Sunday, January 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Punjab police to raise 2 more IRBs
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — The Punjab police will raise two more India Reserve Battalions (IRBs). The new battalions to be raised at Shahpur Kandi and Anandpur Sahib are expected to be on ground by the end of the current year.

According to sources in the Police Department, the new battalions are being raised following clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Union Government and the state government share the expenses on raising and maintenance of such battalions on 50:50 basis. At present Punjab has five India Reserve Battalions.

No final decision has been taken about the recruitment of constabulary and officers of the new battalions. Some men and officers may be drawn from the existing Punjab Armed Police and other sources, including Special Police Officers (SPOs).

The present strength of the Punjab police, including its India Reserve Battalions and Commando Battalions, is about 79,000 men and officers. Nearly 90 per cent of the Rs 900 cr annual budget of the state police goes towards disbursement of salaries and perks to its men and officers.

Though the Punjab police has acquired basic self reliance for policing and strategic deployment in the State, its demand for men in uniform has been on the rise as a major chunk of its existing force is used for “security and VIP duties” alone.

Ten companies of the Punjab police are presently in Allahabad for Mahakumbh. Of late, the Punjab police has taken over from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police the guard duties of currency chests of nationalised banks in the State. Besides, the Punjab police has also replaced Central Reserve Police Force from security duty at Punjab Bhavan in New Delhi.

The Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat, however, is being provided security cover by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Earlier, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police was looking after security duty at the Civil Secretariat building.

The Punjab Government continues to use some companies of the Central Reserve Police Force for VIP Security duty.

In the absence of a rational or centrally approved system of putting policemen on non-policing or extra-policing duties, including security duties, some of the districts especially the big one’s, are facing a peculiar problem of logistics.

For example, some policemen recruited for providing “security cover” to various “socio-political” or even heads of various “religious sects”, never report back to their administrative departments or their supervisors but continue to draw their salaries from the districts concerned. Some of these policemen have also been exempt from mandatory training.

In some cases, these policemen never ever wear uniform but follow the dress code of the religious sects, the heads of which they protect.

Other major administrative or logistic problem faced by the police in districts is taking away of policemen deployed with them on security duty after they are shifted or moved out of a district. In most cases, no record is maintained about such policemen, especially those attached with civil servants.

A few districts have now gone for computerisation of their actual manpower to know the exact deployment of each man and officer.


SAD gears up to hold conferences
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — With a clear objective of putting the party in the election mode and to defend it from the ongoing political “attack” of opposition parties, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced the schedule of the political conferences in the state.

There was a lot of pressure on Mr Badal for the past several months to hold such political conferences as party activists in the countryside were feeling alienated and dejected in absence of any effort from the leadership to involve them in political activity in the state. Though Mr Badal has been continuing with the “sangat darshan” programme since the time he took over, it has a very limited scope as far as interacting with the party’s activists is concerned.

On behalf of Mr Badal, party’s Secretary, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today said that the first political conference would be held at Sangrur, a stronghold of the Akalis, on February 7 and it would be followed by conferences at Kapurthala on February 9 and Jalandhar on February 10.

At Hoshiarpur, the conference would be held on February 12, Ferozepore on February 13, Mansa on February 14, Faridkot on February 15, Gurdaspur on February 21 and Amritsar on February 22. Mr Badungar said that the schedule for remaining districts would be announced later.

The programme of political conferences has been prepared in such a way that it would coincide with the second week of the February when the SAD-BJP government would first time complete four years as a ruling combine. Though earlier also Akali or SAD-BJP governments were formed in the state but no one had lasted such long. Mr Badungar said at conferences, the party would not only give a strong reply to the baseless and misleading propaganda of the opposition parties but also highlight the SAD-BJP government’s achievements in the past four years.

However, it is not clear yet whether BJP leaders in the state and at the national level will also be invited by SAD to address these conferences. At the moment it seems to be only the political programme of SAD. The BJP may chalk out a separate programme to hold political conferences.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab Pradesh Congress Party headed by Capt Amarinder Singh has already started political conferences in the state with the general elections in mind. Capt Amarinder Singh is expecting that the Assembly election in the state could be announced by Mr Badal at anytime as another probable mess on the paddy procurement front next time in October could hit him hard in the assembly elections if these were held on due date which is February next year.

Mr Badal has denied several times that he had any intention to advance the Assembly elections. However, these conferences further reinforce the impression among the opposition parties that the assembly elections in the state may be held early.

The Chief Minister has announced Zila Prishad and Block Samiti elections. These will be held in April this year. Mr Badal would like to see party’s performance in these elections as these would clearly determine his party’s standing among electorate in the rural areas before taking up the bigger challenge of Assembly elections.


Sahib Singh favours temple construction
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 20 — Mr Sahib Singh Verma, former New Delhi Chief Minister, and BJP MP claimed that the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya was the expression of the common sentiments of people.

Mr Verma, who was here to attend a personal function, addressing a press conference at the residence of senior party leader Mithu Ram Gupta last night, said what had happened at Ayodhya in the past was a reflection of the resentment of people against the non-construction should be amended so that all controversial buildings could be restored to their original character.

When asked whether his party would respect the verdict of the Supreme Court, he said the BJP would abide by its decision. He hoped that the decision would be in their favour as sufficient documentary proof had been furnished in this connection to the Supreme Court.

He said the BJP would continue its electoral alliance with the SAD for the coming Assembly elections. Mr Verma said Mr Parkash Singh Badal would complete another tenure as Chief Minister. He did not answer questions regarding the statements of Punjab president of the BJP, Prof Ninwa that the next Punjab Chief Minister would be from the BJP.

Mr Verma said the decision of the government on ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir was good and was welcomed by all. He said the ceasefire was adopted to give militants a chance to come to the negotiations table.

He said the Delhi Government was not doing much for industrialists who had to shift out of Delhi as per the ruling of the court. He said when he was the Chief Minister he had drafted a master plan to shift industrial units in a phased manner.

About the plight of farmers, he said he was worried about it.

Punjabi University to host inter-faith seminar
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 20 — In quest for peace and to give a fillip to inter-faith movement which has become a world phenomenon, an international seminar on inter-faith dialogue will be co-hosted here on February 19 by Punjabi University and Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan.

Announcing this at a meeting held here late this evening, former Union Minister and Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, said the seminar titled “Inter-Faith Dialogue — The Only Hope for Future” would be inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Mr L.K. Advani, and would be attended by leaders of different faiths from across the globe and the country.

The seminar to be held at the National Museum auditorium will also be attended by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Badal has sought the help of eminent personalities to make the seminar a grand success. He also stressed that the seminar should set a pace for a meaningful dialogue among various faith and to understand the values of each faith.

It would also give an opportunity to highlight the greatness of the Sikhism, he said.

Giving details of the seminar, the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, said this conference would be in continuation of the World Peace Summit (August 28-31, 2000), which attracted more than 1,000 religious and spiritual leaders to the United Nations in New York.

“Peace among nations is conditioned by peace between world religions. Unfortunately, inter-faith movement has not become a force in our country though, we need it more than, perhaps, any other nation or country, particularly in the context of the growing ethnic and ethno-religious contradictions which have virtually replaced the earlier class-contradictions which characterised social reality in India,” Mr Ahluwalia told The Tribune.

He hoped that the seminar would give an impetus to the inter-faith dialogue and help build a strong link between various faiths of the country and the world by highlighting the commonality between them.


Radical farm reforms needed
By P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — While there are gaping holes in the National Agriculture Policy, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between policy-makers and ground realities. This alone can balance the economies of surplus and deficit states whose present problems cast a dark shadow on the future prospects of agriculture.

This calls for radical farm reforms protecting the interests of producers and consumers. If, on the one hand, there is a need for production technologies combined with input use to minimise cost of production encouraging cost-effective quality output, on the other, cost of procurement, storage, transportation and distribution must be reduced so that economic costs and issue prices for consumers do not reach unduly high levels, as at present.

Since agriculture of the future will occupy centrestage in economic policies of the country, where two-thirds of the population still depends on farm sector for livelihood, it is time farmers “pressure groups” are created so that their voice too is heard by the policy-makers.

This calls for establishing a “Chamber of Agri-business” on the pattern of business and industrial chambers and their federations. Such a chamber should have a chapter in each state and be free of government controls and patronage. It has to be a total commercial entity. Moreover, agriculture cannot develop in isolation. It has to dovetail with “rural development’ involving education, health, physical and social infrastructure, agro-processing (industry based on factory-end to farms and not on ‘residues’ or ‘surpluses’).

These are the broad policy recommendations made by organisers of the two-day seminar on” Future problems and prospects of Punjab agriculture” held at the Centre for Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, in the first week of January. The recommendations, fine-tuned by Dr S S Johl, were made available to TNS by CRRID Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, here today.

These recommendations are in tune with the observations and comments made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the MInister of Finance, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh.

The recommendations on WTO are straight and cogent. The Centre has been firmly told to take states and interest groups concerned into confidence before settling in for or signing any amendments at the next ministerial round of WTO negotiations.

India must convert “challenges into opportunities” through aggressive exploitation of existing provisions of “Green Box” measures. Though India is under safe limits on “Aggregate Measure of Support” (AMS) to farm sector, it needs to assume “leadership” in negotiations for the needed modifications to seek “commodity-wise calculations rather than overall AMS and to increase levels of AMS”.

India must enter into vigorous bargaining for opening up of highly protected markets of the USA, European Community and Japan and abolition of Tariff Quotas in the developed countries. At present the country has no minimum market access commitment and should try to stick to it.

To check developed countries side-tracking to favour their own farmers, the exemption from AMS provided under “blue box” provision of WTO should be included in the total AMS. “In fact total AMS should be computed on the basis of production per agricultural worker, rather than on the basis of total production”.

Farmers with holdings of 10 acres and below should be declared “resource poor” and “low income” so that they could be exempted from subsidy reduction commitments under the total AMS.

India has to take advantage of the emerging world trade order and introduce comprehensive agricultural reforms and develop rural infrastructure for creating cost-effective and competitive agriculture within the country and in the process develop competitiveness in the world.

The National Agriculture Policy must address to internal and external challenges. The 26 recommendations are practical and can be implemented. These are being forwarded to Mr Badal as desired by him.

Some other key recommendations are on retaining the FCI and PDS. Both have played a part, though, of late, both show signs of fatigue, corruption and inefficiency. Their winding up or phasing out, as the Centre proposes, will not be in the economic interest.

The present situation created by surplus food stock should enable the government develop rural infrastructure and give food-for-work in agriculturally backward areas. Let there be growth centres and remodeled villages. Problems of surplus states will further precipitate as deficit states improve their agriculture. Therefore by adopting decentralised planning and crop-specific and area-specific approach much of the problems can be solved.

Moreover, incentives are required to help farmers grow commercial or cash crops that will reduce country’s import bill. For example, 4 million tonnes of edible oils alone, costing Rs 8,000 crore, have been imported. Punjab must also reduce at least 20 per cent area under wheat and paddy.

The state should stop “mining” of sub-soil water and opt for recharging and conserving it if Punjab is to be saved from becoming a “desert”.

The recommendations suggest amending related and relevant Acts and a re-look at Agrarian laws, realignment of policies and restructuring of cooperatives. The need is to create employment opportunities in industry and service sectors withdraw “free”electricity and replacing it with metered supply.

To keep agricultural commodities competitive in the international market, efforts need to be made to keep domestic produce prices around the international price configurations. Since these fluctuate violently, domestic prices drop should be protected through imposition of “protective “ tariffs whenever international prices drop below a certain level.

For all this to succeed, market intelligence system must be evolved. For perishable commodities, flowers, fruits and vegetables, reefer vans must be introduced. Retail markets are a real culprit in perishable agricultural commodities since these absorb disproportionately large scale of the consumer price and act as a bad conductor of demand pulse to producers.

Farmers should be exempted from stamp duty on mortgage of land for loans above Rs 30,000 for allied agricultural activities.

Who, how and when will these recommendations be implemented, based as these are on the conclusions reached by farmers, sociologists, economists, agricultural scientists and administrators and politicians, in the two-day symposium?


Rinwa’s claim on seats ridiculed
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 20 — The Punjab BJP chief, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa’s claim over 12 Assembly seats represented by the rebel SAD leaders has caused a flutter in political circles.

At least one such seat represented by a rebel Akali Dal leader, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira falls in this district. While a section of the BJP leadership hopes that this shall be allotted to its party candidate in the next Assembly elections, the move is likely to be opposed by the Akali Dal.

Prof Rinwa had recently announced that his party will stake a claim over the seats represented by the rebels. However, Akali Dal leaders ridicule his claim, saying that these seats are largely of rural character and cannot be parted with the BJP.

The controversial seats, including the Zira Assembly segment here, are represented by those legislators who had deserted the SAD in support of the expelled Akali leader, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, who was a minister in the SAD-BJP coalition government had even stepped down from his office.

The issue is likely to cause ripples in the SAD-BJP alliance as Prof Rinwa’s statement has surprised aspirants from both parties. While the Akali Dal aspirants, who were earlier denied ticket are hoping to be elected from these seats this time, a section of the BJP claims that they too have a fair chance of winning from these areas in view of their expanding rural base.

The ticket for the Zira seat that was earlier slated to be given to Mr Hari Singh, a loyalist of the Chief Minister, was allotted to Mr Inderjit Singh on the insistence of Mr Tohra. It is therefore obvious for Mr Hari Singh to expect the allotment of ticket by the party high command this time. However, the local BJP leadership feels that there is no dearth of aspirants within the party who can ensure victory in Zira.

Mr Hari Singh told TNS that there was no controversy over the Zira Assembly seat and it would remain with the Akali Dal. “Being a rural seat, the BJP cannot even think of bagging 500 votes from here,” he said. Disagreeing with Prof Rinwa’s statement, he hoped that the BJP chief would amend his remarks.

The Punjab BJP secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Rai, who is also from Zira, however, feels that his party’s potential should not be underestimated as the BJP had expanded its base in the rural areas. He, however, sought to distance himself from the controversy, saying that “any decision pertaining to the allotment of ticket shall be collectively taken by the two coalition partners.”

Asked whether he would like to be allotted a ticket for the Zira seat, he said: “Everybody has desires in life. But I am too small a fry to answer this question. It is for both Akalis and the BJP to assign a collective responsibility.”

Criticising Prof Rinwa for triggering off a controversy, the suspended BJP leader from Zira, Mr Jagmohan Kaura, warned that this would affect the SAD-BJP alliance. He added that Prof Rinwa’s claim reflected his inexperience in politics.


Charges framed against Bedi in defamation case
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 20 — Charges of defamation were framed against noted cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi in a local court today which also granted him bail in the case filed by former national cricket team selector M.P. Pandove.

The Civil Judge M.D.S. Dhillon today served notice of allegations to Bedi under Section 500 IPC besides granting him bail in the case after he furnished a bail bond of Rs 10,000 . The Judge fixed April 28 as the next date for hearing in the case in which the evidence would be taken up.

Bedi’s counsel H.P.S. Verma disclosed that he had earlier moved the court of the Additional Session Judge seeking anticipatory bail in the case on January 17 but had been directed to file the bail bond in the lower court.

Bedi, who appeared in court today accompanied by former cricket player Yograj, has been charged by former national selector M.P. Pandove of defaming him, Punjab Cricket Association President I.S. Bindra and the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA).

Besides Bedi the other accused in the case are Punjab Kesri correspondent Parvinder Sharda and printer and publisher of the newspaper Vijay Kumar Chopra. The allegedly defamatory articles while casting aspersions on Mr Pandove had claimed that while the PCA stadium was lying incomplete, the house of the national selector had been fully constructed during the same time.

Mr Pandove in his application to the court had claimed that Bedi had levelled false allegations against him after the PCA had dispensed off with his services as manager of the Punjab team due to his non-serious attitude. He said the PCA had made Bedi its member and had also appointed him chairman of its Senior Selection Committee and the Technical Committee.

The former selector claimed that though Bedi had been appointed manager of the Punjab team on honorary basis, he asked for salary. He said the PCA tried to adjust him in every way and gifted him a Tempo Traveller worth Rs 4.25 lakh in the 1992-93 season. He said when Bedi again demanded renumeration for managing the Punjab Ranji team a formal contract was signed with him.

The application said under the terms of the contract Bedi was to be paid Rs 7,000 per month and his duties had been stipulated. It said it was revealed that Bedi was not performing his duties properly. Taking into account these facts, the PCA then appointed a new manager for the State Ranji team and the contract with Bedi was terminated, the application said.

It claimed that Bedi tried to show his resentment against the PCA and Mr M.P. Pandove due to these reasons and levelled false allegations in print against them.

The case is likely to generate interest as former cricketer Navjot Sidhu and Dronacharya awardee D. P. Azad are witnesses in the case against Bedi.


Case against Tohra, others adjourned
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and seven others presented themsleves before the district court, today in a case of violation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. They appeared in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ashok Kumar, who adjourned the case for February 15. The Magistrate also granted exemption from personal appearance to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra for February 15.

The case against Mr Tohra and seven others was registered under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code on June 14, 2000, in the Sector 26 police station. It was alleged that Mr Tohra along with others, all members of the Sikh Education Society, held a meeting near S.G.G.S College, Sector 26. After the meeting they tried to enter the college. It was further alleged that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and others had violated the prohibitory orders promulgated under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the UT District Magistrate on May 17, 2000.


Dissidence in Punjab Cong over WTO
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 20 — The defence of World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the PPCC chief, Mr Amarinder Singh, seems to have given rise to dissidence in the Congress party in Punjab as a major section of the Congress leadership has complained to the party high command that stand of Mr Amarinder Singh on WTO had caused a setback to the party.

Sources said that a section of Punjab leadership had met Mr Moti Lal Vora and other senior leaders recently in Delhi and warned him that the ruling Akalis had started exploiting the stand of Mr Amarinder Singh on the issue to their advantage.

The leaders told the high command that while the Akalis had been terming the WTO a fatal blow to agriculture in Punjab and had also expressed concern over the fallout of the WTO regime on the state economy, the stand of Mr Amarinder Singh on the WTO had been making the party isolated in the political map of state.

They lamented that the stand of the Congress leadership had been giving benefits to the Akalis at a time when the assembly elections were approaching.

The dissidence in the Congress party came to light when the party whip and MP from Faridkot, Mr Jagmeet Brar, dubbed the WTO as anti-farmer and said that he was opposed to its implementation in Punjab. A few days later, former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also expressed her apprehension over the WTO and said that it was too early to defend the WTO.

After that a section of the party leadership started approaching the party high command to ask Mr Amarinder Singh to backtrack on the issue. These leaders had also succeeded to some extent in getting the support of central leaders like Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Madhav Rao Scindia, Mr Moti Lal Vora and Mr Gulam Nabi Azad who had expressed concern over the rising dissidence in Punjab Congress unit triggered by stand of Mr Amarinder Singh on the WTO.

These leaders were of the view that any comment in connection with the WTO by any leader would be premature as the issue was already being discussed by a committee of experts headed by Mr Jairam.

On the other hand, CPI State Secretary, Joginder Dyal has said that his party would leave no stone upturned to oppose the WTO. He has also urged Mr Amarinder Singh to clear his stand on the WTO.

Dr Dyal, who has also advocated the idea of joining of all the secular forces, including the CPI and Congress in Punjab to fight the ruling alliance of the SAD-BJP in the coming assembly elections, has also mentioned his party would go in for an electoral alliance with the Congress only after Mr Amarinder Singh made his stand clear on the WTO.

Party sources said that a section of Punjab leadership was also trying to make Mr Amarinder Singh a ‘whipping boy’ as some of them wanted to settle personal scores with him.


Cong infighting spills over to Majha region
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 20 — The infighting in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has spilled over to the Majha region too as local leaders have raised objections over the proposed rally being held at Sri Hargobindpur (Gurdaspur) on January 23.

Mr M.M. Cheema, a senior trade unionist and Chairman of the committee’s Intellectual Cell, has criticised the statement of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, a former minister and general secretary of the PPCC, that a Congress rally was being held at Sri Hargobindpur. He said Mr Bajwa had no locus standi to hold the rally as he (Mr Bajwa) had not taken the local Congress into confidence. Moreover, Sri Hargobindpur was not the constituency of Mr Bajwa and, hence, any such conference if held would be his personal one.

Mr Cheema claimed that Ms Santosh Chaudhary, Member, Parliament (Phillaur), had written to the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, regarding this. Mr Cheema claimed that Ms Chaudhary had requested Ms Sonia Gandhi that she should direct the PPCC President, Mr Amarinder Singh, not to give consent for holding the conference.


Badal govt flayed for ‘anti-Dalit’ policies
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Jan 20 — In an unprecedented move the Scheduled Caste Morcha of the BJP today criticised the Badal government for pursuing ‘anti-Dalit’ policies during its four-year rule.

Mr Vijay Sampla, president of the state unit of the morcha, while addressing a press conference here today alleged that the Punjab Government had deliberately suspended three Chairs in the name of three Dalit personalities B.R. Ambedkar, Guru Ravi Dass and Sant Kabir at Guru Nanak Dev University.

“The Badal government has been adopting double standards since it has been allocating several development grants throughout the state, while on the other hand it had suspended three Chairs in the university on the pretext of shortage of funds,” alleged Mr Sampla.

He further alleged that though no state government had abolished the “roaster system” pertaining to the reservation in the promotions for Scheduled Caste employees, the Badal government had issued a notification debarring all SC employees from getting any reservation benefits in promotion.

“The Punjab Government should immediately restore the “roaster system” and three Chairs at the University, failing which the morcha will launch a statewide agitation against the state government,” he added.

When asked that it was decided to abolish the “roaster system” at a Cabinet meeting where all BJP ministers were present, Mr Sampla said he would take up the matter with the state BJP chief Brij Lal Rinwa very soon.

Later, he announced that the district presidents of the morcha Mr Ashwini Titu (Jalandhar), Mr Surinder Singh Mehli (Nawanshahar), Mr Manjit Singh (Sangrur), Mr Sawaran Singh (Mansa), Mr Nachattar Pal Singh (Mansa rural), Mr Kesar Singh (Bathinda), Mr Hariji Solanki (Abohar), Mr Darshan Singh Majhabi (Faridkot), Mr Amar Chand (Patiala), Mr Gian Chand (Mukerian), Mr Gurdev Chand (Kapurthala), Mr Puran Chand Pawar (Ferozpore), Mr Ajmer Singh (Fatehgarh Sahib) have been nominated as district presidents of the morcha.


Patiala DCC may be reconstituted
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 20 — Patiala Urban District Congress Committee President Ved Parkash Gupta has stolen a march over his detractors in the party by convening a meeting of the party unit at his residence tomorrow which is likely to deliberate on the “reconstitution of the unit and distributing assignments to active members after reviewing their past performances”.

The move by DCC (Urban) President follows a statement given by Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh that all DCC presidents will continue to hold their present assignments pending reconstitution . Mr Gupta, who had been lying low for quite some time, has apparently taken a cue from this announcement as well as other “assurances”’ to convene a meeting of the district unit at his residence tomorrow.

The DCC chief, when asked whether he was still president of the DCC (Urban) unit which officially stood dissolved, said he had received directions that he was to continue pending reconstitution of the unit. He said it was due to this reason that he had held a meeting of the unit.

He said the meeting would deliberate on the latest political situation in the District and the state besides finalising details of the party functions to be held on January 26 on Republic Day, January 30 on Martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi and February 19, the birthday of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Mr Gupta said in the prevailing situation the meeting was important as the district body was to the reconstituted soon with assignments to be given to active members for which the past performances of the leaders would be reviewed and their commitment and dedication to the party will be taken into account.

Sources said the DCC (Urban) President was holding the meeting at his residence as a show of strength besides the need to give out signals that he would be retained as the party chief by the high command . They said besides this the meeting was probably being held at the residence of the DCC chief as the last meeting of the unit held at the DCC office in Chhoti Baradari ended in fisticuffs with a section of the workers revolting against the DCC chief.

The sources said the DCC chief now wanted to completely sideline all the leaders who had expressed loss of faith in his leadership and that they would not be accommodated in the new unit . Sources said the dissidents in the DCC had played into the hands of the DCC chief as they first criticised him and then were forced to criticise the Pradesh Congress chief as they did not get any response from him. The sources said these leaders , who were now identifying with former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had further strengthened the position of Mr Ved Parkash Gupta.


Two NRIs transform village
From Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

KHARAUDI (Hoshiarpur): The name, Kharaudi, held no significance till a couple of years ago. It was just one of the many villages of Punjab, with unpaved lanes, open drains, garbage heaps, mosquitoes and flies. Today a silent revolution has overtaken this village, thanks to the initiative of some NRIs who have not forgotten their roots.

In 1998, two NRIs from this village, Dr Raghbir Singh Basi and Dr Gurdev Singh Gill, promoted an improvement plan to transform this village and gave it the name village-life improvement programme (VIP). The VIP Foundation got going with a capital of Rs 40 lakh contributed by the NRIs and launched the first phase of the village development plan was launched. The Punjab Government pitched in with some grant.

The project in fact took off in late 1999 and the village can now boast of regular water supply, an underground sewerage, solar street lights, parks and paved streets.

The total cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 1 crore. The Punjab Government had pledged Rs 50 lakh and Rs 50 lakh was to be raised by the NRIs and the residents of the village. The Government, however, released just Rs 7 lakh. Another Rs 10 lakh was hurriedly released on December 26 when Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Premier of British Columbia (Canada), visited the village to formally inaugurate the project.

Dr Basi, who holds a Chair at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska (USA), has put his economic development specialisation to use for the welfare of his native village. ‘‘My aim is to start a process of integrated, sustainable development, in the hope that the infrastructure will help the villagers live a healthy and productive life’’, he says.

The residents have started feeling the change. ‘‘We have spent our lives in the midst of dirt and filth. But our children will grow up in a healthy environment,’’ said an elderly resident. Mr Hardeep Singh, another villager, said the civic amenities were like a dream come true. ‘‘Earlier with no sewerage and open-air defecation, mosquitoes and flies made our lives miserable. Now all that is a thing of the past.’’

A Tribune team which visited the village saw that the underground sewerage and the water supply system had been completed. Solar streetlights were in position. A sewerage treatment plant will become operational soon, according to Dr Basi. A fish pond will be added to the plant and its income will take care of the maintenance and salaries of the staff.

The team saw work on internal streets going on a war-footing. Two major roads have been completed. Work on two other roads which the Punjab Government is to build, is yet to begin. The village school has been upgraded. Computer education will be started soon. The first phase of the programme also includes three parks.


Thousands throng Majitha’s funeral
From Our Correspondent

MAJITHA (Amritsar), Jan 20 — Mr Parkash Singh Majitha’s mortal remains were consigned to flames amids chanting of Gurbani at his ancestral town this afternoon with state honours.

His body was brought here from Chandigarh, when he died at the PGI last night, this morning. Thousands from all walks of life gathered at his residence to pay homage to their leader. Mr Majitha was a four-time MLA from his home constituency.

His body wrapped in the Tricolour was brought to the cremation grounds in the flower-bedecked truck. The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his Cabinet ministers paid floral tributes to the deceased.

Thousands of mourners cutting across party lines thronged the cremation grounds to have a last glimpse of their father-figure.

Wreaths were placed by the Chief Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Nirmal Singh Khalon, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mrs Upinderjit Kaur, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala, all ministers, Rajya Sabha MP Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, MP, Chairman, Punjab Water and Sewerage Board, Mr Sat Pal Mahajan, Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala, MLA, Mr Vir Singh Lopoke MLA, former Congress minister Sardul Singh, president of the District Congress Committee (Rural) Mr Sukh Sarkaria and senior civil and police officials.

A priest from the Golden Temple performed the ‘ardas’ as a contingent of the Punjab Police reversed arms while the last post was sounded. Mr Manjit Singh lit the pyre of his father.

Mr Majitha leaves behind his widow, three sons and a daughter.

He was president of the Khalsa College Governing Council for the last several years. All schools and colleges under Khalsa College remained closed today as a mark of respect to their head.

Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, in a condolence message, described Mr Majitha as a god-fearing.

A condolence meeting was held in Sri Guru Teg Bahadur College to mourn the death. The contribution of Mr Majitha as a patriot, leader of the downtrodden, freedom fighter, an educationist and above all as a person were eulogised.

“His death has created a void difficult to fill. May god grant peace to the departed soup and strength to the bereaved family,” a condolence resolution said.

The Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar also mourned the death.


Kirtani Jatha threatens to hold dharna
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 20 — Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, ‘mukh sewadar’, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, today reiterated that a dharna would be staged before the Akal Takht secretariat if the Sikh clergy allowed Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, to attend Akal Takht meetings.

Mr Talwara alleged that the decision of the SGPC executive to allow Giani Puran Singh to these meetings would snowball into a major controversy as he (Giani Puran Singh) had violated Sikh ‘maryada’ during his tenure as Akal Takht Jathedar.

He alleged that instead of taking a clear stand against Giani Puran Singh, the Sikh high priests had adopted a ‘diplomatic approach’ on this sensitive issue.

He said if the current “deadlock” continued for long, it would further complicate Panthic issues. He said it was clear that Giani Puran Singh was not prepared to concede that he had issued ‘wrong hukamnamas” which were revoked by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, and other Sikh high priests on March 29.

He said the situation had reached a point of no return” and the current Panthic issue were unlikely to be resolved in the near future.

Mr Talwara said the utterances of Giani Puran Singh describing Sikhs as descedents of Luv and Kush had created confusion among the Sikhs. This had helped the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat and the RSS to ‘distort’ Sikh history.


Farmers seek better prices for produce
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Jan 20 — Hundreds of farmers from various parts of the subdivision, belonging to five farmers’ unions, held a protest dharna at Mandiala village, about 5 km from here, today. The farmers were demanding remunerative prices for wheat and minimum support price for potatoes. They also demanded that suitable action be taken by the state government to save the potato growers from suffering losses.

Mr Jeet Singh, president of a farmers’ association, said over the past three to four years, potato growers had been suffering heavy losses and were not able even to recover the cost of production. Many of the farmers are now in debt, he added. He alleged that no government agency had offered to market the potato crop even though agencies like Nafed, Punseed and the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation were specially created for marketing agricultural produce.

Inquiries conducted by this correspondent revealed that a majority of farmers of the region have not been able to pay back their crop loans which have collectively gone into crores of rupees and the local Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank has issued notices to the farmers to deposit their loan amounts.

The banks are trying to take over the mortgaged lands of the farmers who are not in a condition to recover their loan amounts. The farmers were also protesting against the forced recovery of bank loans and attachment of properties. The union leaders criticised the Central as well as the state government for their alleged anti-farmer policies. They demanded an immediate solution to the problem.

Farmers for steps to save wheat crop
From Our Correspondent

MOGA, Jan 20 — Farmers of villages in the district have expressed concern over the considerable damage caused to their wheat crop sown during October last due to frost, severe cold and spray of allegedly spurious insecticides on it.

A deputation of the farmers, headed by Mr Lachhman Singh, of Bhekha village under the Baghapurana police station told mediapersons here yesterday that the crop had turned pale and the leaves dry and if no immediate and effective measures were taken, the farmers would suffer heavily.

They said they had urged experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to deal with the situation at an early date and save the crop from further damage.


PYC to join potato growers’ stir
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 20 — The Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) has decided to join the second phase of agitation to be launched by potato growers of Doaba region from January 23.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, said the farmers were suffering and left with no option but to protest due to the wrong policies of the SAD-BJP combine. An example of this was the inability of the government to purchase paddy, wheat and potato. He alleged that the BJP-led Central government was “anti-farmer” and this was exposed by the recommendation of the Agriculture Price Commission to cut down the minimum support price by Rs 60 a quintal. He said his organisation could support the ongoing agitation of the farmers.

Mr Babbu said 10,000 workers of the Punjab Youth Congress would participate in the rally to be organised in Delhi in February by the All-India Congress Committee. The rally was aimed at highlighting the plight of the farmers. He said the Punjab Youth Congress will hold district-level rallies in Ludhiana on January 24, followed by another rally on February 23 in Bathinda.


Scheme to provide food to infants
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 20 — The Central Government has introduced a new scheme, “Pradhan Mantri Gram Uday Yojana”, to provide nutritious food to all infants up to 3 years of age.

Mr R.L. Kalsia, Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development Department of Punjab, today inaugurated the scheme at Blahar Binju village of the district.

He added that the department had identified 1.5 lakh infants in the state who were physically weak and were not growing properly. He added that all the identified infants had been divided into four categories and they would be provided food accordingly.

Mr Kalsia also attended a workshop organised in connection with women’s rights here today in which different social and educational institutions, women lawyers, doctors and police personnel participated. The workshop was presided by Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner. A seminar to provide financial assistance to women for self employment was also organised.


Engineers resent political interference
Tribune News Serive

PATIALA, Jan 20 — The Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers Association has condemned the ongoing “political interference” in the board. It has said that such interference is encouraging controvercial transfers and theft of power.

The engineers who interacted with the board management and the PSEB Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, said the management and engineers should work in coordination to bring the PSEB out of the red, increase resources and plug leakages caused by power theft.

The General Secretary of the body, Mr Anil Miglani, said the board Chairman was of the view that the PSEB was one of the few boards in north India that had survived the onslaught of privatisation and could still be run profitably. He said, between April 1, 2000, and January 19, 2001, the PSEB had earned Rs 3,640 crore.

Mr Miglani said Mr Sohal also believed that the debt-servicing burden on the board had increased from Rs 798 crore in the year 1999-2000 to Rs 1,415 crore this year. This liability that had to be discharged in cash was causing loss to the board. Mr Sohal said this high liability was due to the cumulative effect of loans taken in the past.

Mr Miglani said, the present period was the last chance to save the PSEB from a financial collapse. He said the board Chairman was confident that the situation could be improved by plugging power thefts, improving billing and reducing losses by revamping the local distribution system. He said the Chairman was concerned that 53 per cent of the consumers were billed on the bases of average consumption of energy.

According to him, a board member, Mr A.K. Kundra, urged the engineers to work with coordination so that consumer service was optimised. He said another member, Mr Suresh Gupta, had called for the introduction of information technology in the board. He said this would help auditing energy consumption, checking thefts, improving billing and realisation of revenue. There were also discussions regarding the introduction of energy auditing and computerisation.

The association said, instead of wasting time and energy on exercises like compulsory medical check-up camps, the board should stress on human resource development at every level. It also urged the board to settle issues like promotion scales and stagnation.


Rape case: father seeks justice
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Jan 20 — The parents of the 15-year-old Dalit girl, who was allegedly raped by a youth of her own village about four months ago, have been virtually running from pillar to post to get the culprits, including two women, arrested.

The girl of Patti Juggian village in Mehatpur was allegedly raped by Billa of the same village on September 23, last year.

Narrating the incident to the police, the girl had stated that Binder, her neighbour, had took her to Baljit Kaur’s house for some work. But Binder and Baljit Kaur, locked her in a room where Billa was already present, who committed the crime.

A case had been registered against all the three on October 10 under Section 363, 366, 376, 120-B, IPC, and Billa was arrested.

“The police has deliberately not arrested the other two women. On a couple of occasions when the police went to investigate the matter, the woman sarpanch had falsely stated to the police that none of the culprits were present in the village,” alleged Mohal Lal, father of the victim.

Though I have visited several offices of the Police Department to get justice for my daughter, but in vain since the police has been playing a role of a mute spectator, he added.

Mr Tarsem Peter, general secretary of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, alleged that the two women, who absconded after the incident, were being sheltered by the village sarpanch Joginder Kaur. However, Joginder Kaur was not available for comments.

“A deputation of villagers had met Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, on Monday, but no concrete steps were taken to arrest the culprits,” Mr Peter said.

Mr Pushkar Sandal, DSP (Nakodar), was, however, not available for comments.


Encyclopaedia of Sikhism on CD
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 20 — A renowned scholar of the Sikh religion from Canada, Mr Raghbir Singh Bains, creator of the first multimedia CD, “Encyclopaedia of Sikhism”, exhibited an audio and visual presentation of his work at the international conference organised by the Akal Purakh ki Fauj and at the Conference Hall of Guru Nanak Dev University here yesterday.

Mr Bains produced the encyclopaedia by doing work on the project for 16 to 20 hours daily for 15 years continuously.

Giving details about his work, Mr Bains said the aim of the production of the encyclopaedia was to provide literature of the Sikh religion and its relative terms etc in English to the global community and spread the message of universal brotherhood, peace and prosperity to the human race. The CD would also attract the youth towards Sikhism.

Mr Bains said the encyclopaedia would also be useful for researchers, scholars, teachers, students, judges, lawyers, counsellors, community leaders and mediamen.

Earlier, Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar, Professor and Head of the Guru Nanak Studies Department of the university, appreciated the research work of Mr Bains.

Dr Bikram Singh Ghuman, Dean, Students Welfare, thanked Mr Bains and other scholars present on the occasion on behalf of the university.


6 killed, 12 hurt in bus-truck collision
From Our Correspondent

SAMANA, Jan 20 — Six persons were killed and 12 injured when a Haryana Roadways bus of Fatehabad Depot collided with a truck near Hamjheri village 35 km from here, today.

The injured were admitted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala and the local Civil Hospital.

Five persons were killed on the spot and one died at hospital. The bus was going to Jammu from Fatehabad and the truck was coming from Malerkotla.

Four of the deceased have been identified as Swaran Jit Singh (truck cleaner) of Amargarh, Sat Pat of Moonak, Nazir Khan of Banga and Jagdish Singh of Baroda village. The condition of three of the injured is stated to be serious.

Police and administrative officials reached the spot.


6 more ducks poisoned
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 20 — A fresh case of duck poisoning at the Harike bird sanctuary, near here, has raised questions. This time, six ducks, including four coots, were allegedly poisoned to death by three poachers in a broad daylight on January 17.

This is the fourth major incident of poaching in Harike in the past two months. Although wildlife staff managed to arrest the poachers, the incident reflects on the safety of the birds.

The wildlife inspector, Mr Roopinder Singh, said the poachers, employed with a landlord of Talwandi Nepalan village, were apprehended along with a boat and two nets. The Divisional Forest Officer, Mr Jagdeep Singh, alleged that they had poisoned the ducks.

The incident follows two attempts by fish poachers to enter the sanctuary on December 28 and January 10 and is bound to disturb the movement of migratory birds.

Wildlife officials said there was inadequate fencing around the wetland. Mr Roopinder Singh said hunters frequently made intrusion bids from unguarded areas and did not rule out the possibility of clandestine poaching still continuing in the sanctuary.

Sources in the wildlife department also attributed such incidents to staff which was demoralised due to lack of police assistance and the influence by fishermen and poachers. Also guards on duty did not have weapons.

Parent’s refusal leads to girl’s suicide
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 20 — A teenaged girl of Ram Bagh locality of the town committed suicide today when her parents refused to arrange her marriage with the boy with whom she was in love for the past many years.

Her boy friend Raman Kumar (name changed) of Guru Nanak Pura area also attempted suicide. The girl and the boy consumed celphos tablets and were found in an unconscious state today near the bank of canal passing through the city.

Civil Hospital sources said the girl was brought dead while the boy was undergoing treatment. The condition of the boy was serious.

Sources added that the boy was engaged formally with some other girl when the parents of the girl with whom he was in love refused to arrange their marriage. The boy, a student of the local Industrial Training Institute (ITI), was reportedly not in favour of his marriage with another girl.


Plea to make Pathankot dist
From Our Correspondent

PATHANKOT, Jan 20 — A meeting of the Zila Banao Sangharsh Samiti was held at the court complex here in which more than 100 representatives of various political parties, commercial, social and cultural organisations participated.

The delegates resolved to sink their political differences and called upon the state government to upgrade Pathankot subdivision to a district by carving out a district headquarters here.


‘Mahila mandals to get financial help’
From Our Correspondent

LALRU (Patiala), Jan 20 — “The Punjab Government would strengthen the village mahila mandals to empower women in the state,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Financial and Planning Minister of Punjab, while addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of Mahila Shakti Kendra at Lalru.

A similar centre will be formed by merging four villages in the Banur legislative constituency. Rural women will be given professional training at these centres to provide them with avenues of self-employment. Besides embroidery, the centre will offer some other courses as well.

The minister said the mandals would receive financial help from the government. He also gave a check for Rs 3 lakh to the Lalru Mahila Mandal for the construction of the centre.

Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, SDM, Ms Amarjit Kaur, President of the Istri Akali Dal of Chandigarh, Ms Surya Pandit, General Secretary of the Chetna Society, Ms Kamlajit Kaur, President of the Mahila Mandal of Lalru and Mr Jasmer Rana, Chairman of the Market Committee of Lalru, were also present there.


Jaswant Singh Neki honoured 
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 20 — Renowned poet Dr Jaswant Singh Neki was bestowed with the Giani Lal Singh memorial award for his pathbreaking work in the field of poetry by the Giani Lal Singh Trust at a function held at the Punjab Languages Department headquarters here.

The noted poet was given a memento, shawl and the award money by the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal.

Speaking on the occasion after receiving the award, Dr Neki said his mission in life had been similar to that of Giani Lal Singh, that is raising the standard of Punjabi language through his writings. He said Giani Lal Singh had been a visionary who had been instrumental in the propogation of the Punjabi language in the state besides being the spirit behind the creation of the Punjabi language department itself.

The Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, while speaking at the function said the immense contribution made by Giani Lal Singh to his mother tongue had raised the stature of Punjabi language. He said he would take up the issue of establishing a suitable memorial in the name of the noted builder of Punjabi language.

The Punjabi University Vice Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, said Giani Lal Singh’s contribution in the field of literature would always be recognised by future generations. Others who spoke on the occasion were the former Chief Secretary, Mr Amrik Singh Pooni, and the Language Department Director, Mr Madal Lal Hasija.


Gas leakage: AVM seeks action
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 20 — The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) in a press note has demanded serious vigilance and prompt action to the hazardous leakage of dangerous gases by factories.

Citing a recent incident of ammonia gas leakage, a letter was addressed to the Deputy Commissioner by Vijay Kumar Sharma, a heart patient, alleging serious effect on his health as he fell unconscious on January 17, the day the news of ammonia leakage was published in The Tribune as the gas continued to leak from the bottling plant at Chheharta.

The AVM in its representation has urged the civil administration, the police and the Pollution Board to take punitive action against the defaulting units.


Youth activists gherao DEO
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 20 — Members of the Janwadi Naujawan Sabha (JNS) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) today gheraoed the District Education Officer today.

The protesters demanded action against the alleged bungling in PTA fund. They also demanded the inquiry report against a school at Bath village to be made public, and issuing of scholarships belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.


5 held for trespassing hospital land
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 20 — The police has arrested five persons for trespassing the land of TB Centre, Jiwanwal Babri, 2 km from here, uprooting the burjs of land demarcated as TB hospital land and watering the standing wheat crop to damage it. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP said today that the accused have been identified as Kashmir Singh, Amrik Singh, Jasbir Singh and Jaswant Singh, all four brothers and residents of Aujla village in the suburb of the city and Shafi Masih of Dhariwal.

The SSP said the Aujla and Jiwanwal Babri village panchayats had donated 16 acres of agriculture land in 1960 for the construction of a TB hospital at Jiwanwal Babri village. Two acres were utilised for the construction of the TB hospital and the remaining 14 acres of land was given on lease to private individuals.

The SSP said the practice continued till 1978 when the four brothers took the land on lease. The accused paid the lease money to the Health Department for two years and later stopped paying the lease money, but cultivated the land by keeping it in their possession.

The hospital authorities filed a suit for the vacation of land in the court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who decided the case in the favour of the hospital authorities last year. Moreover, the Deputy Commissioner in the presence of the Tehsildar and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate handed over the possession of 14 acres to the hospital authorities on December 15. But the accused kept on trespassing.

On December 30 the accused without caring for the court’s orders uprooted the “burjs” erected on the boundaries of the said land and watered the land in which the wheat crop had been sown and illegally took the possession of the said land.

The district TB and leprosy officer reported the case to the Sadar police station, here who after verification registered a case under Sections 447/379/34, IPC, and arrested the four on January 9. The fifth accused Jaswant Singh was also arrested.

Mr B. Vikram, Deputy Commissioner, while talking to this correspondent said the building of the TB hospital, which had been damaged due to its gross neglect, was under repair.

The hospital was closed for TB patients about a year ago with the approval of the Health Minister and Director, Health Services. The Deputy Commissioner said communication to revive the hospital was in final stages and likely to start operation in due course of time for which the staff was already working at the local Civil Hospital.

The Deputy Commissioner said the 14 acres of agriculture land attached with the hospital was likely to fetch Rs 1.2 lakh approximately as lease money.


US dream costs them dear
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 20 — The police has arrested Surinder Singh Dhillon, a proclaimed offender, for his involvement in two cases registered against him on November 21 last at the Dinanagar police station for taking money from Lakhbir Singh and Surinder Singh of Dala village on the false promise of sending them abroad and securing jobs for them .

Lakhbir Singh had complained to the police that in October, 1998, the accused and his wife had realised a sum of Rs 1 lakh from him on the promise of sending him to the USA. Lakhbir Singh and Surinder Singh reached Bangkok on October 31, 1998, where they were kept in a hotel for two months. Instead of being sent to the USA, both were sent back to Delhi on expiry of their visas.

When Lakhbir Singh and Surinder Singh demanded refund of their money from the accused, they were told they would be sent to Malaysia. However, after six months they were supposedly sent to the USA by air but to their surprise found themselves in Bangkok. They were kept in a hotel there for a week after which they were taken to the shore and were sent in a boat at midnight.

After crossing the border, they were caught by the police of Malaysia and kept in jail for 14 days. Then they were handed over to the Thailand police and sent back to Delhi after two weeks.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said yesterday that Baba Jagjit Singh, an associate of Surinder Singh Dhillon, and his wife Dimpi who had collected a sum of Rs 1 lakh from Lakhbir Singh were arrested on October 22 last.

Suringer Singh had paid Rs 1.5 lakh to the accused in October, 1998, for being sent to the USA. The accused had also taken a sum of Rs 1.15 lakh from Paramjit Singh, a resident of Rure Buttar, Rs 50,000 from Satnam Singh, a resident of Munanwali, both under Dinanagar police station, Rs 45,000 each from Sikandar Singh and Boota Singh of Jaito village in Faridkot, Rs 35,000 from Hardev Singh of Banga and Rs 45,000 from Kashmir Singh of Hoshiarpur on the promise to send them abroad.

The accused had failed to sent either of them abroad and refused to refund the money.


Sans subsidy, many units turning sick
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 20 — Hundreds of industries set up in the past one decade in Punjab are becoming sick as the state government has failed to disburse capital subsidy to these units in time.

Sources said a number of units had lost their viability in view of the fact that they could not get the subsidy in the expected period. But, the new units which had come up in the past few years, had been getting the incentive after about six to seven years.

The sources said the Punjab Government was only disbursing subsidies to those units whose cases had been sanctioned in June, 1996. The industrial units which had come up later were yet to get the sanction for the capital subsidy.

Mr Mulkh Raj Madan, press secretary, Consumer Welfare Council, said entrepreneurs were setting up units in Punjab because of the provision of the capital subsidy. Every entrepreneur had been raising loans on heavy rates of interest in the belief that he would settle a major part of his liabilities after getting the subsidy.

However, every entrepreneur was being issued a letter for the subsidy, but he got the same only after six to seven years. In this period, the viability of the unit declined and it faced closure.

He pointed out that there were thousands of cases relating to the state capital subsidy incentive which were yet to be processed and sanctioned by the authorities concerned. He said the Punjab Government was ignoring small-scale units.

During the previous Congress government, the backlog in the subsidy was only three years which had now gone up to six to seven years. He said if the Punjab Government wanted to carry out massive industrialisation and keep the existing units running, it should make arrangements for funds in order to disburse the subsidy among all units.


Punjab order against closure challenged
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Sudhalkar and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill issued notice in a writ petition filed by Alpha Drug India Limited challenging the orders of the Government of Punjab declining to permit partial closure of the unviable sections of the company’s sections at their plant in Lalru as also challenging reference of the same for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal, Punjab.

It was contended by Mr Anil Malhotra and Mr Ranjit Malhotra, appearing on behalf of the petitioner company, that Alpha Drug had approached the Secretary, Department of Labour and Employment, Government of Punjab, with an application under the Inustrial Disputes Act for closure of four of its separate production plants due to low sales volumes, stiff competition and commercially unviable conditions. In the proposal for closure, all the 33 employees effected were stated to be rehabilitated or settled with voluntary retirement scheme.

Despite the complete answers given to all the queries and questions raised by the Secretary, Department of Labour, the partial closure was declined on the ground that no separate profit and loss accounts of the separate sections had been maintained and that there was no separate seniority list of the workers employed in different parts of the establishment.

Seeking review of the government’s orders, the company contended that its total accumulated losses were over Rs 30 crore and the net worth of the company having eroded by more than 50 %, it had been reported as potentially sick to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction under the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1985. The company further pleaded that by partially closing down unviable sections and production units, an attempt was being made for restructuring to prevent closure of the entire unit. It was also stressed that closure meant partial closure of any separate individual establishment or undertaking within the same unit under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act.

Instead of reviewing its orders, the government without affording any opportunity of hearing or issuing any notice on the review application of the company, referred the matter to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication as an industrial dispute despite their being no demand either by the workmen or the management of the company for reference of the matter as an alleged dispute.

It was contended that the issue of closure could not be a subject of industrial dispute and hence the unilateral reference by the government suo moto was wholly uncalled for. It was also urged that the company could not be forced to carry on its business and managerial discretion permitted partial closure for preventing addition to mounting losses.

While issuing notice in the petition, the High Court stayed the proceedings before the Industrial Tribunal, Punjab and issued notice regarding stay to the Government of Punjab.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |