Thursday, January 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Staff on Census duty, schools ‘closed’
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 9 — More than 70 per cent primary schools in the border belt would observe ‘compulsory holidays’ for a month as their entire teaching staff would be on census duty.

The census duty will be from February 6 to March 6. Though there are many vacant posts of teachers in border areas yet the available staff has been directed to carry out the census work. The studies in primary schools are already suffering as the teachers were directed by the district administration to undergo rehersals for the census.

Mr Kuldip Singh Mawa, senior vice-president of the district unit of the Government Teachers Union, announced that the union would resort to protest dharnas in front of the district courts and the District Education Office against this decision of the government.

The district administration deputed primary teachers off and on for “non-academic” works which hampered the studies, especially in border areas, he said. In June last year, the teachers were put on house-listing duty and they had to go from door to door for this job.

The academicians say that on one hand, holidays are being curtailed in colleges and universities to improve the standard of higher education, on the other hand, primary education was being ignored.

A survey conducted by the Tribune team revealed that many schools in border areas were ‘closed’ due to census duty. The Government Primary School, Dhand, which is few kilometres from the border, has only five teachers and all have been deputed on census duty. Similarly, the six teachers of the primary school at Bhakna have gone for rehersal. The schools having only one teacher have not been spared.

Mr Davinder Paul Singh Dhillon, District Education Officer, admitted that 80 per cent staff of the primary schools had been deputed on census duty. He, however, said he had requested the district administration to spare 50 per cent staff in the wake of the examinations.


Badal’s dreams & worries
By P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 10 — What would have been the second choice of Mr Parkash Singh Badal had he not been in politics?

This question has never crossed his mind. As far as he can recollect, right from the days of his grandfather, he has been brought up in a family where Akali politics is in the blood. Now his children are in politics. Yes, he did spurn the offer to be nominated to the PCS. He has no regrets having done so.

Sharing his thoughts with a small group of journalists over breakfast at his official residence today, the Chief Minister opened up slightly, allowing only a partial peep into his personal life and political style. He stonewalled even polite enquiries (“who will be the next Chief Secretary after Mr R.S. Mann retires on January 31”), perceiving he might expose his political thoughts. He remains an enigma to even those who claim to know him well.

He has desires, dreams and worries. He desires all-round development and a better economic life for the kisan, whom he sees as the saviour of mankind. He dreams of political and administrative dedication and commitment in a spoils system, wherein decision-making takes ages. He worries over the burgeoning population, increasing poverty, the poor becoming poorer and the rich, richer leading to frustration and a possible revolution.

Writing is not his forte. He also does not plan to commission his biography — not yet. He is passionately fond of collecting rare plant species, particularly horticultural, as well as paintings and artifacts whenever he travels abroad or within the country. If he got saplings of dates from Dubai, he also has a jamun species without stone.

Remember the two Dumbe — Bulkhi sheep (NWFP breed) — gifted to him on his Lahore visit with the Prime Minister? They are doing well at his native village, Badal, as are plant species.

What concerns him the most at present is the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He hints of it becoming a major issue in the next Assembly elections. He debunks the WTO as the “death warrant” of small-time operators, maybe farmers or industrialists.

His other concern is poor students in villages, who cannot pursue higher studies. They may be otherwise brilliant. For them he proposes opening “special schools”, quite different from the existing ordinary and Adarsh schools. Or maybe in a selected school, one in each block, better infrastructure can be created and dedicated teachers appointed to help poor but bright students.

Since a simple Arts degree has neither real value nor weight, each student in every stream (of his choice) has to acquire a vocational skill enabling him to become self-employed even if one is to become an electrician, a computer repairman, a mechanic for tractors and television, a plumber, etc.

His immediate task is gearing up for a series of elections — Zila Parishad and Block Samitis, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and, of course, the Assembly. Other issues, part religious, part political, like the definition of a Sikh, role of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, the belligerent attitude of the co-partner, the BJP, etc, remain to be sorted out.

As is his wont, he guardedly blames the media for “playing up” non-issues, eclipsing wider issues of concern to the state or nation that pose bigger and serious challenges calling for collective will to tackle them. To him the survival of the small kisan and the “resuscitation” of the rural economy, making cities more “livable” and providing the basic essentials of life are as dear as all people becoming truly “secular”.

At the end of a day’s work what relaxes him is a 15-minute meaningful discussion on development-oriented subjects that will accrue socio-economic benefit to the poor. “The kick I get out of such a dialogue is more relaxing than two pegs of whisky others enjoy after a tiring day”.

Weighty matters of state, administrative and political, do not weigh him down. Sheer grit, determination and perseverance, enable him to move on. His decision-making mechanism begins with seeking and sharing the thoughts of others before arriving at a conclusion, the though he does make up his mind earlier. “This does not mean I only enact a drama. I value my colleagues’ suggestions. Collective will prevails”.

In a reminiscent mood, he talks of his days in jail (where he has spent a total of over 15 years), shares his experience of meeting Mrs Indira Gandhi and how Sant Harchand Singh Longowal signed the Punjab accord with Rajiv Gandhi and its miscarriage. But unresolved inter-state disputes, Punjab’s rights and claims over Chandigarh and territory and the issue of the sharing of river waters remain.

He desires the synchronising of political compulsions and economic needs and switching over from politics-driven policies to policy-driven politics.

The formation of the National Democratic Alliance with regional political parties as partners is an achievement for the states. So is the setting up of the Commission to Review the Constitution.

Though he does not say so in so many words, he sounds agitated over the way the wheels of governance move when it comes to decision-making on public interest matters.

His life’s story is one of “struggle and sacrifice”, but he does not talk much of that and candidly whispers: “Chief ministership is God’s gift. One political mistake and everything changes. The traumatic experience of Punjab is an example of such a mistake by Congress leaders. See what suffering Punjabis have been through. The Punjabi diaspora, the world over, has grown political roots and is looked upon with envy and respect”.


Globalisation ‘threat to state’s authority’
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 10 — Eminent political scientists were of the view that the idea of nation-state had emerged with the growth of capitalism and modernity.

“It is a conscious creation based on the creation of imagined communities, but the threats to this reality are both from within and without” this was the emphasis of scientists speaking on the concluding day of the seminar on “Ethnic dimensions in international politics”.

“They said globalisation as a threat had eroded not only the credibility of the nation-state as an actor in international relations but had also eroded the authority of the state in domestic politics. It had given birth to non-state actors who had questioned the monopolistic position of the nation-state in the area of international relations.”

The seminar was organised by the Department of Political Science of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr Paul Wallace, Professor, Political Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, spoke on the impact of Sikh Diaspora upon the politics of Punjab. Dr S.S. Narang, Professor, Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, explained the emergence of dichotomy among the Sikh ethnic identity. Mr Harmeet Singh, also from Guru Nanak Dev University discussed the negative role of the Hindutva forces which were trying to find the Hindi background of the Sikh Gurus and Dr J.S. Sekhon discovered Economic and Social linkages in explaining the crisis-ridden situation in Punjab.

Dr Kuldip Singh said that in the multi-ethnic societies, if large sections of society were excluded from the mainstream politics, this led to unpalatable consequences.

Dr Ashwani K Ray from JNU, New Delhi, made a scholarly analysis of the Kashmir imbroglio, Dr B.S. Brar from Panjab University, Chandigarh, Dr A.S. Narang from Ignou, New Delhi, Prof Akhtar Majid of Hamdard University, New Delhi, Prof Randhir Singh, a former Professor, Kurukshetra University, Dr Baljit Singh, Academic Staff College, Guru Nanak Dev University also spoke on the various aspects of the ethnic politics.


Punjab police faces image crisis 
By Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Jan 10 — A series of unsavoury incidents involving senior police officers over the past couple of months have created a serious image problem for the Punjab police.

During the past six months alone, a large number of cases of alleged deviant behaviour of police personnel, mainly of the rank of Sub-Inspector and above, have been reported.

The latest case relates to a former ‘cat’ and now an Inspector of police posted at Moga, Mr Gurmeet Singh ‘Pinki’, who is accused to have slain a youth in Ludhiana on the night of January 7. Though the Director-General of Police, Punjab, is learnt to have ordered for the reversion of the cop to the rank of constable, it is alleged that the action is unlikely to have any deterrent effect on the mischievous cop.

It may be noted that the cop was a known terrorist during the hey days of militancy and was recruited as a ‘police cat’. His regular and unfailing information brought him promotions and from a cat he was soon recruited as a police constable. In a short span of time, he rose to become an Inspector.

It is alleged that as the cop got the promotions, he was allegedly involved in various criminal activities during his posting in Jalandhar and Moga.

It may be recalled that another police officer of the rank of Sub-Inspector posted at Ropar had been booked on charges of kidnapping and torture by the Ropar police a few months back. He allegedly picked up a police constable from near a dhaba , while the latter was on duty and had asked the dhaba owner to close down business for the day. The constable was later taken into illegal confinement and repeatedly tortured. Other than this, he is alleged to have been involved in various other such unsavoury incidents and has also been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code in separate cases.

In another incident, another Sub Inspector of Police on an ORP (Own Rank and Pay) basis then posted at Jalandhar had been accused of arranging for the contract killing of an NRI girl near Narike village in Sangrur in June last year. He had reportedly arranged the deal for the mother and the maternal uncle of the deceased and her husband for a few lakhs. The former were reportedly sore over her marriage with a boy of a lower socio- economic status. While the girl had died, her husband was seriously injured. The Sangrur police booked him on charges of murder. He was later reverted to his original rank of constable.

It is alleged that in the three above mentioned cases, the accused policemen were been let off the hook after a minor punishment. It is also alleged that many a times action against these officers had been stopped.

The only time that a police officer has actually paid for his alleged misdeeds was the case of the Jagraon-based Deputy Superintendent of police accused of raping a minor girl. The tainted police officer was suspended from service two days after an FIR was registered against him and was later dismissed from service.


Inspector was a ‘police cat’
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 10 — Police Inspector, Gurmit Singh Pinki who is facing a murder charge has a dubious background. A Dal Khalsa spokesman Mr Kanwarpal Singh alleged that Gurmit Singh Pinki who had absconded after allegedly killing Avtar Singh at Ludhiana had a ‘militant background’. After working in a militant outfit, Gurmit Singh was lured to become a ‘police cat’ for infiltrating into militant rank and file during militancy. Subsequently, he was later recruited as special police officer. After getting many ‘boys’ killed in ‘fake encounters’ he was promoted as constable. Within few years Pinki was made Inspector.

Mr Kanwerpal Singh alleged that the “extra-constitutional” powers given to ‘police-cats’ had now started proving counter-productive. He said there were many such ‘police cats’ who were enjoying the patronage of certain politicians and senior IPS officers.


‘Cats’ a law unto themselves?
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 10 — The killing of a Ludhiana youth, Avtar Singh, in an accident of shooting on Sunday evening, allegedly involving a “Cat”-turned-policeman, was not the first of its kind.

The main suspect in the Ludhiana case, Inspector Gurmeet Singh, alias Pinky, is the recipient of the President’s Police Medal for gallantry. He along with Head Constable Pawan Kumar was given the medal in recognition of his work in the case of Jagtar Singh Hawara, a hardcore militant of the Babbar Khalsa International.

Beginning with the killing of the Senior Superintendent of Police of Patiala, Mr Sital Dass, and the Superintendent of Police, Patiala, Mr Baldev Singh Brar, allegedly by “Cat”-turned-Assistant Sub-Inspector Dalbir Singh, on August 17, 1988, inside the Civil Lines police station in Patiala, there have been several instances when these “specially favoured men in uniform” have been allegedly involved in “heinous” crime.

Inspector Gurmeet Singh has now been stripped of the rank of Inspector, reduced to Head Constable and placed under suspension. The killing of Avtar Singh has raised a pertinent issue. The suspect was initially posted in the CIA at Jalandhar but was shifted to Moga some time ago.

Does the Punjab police continue to have these “special officers” who allegedly wield “extra-constitutional authority”?

After the killing of the two police officers inside a police station, there have been at least three other instances of serious crime in which “Cat”-turned-policemen had been allegedly involved.

In one such case, a minor was abducted in Ludhiana by a “Cat”-turned-Special Police Officer, Harinder Singh, alias Bhup.

In yet another case, a man was shot dead when an agitated “Cat”-turned-Special Police Officer, Avtar Singh, was asked to wait for his turn to make a telephone call in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Routine and minor incidents involving these “special policemen” are swept under the carpet on one pretext or the other, including their links with politically influential persons or even senior police officials in the state.

The image of the state police, however, gets a severe beating every time an incident involving a “Cat”-turned-policeman is reported in Punjab.

Interestingly, most of the “underground criminals and militants” recruited by the Punjab police as “Cats” when militancy was at its peak in the state, and later absorbed as Special Police Officers before their induction into the force by giving them “respectable ranks”, have never undergone training at any of the Recruitment Training Centres or the Police Training School in the state.

Some of the “Cat”-turned-policemen did exemplary work in the fight against militancy while a few others returned to the fold of militants.

In the absence of any training, most of them do not understand the “lawful functioning” of the Police Department. Almost all such policemen continue to be protected by hand-picked bodyguards vested with “limitless” powers.

Even the weapons carried by them or their bodyguards are not in accordance with the specified norms.


Custodial deaths worry LHRI
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 10 — Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) has condemned the recent spurt in the custodial deaths in the state.

Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president, district unit and the organisation, in a written statement today said the ruling alliance had given cops freedom and a ruling hand to extort and exploit public in the wake of coming assembly elections. The ruling alliance was patronising cops to retain power, alleged Mr Dhillon.

Mr Dhillon referring to the three custodial deaths in the past four days in the state said the police had been increasing its terror on those in police custody.

Mr Dhillon said a three-member committee from the LHRI would be constituted under which the cause of deaths of suspects at Muktsar and Jaitu, would be inquired. The committee would submit its report within a fortnight, Mr Dhillon added.


Cong seeks White Paper on police ‘excesses’
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 10 — Shaken by the broad daylight murder of a Ludhiana youth by police CIA inspector, the Human Rights Department of the Punjab unit of the Congress, today urged the Government of India to issue a White Paper on brutalities and excesses allegedly committed by the police during the Parkash Singh Badal regime.

Mr Manish Sehgal, Secretary of the Human Rights Department of the Punjab Congress, demanded that the Punjab Chief Minister should resign for having failed to protect rights of citizens and the murder of a youth in Ludhiana a day before was the glaring example. He said the wings of the corrupt official machinery should be clipped at the earliest to arrest the recent trend of custodial deaths.

He said it was amazing that 70 per cent complaints before the Punjab Human Rights Commission pertained to the Police Department, but still police officers with questionable reputation were able to get the patronage of Mr Badal and his ministerial colleagues.

He said to clip the wings of the “anarchic” police force certain laws should be amended and the Section 114 (B) of the Indian Evidence Act should be introduced to introduce a rebuttable presumption that the injuries received by a person in police custody may be presumed to have been caused by police officer and an inquiry should be made mandatory in every case of custodial death, rape or grievous injury.

Mr Sehgal said the Ludhiana unit of the department had already been instructed to conduct an inquiry into the incident of killing and file a report at the earliest.

He said the state unit of the department had decided to launch a movement against the Badal government since it was trying to mislead the public by various ways.


Jagmeet firm on attending rally
PPCC hardens stand on rebel activities
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, Jan 10 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today further hardened its stand on the holding of a rally by Jagmeet Brar loyalist Harinderpal Singh Mann, who has been suspended from the party, at Samana tomorrow saying such parallel activity would not be allowed even as Mr Jagmeet Brar asserted he would attend the rally at all costs .

The Pradesh Congress claimed that senior Congress leaders who were to come from Delhi to attend the rally, had now realised that they had been ‘’misled’’ on the issue and would not be attending the rally. It also claimed the rally, which was purely a personal one and had no bearing with the Congress party, would not be attended by the party’s rank and file.

The Pradesh Congress also tried to exercise pressure on Mr Jagmeet Brar not to attend the rally along with a group of leaders of Patiala district, including former mps and legislators. It today urged Mr Brar to keep away from the rally asserting it would create confusion among people and would be detrimental to the interests of the party.

Mr Brar, however, when contacted at Delhi, said he had explained the reasons to the high command why he wanted to attend the rally being organised to felicitate him on being appointed the party Whip in the Lok Sabha and would attend the rally tomorrow. He said a needless controversy was being created on the issue with the organisers being charged with not consulting the PPCC. “The PPCC never consulted me when it organised a rally in Muktsar (his hometown )’’, he added.

Speaking on the suspension of Mr Harinderpal Singh Mann from the primary membership of the party, he said it was an avoidable step. He said the suspension would hamper party unity.

The party mp, when asked whether other leaders scheduled to come from Delhi to attend the rally were coming or not, said, ‘’We will come to know about that tomorrow only. As PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh can always tell them whether to come or not’’ , he added.

Meanwhile, the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, while talking to newsmen at a function organised to commemorate the martyrdom of Udham Singh, said the rally was a private affair as the PPCC had not been consulted by the organisers. Senior Congress leader Birdevinder Singh informed that mps Mani Shankar Aiyer, Renuka Chowdhary and Birender Singh, who were slated to attend the rally, had now dissociated themselves from it. He said the leaders had taken this step after party General Secretary, In charge of Punjab, Moti Lal Vora, explained the circumstances to them. As a result of this they talked to the PPCC President and were understood to have told him that they had been misinformed about the rally.

Meanwhile, Mr Birdevinder Singh said that three former mps — Mr Sant Ram Singla, Mr Surinder Singla and Ms Amarjit Kaur and five former legislators of Patiala district — Mr Lal Singh, M S Gill, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Mr Ramesh Singla and Mr Hamir Singh Ghagga besides Patiala mp Preneet Kaur have also appealed to Mr Jagmeet Brar not to attend tomorrow’s conference at Samana. The leaders said they hoped good sense would prevail upon Mr Brar.

The rally has assumed significance as it is an attempt by dissidents to needle the PPCC President in his home district by organising a show of strength which is targeted to belittle the other official conferences organised by the party. Mr Mann also appears to be following his personal election agenda as Raja Malwinder Singh, a brother of the PPCC Chief, who appears to be a likely candidate from Samana, a seat he also wants to contest from. 


BJP delegates’ meeting likely to be stormy
Tribune News Service

MOGA, Jan 10 — The meeting of the Punjab BJP delegates to be held here tomorrow on the sidelights of a three days’ party training camp is likely to be stormy.

Several organisers of the camp told TNS that the delegates and district BJP presidents were likely to raise their difficulties before the party ministers and senior leaders. It was expected that the party activists from the assembly segments represented by the Akali Dal ministers of legislators might complain of discrimination meted out to them by the coalition partners.

One of the organisers told TNS that the issue was likely to figure at the meeting, as complaints of discrimination by the Akali legislators continue to pour in. Even the district-level co-ordination committees having members from both parties had failed to hold periodical meetings to resolve contentious issues.

No mediaperson would be allowed to attend the session.


SAD’s political conference
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 10 — The BJP Chief, Mr Bangaru Laxman, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mr Farooq Abudullah, the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala and the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, will address the Shiromani Akali Dal’s political conference at Maghi Mela in Muktsar on January 14, according to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD.


Diversify crops: Kalkat
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Jan 10 — Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, has appealed the farmers to pay more attention to the diversification of crops to enhance their income and strengthening the economic condition of the state.

He said that curtailing the area under wheat and paddy cultivation would not affect the production of both crops rather it would prove more helpful in saving the water and other resources in the state under the prevailing conditions.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Kalkat said the country was still facing food shortage hence the need to change the cropping pattern in the interests of the farmers as well as the state. He also appealed to the agriculturists to sow cotton and paddy crops by May 15 and in the first week of June, respectively, every year to get more produce.

In reply to a question on setting up a full-fledged agriculture college here as per an earlier proposal, the Vice-Chancellor said that there was no need for opening such an institution in the state. The agriculture college at Ludhiana was sufficient to meet the demands of the students of state.

Later, inaugurating the new complex of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, an office-cum-laboratory, Dr Kalkat said this institution would impart training to the farmers in six disciplines, including animal service, home science, agriculture engineering, horticulture, crop production and plant protection. The duration of the training of each subject would be about three months and it would start from February1.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr J.S. Brar, Deputy Director, training, said that the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, New Delhi, had sanctioned three kendras at Kheri (Sangrur), Langdowa (Nawanshahr) and Faridkot in 1995.

He said with the starting of the new complex the services in training would improve. The new building had been constructed at a cost of Rs 24.50 lakh. Experts from the university and Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, also spoke.


Foundation stone of lawyers’ chambers laid
From Our Correspondent

ANANDPUR SAHIB (Ropar), Jan 10 — The long-standing demand of the lawyers of Anandpur Sahib yielded result today, after the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, laid the foundation stone for advocates’ chambers here today.

The issue of construction of the advocates’ chambers in Anandpur Sahib tehsil had been lingering since 1998, when the Chief Minister, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, gave a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the purpose. The amount could not be used due to the lack of a proper plan for the building and delay in the sanction of certain administrative permissions. The amount was kept in a bank account, in the custody of the District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Maghar Khan.

The Deputy Commissioner said that now the required permission had been granted for the construction of the chambers. About 20 chambers would be built here at an estimated cost of Rs 16 lakh.

Mr Grewal also announced a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh from the small saving funds for the chambers and Rs 25000 from his own pocket for the library in the complex.

Mr Maghar Khan assured the advocates that he would request the Punjab and Haryana High Court to grant funds for the advocates’ complex here. With the construction of this complex, Ropar would become the first district in the state to have advocates’ chambers in all courts here, he claimed.

Chowdhary Megh Raj, a veteran advocate from Ropar, gave a sum of Rs 25000 for the library in the Anandpur Sahib court complex.

He lamented that during the tercentenary celebrations when Anandpur Sahib was given a total facelift, nothing was done to improve facilities at the court complexes.

Mr N.S. Sitta, the former secretary of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council, announced a sum of Rs 5100 for the advocates’ chambers.

Mr Harish Chetal, the president of the Anandpur Sahib Bar Association, said that a committee under the Chairmanship of the SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi, has been formed to monitor the construction of the complex.

The local advocates presented mementos to guests.


Celebrating Lohri with lepers
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR, Jan 10 — Members of the Samaj Sewa Sanstha, an NGO, have been celebrating Lohri festival with lepers for the past 10 years. Lepers, including 32 women, 30 men and 8 children, came here from the Kusht Seva Ashram, Malout on Sunday and spent the day at Geeta Mandir in the company of members of the sanstha.

A colony was developed at Malout near the railway station by some social workers. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, had granted funds to set up a temple and a satsang bhavan. Mr Tej Mal Khatri, a local resident, had recently sponsored a shed in the memory of his son Bharat who had died last year.

Lepers used to regularly visit Abohar on Friday or Saturday to collect money. Members of the Bharat Vikas Parishad, the Lions Club and some other organisations have been visiting the Ashram to give gifts to the lepers, on several occasions.

The Samaj Seva Sanstha invited lepers to celebrate Lohri at Geeta Mandir. A kirtan was organised by the lepers. Members of the sanstha, led by Mr Milkh Raj Angi, a sweets manufacturer, served them sweets, snacks and meals. All lepers were given gifts, including clothes, household goods and eatables, on this occasion.

Mr Ayodhya Parsad Goel and Mr Sunil Chawla, secretaries of the organisation, said they had given cots, quilts, ceiling fans, utensils and garments to the inmates of the ashram in past years.

Mr Shashi Bhusari, treasurer of the sanstha, said the lepers needed affection from the society.

Women from the members’ families also joined in serving meals to the lepers to mark Lohri and Maghi, which are considered most sacred festivals of the winter.


Auction stayed at CM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 10 — On the intervention of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Local Bodies Department has stayed the auction of prime land in Ranjit Avenue here which had become a bone of contention between local Improvement Trust and the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA). The auction was fixed for January 15.

The stay orders were issued on the direction of Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, after he had meetings with Principal Secretary Housing and Principal Secretary Local Bodies.

Mr HS Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator PUDA, talking to TNS said the land belonged to PUDA which would be used to rehabilitate the government officials who would be uprooted after surplus lands of their officials residences/offices would be acquired under “optimum use of government vacant land” scheme. He said the land in question measuring 47 kanal, 16 marla fell in Ranjit Avenue and the Improvement Trust had announced to hold auction on January 5. 


Don’t meddle in Sikh affairs, RSS warned

MOGA, Jan 10 (UNI) — The All- India Sikh Students Federation president Harminder Singh Gill today warned the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) of “severe consequences” if the latter did not stop interfering in the Sikh religious practices and rituals.

The AISSF chief was addressing a gathering here from the stage of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) who was holding the public meeting under the ‘Panthic chetna jagao, Punjab bachao lehar’ statewide programme.

Mr Gill condemned the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, which is the frontal organisation of the RSS, for proposing the idea of installing Guru Granth Sahib in temples and said this could lead to communal tension rather than harmony in the state.

SHSAD president Gurcharan Singh Tohra reiterated his allegations that Mr Badal had failed to keep his promises made by the ruling Akali Dal in its election manifesto during the 1997 assembly polls.

He urged the masses to reach Muktsar and participate in his party’s “Maghi Mela” programme on January 13.


Report on hijacked plane submitted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, Jan 10 — The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr J.S. Chawla, who had been appointed by the sessions court here to inspect the ill-fated Indian Airlines plane which had been hijacked to Kandahar from Kathmandu, today submitted his report in the court of the District and Sessions Judge.

Mr Chawla had gone to Mumbai to inspect the Indian Airlines Airbus on Janaury 6. He was accompanied by CBI counsel and Mr Brijinder Singh Sodhi, counsel of the accused.

The court had appointed Mr Chawla to inspect the plane as part of the conditions stipulated by the Punjab and Haryana High Court releasing the plane to the Indian Airlines for sale. The case will be taken up tomorrow.


Fishermen ‘rescued’ by contractors 
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

HARIKE (Ferozepore), Jan 10 — In a dare-devil act, five fish contractors ‘rescued’ their labourers arrested by the wildlife staff for fishing in the Harike bird sanctuary lake. Even as the Wildlife Department has sought police help to nab the contractors, no arrest has been made so far.

Pleading anonymity, the wildlife staff told TNS that two fishermen — Rakesh Chaudhary and Raju Chaudhary — were arrested along with fishing nets and two boats from the sanctuary last month. However, five contractors — Balbir Singh, Mangal Singh, Ranjit Singh, Shiv Kumar, Ajit Singh — and several labourers allegedly “raided” the wildlife office and ‘rescued’ them from captivity. Unarmed wildlife guards remained mute spectators to the incident.

The rescue operation was carried out when the two were being taken to the court of a duty magistrate. Although the wildlife warden, Mr Roopinder Singh, confirmed the incident, he declined to elaborate, saying the matter had been referred to the Harike police station in charge for further action. The wildlife staff alleged that political connections of the fish contractors were preventing the local police from taking any action. “Even as the police is dragging its feet on the case, the contractors continue to threat on our men,” a wildlife official lamented.

Despite repeated attempts, no senior police officer could be contacted for comment. While the SP (Headquarters) was away on leave, the Amritsar district police chief was not available at his office or residence till the time of filing of this report. A junior police officer told TNS that they were trying to obtain a legal opinion before taking action against the contractors, who claim that their men were ‘wrongfully’ detained by the wildlife staff.


Chawla assails govt on crime rate
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 10 — Mrs Laxmi Kant Chawla, BJP MLA, has alleged that at least 150 children are missing in Punjab but the administration is sitting pretty in Chandigarh, unmindful of the rising crime rate in the state.

Just two weeks ago, shots were fired in the city and several cases of thefts and burglaries were reported, but these had little effect on the government, she claimed.

She alleged that a high official had even commented that if parents were unable to look after their children, what could the police do. The official had allegedly made this comment 10 days ago, when a four-year-old girl was reported missing and later her body was found in the ‘ganda nullah’.

She further alleged that the government instead of busting criminal gangs was more concerned about hiding facts. “They refuse to divulge details about the crimes in the city although the number of murders in the city last year (2000) was the highest after the period of militancy in Punjab”, she claimed.


Kiranjot Kaur to sue Editor of ‘Sikh Shahadat’
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 10 — Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and granddaughter of Sikh leader Master Tara Singh, has said that she would file a defamation case against Editor, publisher and proprietor of monthly magazine “Sikh Shahadat”, published from Ludhiana for carrying out “incorrect and misleading report” against her.

In its January edition, the magazine alleged that Bibi Kiranjot Kaur had attended a religious function, organised by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat an offshoot of the RSS at Chheharta (Amritsar) to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Teg Bahadur recently.

The one-page report, published on behalf of the “Jagrati Manch, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, Amritsar” alleged that Bibi Kiranjot Kaur held a “secret meeting” with the activists of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. However, the SGPC general secretary denied that any such meeting took place.

She, however, said that she had attended one function at Chheharta about three years ago where a good number of Hindus were also present. “This certainly was not the one organised by Rashtriya Sikh Sangat”. She said she belonged to a family of dedicated Sikhs who had contributed a lot for propagation of faith. “Hence I cannot even dream of playing into the hands of anti-Panthic forces”.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur alleged that the article got published by some relative of Sirdar Kapur Singh, a former ICS officer as his book “Sachi Saakhi” which carried some derogatory remarks mainly against Master Tara Singh was banned by the SGPC.

The SGPC general secretary said they would have to suffer for publishing a “baseless” news. She said she would definitely take some legal action for publishing the derogatory news.


Army starts removing hyacinth in Kanjli
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 10 — In what could be termed as the New Year gift to the Kanjli picnic spot at Kapurthala, the Indian Army has taken upon the task to rid the area of ugly hyacinth cover.

Under the aegis of the Vajra Corps, 30 jawans had started an exercise to clear almost 2-km stretch of the Kali Bein drain that encircles the Kanjli Park. A 10-day complimentary exercise was flagged off on January 1 as an extension of the earlier successful “operation sahyog” at the Harike wetland lake near here.

A visit to Kanjli revealed that over 400 tonnes of the hyacinth had already been pulled out of the drain with the help of four mechanised boats and cranes. The advance of the hyacinth, that multiplies very faster, had also been arrested with the help of dynamic booming. The idea was not only to restore the beauty of the picnic spot, but also to save the Sutlej from the possible environmental degradation, as the Kali Bein drain furthers its course to the river.

However, the operation had also invited criticism from a section of environmentalists, who felt that the Army could have been kept out of the exercise, as the problem of hyacinth was of a smaller magnitude in Kanjli. Instead, this job could have been entrusted to the civil administration, which exposed its “incompetence” by relying on the military force.


Tributes paid to Udham Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 10 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said his party would continue to provide free electricity to the farming sector if voted to power in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. 

Addressing a large gathering at a function to mark the martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh at Amar Ashram here by the Shaheed Udham Singh Memorial Committee, the PPCC President said the Congress was committed to ameliorating the lot of farmers of the state through extensive diversification and other schemes and would continue to provide free electricity to them.

Paying glowing tributes to the martyr on the occasion, he said his party would take steps to perpetuate the memory of the martyr in a befitting way if voted to power in the next elections and added that it was unfortunate that the Akali Dal government had done nothing in this regard despite promises.



Cyber crime on the rise 
From Our Correspondent

PATHANKOT, Jan 10 — Cyber-related crime is on the rise in the town. The authorities are helpless as complainants do not get the case registered.

A number of children of the town are going online these days because it is a part of their education, but they are accessing controversial information which is so easily available, due to which they get wrong information regarding sex.

Another major problem is that online addicts, spend an average of 38 hours per week online, mostly using interactive application such as chat rooms and porn sites. A number of employees are also found to be misusing the internet during the working hours in office.


Punjab postings
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 10 — The following postings/transfers were ordered in Punjab with immediate effect today.

Mr Kirpa Shankar Saroj has been appointed Special Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, and Mr Justice Megh Raj, whose services have been placed at the disposal of the Department of Cooperation for the appointment as Additional Managing Director, Markfed.

Meanwhile, Mr Suresh Kumar, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, will also look after the work of the post of Chief Administrator, New Town Planning and Development Authority for Anandgarh, in addition to his present assignment till further orders.

Mr Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, Chief Administrator, PUDA, will also look after the work of the post of Chief Administrator, Anandpur Sahib Urban Planning and Development Authority in addition to his present assignment till further orders.

Mr C.Roul, Special Secretary, Finance-cum-Director, Institutional Finance and Banking and Bureau of Public Enterprises, will also look after the work of the post of Member Secretary, Punjab Disinvestment Commission, in addition to his present assignments till further orders.

In partial modification of earlier orders Mr Karan A.Singh has been redesignated as Secretary (Expenditure) in addition to being Managing Director, PIDB, and in addition to being Chief Executive Officer, Anandpur Sahib Foundation, says an official press note.


New power scheme under consideration
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Jan 10 — The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is considering a new scheme to expedite the pace of providing 24-hour power supply in the villages of the state.

This information was given by the correspondent of the PSEB through a fax message to this correspondent today. The PSEB gave this information to clarify its position after the publication of the news in this context in The Tribune, today.

The spokesman in the press release has stated that out of the 3,729 villages which had deposited their share for the 24-hour power scheme, 2,378 villages had been given the facility up to December 31, 2000, at a cost of Rs 122 crore.

However, the PSEB press note did not give any information about the fact, weather the Punjab Government had given its share to the board.


Fake job agency: 3 held
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 10 — Markets of the city are flooded with fake goods being sold off under reputed brand names.

The police in the past few months, has succeeded in busting the gangs, which had been cheating unsuspecting unemployed youth on the pretext of arranging government, semi-government and corporation jobs for them in lieu of money.

The police arrested three persons namely Major Singh, Sohan Singh and Jaswant Singh on January 8 allegedly for running an unnamed fake recruitment agency in this district.

The three accused had collected lakhs of rupees by cheating 40 unemployed youths of this region for getting them a job of security guards in various godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

In November last, the police unearthed the fake recruitment agency cheating people for arranging jobs for them in Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery project. Main accused Gurdeep Singh ran the fake agency under the name of Hindustan Domestic Oil and Gas Company, Bombay (New Delhi).

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note here today said that the modus oprandi of the three accused running the fake recruitment agency was that they used to take Rs 8050 from each person seeking the job of security guard in the FCI.

The accused had also collected heavy amounts from some of the aspirants and in this way had cheated 40 persons. The accused had been running the agency for the past two years.

Police investigations revealed that the accused had cheated Ranjit Singh of Pitho village of Rs 8050, Ajmer Singh of Rs 13,000, Shamsher Singh of Rs 8050, Sukhminder Singh of Rs 11,000 (all from Jaid village), Mohinder Singh and Puran Singh of Akalia village of Rs 8050 each. The accused had also cheated Rajvir Singh, Satish Kumar, Baljinder Singh and Balwinder Singh. The accused used to operate in rural areas and himself worked as labourers.

A case in this connection under Sections 420, 406 and 506 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.


Army man held for drug smuggling
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 10 — The police today arrested Dhagala Ram, a resident of Jajiwal Kakrala in Rajasthan who is a Havaldar in the Army posted at Pathankot, for his alleged involvement in smuggling opium from Rajasthan. According to Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, 5 kg of opium was seized from his possession.

He allegedly smuggled opium in his Army uniform to avoid checking and arrest by the security forces. He purchased opium at Rs 6000 per kg from Rajasthan and sold it in the Kathua area of Jammu and Kashmir and Pathankot in this district for Rs 30,000 per kg.

The police during a special naka at Sunderchack on the national highway intercepted the accused under suspicious circumstances and seized the opium from a bag the accused was carrying.

A case under Sections 81/61/85 of the NDPS Act has been registered at the Sadar police station, Pathankot.

The SSP claimed that the accused, during preliminary interrogation, confessed to having started smuggling of opium in 1997, when his unit moved to Pathankot. During July and October, 2000, he went on leave to his native village in Rajasthan, he brought 5 kg of opium on each of his visits.


2 held for killing blue bull 
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 10 — The district police has arrested Kuldeep Singh and Pammi Kang of Virk Kalan village allegedly for killing a blue bull, a protected animal.

Police sources said the two accused along with Bansa Singh killed the blue bull with the fire arms yesterday.

The sources added that Bansa Singh’s gun was used in the crime. Bansa Singh is yet to be arrested.

A police party was rushed to Virk Kalan village which arrested Kuldeep Singh and Pammi Kang when they were cleaning the killed animals.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, when contacted, said a case under Sections 428, 429, and 34 of the IPC and Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, had been registered against the accused.


Dharna by college students
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 10 — Students of various colleges of the city and rural areas staged dharnas at the Ambedkar Chowk, at the district courts complex, protesting against the government’s decision to ban the use of concessional bus passes in buses operated under the Kilometre scheme and mini buses.

The students held massive rally through the various markets of the city, raising slogans against the government, bus operators and district administration. The rally was attended by students from approximately all major government and private-owned institutes, including various girls’ colleges of the city. Addressing the dharna of the students, opposite the SSPs office, later this noon, Mr Roop Singh, Convener of the Students Co-ordination Committee, said that the government’s move to ban the use of concessional bus passes on the mini buses and the buses operated under the kilometre scheme was unfortunate. He alleged that the decision had been taken to ‘facilitate’ certain bus operators in the state. He added that the public in the towns of Talwandi Sabo, Phoos Mandi, and other nearby villages had completely boycotted the mini buses in the support of students demand.

Mr Naib Singh, member panchayat, Phoos Mandi, said that the demand of the students was genuine and added that the government should start bus services on the routes, given to the mini bus operators. He alleged that the bus operators and conductors treat students shabbily, and demanded police action against the guilty.

The representatives of the student union and co-ordination committee gave the ‘demand letters’ to various officers of the district, including the SSP.


A forgotten college complex
From Harjeet Singh

BATHINDA: Ask any politician, whether of the state or the Centre, when he last laid the foundation stone of any complex, building, bridge, school building or community hall. Perhaps, he may not tell you as it has become routine stuff for almost all politicians.

Politicians come, lay foundation stones and leave. No one bothers about what happens after the ceremony. Even the authorities concerned do not make sincere efforts to complete projects in hand.

There are so many examples of “forgotten foundation stones” in this town but the foundation stone of the commerce complex of Government Rajindra College is worth mention. The ground, where the foundation stone of the commerce complex was laid by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, on March 6 last year was first a playground.

The board “Khed da maidan” was also stuck at the main gate. But later it was changed when the college management planned to construct the commerce complex. The college management seems to have ignored this project. The main cause for the delay in the construction was lack of adequate funds.

One of the employees of the college, on the condition of anonymity, criticised the college management for spending money on petty things. The college management was not making efforts to complete the commerce complex project. Though the process of development of the college had started, yet a lot had to be done for the overall improvement of the college.

Now there was a foundation stone, incomplete room and a triangular boundary, besides uncertainty on whether the commerce complex would be constructed. People were using the place as a toilet as the ground is full of bushes.

Mr A.K. Kapoor, principal of the college, after repeated calls, said the construction work of the commerce complex could not be started due to the lack of funds as Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) funds had been spent on things of immediate necessity.

He pointed out that the college management was conducting work on priority and according to the needs of the students. A new cycle stand for girls had been constructed, an open-air theatre maintained and a water cooler had also been installed on the college premises.

But when the funds were not available and necessary work had to be done, than what was the need to undertake such costly projects in hand, asks a student.

Mr R.L. Grover, vice-principal, had the answer to this question when he said that the college had funds for the commerce complex at the time of the foundation ceremony but it had to keep in mind other necessary things. The college management had spent a lot of money on other development works.

He pointed out that about Rs 8 lakh to 10 lakh was needed for building the commerce complex and it would take time to complete the project as PTA funds were not available.


PCCTU stir postponed
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 10 — The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), has postponed its statewide education bandh and state-level rally and protest march at Gidderbaha slated for January 18. This was stated by Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, president of the PCCTU, here today.

Now the rally would be held in first week of February, he said, adding that the exact date would be decided by the executive committee of PCCTU, which is scheduled to hold a meeting at Doraha on January 26.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the union’s state officers in the light of an announcement by Punjab Higher Education Minister Mohan Lal about the implementation of Pension-cum-Gratuity Act and other demands in one month.

A PCCTU deputation had met the minister on December 29 last year.


Schools to be upgraded
From Our Correspondent

Patiala, Jan 10 — The Punjab Government has decided to upgrade 40 primary 41 middle and 44 high as middle, high and +2 levels respectively.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr J.S Bir, at the Red Cross hall. He said a sum of Rs 44 lakh would be spent on the repair of old buildings and construction of new ones. He added that to give financial help to those below poverty line under the Indra Awas Yojna the government had decided to set up solar energy pumps for farmers who own at least 5 acres. For this purpose five tubewells had already been bored in the district.

Mr Bir has asked all the SDMs to regularly carry out the survey of various link roads and also inspect the recarpeting of roads in their respective areas.

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