Wednesday, January 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




People-oriented manifesto by Cong
Plan to set up panel to probe corruption
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

RAMPURA PHUL, Jan 9 — Expecting the assembly elections to be held in April or May, the Punjab Congress leadership has decided to make the party manifesto, to be released before the elections, people-oriented.

Giving this indication here today, the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, said apart from the economic revival of all sections of society, the Congress party, if it came into power, would set up a commission headed by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to probe the alleged corrupt deeds of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his associates. He pointed out special court would be set up for conducting trials of corruption cases against ruling politicians and officers after the Congress came into power.

He added that a high-powered committee of various experts would be constituted shortly to work out a strategy for the economic reconstruction of Punjab which had been brought to the brink of economic disaster by Mr Badal through his misrule and corrupt practices.

He pointed out that the Congress would make the rampant corruption prevailing in the Punjab Government a major poll issue and people, who had been fed up with the maladministration of Mr Badal would be urged to vote for getting freedom from corruption.

Capt Amarinder Singh addressed a press conference before addressing the massive party rally here. When asked whether he would take action against three former ministers of the district who remained absent from the function, he said people had come for the rally on their own and added that the three former ministers were absent as per their own wishes.

Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, former minister hailing from Rampura Phul, Mr Guljar Singh and Mr Surinder Kapoor (both former ministers) did not attend today’s rally.

Those present on the occasion included Mr Jasbir Singh, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Mr Bir Devinder Singh (all former ministers), Mr Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition, Mr Devinder Singh, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, organising secretary of the PPCC, Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, president of the DCC, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, Mr Krishan Sharma (both general secretaries of the DCC), Mr Anil Bhola, president of the city Congress and Mr Satbir Singh, president of the Block Congress Committee.

The PPCC chief said the party ticket for the assembly elections would be given by the Congress Parliamentary Board (CPB) or the party president to those candidates whose image was clean. He added that there was possibility of an alliance with the Left and other secular forces in Punjab.

Capt Amarinder Singh pointed out that the party’s campaign against the ruling set-up would be more aggressive after the organisational units came into existence. The process for the same would be started from January 15. He added that senior Congressmen who had been left out from the PPCC body would be accommodated.

Making a scathing attack on the activities of Mr Badal as Chief Minister, he alleged that encroachments in Punjab had been regularised and localised by Mr Badal to favour certain close friends in Ludhiana and other important places. He added that the Congress welcomed the regularisation of already inhabited areas so that basic amenities could reach people residing in those areas.

Defending the WTO agreement, he pointed out that it would enable the farmers to have access to foreign markets. He added that on the other hand, the government could impose anti-dumping duty on the foreign goods to benefit farmers, traders and industrialists.

Later, Mr Jaswant Singh Bhallo, president of the Arhtiya Association who joined the Congress, said today’s rally would be a beginning towards ending the misrule of the SAD-BJP government of Punjab. Mr Jagroop Gill, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal and Mr Anil Bhola (all senior leaders) presented documents relating to the irrigation scam and urged him to conduct a probe into it by the party’s vigilance cell so that the matter could be pursued further.

BARNALA: The Congress in Punjab was united whereas the Akalis were victims of disunity.

These views were expressed by Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress chief, while talking to newspersons here on Tuesday on the way to Rampura Phul and Pacca Kalan as part of the party’s mass contact programme in all 117 assembly segments of Punjab.


Insider leaked out B.Tech paper
4 PTU employees to be shifted
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 9 — The one-member inquiry board set up by the Punjab Technical University to look into the alleged leak of the B.Tech question paper on December 6, has finally come out with a report pointing the needle of suspicion towards some “insider”.

Cornered by an array of controversies, the Punjab Technical University Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Gurm, demanded an inquiry aimed at conducting a thorough probe into various charges being levelled against him by some “vested interests”.

The alleged leak of the question paper of the fifth semester of the B.Tech course of the university just before the commencement of the examination on the evening of December 6, had rocked the university. The university had ordered a probe into the incident on the same day. Various charges, including those of favouritism to a private computer company in awarding a contract for starting two computer courses and alleged misbehaviours by Mr Gurm with some women employees of the university, appearing in a section of vernacular dailies, had put Dr Gurm, whose tem is slated to expire in June, in the eye of the storm.

The secret inquiry report, submitted by Dr Mohinder Bir Singh, former Registrar of PTU, who was appointed inquiry officer by the Vice-Chancellor, to the university authorities on January 3, has raised suspicion about the involvement of “some insider” in the leak of the question paper even as the inquiry officer has admitted that statements of various officials and their cross-examination could not pinpoint the guilty.

The inquiry officer has, however, suggested transfer of four employees, associated with the printing and storage of question papers. Maintaining in an interesting manner that the law of the land and the canons of justice did not permit anyone to indict an innocent person, Mr Mohinder Bir Singh’s report pointed the finger of suspicion towards some “insider” of the university. However, as a preventive measure and in the interests of the university, Mr Mohinder Bir Singh, recommended that Mrs Manjit Kaur, in charge of paper setting and keeping them in safe custody, may be transferred to any section of the university, not related to question papers.

Similarly, Mr Manoj Kumar, and Ms Meena Bamra, data entry operator, should not be put on the duty of typing of question papers in future, while Ranjit Singh, machineman, should not be associated with the xeroxing and printing of university question papers on the Gestetner printer in future, the inquiry officer recommended.

Meanwhile, visibly unnerved by the controversies, Dr Gurm, who was contacted by The Tribune today, said he was not aware whether any probe had been ordered by the Punjab Government into various charges levelled by “some vested interests”, but in case this was the case he said he would be the happiest man since, “it will clear everything about me and the way I had conducted the affairs of the university. Rather, I myself demand such a probe.”

About the charges levelled by a group of 10 women employees of the university that he used to misbehave with them, Dr Gurm said, “The probe will clear everything about this also. Of the 10, two have already disassociated themselves from the complaint made to the Chairman of the Board of Governors that I used to embarrass them by calling them to my office over trivial matters.”

Regarding the allegations that the interests of university had been harmed by awarding contracts for starting PG diplomas in e-commerce and software technology to Aptech, Mr Amarjeet Grewal, Director (Outreach) of the university, said, the step would rather help rural students get computer education at cheapest rates and this could be proved too in case the economics of the courses was worked out during a probe launched by the Punjab Government.

“Though we have provided infrastructure to the company at our centres, we are offering a one-year course for just Rs 20,000 and the charges of any other private company for the same course are around Rs 45,000”, he said. 


SHAD to hold rally in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — In an attempt to forge an alternative political alliance, the Sarb Hind Akali Dal (SHAD) plans to hold a rally in Ludhiana on February 21, in which national leaders will participate.

Addressing newspersons here today, the party’s General Secretary, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, said: “The party would like to act as a catalyst for forging an alternative political alliance with a group which is against the Congress and the BJP.”

“The third front will be formed to take up the cause of the minorities, workers and farmers,” he said.

Leaders like Mr Deve Gowda, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mr Chandrashekhar had expressed willingness to participate in the rally. Mr Subramanian Swamy of the Janata Party was the convener of the rally, he said.

The group led by former SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra planned to take part in elections scheduled to be held in Uttar Pradesh. The party would announce its Uttar Pradesh unit at a rally in Agra on February 11.


Fund release details given to CM
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 9 — For making its position clear, the Finance Department has submitted a detailed factsheet to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with regard to the release of funds to the state Local Bodies Department.

The factsheet has been provided in the wake of the comments made by the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, that the Finance Department was not releasing funds to municipal committees in the state. Mr Tandon’s remarks have triggered a political controversy between the alliance partners, the SAD and the BJP.

Informed official sources in the state government said that during the current year Rs 91.89 crore had been released to the Local Bodies Department for release to the municipal committees concerned for implementing various development programmes. During the last financial year the amount released to the Local Bodies Department was Rs 64.52 crore, including Rs 38.33 crore as compensation to the local bodies in lieu of the abolition of octroi on liquor.

From the Budget or Plan provisions, Rs 30.86 crore had been released against the total provision of Rs 36.40 crore as state share. In addition, Rs 42.55 crore had been released in respect of compensation in lieu of the abolition of octroi on liquor, for which there was only a token provision of Rs 1,000 in the Budget estimates for the current financial year.

Under the Central Government-sponsored slum development programme, Rs 34.28 crore had been received for the period 1996-97 to 1999-2000. Out of this, Rs 11.62 crore was released during the previous two financial years and Rs 2.52 crore during the current year against the budgeted provision of Rs 10 crore. Out of this release, the Administrative Department of the local bodies had submitted a utilisation certificate for only Rs 9.5 crore. No further releases had been made because of the Administrative Department’s inability to furnish the utilisation certificate.

The entire amount of Rs 573.75 crore received by way of grants recommended by the 10th Finance Commission had already been released to the Administrative Department of the local bodies.

Sources said that the committees owed about Rs 64 crore by way of repayment of loans and interest thereon to the state government as on September 30, 1990. Interest after that period was being worked out and this amount would be well over Rs 100 crore. This should be adjusted against the outstanding dues of the committees towards the state government. The committees were defaulting in repaying loans and interest thereon to the LIC and HUDCO. As these loans were guaranteed by the government, it was the duty of the government to step in the case of default.

Only recently, the Finance Department had to pay Rs 12 crore to the LIC. If the dues of the committees were released in entirety, the state government would have to bear the burden of clearing the default amount from its own budgetary provisions, which it could not afford, the sources added.


PSEB drops 24-hr supply scheme
From Lalit Mohan

ROPAR, Jan 9 — The non-payment of dues by the Punjab Government to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has led to the abandoning of the scheme for providing 24-hour electricity supply to the villages by the board.

Highly placed sources in the board, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Punjab Government was to subsidise the scheme by refunding to the board 80 per cent of the total cost. However, since the implementation of the scheme in 1996, the government hasn’t paid anything and the board has incurred losses worth crores.

The board had provided the 24-hour electricity supply to 81 villages till August 31 and the work on another 10 villages was in progress. The authorities said the cost of providing electricity for 24 hours to these villages ranged between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh depending on the distance of the villages from the main line against the amounts of just Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 charged from the villages.

The scheme was started by the Congress government in 1993. It was decided that the villagers would pay the 50 per cent of the total cost incurred under this scheme and the government would refund the rest of the amount to the board. This scheme, however, did not receive much response from the village panchayats.

When the SAD-BJP government came to power, the share of the village panchayats in the scheme was reduced to flat rate of Rs 10,000 for the villages having a population of less than 3,000 and Rs 20,000 for those having more than 3,000 population.

Due to the reduced rates, many panchayats opted for the scheme. The PSEB, however, could not sustain the financial burden of the scheme due to the non-payment of the subsidised cost to the board by the government.

The latest directions are to charge the actual amount from the village panchayats.

The village panchayats and the local leaders are, however, terming this abrupt increase in the rates as unjustified. In the sangat darshan’s at Chamkaur Sahib and Morinda, many panchayats of the area complained to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal about the hike. Mr Badal directed the local PSEB authorities to provide the 24-hour electricity facility in some of the villages.

The PSEB authorities, however, assert that due to the recent board directions, they are not in a position to take any decision on their own in this regard. The cases recommended by the Chief Minister would now be sent to the Chief Engineer, Rural Electrification, and the System Improvement Cell for approvals, they added.

The Chairman of the PSEB, Mr G.S. Sohal, admitted that the scheme had been abandoned due to the non-payment by the Punjab Government. The PSEB had spent about Rs 120 crore on the scheme, but the Punjab Government did not reimburse it, he added.


Demand to complete dam project
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 9 — Though Ranjit Sagar Dam has been completed, the dam project cannot be put to its optimum use unless the Shahpur Kandi Dam project is commissioned. According to Mr Gyan Chand Loomba, president, INTUC, Ranjit Sagar Dam, as much as Rs 71 crore has already been spent on a project for preliminary survey, land acquisition and setting up of infrastructure. The experienced manpower, including machinery worth crores of rupees, which has become surplus on completion of Ranjit Sagar Dam which is lying useless, can be gainfully employed for execution of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project.

Mr Loomba said with every passing day in the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project the state shall be losing heavily in terms of power generation as well as irrigation benefits as Ranjit Sagar Dam powerhouses cannot be used as a peaking station without the completion of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project.

According to reliable sources, the construction of Shahpur Kandi Dam project has been halted due to the non-availability of funds from the state government. These sources said more power cannot be generated in the absence of balancing reservoir of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project. Water beyond the capacity of the UBDC system has to be released downstream of Madhopur headworks which will be a complete wastage.

The sources said the government of India had already paid Rs 100 crore under the Indus water treaty for stopping the flow of water in Pakistan through the Ravi.

The sources said that at present Ranjit Sagar Dam’s one powerhouse was running to half of its capacity. For the project to run to full capacity 2400 cusecs of water had to be released from Chamera Dam everyday in addition to the level of Ranjit Sagar’s Dam reservoir at 518 metres. The capacity of the UBDC system when run to full capacity was only 7000 cusecs which means that Ranjit Sagar Dam without losing water can run only one power station.

These sources said the project which started generating power from August 12 last year has till date generated 334 million units of power making an earning of Rs 100 crore approximately.

These sources said if the Ranjit Sagar Dam project had to be run to full capacity without waste of water the Shahpur Kandi Dam project had to be undertaken for construction without loss of any time.

With the completion of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project all powerhouses of Ranjit Sagar Dam which generate 600 MW of electricity will also be operational and will end the shortage of power in state.


Challan against Puar, 5 others
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — The State Vigilance Department today filed a challan in the court of the Special Judge against the former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Puar, and five others in the misappropriation case charging them under Sections 420 and 120 (B), IPC (cheating and criminal conspiracy).

Besides the former VC others whose names figure in the challan today are university teachers I.J.S. Bansal, Baldev Kumar, J.L. Bhanot and S.S. Joshi besides Sarwan Kumar Gupta, owner of Gupta Tent House in Delhi. The challan was filed in the court of Special Judge Ms Sabina.

In the challan the former VC and the teachers, who were heading various committees, have been accused of giving Rs 30 lakh to Gupta Tent House for installation of tents during the Science Congress in January 1996.

It has also been charged that no tender was passed before hiring the tent house, there was no quotation from the tent house and no technical report was made about the project being undertaken. It has also been alleged that the tent house owner was paid money two months before the congress.

Besides this it has been alleged that various irregularities have been made in various appointments and promotions during the tenure of the former VC.

The Vigilance Department had claimed that the University Grants Commission norms were not followed while making appointments and promotions. Examples include shifting of posts besides recruiting more persons than those advertised for.

The Vigilance department has also pleaded in the court that a supplimentary challan would be presented by it if needed under Section 173 (8) CrPC. 


Sink differences, Congress workers told
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Jan 9 — Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency, has urged all Congress activists to work for the success of rallies being organised in all state assembly segments of Punjab under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, president, PPCC.

Reacting to the statements made by certain leaders of the Congress for not accommodating particular persons in the party, Mr Channi said instead of indulging in such acts all Congress workers should expose the misdeeds and corrupt practices of the SAD-BJP ministers.

In a press release by his office here today, Mr Channi said to divert public attention from burning issues, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was making false promises to people at ‘sangat darshan’ programmes. He alleged that while schools were being upgraded in view of the coming state assembly elections almost all government schools were sans in basic amenities. He pointed out that in the Anandpur and Nangal segments of his parliamentary constituency 204 primary schools were without toilets.

Jagmeet loyalist suspended from party
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — In a determined move to nip all dissidence activity in the bud and ensure that Jagmeet Brar loyalist Harinderpal Singh Mann does not hold a political rally in Samana on January 11 in a show of strength against the official Congress mass mobilisation rallies being held in the state, the Patiala District Congress today suspended Mr Mann from the primary membership of the party.

A decision in this regard was taken today by District Congress Committee (Rural) president Hardial Singh following ‘’ reports ‘’ submitted by various block-level presidents of the party.

Mr Mann has been directed to give a satisfactory explanation about his anti party activities, including opposition of the official party policies and programmes as well as criticism of Pradesh Congress Chief Capt Amarinder Singh and the other senior leadership by January 25. If no explanation is forthcoming till then, he will be expelled from the party.

With the suspension of Mr Mann from the primary membership of the party, the likely attendance of party MP and senior leader Jagmeet Singh Brar in the rally has assumed all the more significance. It is to be seen whether Mr Brar, who had earlier attended a religious function organised by Mr Mann at Samana against the wishes of the state high command, will now attend a ‘’ Congress rally ‘’ in the changed circumstances.

The importance of the Samana rally is two fold. One it challenges the series of mass rallies being held in the 117 assembly constituencies in the state by the Pradesh Congress. Two, it challenges the writ of the PPCC president’s brother Raja Malwinder Singh and PPCC office in charge Sant Ram Singla both of whom are potential candidates from Samana besides others. Mr Mann has apparently been rattled with the interest being shown by Raja Malwinder Singh in the constituency for the past one year.

Mr Mann had apparently stolen a march over the PPCC when he announced the holding of a Congress rally in Samana much before the party decided on the date of holding of its official rally in the constituency. As he knew the party machinery would not help him, he roped in Jagmeet Brar.

Mr Mann when contacted, however, said he would go ahead with the rally and that it would be attended by Mr Jagmeet Brar. He said there was nothing wrong in holding a function to honour Mr Brar as he was a party MP from the state besides party president Sonia Gandhi for making him the party whip in the Lok Sabha. He said at no stage did he ever criticise state president Amarinder Singh and that the function being organised by him was being conducted under the Congress banner.

Mr Mann has also claimed that the rally would be attended by three party MPs besides a senior leader from Delhi. ‘’When you see other Congress leaders at the rally you will understand whether I am still a Congressman or not’’, he added. He also alleged that the decision to suspend him from the party had been taken to demoralise him but he would not be cowed down by it.


Taksal chief decries Akal Takht Jathedar
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 9 — Baba Thakur Singh, acting chief of the Damdami Taksal has alleged that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, was ‘lacking in understanding of Gurmat’.

Baba Thakur Singh said the directive issued by five Sikh high priests on October 24 whereby Akal Takht allowed handicapped persons to ‘use chairs’, tables while partaking ‘Guru Ka Langar’ (community kitchen) was ‘deplorable’. He claimed that this was in contravention of the ‘hukamnama’ issued earlier which clearly mentioned that the institution of ‘Langar’ was established by ‘Gurus’ to promote the concept of ‘Sangat’.

The interview of Baba Thakur Singh was published in a booklet ‘Damdami Taksal’ written by noted Punjabi journalist Harkanwal Korpal. In his wide-ranging interview, Baba Thakur Singh who returned from his religious tour of Canada and the USA said Sikhs enjoyed ‘more freedom’ in foreign countries as compared to that in India.

Baba Thakur Singh alleged that decline of Sikh values especially among youngsters was due to Sikh leadership. He said “more than 75 per cent leadership of Sikhs was lacking in moral character, that is why there was wide-spread trend of apostasy in the new generation”.

Baba Thakur Singh alleged that the SGPC which was embroiled in wrangles had failed to provide required guidance to the community. The ‘lack’ of sincere and dynamic leadership had paved the way for the Sikhs living in various parts of India and foreign countries to form their respective local gurdwara management committees.

On the procedure for the appointment of Jathedar Akal Takht, Baba Thakur Singh said it should solely be a concern of the entire Sikh community on the basis of unanimity. The frequent appointments of the Jathedars and their speedy removals at the hands of ruling group is bound to denigrate the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs.

On the ‘Dasam Granth’, Baba Thakur Singh claimed that the Damdami Taksal looked upon every part of the Granth as the creation of Sri Guru Gobind Singh. We deem it as the divine bani of the 10th master.


Charitable hospital for rural poor
From Ravinder Sud

HOSHIARPUR: Availability of healthcare for all citizens of any country or state is generally considered as one of the major indicators of its development. Even in a state like Punjab which has the highest per capita income in the country, the government spending in health sector is very meagre.

It is because of this reason that the Punjab Government was given a loan of Rs 470 crore by the World Bank a couple of years ago to promote health services. Nevertheless, in cities these facilities are now being augmented by private nursing homes and hospitals. These private facilities are very costly and beyond the reach of the common man. The scenario in villages is very grim. Those living in rural areas remain deprived of any health facility worth the name.

Keeping in view the plight of poor rural people and continuous inability of the state government to provide basic health services, Bhagat Hari Singh (82) decided to set up a charitable hospital with 125 beds in his native village, Dadial, in Kandi area of the district. He also provided 2 acres and Rs 10 lakh to start this project, the foundation stone of which was laid on February 28, 1999.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Hari Singh said the total cost of this prestigious project was estimated to Rs 10 crore which includes residential quarters of doctors and hospital equipments. He said major portion of the five-storeyed building had been constructed with a cost of Rs 2 crore and the remaining construction work would be completed as early as possible.

He said funds were being collected through donations from abroad as well as from the country. 125 beds would be arranged in the general ward and 70 rooms for private patients would be constructed. He said facilities like general surgery, gynae and obstetrics, opthalmology, paediatrics and medicines would be provided.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, alognwith senior officers of the district recently visited the site and said it was a matter of pride that religious heads were coming forward for social works.


Land shortage hits BSNL expansion plans
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Jan 9 — Major expansion plans of Bharatiya Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in the district have been impaired due to the shortage of land for installing new exchanges. The BSNL had purchased land at various places in the district through the local bodies concerned for the installation of the new telephone exchanges.

However, most of the local bodies have failed to give the possession of the land to the BSNL despite the fact that full payments of the land were made to them in advance.

At Morinda, the BSNL had purchased 4,000 square yards of land from the local council in 1992. The Department paid Rs 5.12 lakh as the cost of land to the council in the same year. Still, after eight years, the council has failed to give the possession of the land to the BSNL.

Similarly, during the tercentenary celebrations in Anandpur Sahib, the district administration had requested DoT (now BSNL) to install a new exchange to cope with the augmented demand. DoT installed a new exchange in a rented building on the condition that the administration would later provide the required land to the department. Here also the Telecom Department made a payment of Rs 4.52 lakh in March 2000 to the local Panchayat Samiti for the 7 canal 19 marlas land that was to be transferred to the department. The land is yet to be transferred. The land purchased by the BSNL at Chamkaur Sahib is still awaiting the permission from the authorities concerned.

The Telecom District Manager, Mr J.S. Sahota, admitted that major expansion plans of the department were hit due to the non-availability of land.

Out of the 38 exchanges in the district, only three had been installed on the own land of the Department. Nearly 35 exchanges had been installed temporarily in rented buildings, he said.


Life term for killing employer’s wife
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Jan 9 — Finger prints led the police to the murder accused of housewife Kanta Gupta, a resident of Model Town. She had been murdered by her former driver.

Mr Lajpat Rai, her husband, filed a complaint with the police on October 28, 1999, stating that he found his wife murdered after he returned to his house in the afternoon.

Though Pushpa, a domestic help employed for cleaning the house, revealed to the police that when she had reached near her employer’s residence at 11 a.m., she found the outer gate open and a young man, having a patka on his head, was coming out of the house. But the police remained clueless in the absence of any eye witness.

During investigation, needle of suspicion pointed towards Ranjit Singh, a resident of Nangal Fateh Khan village, who had been complainant’s driver, said Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP.

The police had also picked up a glass tumbler from the spot having finger prints of a person on it. The finger prints picked from glass and that of Ranjit Singh were sent to Finger Print Bureau at Phillaur. The finger prints were found match.

Subsequently Ranjit Singh was arrested on October 30, 1999. Pushpa had also identified the culprit.

After evaluating the evidence gathered by the police, the judge convicted and sentenced Ranjit Singh to imprisonment for life for the murder of Kanta Gupta and to pay a fine of Rs 5000 or in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for further period of six months.

He was also sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years for offences under Section 449 and 392 of the IPC and to pay a fine of Rs 2000 for each offence. The judge had ordered that all sentences of imprisonment shall run concurrently.


N-plant to be set up at Droli village
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — The site selection team constituted by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to identify suitable location for the setting up of the State’s first Nuclear Power Plant, had chosen Droli village near Patran in this district for the purpose.

A team, headed by PSEB Chairman G S Sohal and the Member, Generation, Chief Engineer, Civil and representatives of the Industrial and the Industry department, today visited various places in Patran tehsil before zeroing in on Droli village. The team has reportedly also discussed the proposal for setting up the plant with the people of the village.

PSEB officials disclosed that Droli had been selected for setting up of the plant as it had a population of only 1700 people and more than 2500 acres of land was available for acquisition. The Board team has also decided to take a committee of citizens of the nearby villages to the Narora Atomic Plant to remove apprehensions if any regarding any danger from the setting of the Nuclear Plant in their vicinity.

Meanwhile the people of Droli, while asking for an appropriate price for their land, have also demanded that a member of each displaced family should be provided with a government job. The PSEB Chairman reportedly assured the villagers that members of their families could get jobs during the commissioning of the Plant if they so desired.

The PSEB has signed an agreement with the Nuclear Power Corporation for setting up two units of 225 mega watt capacity at Patran under a joint venture. Following identification of Droli as the likely site for the Plant, a team from the NPC is likely to visit the village to give final approval to the scheme following a detailed study of its soil, flood related matters and population density.

Plan to release more LPG connections
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — In order to save the ill-effects of pollution on the environment, the Punjab Government has decided to introduce a scheme to provide hundred per cent LPG connections in the state.

Under the scheme, focal points, blocks, tehsils and sub-tehsils will be covered under which LPG connections would be given liberally through existing distributors and new dealers would be created if necessary.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, disclosed that village-level camps would be organised to identify the beneficiaries through the revenue and the panchayat departments. He said special attention would be given to households which were using alternate fuels for cooking.

Mr Bir said in order to serve the customer in a more better and uninterrupted manner, transport charges would be fixed in case a distributor had to supply LPG cylinders over a distance of more than 15 km.


4 killed as train hits three-wheeler
From Our Correspondent

ABOHAR, Jan 9 — Four persons were killed and at least six others injured as a passenger train hit a three-wheeler near Mohanpura Railway Station on Sriganganagar-Abohar section today.

Railway sources said the accident took place at an unmanned railway crossing outside Mohanpura village. Four occupants of the three-wheeler died on the spot when it was crossing the railway tracks.

The injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital at Sriganganagar. Their condition was reported to be unstable, according to hospital sources.

TNS adds from Ambala: Divisional Railway Manager Deepak Krishan, accompanied by other senior railway officials, has rushed to the accident site.


Speed post service on holidays too
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Jan 9 — The local postal authorities have now made available the speed post facility to the public on all holidays also, except Sundays and three national holidays, at the head post office here from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Speed post service was started here a few months ago.

Talking to TNS here, Mr Bhagwan Dass Garg, Superintendent of Post Offices, Sangrur, said a proposal to open a night post office at the head post office here was also under consideration. This proposal had already been sent to the top postal authorities at Chandigarh and was likely to materialise shortly, he added.

Mr Garg further said a development officer had also been appointed since January 1 in this district for procuring postal life insurance and rural postal life insurance business. He said the public might use the services of this officer at the doorstep.

Twentyeight branch post masters of this district had been given training for small savings schemes, telephone bills and other postal works to update their knowledge, he added.

Medical reps’ stir continues
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 9 — Activists of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives’ Union (PCMSRU) today observed strike in protest against the government which has, so far, not accepted the 27-point demands of the medical representatives.

The five-day strike call from January 8 to January 12 has been given by the National Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives. Its demands include fixing Rs 5000 as minimum wages and DA for sales promotion employees.


5 trains to leave for Nanded today
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Jan 9 — Five special trains will proceed to Nanded on the occasion of the opening ceremony of Gurdwara Bhajangarh Sahib, tap asthan of Sant Attar Singh of Mastuana under the patronage of Baba Balwant Singh Sidhsar Sehaura Sahib with the cooperation of Gurdwara Takht Sachkhand Shri Ilazur Sahib Abchal Nagar, Nanded.

The trains will commence the journey on January 10 from Sirhind railway station. According to Baba Balwant Singh in March, 1999 he had also taken the pilgrims to Shri Hazur Sahib for the foundation stone laying of Gurdwara Bhajangarh Sahib by three special trains. He said it was purely religious journey and would consist of prominent saints, Sikh scholars and religious personalities. He said a sound system would be installed on the trains.

Doctor may turn approver
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 10 - Balwinder Singh Sohal, who is a key accused in the Harpreet Kaur death case, today gave a statement under Section 164, CRPC in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjeev Berry, it is reliably learnt.

According to sources, Dr Sohal gave a statement in the case throwing light upon the events which led to the alleged abortion of the child of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President Jagir Kaur.

Earlier, an application had been moved by him to turn approver in the case besides seeking the pardon of the court. The statement made by the doctor before the court has been sealed and the case will come up for hearing on January 12.

Census: Mohindra’s plea on Punjabi
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 9 — A former Punjab Minister and member of the All-India Congress Committee, Mr Brahm Mohindra, today appealed to the people of Punjab to state that Punjabi was their mother tongue during the ongoing census.

In a statement issued to the Press here, the senior Congress leader lamented that people had come under the influence of unscrupulous elements during the last census and had stated that Hindi was their mother tongue.

Mr Mohindra said that this had led to the neighbouring state of Haryana to stake its claim to areas in Punjab near Haryana and a dispute had arisen over these “Hindi-speaking areas.”

Punjab transfers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 9 — The Punjab Government today transferred two IAS and three PCS officers.

Mr Karan A.Singh has been appointed Secretary (Expenditure) in place of Mrs Ravneet Kaur, who has been shifted to the post of Director, Treasuries.

Mr N.S. Walia, a PCS officer, has been posted as Subdivisional Magistrate at Barnala against a vacant post. Dr Jaswant Singh, has been posted as Subdivisional Magistrate, Amritsar. Mr Mukand Singh Sandhu has been posted as Subdivisional Magistrate, Rampura Phul, against a vacant post and Mr Bhupinder Singh has been posted as SDM at Muktsar.


MC chief urges CM to release arrears
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Jan 9 — Mr Sat Pal Sareen, President, Municipal Council Hoshiarpur, has urged Punjab Chief Minister and Finance Minister to immediately release the arrears of the council so that the basic amenities could be provided to the residents of the city.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Sareen said the state government had not paid arrears, including excise and octroi, share in five taxes and slum-clearance funds during the last year, nor had it provided any development grant for the urban areas.

Referring to a recent meeting of presidents of all the municipal councils of Punjab with Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, he said that the Local Bodies Minister informed at the meeting that Central Government had given Rs 34 lakh to the Punjab Government for the development of slum areas. He said out of the sum, it had only provided Rs 11 lakh to the councils in state, due to which Local Bodies Department was unable to give UPC fund to the councils. This had also resulted in the non-payment of Rs 100 crore, to be given by Central Government as cent per cent grant for the development of slum areas in the state.


MC tells HFCL to stop work
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 9 — The Municipal Corporation today put a complete stop on the on going work of HFCL. This was announced at a corporation meeting, held here.

The company laying multi-purpose fibre optics cable in the city had sought permission for laying cable wires in the Municipal areas of Amritsar from Chief Secretary, of the government. The local corporation was directed by the state government to corporate in the installation of cable network. However, complaints regarding the HFCL using un-skilled labour and being unmindful of damage caused to roads and water and sewerage connections and electricity and telecom wires, forced the corporation to take the step and order the survey of the damage.

The company has deposited a sum of Rs 21 lakh as bank guarantee. The Mayor announced that the concern would not be allowed to proceed until the damages caused by it were compensated or repaired.


Proclaimed offender ASI arrested
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 9 — Surinder Thakur, an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of the Punjab police, who was declared a proclaimed offender by the court in a criminal case registered against him under the NDPS Act was arrested by the district police today.

Police sources said a case against Surinder Thakur and another ASI, Shashi Atwal along with Head Constable, Avtar Singh was registered in first week of July allegedly for indulging in the smuggling of poppy husk. About 60 kg of poppy husk was recovered from Surinder Thakur and Shashi Atwal while 35 kg of poppy husk was recovered from Avtar Singh.

The police said the three police officials were members of a big gang. About 24 criminal cases in connection with the smuggling of narcotics, kidnapping and looting had been registered against the head of this gang.

The accused were using cars in the smuggling and buying the poppy husk from Haryana. The car of accused Surinder Thakur had been impounded by the Haryana police.

Surinder Singh was arrested today near from the district court complex by ASI Angrej Singh and two other policemen.


Five booked on murder charge
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — A threat to a daughter-in-law proved costly for Gurcharan Singh, nearly 12 years after he allegedly murdered his own daughter for eloping with a boy of her own village.

A chance threat — “We will do to you what we did to Rano (daughter of Gurcharan Singh).” — Which was immediately reported to the police by the daughter-in-law helped the law to take it’s logical course and unravel the mystery behind the blind murder case of Rano, who was allegedly done to death by her own family members.

Police sources disclosed that the case came to light on the basis of a complaint filed with the police by Jaspreet Kaur, wife of Dilbagh Singh. In her complaint Jaspreet Kaur alleged that a few days ago she along with her mother and minor son were coming from a relative’s house when suddenly, in the Baradari area of the city, they were confronted by Pyara Singh, grandfather of her husband, who tried to kidnap her minor son. However, when Jaspreet Kaur and her mother raised the alarm, the culprits ran away. Jaspreet Kaur, in her complaint, alleged that her in-laws were demanding a Ford car or Rs 10 lakh in cash.

Earlier her-in-laws had demanded a Maruti car before her marriage which was provided to them. They demanded another Maruti car after her marriage, which was again delivered to them only after her mother sold off some of her property.

The police, acting on the complaint, arrested Jaspreet’s husband, Dilbagh Singh, the brother- in- law, Gurpreet Singh, the mother-in-law, Surjit Kaur, the father-in-law, Gurbachan Singh, and the grandfather- in- law Pyara Singh. On interrogating all these persons it was revealed that Rano was allegedly murdered about 12 years ago and the body was thrown into the Bhakra.

Pomila’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 9 — A local court today extended the police remand of Pomila Syal, an official to the Golden Forests company accused of duping investers, to January 11.

Duty Magistrate Mr D.S. Dhillon extended the police remand of Pomila Syal till January 11 after she was produced before him by Vigilance officials.

The counsel for the accused pleaded that FIRs had been registered “recklessly” against her by the Vigilance Department and that she had kept in police custody for an “inordinately long” period.

Vigilance officials said she needed to be questioned in a fresh case against her and that she should be remanded in police custody for the purpose.


Cong decries move to scrap varsity Chairs
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 9 — Denouncing the move of Guru Nanak Dev University to do away with the Kabir Chair and Ravi Dass Chair, allegedly at the behest of the Badal government, Dr Raj Kumar, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has warned that if the university refused to revert the decision, an agitation will be launched against it by the Congress. Alleging in a press note that the Badal government had misappropriated educational funds, Dr Kumar demanded a high-level inquiry into this.

Ridiculing the claim of the Punjab Government that it was spending Rs 187 crore on education, he alleged that it was a tall claim that defied ground realities. Thousands of schools were being run without buildings all over Punjab. Those schools which were claimed to having been upgraded, were devoid of staff, library and other equipment/facilities.

Whereas many schools operated in the open, several of those that were promised computer education were without computers and other technical staff, he claimed.

He demanded that government teachers, lecturers and other government education employees should be ‘kept away’ from poll duty. Despite being made to pay enhanced fees, students were deprived of studies due to teachers being put on poll duty, he said.

Meanwhile, the Government School Lecturers Union, Punjab, at a recent meeting, condemned the government attitude towards its demands.

The union demanded that the posts of principal be filled. The ratio of lecturers and headmasters should be made 85:15.

The union favoured the complete abolishment of plus two classes from colleges and confining them to schools.

Non-technical employees working in technical institutes demanded that they should be given the grade of lecturer (8000-13500), while lecturers’ grade should be enhanced to Rs 10,025-15,100 on the recommendations of the pay commission.

For direct appointment to principal’s post the union demanded that four years’ duty as master and three years’ stint as lecturers should be made mandatory.


Holidays — Web site style
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 9 — If the website of the Punjab Education Department ( is to be believed, neither Republic Day nor Baisakhi is a holiday in schools in the state.

Going by the information given on the website, except for all Saturdays and Sundays, there is no other public holiday in the state this year.

Sources in the department indicate that after the launch of the site last year, very little attention has been paid to updating it regularly. For example, the holidays are yet to be uploaded on the site’s calendar.

Not only that even the general information on the site is old and “misleading”. For example, the official site of the Education Department still maintains that the middle standard examinations in the state are conducted in the middle of February every year.

The Union Government has already circulated to all states and Union Territories that no examinations should be conducted between February 10 and March 10 this year because of the ensuing census in the country. As a sequel to this circular, the Education Department has already deferred the middle standard examinations conducted by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) to the middle of March.

The PSEB website, too, caries the same “misleading information” on the schedule of the annual examinations conducted by it.

Besides, it also carries old and “irrelevant” information. On the home page under the head News Headlines”, it says that the typewriting test for clerks in the board will be held on December 23.

Under the head “Circular”, there is nothing, while under “Tenders”, the information is about a notice inviting tenders for the purchase of computers. It says that tender documents can be procured between November 24 and December 11, 2000, and the tenders will be opened on December 12.

Do such sites serve any useful purpose?

Even the figures on enrolment given on the website pertain to the year 1998-99. In the present age of information technology, if we continue to lag behind by two years in uploading data, the purpose of launching such a website becomes “debatable”.

A useful aspect of the website has been the availability of various application forms relating to examinations, obtaining of duplicate certificates, making of amendments in the date of birth certificates, correction in the names of the parents of candidates in certificates, duplicate detail marksheets and other such certificates.


Ethnicity threat to peace: professor

AMRITSAR, Jan 9 — The ethno-religious resurgence in the states of South-Asian countries has generated a threat to national unity and integrity in the region, said Dr Gurnam Singh, Professor of Political Science at Guru Nanak Dev University, in his paper on “Religion, Ethnicity and Nation building in South Asia: Focus on India” presented on the second day of the three-day international seminar on ‘Ethnic Dimensions in International Politics’ at Guru Nanak Bhawan on the campus.

Dr Gurnam Singh said the problem of ethnicity was difficult and perennial to the states of South Asia. The marginalisation of the minority communities, their homogenisation by the majoritarian state power had given rise to ethnic upsurges. Another paper presented today on the ‘Ethnic Pluralism, Fragmentation and Political Accommodation’ by Dr Akhtar Majid of Hamdard University, New Delhi, maintained that political accommodation and power sharing could be the best guarantee for democracy in South Asia.

Dr Samir K.Das in his paper entitled ‘Globalization, Ethnicity and Internal Security: A view from the North East’ referred to the phenomenon of globalization and its implications for the Indian security. He also discussed the strategies of conflict resolution.

Prof K.S. Sidhu of Punjabi University, Patiala, in his paper ‘Ethnicity and India’s Security’ said the traditional understanding of security that it is external had undergone a change with the rise of ethnic upsurge.


Woollens market faces slump
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 9 — The winter season this year does not promises any big profits for the woollen retailers. A survey of the market reveals that there is a general slump in the market and whatever little sale is there, is not encouraging.

Mr M.S. Nagpal, a woollen retailer, expressed his concern over, low sales this year. Increased cost of woollen products and the late setting in of winters are the main reasons for reduction in sales,” he added. He said the increased cost has in fact, attracted many household women to begin their own business by taking wool and knitting sweaters of latest designs at home.

Mr Pawan Bansal, a retailer, said the sales were 50 per cent less than the last year’s sale. The general notion among the shopkeepers is that because of the finances and increased budget, whatever amount is yielded by the sale of their goods is consumed in other activities, thus they are left with a negligible margin. Another assumption given by them is that the increase in competition has dealt a blow to the retailers.

Mr Malhotra, another retailer, said, “There are various reasons for the slump in the market. Factors such as competition, hike in cost and late arrival of winters are, however, the major causes apart from the declining interest of the customers.”

Mr Ajay Kumar, a woollen retailer in Adalat Bazaar, expressed deep concern over the declining standard of the market. He quoted, “If there are not many buyers, how will the bazaar be able to maintain its original status. It can be kept alive only if the weather improves and helps us in receiving more customers.”

It seems as if all their hopes now rest on the next season.

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