and Haryana, who toured a section of rice acceptance centres in this district today, said the rice millers were staging dharna to put pressure on its officials for making them accept their poor quality rice.

They were supplying rice with moisture contents more than prescribed limits.

He said whenever he would receive complaint against any FCI official, an inquiry would be conducted into the same.

Out of 22 lakh MT of rice procured from the millers of Punjab by the FCI this year, about 12 lakh MT of rice has been sent to rice consuming states and it has been accepted by them without any complaints, he added.


Contractors flout tree-felling rules with impunity
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 27
Felling rules have been flouted in the areas opened for felling of trees with impunity.

As per the felling rules of the Department of Forest no tree having a girth of below 61 cm can be felled. However, when The Tribune team visited the areas opened for felling in the Donera range, under the Pathankot forest division, and the Mehengrowal range of Hoshiarpur district, many ‘khair’ (acacia variety tree from which katha is extracted) trees having girth below 61 cm were found to be marked for felling.

Many trees having girth of just 43 to 52 cm were found to be marked for felling in gross violation of the rules. The felling rules also state that any tree standing alone on the steep slope of mountains cannot be felled.

The basic criterion for marking trees for felling is that it should not open the canopy in the forest. Besides, no tree falling within a distance of 30 feet from the natural drain or rivulet can be felled. The rules have been implemented to prevent soil erosion.

In both the ranges all these rules are being flouted with impunity. The Bal Sudal village area in the Donera range has been opened for felling. Many trees marked for felling in the area are on steep slopes. Tree standing on the banks of natural drains have also been marked.

In the Mehangrowal range many solitary khair trees, which stands on steep slopes, have been marked.

Generally, only forest officials are authorised to mark the trees for felling. However, in both ranges the employees of the forest contractors were engaged in marking the trees for felling.

Khair trees have high market value.

Sources said usually farmers were to be issued permits for felling the trees. However, the way the contractors were marking the trees it seemed they had selected the trees for felling, even before the farmers had been issued the permits.

A number of complaints have been received by farmers from these ranges in which they have alleged that they have not been paid adequately by the contractors for their trees. The poor farmers are generally paid Rs 700 to Rs 800 per tree whereas the contractor or middlemen earn over Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per tree.

Around 5,000 trees have been marked for felling in the Donera range this year while an equal number would be felled in the Mehengrowal range.

The forest officials, including the Conservator, Mr Jarnail Singh, and the DFO, Pathankot range, Mr Sahota, said no rule prohibited felling on slopes. The only criterion was that canopy should not be open. They also said they would check if some undersized trees had been marked for felling.

Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa and Mr Gunraj Singh, former wildlife wardens, told The Tribune that the way trees were being allowed to be felled, there would be no tree left in the forests in coming decades. They claimed that it would mean an environmental catastrophe for the state.

Already only the lantana weed was dominating the forest. The department talked of canopy in forests whereas the fact was that already only sparse trees were left that couldn’t be felled under the existing forest rules.

They alleged that many forest contractors had grown rich over the past few years.


Survey not financed by govt, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
The recent ORG-MARG-sponsored opinion poll survey that gave the Congress the edge over the Shiromani Akali Dal in terms of popularity was not financed by the Punjab Government, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today. The survey was carried out at the instance of the ruling party.

“It was a party survey and this is for the first time that a comprehensive survey has been done politically,” he said while addressing a press conference here after chairing a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

In fact, the party had asked for a survey covering other areas also like agriculture to know its performance, which would be carried out next summer, he added. He said the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s unnecessary criticism of the survey and his outcry on the Chief Minister’s Dubai visit indicated “sheer desperation” on the part of the Akali leader after the successful Congress rally at Lambi.

“We have prepared a book on the performance of the previous Akali government and the present government which will give an insight into their working,” he said, adding it was for the people to decide whether the government had done any work for them.

The Chief Minister said his visit to Dubai was to acquaint himself with the EMAAR Group, which had planned to make a large investment in Punjab. Under an MOU, the group planned to make FDI of Rs 9,000 crore in India. Out of this, it proposed to invest Rs 5,000 crore in Punjab and the rest of the amount in Hyderabad and Jaipur.

It would be constructing multi-storeyed buildings in Punjab, a ring road in Ludhiana and a sports centre at Mohali, he said. Capt Amarinder Singh said the investment by EMAAR would be a benchmark for other projects to come up in the state.

He said Reliance had launched a fruit and vegetable project in Punjab and hopefully it would commence operations in six months. “They are setting up retail outlets in the country and Punjab is going to be the supplier. Nearly 125 persons have been recruited by the company for the job”.

Capt Amarinder Singh said a leading company of Abu Dhabi was interested in setting up a 2,000 MW hydropower generation plant. Punjab would be using the hydro resources in Himachal Pradesh or Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of India had allowed the setting up of a hydro project by paying some royalty to the state where the project was located.

The Chief Minister said the recruitment of 12,000 school teachers would be taken up at the next Cabinet meeting. Their employment would be on a regular basis.

The Council of Ministers also approved to transfer possession of 12 acres and 12 marlas of government land to the Punjab Public School, Nabha, for the construction of a girls’ hostel, a separate playing field for girls and the expansion of the sports facilities.


‘Jugalbandi’ wins hearts of people
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 27
In a rare musical extravaganza, Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan, son of legendary artiste Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, presented a programme along with tabla maestro Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari Khan after almost a decade during a charity show organised by the Community Police Resource Centre (CPRC), Bathinda, at the Pukhraj Theatre here last night.

Hailing from Lahore, Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan was the main exponent of Sham Chaurasi Gharana today, while Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari Khan had a rare chance of performing with Ustad Salamat Ali Khan in his childhood. Both these great artistes met after long on the occasion and enthralled the audiences with their delightful performance.

The show, whose proceeds will go to District Red Cross Society, began with Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari Khan playing 'rupak' taal in different permutations and combinations. It was followed by 'kairva' in Punjabi style and a tabla performance in African style, which drew appreciation from one and all. Prof Amar Singh from London accompanied him on harmonium.

Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan made his entry with chhota khayal of 'raag kalavati', followed by 'pahari thumri' and 'raag mad-kalyan', which is specialty of Sham Chaurasi Gharana.

He urged Tari for accompaniment on 'raag mad-kalyan' and their 'jugalbandi' was the high point of the programme. He then presented 'tarana' in 'raag sool-fakta'. The show was sponsored by the Pukhraj Theatre and the State Bank of Patiala.

Earlier, local artistes Hari Kishan Sharma, Magar Ali and Anmolpreet also presented their items prior to the arrival of Pakistani artistes.


FLASHBACK 2005: Dominant issues
Economy, unemployment, corruption in focus
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
The foremost issue in Punjab at present is its economy. What new direction should be given to the economy, is an issue which has been persistently debated in government and private circles.

Punjab’s is a predominantly agricultural economy. But the state’s populace cannot sustain it any more. This economy is creating neither surplus wealth for investment elsewhere nor generating fresh employment. In fact, for most of the populace in the countryside, it involves loss-making activities. Because of the failing agricultural economy, the crisis on the farm front is deepening rapidly. Suicide by farmers is the main consequence.

Diversification in the agricultural sector has been presented as a solution by a section of the agri-economists. An equally strong section has opposed the plan. The state government has been focusing on diversification. On its directions, various government agencies are working to bring about a perceptible change in the traditional cropping pattern of wheat and paddy. However, there has been no significant progress on this front so far. Of course, diversification has begun, but it is just at the experimental stage. So, a way out still eludes all concerned while the crisis worsens.

Unemployment is another big issue. The ruling party has not realised that unemployment has assumed dimensions that will devastate the state some day. There is no scope for further employment in the agricultural sector, which has become highly mechanised. Successive governments in the state have been focusing on promoting industry which has not been attracting Punjabi youth jobwise.

Industry that has been set up only attracts illiterate or unskilled cheap labour. The growth of white colour jobs in Punjab is below 1 per cent. The government and Opposition parties talk a lot about unemployment but they have not done much to solve the problem.

The collapsing government school system in the countryside is another issue that has been drawing the attention of people and the government. The government has neither come out with a new model of school education nor mustered the courage to reform or set right the existing one. Even fresh recruitment of teachers in government schools has been repeatedly postponed. A decisive approach on the part of the government is the need of the hour.

Corruption also continues to be a matter of serious concern. It has not diminished in any government department. The latest survey got conducted by the ruling party in Punjab has revealed that in the matter of corruption the Police Department heads the list. The survey also revealed that the Health Department was among the most corrupt departments.

There is a vast section of the official machinery which seems to have become habitually corrupt. To this section, the Vigilance Bureau no more matters. The Amarinder Singh government, at the initial stage of its rule, tried to check political corruption. But that drive has almost fizzled out because it only focused on political opponents. Capt Amarinder Singh’s stock would have gone up among the public if he had shown the mirror to those against whom allegations of corruption were levelled by his own part men.

Punjab is lagging behind while other states, which were lesser known in terms of progress a few years ago, have stolen a march over it in various ways. How it can restore its primacy in the country is the biggest issue of all.


CM ignoring Gurdaspur, other areas: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has opposed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s approach of focusing only on the development of Mohali and Patiala.

Mr Mann said today that Capt Amarinder Singh was fascinated by Mohali and Patiala and was concentrating on their development while ignoring other areas. Areas such as Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Hoshiarpur should also be given due thought by Capt Amarinder Singh while deciding about new projects.

The proposed law university should be set up in Gurdaspur. Likewise, the defence university should be set up at Anandpur Sahib. There was no logic in setting up the defence university at Old Moti Bagh, Patiala, where the National Institute of Sports (NIS) was housed. The NIS was the only institute of its kind and it should continue to function at Patiala.

He said while on the one hand Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to see the NIS closed on the other hand he was keen on setting up a world-class sports centre at Mohali. He objected to the naming of the centre after Rajiv Gandhi.

Mr Mann alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was concentrating on Mohali and adjoining areas as IAS and IPS officers and other influential persons who had bought land in these areas at low prices were now selling it at very high rates.

Mr Mann said the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal had failed to discharge its duty as an Opposition party in Punjab. It was not raising its voice on issues of public interest and not opposing Capt Amarinder Singh on policy issues.

He said Mr Badal should tell the people how many issues were raised by his party MPs in Parliament during its recently concluded session.


Probe sought into misuse of SGPC fund
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 27
The expenditure borne on bhog ceremony of the mother of an Akali leader and former member, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, allegedly under the SGPC’s account, came under criticism from Sikh leaders.

While the leaders raised eyebrows over the SGPC’s accounts being manipulated to fund personal occasions. The fact was highlighted by SGPC members from Valtoha Jagjit Singh Bhuller and Master Shinghara Singh, who called for a probe.

In letters to SGPC president Avtar Singh and chairman of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) Kashmir Singh Patti, they stated that it was strange that SGPC employees were performing duties at the ceremony. They called for the probe into the expenditure and the misuse of “golak” money to fund private occasions.

Urging the SGJC to take suo motu notice of the alleged “aberration”, the SGPC members alleged that the violation was glaring.

They pointed out that the occasion was entirely a personal matter and to use funds of “guru ghar” was condemnable. Apart from this utensils and dry ration too was provided from gurdwara stocks.

They stated that according to Sikh traditions, the death of an elder elicited the house members to give offerings and charity. Mr Valtoha could not be contacted for comments.


Assault case: PSEB engineers threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 27
The PSEB Engineers Association, Ropar, today threatened to launch an agitation if the police did not take action against contractors’ employees who had assaulted and manhandled a senior engineer in the thermal plant. After an emergency meeting, the regional secretary of the association, Mr Inderjit Singh, said despite the fact that a report about the entire incident had been lodged with the police, no action was taken in the matter so far. The inaction of police has demoralised the engineers, he added.

Giving details, he said workers had targeted the senior engineer as he had made efforts to remove illegal huts constructed in the thermal plants.

Meanwhile, the Contractor Workers Union president, R.K. Tiwari said that the allegation levelled against the workers was false. The employees have not been paid their salaries for a month. All the workers had gone to meet the officials to get their salaries released. He said he had also submitted a complaint to the SSP, Ropar, to register a case against officials who misbehaved with the workers.

The SHO of police station, Sadar, Mr Varinder Singh, when contacted said a complaint lodged by the engineers against the workers did not mention any name. But the police was working on the complaint to find the truth, he added.


Pulse polio case: baby’s body sent for post-mortem
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 27
A case of 28-day-old baby of Amrali village suspected to have died due to an over dose of pulse polio drops came to light here today. The body of the baby girl was sent to a laboratory in Patiala to find out the cause of her death by the authorities of the Civil Hospital, Ropar.

The incident came to light when acting on a complaint of the parents that the girl had died following an over dose of pulse polio drops, her body was dug out from the burial ground by the police and brought to the Civil Hospital, here, for a post-mortem examination was conducted on her in Patiala.

The deceased’s parents, Deep Singh and Raj Kaur, alleged that their girl was not well when a team of doctors came to their village as a part of door-to-door campaign to administer pulse polio drops to children. But on December 12, despite the fact that we had informed the team about the condition of the baby, she was administered the drops. As a result she died later in the night. They also alleged that the police did not take action on time. Therefore, they have buried the girl on December 13.

When contacted the Civil Surgeon, Ropar, Mr Y.P Singla, said the girl could not have died due to an over dose of pulse polio drops, there could be some other reason for her death. We have sent the body to the laboratory in Patiala for the study. The ASI, Dalip Singh, posted at the police post, Lutheri, said the FIR in the case would be registered after the final report of the post-mortem was out.


Stranded children reunited with father
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 27
Members of the Nar Seva Narayan Seva Society today reunited the stranded children with their father after a night-long exercise.

Vikal (10) and his sister Chanchal (7) were caught travelling without ticket by a ticket checker in Sriganganagar on the Ambala Intercity Express train last evening.

He handed them over to the railway police here. Both said they had left Saras village near Mathura, three days back. Vikal alleged that they had decided to run away as their father tortured them after consuming liquor.

The police requested volunteers of the Nar Seva Narayan Seva Society to locate their parents and take care till then.

The society contacted the control room in the office of the SSP Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and sought help.

The Uttar Pradesh police late night said the grandparents of the children resided in Saras village and their father Mr Chauv Singh was posted in the cantonment at Sadhuwali village near Sriganganagar.

Volunteers of the NGO then contacted Army officials at Sadhuwali. Mr Chauv Singh accompanied by some senior officers reached here and identified the children.

He refuted the allegations levelled by his son and promised to behave better in future. Mr Chauv Singh thanked the NGO workers.


83 posts of law officer okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
The Punjab Council of Ministers today gave approval to 83 posts of law officer in the office of the Advocate-General (AG). The number of law officers in the AG’s office has now come down from 108 to 83. Official sources said the 83 posts had been approved from July.


2 units making synthetic milk unearthed
Chander Parkash and Ravi Dhaliwal

Shutrana (Patiala), December 27
The district Health authorities and the police here unearthed two factories at Shutrana town allegedly involved in the manufacture of synthetic milk and supplying it to consumers of Punjab and Haryana.

Both factories are run in houses by two persons of this town bordering Haryana. The accused has been identified as Gurbaz Singh and Dalbir Singh alias Bobby. Dalbir Singh has been in this illegal business for the past seven years. Gurbaz Singh came into it a year ago. The factories were unearthed late last evening.

Dalbir Singh and Gurbaz Singh have been booked and were absconding since last evening. They used various chemicals, surf powder and urea, refined oil, glucose powder wastage of processed milk and other things to manufacture synthetic milk. Synthetic milk was used to be supplied to milk collection centre in nearby town Ghagga.

Dr V.S. Mohi, Civil Surgeon, Patiala, said a raid by officials of the Health Department and the police was made after a tip-off from the field staff. Five houses were raided where the milk was being manufactured.

The team recovered two drums of a chemical used in manufacturing. The drums have been handed over to the police for chemical analysis.

Sources in the town said the milk produced was being transported to parts of Haryana as those involved in the sale of the milk, had been selling 500 litres to 1000 litres of milk every.

The Health authorities have brought under scanner a soap factory, which was also producing paneer (a milk derivative).

The station house officer (SHO), of the local police station, said while a case had been registered against two persons, samples of other three persons involved in the manufacture of the milk and milk products, had been taken and would be sent to laboratory for chemical examinations. 


SAD leader arrested for possessing opium
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 27
The police today arrested the circle president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhmandar Singh Mumara, for reportedly possessing opium, “lahan” and equipment for distilling country liquor.

According to police sources, DSP (D) Bakshish Singh received a tip-off that the SAD leader was involved in selling opium from his residence at Mumara village.

The DSP, along with a police party, raided his home and foiled his bid to escape. The police seized 3.02 kg of opium, 240 kg of “lahan” and equipment used to distill country-made liquor. He had stored “lahan” in tanks and drums.

A case has been registered against him under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act and 18/61/85 of the NDPS Act at Sadik police station. However, the police failed to take him on remand.


Pak diplomat booked in accident case
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, December 27
After initial hiccups, the Majitha police today registered a criminal case against Counsellor of the Pakistan High Commission Mohammad Syrus Qazi on charges of crushing a woman to death in a road accident near border town Gharinda, near here, on December 10 .

The case against the Pakistani diplomat has been registered on the basis of legal opinion of Distract Attorney S.S. Aulakh under Sections 304A, 279, 337, 338 at police station Lopoke, falling under Majitha police district.

Since diplomats enjoy certain immunities and cannot be tried in courts of other countries, the Majitha police will write to the Pakistan Embassy through Central Government. Mr Kewal Krishan, S.P. (Headquarters) said it took a long time to register an FIR since the case pertained to a diplomat.

Though the car of the diplomat was detained, he and his family members were let off and allowed to cross over to Pakistan.


SGPC gives nod to registration of theft case
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 27
Mr Avtar Singh, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), today gave his nod to registration of a case of theft of Rs 2.78 lakh from the cash collection centre inside Guru Nanak Nivas in the Golden Temple complex here last evening.

After getting the nod, the Kotwali police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380, IPC, on the statement of Mr Ajaib Singh, manager of the Golden Temple.

According to highly placed sources in the SGPC, the crime was committed with the connivance of some SGPC employees.

It is pertinent to mention here that unidentified persons broke into the collection centre by twisting the steel frames of the door. The SGPC had detained two of its employees, Inderjit Singh and Jasbir Singh, on suspicion. The two were later handed over to the city police for questioning.


Child’s murder: accused held
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 27
The police today arrested Rajinder Singh on the charge of murdering an 18-day-old girl child by throwing her into a well at Baroli village, near here.

It is reported that the child died soon after the incident. The child was allegedly handed over to Rajinder Singh by the mother, Paramjit Kaur, for throwing her into the well. The body of the girl was recovered from the well after some persons of the area saw a shawl floating on the water. It is alleged that Paramjit Kaur had illicit relations with Rajinder Singh, her brother-in-law.

Paramjit Kaur was arrested by the police earlier and was remanded in police custody for two days by a court here yesterday. The husband of Paramjit Kaur, Mr Inderjit Singh, has alleged that his father-in-law was threatening him and asking him to get Paramjit Kaur out of the case. Mr Inderjit Singh had got married to Paramjit Kaur in April this year.


Seven LPG cylinders seized

Kharar, December 27
Seven LPG cylinders were seized by officials of the Department of Food and Supplies during raids conducted here today on eating joints to check the misuse of cylinders supplied for domestic use.

The shopkeepers violating the norms were given a warning that appropriate action would be taken against them if they indulged in violations again.

The team conducting the raid was headed by Mr R.K. Maan, Assistant Food and Supplies Officer, which included three Inspectors. — OC


PMET paper leak hit credibility
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 27
The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) will not like to remember 2005, as its credibility plunged to an all-time low following the PMET paper leak in the middle of the year. While the university has often been in the news for wrong reasons, the paper leak came as a nightmare for PMET aspirants who underwent three-month trauma before counselling for medical colleges began.

The university suffered a jolt in March when the registrar Dr A.S. Sekhon, became the fifth registrar to put in his papers within seven years of its inception after the alleged allocation of substantial part of his powers to junior university officials. Contradictions and printing mistakes in its PMET prospectus created chaos among the applicants in May, but the worst was yet to come. On June 6 the leak of PMET paper rocked the university, as it blew the lid off a multi-crore scandal relating to admissions in state’s medical colleges.

Within 24 hours of The Tribune exposing the leak of 88 questions of PMET then Vice-Chancellor Dr J.S. Gujral announced the cancellation of entrance exam. It was probably the first time in the state when an entrance exam was cancelled. Interestingly, many CBSE Class XII toppers failed to make it to PMET and their parents attributed their failure to a “paper leak racket running in the state for the past few years”. While the VC ordered a high-level probe into the leakage, the state government asked the Secretary, Medical Education, to investigate the matter.

A couple of days later the CM issued an order scrapping PMET held by the BFUHS and asked the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar to conduct fresh examination. On June 9, retired High Court Judge Justice J.S. Sekhon, who was asked by the university to probe the leak, dissociated himself from the investigation reportedly in wake of the CM handing over its enquiry to the Vigilance Bureau.

Within a week of paper leak a special investigating team (SIT) of the Faridkot police got a major breakthrough with the arrest of the driver and the peon of Dr Gujral, besides a binder working in the university. A day later four persons were arrested for purchasing PMET paper. Under stress after the paper leak, Dr Gujral suffered a heart attack on June 13 and was admitted to Fortis Hospital in Mohali.

Taking over the investigations, the Vigilance Bureau arrested university superintendent S.P. Kapur on June 17 for his involvement in the case. The Vigilance Bureau also raided the office and Faridkot residence of Dr Gujral and seized a laptop computer and three CPUs.

On the other hand, PMET aspirants’ woes didn’t come to an end despite the Guru Nanak Dev University holding re-examination on June 30, as Saumil Garg and 36 other candidates moved the high court. On July 18 the high court restrained Baba Farid University from holding counselling of PMET till final disposal of the writ challenging the result. Finally, the result was declared on August 30 following the revaluation of the previous result on the guidelines provided by the Supreme Court.

The selected candidates still could not heave a sigh of relief, as during their counselling they came face-to-face with yet another thorny issue of disparity in fee of medical and dental colleges. They had a tough time paying fee at the DMC, Ludhiana, and Guru Ram Das Medical College, Amritsar, as both these institutions had pegged their fee over three times more then what was specified by the varsity. The Director, Medical Education and Research, had to chip in to ensure admission of those who got seats in these institutions. The university was again in news when 25 BDS third-year students moved the court alleging that 15-mark questions were outside syllabus in the general medicine paper held in May.

The Vigilance Bureau submitted its final report on paper leak in September and blamed Dr Gujral for “supervisory failure”, as his personal staff was directly involved in the scam. The bureau also recommended imposition of a major penalty on the VC for administrative lapses and cases of financial mismanagement. The bureau in its report said that Dr Gujral had set the examination paper on his laptop computer and binding was also done in the VC’s room.

The report mentioned that there had been a trend of leaking question papers from the university ever since it started conducting the PMT in 2002. The VC soon put in his papers paving the way for a new appointment to the post. October saw the appointment of Dr Ravinder Ravi, former Principal of Government Medical College, Patiala, as the new VC. The year ended on a controversial note with a proposal to hand over the administration of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, to the university coming to fore.

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