Saturday, February 3, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Talwandi's meeting with PM opposed

NEW DELHI, Feb 2 (UNI)—The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today termed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi’s proposed meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and RSS chief K. Sudarshan as a “calculated move” to indirectly put the issue of sending jathas of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan again under the Centre's control.

“Pakistan has permitted any group of Sikhs to secure visas for ‘khuleh darshan deedare’(unrestricted darshan) of the historical shrines in its areas, thus doing away with quota system for pilgrims, SHSAD General Secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra said here today.

“What is the need of restoring the quota system for Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan as it has always been opposed by Akalis on the plea that the such dispensation has provided a handle to previous Congress governments at the Centre to divide Sikhs and even denying them access to their religio-historical places?” Mr Chandumajra asked.

The Akali leader also opposed Mr Talwandi’s meeting with the RSS chief, saying that the SGPC should spell out his agenda for meeting the RSS leader, as otherwise it amounted to “acquiscing to the supremacy of the majority religion.’’


Cong complains to EC against 3 DSPs
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee today made a fresh complaint against three Deputy Superintendents of Police to the Election Commission. They have been alleged to be influencing voters along with big police force in mufti.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, secretary PPCC, alleged that two DSPs from the home district of Mr Parkash Singh Badal had reached Majitha to influence the voters. He alleged that Mr Sajan Singh Cheema, DSP, Gidderbaha (home town of Mr Badal) and Mr Karmjit Singh, DSP (Detective), Muktsar (home district of Mr Badal) were called by Mr Badal to Majitha. The complaint urged the Election Commission to take appropriate action against the police officials. The PPCC also demanded immediate transfer of Mr S.S. Mann, DSP (Rural) Amritsar who, is a close relative of Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Akali candidate could influence the voters. Mr Khaira further alleged that an SDO who is close relative of an Akali MLA from Valtoha had been openly violating the code of conduct by constructing new roads in Majitha constituency.

Meanwhile, Mr Sawinder Singh Kathunangal, Congress candidate has sent a number of pictures to the Election Commission which shows that developmental work was going on war-footing in various parts of Majitha constituency. He alleged that despite a number of complaints, the Election Commission had failed to take any action in this regard.


Efforts to woo Hindu voters
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

CHAWINDA DEVI (Majitha), Feb 2 — The Hindu voters, who had migrated to adjoining states during days of militancy are being wooed by the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress as they hold the ‘balance of power” in this pre-dominantly rural constituency — once hot-bed of militancy.

Recognising the significance of Hindu voter during the crucial byelection of Majitha, the lone Hindu Akali Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, today launched campaign of the SAD from Chawinda Devi temple.

Chawinda Devi temple was rocked in a bomb blast in January, 1989 in which five Hindus were killed while 18 received injuries. This town was worst-affected after Operation Bluestar. A number of incidents, including mobbing of Hindus were reported in reaction to the Operation Bluestar. Mr Gulshan Kumar, senior vice-president, district BJP and chairman, Chawinda Devi Trust, who had also shifted to Haryana after figuring on the “hit-list” of militants while talking to Tribune said that there was more than 1000 Hindu votes out of the total 1500 in the town. Similarly a big number of Hindu votes were spread in Gopalpura, Jaintipur and even in Majitha town itself, which would influence the results of byelection.

The launching of campaign from the shrine by Mr Garg has shown that Akalis treat temples and gurdwaras alike so far as electioneering is concerned.

Both the Akalis and the Congress have prepared special strategies to woo the Hindu voters which has suffered the most during militancy. Going through the duty-lists of the Akali Dal and the Congress one could get clear impression that Hindu leaders of both parties were deputed as in charges of Hindu dominated areas. The ministers and former ministers of both parties who belong to Scheduled Castes have been given zones which are Dalit-dominated.

The Hindu leaders of the Akali Dal, including Mr Parkash Garg, Mr Ram Lal — a BJP MLA, Mrs Roop Rani an MLA, Mr Om Parkash Kalia, district president BJP, Mr Surinder Sharma, Mr Baxi Ram Arora, chairman Improvement Trust, Mr Hans Raj Gulati, and Mr Som Dev, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal (village Chachowali), Mr Satpal Gosain and Mr Jagdish Sahni — both MLAs, Mr Nand Lal and Mr Mohan Lal Banga (Jaintipur and Pakharpur) have been deputed in the zones which are Hindu-dominated areas. Similarly, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has also deputed Hindu leaders in the above areas to counter the Akali strategy of winning over the Hindu voters.

It is interesting while Mr Parkash Singh Badal has been harping on Operation Bluestar in Sikh-dominated rural area, the Hindu leaders knowingly avoid this point for obvious reasons while addressing poll rallies in Hindu-dominated areas. Mr Chiranji Lal said that most of them (the Hindus) could return to their home-lands after the formation of the SAD-BJP government. He said it was the Congress which was responsible for terrorism in the last decade. However, the Congress leaders have been accusing Mr Parkash Singh Badal of terrorism which forced Hindus to flee to adjoining areas.

On the other hand, the gurdwaras, especially historical ‘Janam Asthan Baba Budha Ji’ which fall in Majitha constituency have become hub of poll activities. The Akali leaders and workers have been staying in ‘serais’ of gurdwaras.

Villagers decide to boycott poll
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — Residents of Kot Hirdayram village in the Majitha constituency announced to boycott the elections to be held on February 19 alleging that successive governments had only "used" them to get seats. No grants for the development of village boundary or Mazhabi dharmshala have ever reached them. Schools deprived children of chair, whereas a road leading to the cremation ground is in utter disrepair. Water and power shortage are a permanent feature of the village which was promised regular supply of power.

The statement signed by at least eight village elders and panches including Mr Dara Singh, former sarpanch, Mr Lakha Singh sarpanch announced to boycott the poll.


Secretariat shifted to Majitha: Dang
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — Veteran CPI leader, Satya Pal Dang today strongly criticised the virtual ‘shifting’ of Punjab Civil Secretariat to Amritsar district as all ministers have been camping in Majitha constituency.

The people of far-flung areas are thronging Majitha and Amritsar instead of going to Chandigarh-the state capital. The government machinery has virtually come to standstill as senior officials were also working for the mobilisation of voters in favour of the ruling party.

Mr Dang said that the state government must enact an Act that the Chief Minister should not campaign for the byelection.

Doctors to gherao minister today
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — The local PCMS Association, at a meeting held at the Civil Surgeon’s office yesterday decided to gherao the Health Minister tomorrow who is camping here for Majitha byelections, to protest against the government’s fresh directives regarding PG courses.

The meeting presided over by Dr R.S. Buttar, senior vice-president of the state unit of the association, said the medical officers were ‘bonded’ to serve the rural masses for a minimum three years and could go in for specialist courses only after that.

The association leaders also decided to intensify the fight against the high handedness of the government if it failed to decided in their favour.

The association leaders alleged that the government did not even discuss the matter with the representatives.


College closed for VIP’s wedding
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 2 — It is only two months before the annual examinations, but the local Khalsa College apparently is not concerned as permission has been given to Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Shiromani Committee member and Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, to organise wedding of his son on college premises and also closed down the College for three days for the celebrations of marriage.

Not only this, the college management is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that the celebrations are held on a grand scale. Preparations for the marriage have been going on for the past fortnight with the college management undertaking beautification exercise of the campus.

Under this exercise, the management has installed grills demarcating the green area with the main pathway besides painting all the flower pots installed from the main gate to the entry into the main building. Besides this part of the building, which is opposite the pandal, which is being installed in the main playing grounds, is also being given a fresh coat of paint.

Even today painters were giving a fresh coat of paint to the building opposite the playing grounds. Besides this the boundary wall of the college has been repainted and even the benches installed in the lawn in front of the main building have been painted in two colours.

Sources disclosed that preparations for the wedding of the OSD’s son have been in full swing after January 26. The management was able to avail of three days’ holidays after that on account of two weekend holidays and Basant Panchami falling on Monday last. The college reopened on January 30 and the students were told on January 31 that they were not to come to the college for another three days.

Students disclosed that they were not told on January 31 why the college was being closed for three days. Some students said they were told that some sports’ function is being held in the college. Sources disclosed that the college had put up a circular today on its notice board dated January 31 in which it was written that the college would remain closed for three days from February 1 to 3 for security reasons on account of a visit of the Chief Minister to the college. Sources said the communication had been displayed on the notice board today following protests from various quarters over the closure of the college for three days to accommodate a private marriage celebration.

In the absence of the college principal, who is on leave, senior lecturer Jaswant Singh disclosed that the college was being closed down on the directions of the local police for security reasons as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was scheduled to attend the marriage function. The functionary, when asked why students were being made to suffer for a function being organised in the college playing grounds said the Chief Minister was also scheduled to visit the main building of the college. When questioned about the painting and other decoration done in the college, he said these were part of ongoing works being undertaken by the college. He however admitted that part of the painting had started less than a fortnight back.

When asked how a marriage function was being allowed in the college and whether such functions were organised earlier also he said “this is not a marriage palace”. He said the marriage was taking place in the college as the OSD was an SGPC member. He however, said he had no knowledge as to whether the marriage function was being organised on the directions of the SGPC.


Irregular’ appointments in Markfed
By P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — A number of employees of Markfed have petitioned the Registrar, Cooperatives, alleging irregular appointments and the grant of a higher scale of pay and other benefits to five officials terming it as an infringement of the rules governing the service conditions and requesting the same be struck down.

The Registrar has served notice on the Markfed Managing Director, the Administrator and the Board of Directors. The next hearing will be later this month.

A copy of the petition is available with TNS.

The petition says Markfed has introduced a voluntary retirement scheme and is in the process of downsizing its establishment to improve the cash inflow and income. (Establishment expenses of Markfed are more than Rs 50 crore.) However, it is making back-door entries into the organisation by first taking persons on deputation and later absorbing such employees.

The petition lists at least five such entrants. Mr Vinod Kumar, who was absorbed as Senior Branch Officer, was earlier Cotton Purchase Officer in Spinfed, where the present Managing Director of Markfed had served. Mr Sant Sharan Singh, who has been absorbed as Manager/District Manager, was earlier Assistant Manager with Nafed. Mr Vir Vikram Raja has been absorbed as Liaison Officer (Vigilance). Earlier he was Deputy Manager (Marketing) in Punwire. Mr Ranjai Sandi has been absorbed as Manager (EDP). Earlier he was Assistant General Manager (Systems), Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Limited. Mr Harmanjit Singh has been absorbed as Deputy Chief Engineer.

Besides the 17-odd officials, who have filed the petition, Markfed unions are also upset over such appointments and other “irregularities”, including alleged fudging of financial figures. The petition quotes the rules governing appointments and other service matters. Moreover, prior permission of the Registrar, Cooperatives, required in such cases, has not been obtained. This amounts to a violation of the service rules. Even if the power to change the service rules vests with the Board of Directors, it has also to seek the prior approval of the Registrar. This was not done in respect of any of the five appointments under reference, says the petition.

Quoting from the rules, the petition says that there is no provision for calling on deputation any person from outside to hold the posts of manager or district manager, manager (EDP), senior branch officer or liaison officer. Yet all five fall in this category. Even though Markfed follows the instructions of the state government — there has been a complete ban on fresh appointments by the government since November, 1998 — it still made the five appointments, the petition says.

One of the appointees, Mr Vir Vikram Rajan, is a son of a Punjab Additional Director-General of Police. He was earlier with Punwire as Deputy Manager (marketing). He was taken as Security in charge for Markfed Vanaspati and Allied Industries, Khanna, where no such post existed. Initially, he was taken on deputation for one year. This was on April 6, 2000. Later, on April 20, he was appointed Liaison Officer (Vigilance) under the supervision and control of the Chief Manager (Law).

One of the points mentioned in the petition is that appointees are above 30 years of age, and, hence, ineligible for direct recruitment. The petition further alleges that Markfed often grants pay scales and increments and officiating allowance on a pick-and-choose basis. It gives one specific example to substantiate its point. In one case five increments of extra officiating allowance of Rs 3,000 per month were given to Mr Harinderjit Singh, Deputy Chief Engineer, Markfed Sugar Mill, Malout. He is also covered under the conveyance facility scheme. These orders were passed on September 15 last year.

Moreover, the petition says this was without the approval of the board or, in its absence, the Registrar. Only the Managing Director exercised his authority which he is not competent to do.

The petition has listed instances of alleged mala fide and arbitrary decisions and total flouting of the rules and procedures in the five appointments. The petitioners have challenged the extra financial benefits given to the appointees and said that in respect of certain posts, like senior branch officer, it has to be 100 per cent promotion out of the existing branch officers. In respect of Mr Sant Sharan Singh, it says that there is “no provision” for taking on deputation any person for the post of Manager (foodgrains). Yet he has been appointed. The same person had earlier applied and was rejected.

The petition scoffs at the reduction in administrative overheads and downsizing of the staff vis-a-vis new appointments. 


Octroi abolition leads to smuggling
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 2 — The abolition of octroi in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan is prompting traders and consumers of the Abohar area to smuggle tobacco and weapons from there to evade heavy octroi on these products in Punjab.

This is primarily due to 5 per cent octroi on these items in the state. Inquires from the Abohar market revealed that both the petty traders and consumers continue to purchase these items from the adjoining Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan.

This continues to affect both the state octroi collection and the local agents of company tobacco items. Some other products, like footwear, aereated drinks, medicines, cement, oil seeds and agro products are also frequently smuggled into the Punjab territory due to disparity in the tax structure.

Sources in the Punjab Excise Department revealed that the trucks carrying these items were often intercepted in the area.

The Abohar based - Punjab Arms Dealer Association office revealed that more than 400 revolvers had been purchased by the local civilians from Rajasthan due to heavy octroi on weapons in Punjab.

An executive member of the association, Mr Anil Sethi, said that despite assurance by the Local Bodies Minister, the octroi on weapons was not being reduced, prompting the local civilians to purchase revolvers from the octroi-free zone of Rajasthan.

The secretary of Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Mr Vinod “Lali” Sharma, pointed out that the worst-hit by the inter-state smuggling of goods were the authorised agents of the company items. While the authorised agents continued to shell out 5 per cent octroi on these items, the customers preferred to purchase these items from outside.

Mr Sharma said that the traders from the north zone had already resolved to press upon the Central and provincial governments to impose uniform tax structure to minimise inter-state smuggling and tax evasion.


Govt staff owe Rs 17 lakh as rent
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — Even as the Punjab Government has been facing severe financial crises for the past two years, government officials, including gazetted and non-gazetted, have not paid the rent of the government accommodations in which they have been staying during their service and even after retirement.

Official sources said that the PWD authorities which maintained the government houses and charged rent for these from the occupants could not launch any proceedings against these officials except sending them reminders time and again.

In Bathinda town, 78 government officials had defaulted in the payment of about Rs 17 lakh as rent for occupying government accommodation. Some of the officials had not paid the rent for the accommodations they had been occupying in 1976.

Most of the officers against whom the rent for government accommodations were due had either retired from service or had died and now the PWD authorities were finding it difficult to find persons whom they could approach to recover the arrears of rent.

Besides, the government officials who had retired in the past two-and-a-half decades had already taken their post-retirement benefits from the government. Thus there was no way to adjust the arrears against these payments.

According to the information, the government officials who have defaulted in the payment of rent of their official accommodations included the Chief Agriculture Officer, Town Planning Officer, District Transport Officer, District Development and Panchayat Officer, medical specialists, District Education Officer, Assistant District Attorney, PSEB employees, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Additional Deputy Commissioner, PCS Officer, police constables and officials and Excise and Taxation Department officials.

One Punjab police official of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) had to pay Rs 6 lakh while one Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC) had to pay about Rs 1 lakh. One Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO) was liable to pay Rs 94000 for staying in a government house for about three-and-a-half years.

One constable of the Punjab police who stayed in government house from 1995 to 1998 had to pay about Rs 1.65 lakh, while another constable was liable to pay about Rs 70,000.

The defaulters also included stenos, clerks, superintendents, pharmacists, drivers, chowkidars and assistants in various state government departments.

The sources said that as per the state government’s policy, a government official was allowed to stay in a government house for two months on normal rent after his or her transfer from a station. After two months, if any official stayed in the same accommodation, market rent was charged from the occupant.

Some of the government officials had not even paid the normal rent to the PWD authorities for the past several years.

Senior PWD officials said that the rent amount could be recovered from these officials if the Punjab Government made it mandatory to get a no objection certificate (NOC) from this department before paying post-retirement benefits to its employees.


PUDA to offer 700 plots to public
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 2 — After taking possession of 105 acres of prime land belonging to the state Irrigation Department at Mallikpur village, near Pathankot, the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has finally decided to offer nearly 700 residential and commercial plots in its proposed Urban Estate at the site to the public.

The prime land of the once prestigious Upper Bari Doab Central Research Centre on the Pathankot-Jammu highway was handed over to PUDA in December last following a decision by a high-powered committee headed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at a meeting held at Chandigarh on October 20 last year. The decision, aimed at generating more funds for the construction of administrative complexes at various district headquarters, including Gurdaspur, under the optimum utility of vacant government land (OUVGL) scheme of PUDA, was the outcome of a suggestion made by the Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner had said that the research centre had outlived its utility as no manual tests were required following the completion of the Ranjit Sagar Dam.

After initial hiccups and resistance by the employees of the research centre, PUDA has put up fencing around the site and plans to go ahead with its proposal to convert the land into an ultra-modern Urban Estate.

PUDA, according to official sources, is likely to generate an estimated Rs 25-30 crore, to be spent on the construction of certain district administrative complexes.

After carving out nearly 700 residential, commercial and other sites, the PUDA authorities have already initiated development work for laying roads and sewers at the site and possession of plots would be given to buyers in September.

Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA, said residential sites of different sizes, varying between 125 and 500 yards, would be allotted on February 7 at a reserved price, ranging between Rs 2250 and Rs 2500 per square yard. He said that the development work of the proposed Urban Estate would be completed by February next. Besides residential and commercial plots, provision had been made for a school, commercial centre, religious place, dispensary and a rest house. There was a plan to develop a picnic spot near the canal adjoining the proposed Urban Estate.


Drive against oil wastage soon
From Surinder Bhardwaj

FATEHGARH SAHIB: While addressing a state-level seminar organised by Indian Oil Corporation during the oil conservation fortnight recently, Mr H.S. Bedi, IOC Chief Divisional Manager, warned that oil and petroleum products were in short supply and these were not going to last more than 25 years. Hence conservation was the need of the hour. The oil produced from crude, takes millions of years to be formed at the bottom of the earth’s surface. “If we need to save our country and economy, it becomes necessary that we make optimum use of oil resources; oil should not be wasted and should be saved. Every drop of oil saved, is oil produced,” he said. The loss of a drop of oil amounted to a loss of 2,000 litres per year and if a drop was saved by everyone, we could cut consumption by around 20 per cent.

India being a developing country required more of this scarce natural resource. Unfortunately it had very little of its own resources, hence people had to depend entirely on oil-producing countries. Since Independence oil consumption had shown a 100 per cent increase, whereas production had increased by only 30 pc. The gap between the two was widening and at present India imports around 60 pc and had to pay Rs 30,000 crore every year. Besides, the increase in oil prices had pushed up the import bill, eating into the foreign exchange.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, in his address stressed the need for a campaign to make the masses aware about oil conservation. A drive should be launched to educate farmers and the younger generation about the use of right methods by which up to 20 to 25 pc of oil could be saved. The saddest thing was that a lot of people wasted this precious liquid. The growth of the nation depended upon petroleum products and every individual was dependent on oil products in day-to-day life. “If we had to give this treasure to the coming generation we had to save it, otherwise the next generation will not spare us,” he stated.

He assured all help to the IOC for organising such seminars, camps and awareness activities in the district.

Mr Arif Akhtar, IOC Assistant Manager (Sales), advised various methods to save oil. Tons of oil were wasted in factories, farms, kitchens through bad working methods. He wanted plugging of all leaks, avoiding spillage, correcting tube pressure and tuning of the engine.

Earlier the corporation organised 15 programmes covering 500 activities at their retail outlets and consumers’ premises. Seminars for industrialists and debates in schools were also organised. School children carrying banners and placards moved through the main bazars of Sirhind and formed a human chain. the winners of the declamation contest and painting competition were given prizes.


Punjab attracts migratory birds
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — Punjab has caught the fancy of migratory birds. While the Harike wetland, and internationally recognised place for migratory birds by ornithologists, is overflowing with such birds, similar reports have also come in from other areas in the state.

According to the latest census conducted by the government authorities concerned, the number of birds in Harike wetland has risen to over 1 lakh this year while in earlier years the maximum recorded was nearly 60,000. The Asian Wetland Bureau has asked the Punjab Wildlife Department to conduct a census of migratory birds in different wetlands in the state.

The cool, the common pochard the wigeon, the mallard and other migratory birds can be seen in plenty in the Harike Wetland, the glory of which was recently restored by the Indian Army by removing hyacinth in huge quantities from an area measuring 8 sq km. The wetland is known as the home of species like the salara pigeon.

Likewise, such birds have been sighted in large numbers in the Kanjli wetland and near the Ropar boat club. The Kanjli wetland is also being cleared of weeds by the Army. The project was allotted to the Army by the Punjab Science and Technology Department in consulation with the Wildlife Department.

Mr B.C. Bala, Chief Wildlife Warden, told Tribune News Service here yesterday that with the clearance of wild growth from the Harike wetland, a vast habitat was now available to migratory birds for nestling. He said as there was no human disturbance in that wetland, migratory birds loved to stay for a longer period in that area.

He said the Harike wetland had made Punjab popular on the world environment map. A large number of environmentalists visited the wetland to study the migration of birds and other aspects.

He said Chhat Bir area had become a popular home for migratory birds. One could see a large number of such birds perched on trees in that area.

To attract more birds and provide a safer sanctuary to them, the Wildlife Department has decided to fence certain areas near the Ropar boat club where migratory birds land. Besides, the department will provide 200 wooden nests to attract migratory birds.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has engaged the Tata Energy Research Institute for collecting data on biodiversity in the state. Experts from the institute are visiting various places to compile a report in this connection.


Warrants against 4 police officers
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 2 — Non-bailable warrants have been issued against four Punjab Police officers, including a Patiala Range Deputy Inspector-General Sanjeev Gupta, for their alleged role in the illegal detention and subsequent disappearance of a Babbar Khalsa International (BKI ) activist, by the designated Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI ) court here today .

Special Magistrate, CBI, Jaspinder Singh Heyer issued the nonbailable warrants after the CBI presented a charge sheet against the police officers, including DIG Sanjeev Gupta, Patiala Superintendent of Police (Detective) Mohinder Singh Chahal and Inspectors Ramesh Chander and Jagtar Singh. The next date for hearing in the case has been fixed for March 16 .

All four are accused in a case pertaining to the illegal detention, torture and disappearance of BKI activist Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha, of Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district in 1993. All of them were posted in Ropar during that period with Mr Sanjeev Gupta holding the post of SSP and Mr Chahal that of DSP.

The charge sheet, which was presented in the court today by CBI officials, alleged that the BKI activist Sukhdev Singh had disappeared after being summoned to the Sohana police station by Inspector Ramesh Chander in March, 1993. The charge sheet claims that Ramesh Chander, who was then SHO of the Sohana police station, was personally known to Sukha and that he was called to the police station to meet then SSP Sanjeev Gupta.

It claims that the alleged militant was accompanied to the police station by one Jaspal Singh who was allowed to leave the station by the SHO. It claims that following this, on March 29, 1993, Sukha was shifted to the Ropar CIA cell and detained for one month. The investigating agency claimed that Sukha was tortured in the CIA cell and frequently transferred to various police stations till July in the same year.

The charge sheet has alleged that the BKI activist was last seen in July of the same year, when he was taken away by DSP M. S. Chahal. Claiming that the activist was not traceable since then, the agency alleged that the four police officers conspired to kidnap the activist with the intention to kill him.

The case had been handed over to the CBI in 1998 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court after Kamaljit Kaur, wife of the activist, moved an application seeking a CBI probe into the disappearance of her husband in August 1996.


Order to suspend 2 police officials
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — Granting bail to an Inspector and a Head Constable, along with another accused, in an alleged fake encounter case, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Director General of Punjab Police to suspend the two officials. Pronouncing the orders in the open court, Mr Justice Nijjar observed that the possibility of the petitioners attempting to influence the complainant could not be ruled out.

Inspector Dharam Singh, along with the others accused, were earlier booked for kidnapping and murder under Sections 364, 302, 218 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code on the complaint of Kashmir Singh.

In his complaint, Kashmir Singh had alleged that his son, Daljeet Singh, was shown to have been killed by DSP Balbir Singh and other police officials on December 29, 1992 in Sarangdev village in Ajnala after being picked up. According to the prosecution, the encounter was bogus and stage managed.

Seeking the grant of bail, the defence counsel had stated that the accused were being implicated in the case. He added that the petitioners had been regularly attending proceedings.

Mr Justice Nijjar directed the DGP to ensure that the petitioners were confined to the Police Lines. The Judge also directed the petitioners against interfering with the life and liberty of the witnesses and the complainant. He further asked them to surrender any fire-arms and passports. The bail, was being granted subject to the furnishing of personal security of Rs 1 lakh each along with two sureties of a like amount.

Pay interest to man, forum asks dept
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 2 — The District Consumer Forum, in a judgement passed here has directed the Small Saving Department authorities to pay interest to a person in a complaint filed before the forum. Mr Vijay Kumar, a resident of Kharar, had alleged his mother, Ms Brij Nandan Kamari, had invested various amounts under the monthly income scheme of the Postal Department.

Ms Brij Nandan Kumari died on December 15 1998. The nominee for the deceased, Mr Vijay Kumar, applied to the authorities concerned for withdrawal of the principal deposits invested by his mother under the said scheme. However, the postal authorities did not pay any interest to the complainant for the money deposited in the name of his mother and rather deducted Rs 20,700 from the principal amount.

When the complainant inquired about the reason for the deduction he was verbally told his mother had deposited Rs 78,000 in excess of the prescribed limit of Rs 2,04,000 in the monthly income scheme. The amount deducted from the principal amount was the interest paid extra to the deceased on Rs 78,000.

The complainant pleaded that the deduction to the interest amount already paid to his deceased mother was illegal.

The Small Savings Department in its defense pleaded that it came to know that the complainant’s mother had deposited money in excess when it calculated the amount deposited by the deceased in the 13 different accounts under the same scheme.

As per the guidelines governing the period in which the deceased had invested the amount in the scheme, the maximum limit of deposit for the individual was Rs 2,04,000 while for joint account it was Rs 4,08,000. However, the deceased deposited Rs 2,82,000 in her name in 13 different accounts and allegedly withdrew more interest than permissible under the scheme that had now been deducted from the principal amount, it alleged.

The president of the consumer forum in his judgement noted that though according to the rules the limit of deposit by an individual in all accounts taken together was Rs 2,04,000 yet it was nowhere mentioned that the amount deposited in excess would not carry any interest. If the depositor was dutybound to keep his deposit below the limit, the postal authorities were also responsible for depositing amount in excess of the prescribed limits.

Once the amount was accepted as deposit by the postal authorities, they were dutybound to pay the interest to the depositor. The president also quoted a similar judgement made earlier in such a case by the state commission in Pondicherry.

On the basis of the above justification the forum awarded Rs 1,000 towards costs of the case to the complainant. It also directed the authorities to make the disputed payment of Rs 20,760 to the complainant with interest at the rate of 18 per cent from the date of deduction.


Letter: Badal favoured ‘Operation Bluestar’
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee today released a letter reportedly written by late Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, the then President, Shiromani Akali Dal, addressed to Mr RK Dhawan, then Private Secretary to Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to the Press in which ‘involvement of Mr Parkash Singh Badal’ for ordering Operation Bluestar was mentioned.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, a former minister and General Secretary PPCC, while addressing a press conference, here alleged that Mr Badal, who was responsible for the Operation Bluestar, had now resorted to exploiting’ the sentiments of voters in the Majitha constituency. He alleged that this was the reason that Mr Badal did not allow a resolution to be staged on floor of Assembly to condemn the Operation Bluestar. He suggested that Mr Badal should not to touch this sensitive issue as it could disturb the ‘hard-earned’ peace in the state.

Mr Bajwa said that a formal election campaign of the Congress would be launched from February 4 after reaching poll alliances with the CPI and the CPM. He said Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief, had gone to Chandigarh for reaching alliance with secular parties.

Meanwhile, the Congress has claimed that all Congress leaders were working together for ensuring the victory of the party.


Residents form sudhar sabhas
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR: After waiting for nearly four years, residents in the local municipal council have lost hopes for improved sanitation not only in the suburbs but also in the heart of the town. They have started forming mohalla sudhar samitis in various parts of this subdivisional town.

As the council, having an annual budget of Rs 6 crore, has “failed” in providing basic amenities since the present SAD-BJP government was installed in the state and a BJP candidate elected President of the council the residents are sore over the “paralysed” development.

The state BJP chief, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, had received a request from the councillors of his party to replace the President of the council but owing to some problems he could not do so. Mr Sodhi as well as the local MLA, who belong to the same party, have reportedly been expressing their annoyance over the alleged malfunctioning of the council but in vain.

A perusal of the municipal budget reveals that the earnings from the octroi are almost equal to the amount spent by the council on the salaries of the staff employed to collect the octroi. Insiders allege that there is a nexus between officials and proprietors of some transport companies. Many transporters claim that they have been running daily services from Delhi to Abohar and other towns but the records maintained by the council reveal that only a few receipts against the payment of octroi have been issued to these transporters.

This alleged nexus has severely hit sanitation, repair of roads and streets and maintenance of streetlights. The crossings are illuminated with half a dozen lights but every alternate streetlight on the main roads, especially between Major Surender Chowk and Lions Chowk, is out of order.

Residents of Patel Nagar were inspired by a former Vice-President of the council, Mr Prem Nath Vij to form a sudhar sabha for beautifying Patel Park which had been lying in bad shape. Young members of the society who had tractors used these to level the park. Inlets for sewer pipes were plugged and the surroundings were cleared of garbage.

Residents of Nai Abadi, a locality which had been electing councillors of the BJP only, have formed a sudhar sabha under the command of Mr Rajesh Gupta. The sabha decided to take the municipal President to task for not solving the problems of the people. However, the first task undertaken by the sabha was to collect funds and material for the victims of the earthquake in Gujarat.

Residents of Idgah Nagri have also formed a sudhar sabha as the general state of the locality is poor and unhygienic. The sabha, under the leadership of Mr Angrez Salhotra, had launched a campaign to get a liquor shop shifted from the main road. The shop created nuisance for women who used to pass through the road to pay obeisance at a nearby temple. The Mahila Sangathan of the same locality had also joined the campaign.

Another sudhar sabha was formed on Republic Day by residents who had shops in Sumer Maidan near the main bazar in the heart of the town. The office-bearers of the sabha while installing a sign board on the ground pledged to overhaul the commercial area at their own expenses and by putting in labour themselves. They will deploy private safai sewaks to ensure sanitation in the locality, besides placing dustbins.

Mr Vimal Thathai and Mr Brij Lal Salhotra, both members of the municipal council, at a recent meeting wanted to know how many contracts for sanitation had been given by the President. They wanted that the list of the localities covered under such contracts should be made public. A deputation, led by Mr Om Parkash Bhukarka, convener, Jan Chetna Manch, had met the civic authorities in this regard but couldn’t get any information.

Mr Bhukarka said 250 safai sewaks were reportedly getting salaries from the council which meant that each ward should have eight safai sewaks. However, no ward was having more than two such employees, he alleged.


10 hepatitis-B cases in two villages
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — Even as the district health authorities have been trying their best to control cases of jaundice, 10 cases of hepatitis B have been detected in two villages namely Chauke and Koloke of this district in the past few days.

Sources said that these patients had been getting treatment from the Rampura-based private clinics instead of getting the treatment from the civil hospital.

Sources said that cases of hepatitis-B started being reported in the Rampura Phul area one and half months ago and in this period about 14 persons suffering from hepatitis-B had taken treatment from different private clinics.

Dr S.P. Mangla, a Rampura-based doctor practising in homoeopathy said that those who had been taking treatment from him for hepatitis B included Mr Gogi, Master Sonu, Miss Gurmeet Kaur, Ms Mukhtiar Kaur, Ms Gurnam Kaur, Mr Lakhbir Singh, Mr Mal Singh, Mr Balkar Singh and Mrs Balwinder Kaur. He added that all these patients had reported in his clinic in the past one and half months.

He added that apart from these patients, three more patients had been getting treatment for hepatitis-B whose names he did not know.

He said that there were about 10 hepatitis-B patients in Chauke village while three such patients were present in Koloke village. One patient of hepatitis-C was also present in the Koloke village.

Mr Naresh Kumar, who runs a clinical laboratory in the Rampura town, pointed out that about one week ago the patients who were carriers of hepatitis-B were coming in large number but now number of such patients had declined to zero.

Civil hospital sources said that district health authorities had no information about the large number of hepatitis-B patients present in a village.

Sources said that there was one case of hepatitis-B from Mandikalan village.


Stop salary of 59 docs: CITU
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — The vigilance committee on Esi hospital under the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) will submit a memorandum to the Health Minister, Punjab pressing for stopping the payment of salary of eight doctors working in Civil Hospital, Amritsar and total 59 doctors working in various civil hospital and dispensaries in Punjab who are drawing salary from the Esi hospital’s fund.

The CITU has threatened to start a protest dharna in front of the nursing home resident of the Health Minister by national level trade union representatives in case their demands were not met within 15 days of the memorandum. The committee under the presidentship of Mr Kishan Singh, CITU demands the supersession of the illegal orders of the then Civil Surgeon, Amritsar withholding the recovery of the penal rent from Dr H S Mahal, SMO, Rajoke at Khem Karan. Dr Mahal has been in occupation of bungalow No 4-D, in the premises of the ESI, hospital, Amritsar since 1996 and reportedly not paying any rent they claimed.

The then Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab had ordered the imposition of the penal rent while the Medical Superintendent of Esi hospital, Amritsar wrote to the Treasury Officer, Patti to deduct the penal rent amounting to Rs 1,32,544 in 20 monthly instalments in addition to recovery of regular penal rent of Rs 10,389, total to be recovered from the salary of Dr Mahal per month with effect from August last year. The then Civil Surgeon stopped the recovery without any authority. They alleged the vigilance committee intends to highlight the payment of retirement benefits to Dr Parminder Singh amounting to lakhs though he worked in the Esi hospital, Amritsar only for few days.

The vigilance committee demands immediate installation of 500 mm x-ray machines, ultrasound, CT scan and other equipment needed in the Esi hospitals in Punjab.

It demands a stop to the misuse of the Esi funds which are the property of the industrial workers of the state.


Dog bites on rise in Bathinda
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — The incidents of the dog bite are on the rise in the city and the surrounding areas. The city residents are at risk of getting rabies as the authorities concerned have failed to take effective steps in this regard.

According to Civil Hospital sources there were about 339 cases of dog bites reported in the hospital last year. Besides a number of patients also reported at the private hospitals.

The dog bite, if reported, in time can be treated by a vaccine which is available free of cost at the Civil Hospital while its cost in the market is about Rs 280. A course of 10 injections is the cure for the rabies.

The sources said that the dog bites were common in the posh localities also including the Civil Lines area, Model Town, Power House road, Ajit road etc. The incidents normally involve the stray dogs which have not been vaccinated. The children are the most risk-prone by the dog bites.

Earlier, the Municipal Council used to kill such dogs but killing of the dogs had been banned by the Punjab Government therefore their population was increasing. The civic authorities seemed helpless as they had no way to check their growth, the process of sterilisation of the dogs needed huge funds which were not available with the civic authority.

The officials of the civic body had taken up the case of stray dogs with Animal Husbandry Department when the government had put a ban on the killing of such animals. They had asked officials of the department to conduct mass sterilisation of the stray dogs, but it did not happen due to the lack of funds. The Animal Husbandry Department had demanded from the civic body that they could help them only if the latter provided a dog van, 60 persons to form a dog squad and Rs 400 per sterilisation which was not possible for the Municipal Council.


Homeless scramble for corridors
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — Even as the coldwave, which has gripped the region, claimed four lives recently, the homeless daily earners and beggars scramble for space on footpaths and corridors of various markets to sleep after a long day.

Unmindful of the risk to their lives because of sleeping in open, hundreds of daily earners and beggars can be seen fighting with each other on the corridors of various markets to get adequate space for stretching their bodies as the night descends.

Most of these daily earners, hailing from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states, used to live in their kutcha houses built on the banks of the city. But due to urbanisation, they had to leave their places

These people had come to Punjab in search of work and had not been able to construct their own houses. They, therefore, have to use these footpaths and corridors to protect themselves from the cold. Most of the residents of the city, too, do not give them houses on rent due to increasing incidents of crime, loot and murder in the city.

In the evening, these workers rush to the corridors and footpaths of Subhash market, Gandhi market, railway godown near municipal committee, Gole Diggi and Dhobi bazar to occupy the space where they could have a sound sleep.

Ram Sharan, a daily earner from Bihar, has not been able to get a house on rent as the people do not believe him due to increasing incidents of crime in the area.

Milkha Singh, a rickshaw puller, also used to live in Dhobiana Basti in his kutcha house, but these days he has to spend 24 hours on the roads or footpaths of the city as he is unable to save money to construct his own house.

Prohibitory orders in Bathinda
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — In order to maintain the law and order situation in the city, the District Magistrate, Mr Jaspal Singh, has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC from February 1 to March 31.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said during the period no one would be allowed to organise meetings and raise slogans. A gathering of five or more than five persons has been prohibited at public places.

He added that the shops would remain closed in the district on Sundays from February 3 to April 2, 2001, and could be opened from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. on other weekdays.

Action sought against driver, conductor
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — Residents of various localities in the city have urged the authorities concerned to take action against the driver and conductor of bus number PB 11K-8504 for their alleged misbehaviour with passengers.

In a letter to the Managing Director, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), a copy of which was sent to the General Manager, PRTC, Depot-2, Bathinda, Mr Rattan Singh, a resident of Balla Ram Nagar, Mr Jatinder Singh, a resident of Paras Ram Nagar, Mr Satpal of Mehana Chowk and Mr Vijay Kumar, a resident of Model Town, said that on January 31, 2001, they boarded the bus from Rampura Phul which was on its way from Patiala to Bathinda.

They alleged that the driver of the bus was drunk and was driving rashly. They alleged that the conductor did not give them tickets but charged the complete fare. They said the driver and the conductor along with Sukhdev Sukha, another conductor who was travelling with them, misbehaved with the passengers.

Mr Surinder Singh, General Manager, PRTC, Depot-2, Bathinda, said necessary action would be taken against the driver and the conductor.


Dept’s direction son leprosy patients
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — A spokesman of the Department of Employment, Punjab, said here today that following the publication of a news item with regard to registration of leprosy patients and their wards in employment exchanges, instructions had been given to all concerned to ensure that no such applicant, who was otherwise eligible, was refused registration. He should also be given proper guidance and assistance for employment.

The spokesman said there was no restriction earlier also on the registration of applicants suffering from leprosy and their wards at employment exchanges in the state.


Vidhan Sabha session
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — The 11th Punjab Vidhan Sabha has been summoned by the Governor to meet for its 11th session on March 1 at 2.30 p.m., according to the Vidhan Sabha Secretary, Mr Nachhattar Singh Mavi.

PR Dept staff to give one-day’s salary
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — The Information and Public Relations Officers Welfare Association and Class III and IV Employees Association today decided that all employees of the department would donate one day’s salary for the Punjab Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in aid of the Gujarat earthquake victims.

Kundra heads tariff panel
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — Mr A.K. Kundra, a Punjab-cadre IAS officer (1966 batch), has been appointed Chairman, Tariff Commission, and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Industrial Policy and Promotion, it is officially learnt.

Earlier, he was Special Secretary, Environment and Forests.


Wheat support price: farmers feel restive
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 2 — Even three months after the sowing of wheat, the farmers continue to wait for the announcement of minimum support price for the crop.

Inordinate delay in the announcement of minimum support price has not only fuelled speculation of reduction in the wheat price, but also sparked resentment among the farmers, who are reeling under the spiralling costs of agricultural inputs.

As the period of wheat harvesting draws near, the uncertainty over the procurement is growing. Ordinary farmers doubt the intention of the government, which they feel may also be trying to drag its feet from the wheat procurement.

Former member of the Agriculture Price Commission, Mr Gurnaib Singh Brar said that the government should have actually announced the support price while at the time of sowing of wheat. He apprehended that the deficit states may be pressing the government to reduce the wheat price.

Worst-hit are the farmers of frontier villages of this border district, who face extra-ordinary difficulties during cultivation. Limited cultivation hours and fog had prevented the farmers from looking after their fields along the Indo-Pakistan border, under the aegis of the Border Area Sangharsh Committee, they have resolved to hold agitation in Mamdot on February 7 to press the government for early announcement of the wheat support price. The Left parties and the Punjab Kisan Sabha have also extended support to the agitation.

Earlier, the leaders of CPI CPM and the CPI had staged a demonstration in the city, accusing the government of delaying the announcement of support price. The member of the CPM state council and the leader of the fledgeling Border Area Sangharsh Committee, Mr Hansa Singh explained that the farmers were apprehensive after having witnessed the paddy procurement mess.

Fertiliser overdose eats up nutrients
By Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 2 — Lack of policy planning for increasing agricultural production in the country has proved to be a bane for the soil health of the state with excessive use of fertilizers and chemicals making it devoid of most of its macro and micro nutrients.

According to the information gathered by TNS, it is learnt that the rich soil of the granary of India, Punjab, is fast becoming deficient in around 10 of the macro and micro nutrients, while there is excess of four nutrients, namely, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc in the soil — courtesy the excessive use of Nitrogenous fertilizers and various chemicals in the form of insecticides and pesticides.

It may be noted that the per hectare consumption of pesticides in Punjab is the highest in the country (923 gm/ hectare.) Though the agricultural scientists accept that there is an urgent need to reduce the pesticide load in the environment to the tune of almost 40 to 50 per cent, they say it is an undaunting task to make the farmers revert to non-chemical farming practices as it would mean a loss in income for a couple of years till the income generated through organic farming comes at par.

Scientists are now of the view that although the appreciable amounts of nitrous oxide and nitric oxide gases are released in the atmosphere by the nitrogenous fertilizers, it may cause health problems if ingested by humans and animals if the crop grown on such soil is consumed. Researches have shown that it can lead to methemoglobinemia (blood disorder), kidney stones and in extreme cases to stomach cancer due to the formation of N-nitroso compounds. However, the amount of toxicity in the crops thus generated (if any) is not yet known.

In a recent study conducted by scientists of Punjab Agricultural University, the nitrate concentration in groundwater samples obtained from tubewells in cultivated areas of the state was found to vary between 1 and 6.72 %, from hand pumps in village habitations between 1 and 11.28 % and beneath feedlots between 1.24 and 10.44 %. Similarly, the nitrate concentration in groundwater samples upto 0.5 mg. under the rice-wheat land use system was 97 % , under the potato- wheat was found to be 94 % and under vegetables was found to be 83 %.

However, the build up of nitrates in groundwater in area under vegetables in Punjab is the highest at 17 per cent.

Dr M.S. Bajwa, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, told TNS that roughly 85 to 90 % of the pesticides applied on crops “do not reach the target organisms and get dispersed in air, soil and water.” The unplanned, inefficient and over use of these pesticides can lead to serious problems because of their accumulation. In extent towards the accumulation of some potentially toxic elements to the soil as rock phosphate contains lead, chromium and cadmium and can also create health hazards. He also warned against the cultivation of genetically engineered crops as it would lead to genetic pollution and this might create ecological problem.

Dr K. Vijayalaxmi, Research Director of Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Chennai, who was here in the city recently to participate in the National Training Workshop on Organic Farming, while supporting his views had said that even the increasing urbanization was creating environmental problems as the large volumes of industrial urban wastes are generated in the urbanized areas.

She said these discharges like Cadmium, Nickle, Iron, Manganese and Copper pollute the soil and thus the agricultural systems in such areas is also likely to be different and thus specific technologies and management systems would be needed.


Smuggler held
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 2 — The police has arrested Deputy Nath alias Bhalla alias Pala resident of Labdu Chak in Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir a smuggler and courier of arms and ammunition and drugs. The accused has links with Pakistan-based militants, including Wadhawa Singh, chief of the Babbar Khalsa and Paramjit Singh Panjwar chief of the KCF.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said today that the accused along with his maternal uncle received training to make bombs and use of arms and ammunition in Pakistan. The accused had been to Pakistan for more than 120 times and had smuggled 158 kg of RDX, 12 AK 47 rifles, 11 revolvers, 135 kg of heroin, 70 kg of charas, 4 kg of opium, 18 bundles of cloth, one tape recorder and Rs 11 lakh in fake Indian currency.

The SSP said the police put up ‘naka’ on the outskirts of Bani Lodhi village on the bridge of a distributary and found one person hanging around with bag on his shoulder from the side of Kiri Gandia village in Jammu and Kashmir. He was apprehended. On his search the police recovered three kg of RDX, three hand grenades, nine detonators and bundle of fuse wire from his possession. The accused who was identified as Deputy Nath was arrested under 4/5 of Explosive Act.


Hawala racket busted, 3 held
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Feb 2 — The district police claims to have busted a hawala racket, with the arrest of three persons and recovered hawala money worth Rs 2.75 lakh from their possession.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that a police party from Division No 6 intercepted a Tata Sumo (HR 09A-1390) at Model Town last evening.

During the search an amount of Rs 2.75 lakh was found. Subsequently, all three occupants of the vehicle were arrested and a case was registered against them.

The arrested persons were identified as Harkomal Singh, resident of Guru Nagar, Jaswinder Kaur, a resident of Kalewal village in Mahilpur and Surat Singh, a resident of Mangowal.

During interrogation, the arrested persons said that they had been operating a hawala racket and were making monthly payments of Rs 40 lakh, said Mr Yadav.


Finance firm’s MD arrested
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — Managing Director of the “Cornhill Auto Investment” was arrested and put under police remand.

Mr Tarwinder S. Maidan son of Mr Jageer Singh resident of Goal Hatti Chowk was running a finance concern dealing in giving loans on high rate of interest besides financing two wheelers and other items. He had allegedly defrauded several persons of crores.

The persons affected raised the issue with the press and the police following which a case was registered against him at police station ‘A’ division on December 16, 1999. The police failed to arrest him since the accused had moved an application for bail. His bail was rejected on January 10 this year. After his arrest, the accused was put under police remand until February 4 by chief judicial magistrate Jaspal Verma.

The accused has been booked under Section 406, 428, 420, 342, 506, 120(B) of the IPC under the Arms Act.

Nearly 122 persons are reportedly aggrieved in the case.


Farmer kills wife, kids, self
From Our Correspondent

ABOHAR, Feb 2 — Ami Lal, a farmer of Sayyedwala village today reportedly committed suicide after killing his wife and two children.

Sources said the farmer aged 45 was not mentally sound and had been under treatment at a hospital in Sriganganagar for the past few months.

It is suspected that he strangled his daughter Urmila (15) and son Vijaypal (13). When his wife Maya Devi (40) came to their rescue, she was hit by a heavy utensil on the head.

Villagers said later Ami Lal consumed insecticide.

It is said Ami Lal had written a suicide note and had pasted it on the wall. A post-mortem examination was done at the civil hospital here. The police is investigating.


Woman booked in cheating case
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — Jaswant Kaur, wife of Gurtej Singh, a resident of Lehra Mohabbat village, has been booked in a criminal case for allegedly cheating Mr Harcharan Singh, a resident of Bhakhatgarh village of Sangrur district.

According to sources, Jaswant Kaur was fighting a case against her sister-in-law and her nephews over a piece of land in her native Bakhatgarh village, near Barnala.

Jaswant Kaur allegedly received Rs 2 lakh from Harcharan Singh of the same village and made an agreement to give the land to him after the court gave its verdict in that case. But she allegedly sold that land to some other person before the court decision and also did not return the money received from Harcharan Singh.

Harcharan Singh claims that he requested her to return the money or give him possession of the land, but to no avail.

When he could not get his money back he approached the SSP of Barnala to get justice. The SSP ordered an inquiry into the case and the complaint of Harcharan Singh was found to be correct. After taking into account the legal aspects of the case, the SSP ordered the SHO, Barnala, to file an FIR against Jaswant Kaur.

According to the sources, a case is pending against her and her husband in a court at Bathinda.


College set for platinum jubilee
From Ravinder Sud

HOSHIARPUR: This year is the platinum jubilee year of D.A.V. College, Hoshiarpur, which played an important role in spreading education in the most backward districts of Hoshiarpur and Kangra (now in Himachal Pradesh) before Punjab’s reorganisation in 1966.

Before Independence, when education was beyond the reach of the common man and there were very limited institutions for this purpose, Arya Samaj leaders decided to open several schools and colleges in both these districts to impart education to poor students. With the efforts, dedication and commitment of Lala Ram Parshad, Lala Devi Chand, Principal Ram Dass and Pandit Rala Ram, D.A.V. Intermediate College was established in 1926. These far-sighted luminaries approached donors. Rai Bahadur Jodha Mal Kuthiala, a well-known philanthropist, donated land and funds for this college. Lal Ram Dass was appointed the first principal of this Intermediate College, who served it till 1945. Later it was converted into a degree college which catered to the needs of not only Hoshiarpur district but Kangra as well. Also served were Hamirpur and Una areas, then in Punjab.

Pandit Rala Ram took over as principal after Lala Ram Dass served this institution till 1962. During his tenure the college achieved various distinctions and it was considered the golden era of this institution. On public demand a separate wing for girl students was also opened at Bahadurpur Chowk. Mr Sat Parkash Salik, Mr Ram Parkash, Major Raj Kumar, Dr P.C. Vashishat and Mr D.L. Anand remained principals of this institution.

At present the college is being run under the able guidance of Mr Kamal Chaudhry former MP, who heads the DAV College Managing Committee, Hoshiarpur.

The college has produced scholars, doctors, engineers, administrators, statesmen, sportsmen, and artists.

Dr Janmit Singh, Principal of the college, told this reporter that at present there were more than 2500 students, including 1100 girls, in the college who were taught science, arts and commerce. Besides a course in Bachelor in Computer Application, post-graduation in Punjabi and Political Science was also provided. Classes for Master’s degree in computer science, English, home science and fine arts, etc were proposed in the next academic session. The college has separate arrangement for boys and girls hostels. The college complex is on a seven acre plot with a gymnasium, and botanical garden.

Dr Janmit Singh said the college aimed at infusing into its alumni the spirit of selfless service through building of character. The education here is a harmonious synthesis of the old and new values of life.

He said seminars, fetes, exhibitions and other programmes were being organised in connection with the platinum jubilee celebrations. The main function would be organised in November in which old students of this college who served and were working on key posts in various fields in the country would be invited.


Hostel awaits VIP for inauguration
From Harjeet Singh and Pushpak Kumar
From Our Correspondents

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — The Mahant Gurbanta Dass School for Deaf, Dumb and Blind has beautiful buildings, grassy lawns, well educated staff, modern infrastructure, scenic location and the support of the Red Cross but the students are living in class rooms as the newly built hostel both for girls, is waiting to be inaugurated by a VVIP.

Mr Kamaljit Singh, Finance Minister of Punjab, laid the foundation stone of the hostel on November 2, 1999 and construction was completed in very short span and the rooms of the hostel are ready for use but it is the unavailability of a VVIP of the Punjab government which is forcing students to live in cold class rooms of the school.

The school class rooms on the first floor do not have windowpanes and at night the students have to shiver. School authorities have allowed the six students to share one room so that they do not feel cold at night.

Total strength of the students is 92 and out of these 67 students are hosteliers hailing from the different parts of Punjab. Hostel was constructed on priority as it was immediate need of the students but they are unable to use it as a VVIP is not available.

The hostel has 17 rooms each room having six students. Authorities concerned had to spent a few lakh rupees to construct the hostel but now it has become useless for whom it was built.

This school is a unique where deaf, dumb and blind are being taught various things so that they could lead the normal life like others but the lack of basic facility like hostel seems to have become a hurdle in this process.

The school management has maintained the school well. There is sanitation, Bathrooms, toilets and mess are neat and clean but what irritates them is the lack of sewerage, proper security arrangement and boundary wall of the school.

The school spread over the area of 10 acres does not have the boundary wall and the whole building and other things of the school could be seen from anywhere. The students too, have to spend the night without any security arrangement and there is only one girls hostel warden who had to take care of everything after school hours.

School garbage and waste water is being thrown in the open space near the school and it could create the sanitation problem for the students, there is no sewerage.

School management feels unable to solve all these problems as they do not have the adequate funds. At present Rs 2500 are being spent on each student per month, including everything. But what they earn is very less. The main source of the income of the school is the donation from public and the Red Cross.

Mrs Maninder Kaur, Principal of the school, said that the school management did not have the edequate funds and the general public, too, was not making adequate the donations. She added that the hostel was ready but awaits inauguration.


Cataract gene ‘identified’
From Ashok Sethi

AMRITSAR, Feb 2 — In a significant breakthrough, the Human Genetic Department at Guru Nanak Dev University here has identified the cataract gene for the first time in the world. This is the second major achievement as earlier researchers had also identified a cataract gene on chromosome number 22.

Giving details, a beaming Vice-Chancellor, Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch, told mediapersons today that the researchers identified the congenital cataract gene on chromosome number 15. The painstaking research took more than four years and an amount of Rs 70 lakh was spent on the project.

He complemented the collaborators in the project, including an eye specialist, Dr Daljit Singh, the Institute of Human Genetics, Berlin, the gene mapping centre, Berlin, and the Department of Biotechnology, government of India.

The scientists rued the lack of resources and motivation by the government which delayed their project, but lauded the efforts of the German-based institute and the Department of Biotechnology which came forward to fund the project.

Dr B.M. Gandhi, Adviser to the Department of Biotechnology, said they would pursue the matter for patenting the pioneering research and would be able to sustain its progress in the coming years.

Prof Jai Rup Singh, Coordinator, centre for Genetic Disorders, said the scientists of the centre had succeeded in mapping a new gene for the congenital cataract which had been identified on chromosome number 15.

These findings are being reported in the February issue of American Journal of Human Genetics. The identification of this cataract gene was the result of four years of intensive joint efforts of Indian and German scientists.

The study involved investigating a large seven generation family belonging to Rajasthan, in which 74 affected members were identified and clinically investigated. For analysis, blood samples from 151 individuals from the family were collected by visiting remote areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

He said at the first stage, the analysis was undertaken utilising 65 micro-satellite markers (DNA markers) to find out whether the gene for congenital cataract in this family was related to any one of the already reported genes for congenital cataract.

Since no evidence of linkage was found on any of the10 chromosomes on which cataract gene had earlier been identified, the task was gigantic as the whole genome-wide search had to be carried out. For this purpose, 350 micro-satellite markers were selected to re-analyse all blood samples.

This analysis indicated that in this family, a new gene was responsible for causing congenital cataract that should be somewhere on chromosome number 15.

Prof Jai Rup said the next stage involved specialised mapping using fine micro-satellite markers specific to chromosome number 15. Ultimately, a new cataract locus was identified on the long arm of chromosome number 15 at the site known as 15Q21-22. This being a new gene, the exact nature of the gene was now being investigated. Two “candidates” suspected to be responsible were being investigated to determine their role in causing cataract.

Giving details of cataract, Dr Daljit Singh said congenital cataract was one of the most common causes of blindness in children.

Congratulating the scientists, Dr Gandhi said being the first report in the world linking cataract gene to chromosome number 15, it was a great contribution of Indian scientists towards the human genome project. He said the exact identification of the defective protein would help in finding a cure for the treatment of cataract.


Same post, different pay scales!
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — The state Education Department authorities seem to have adopted a double standard in connection with the implementation of pay scales of vocational lecturers in senior secondary schools in the district.

Official sources said in some senior secondary schools, the vocational lecturers were getting the pay scale of Rs 6,400-10,640 while in some others they were getting the pay scale of Rs 5,800-9200.

The Vocational Lecturers Association, Bathinda district, in a letter to the Punjab Education Minister, pointed out that vocational teachers were given the status of vocational lecturers on March 31, 1995 and subsequently they were recognised as those falling in the category of school lecturers.

The school lecturers were given the pay scale of Rs 2000-3,700 from Rs 1,800-2,000 on May 19, 1998, and subsequently the pay scale was revised to Rs 6,400-10,640. As the vocational lecturers were equivalent to the school lecturers, they automatically became entitled for the same scale.

The association pointed out that on June 24, 1999, the Education Department authorities directed all district education officers (DEOs) to give the vocational lecturers the pay scale which was equivalent to that of vocational teachers. It added that these instructions were not according to the directions of the Punjab Government issued in 1995.

It demanded that directions given in the letter issued on June 24, 1999, by the authorities should be cancelled and the vocational lecturers should be given the pay scale equivalent to that of the school lecturers.

Mrs Hardyal Kaur, a senior state Education Department official, when contacted in Chandigarh, said there was anomaly in the report of the pay commission regarding the revised pay scales of vocational lecturers and to remove it, the authorities concerned had been approached.

She pointed out that the authorities had decided to give the vocational lecturers the pay scale equivalent to that of vocational teachers. She added that the letters to all DEOs were written as per the decision.

She said the recovery from lecturers who had been getting salaries as per the pay scale of Rs 6,400-10,640 had been stayed but the DEOs had been directed to pay them salaries according to the pay scale of Rs 5,800-9,200.


9-member panel on ITI syllabi
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Feb 2 — The Punjab Government has constituted a nine-member committee headed by the Deputy Director, Planning, to review different syllabi of trades related with construction of ITI buildings in the state.

The committee has been asked to prepare the report at the earliest and send it to the Director, Technical Education, industrial training institutes (ITIs) at the earliest possible. The other members of the committee include, Mr Manoj Kumar and Mr Varinder Bansal Principals of the ITIs at Malerkotla and Rajura, respectively, Mr Raj Aggarwal, Assistant Engineer, PWD (B and R), (Faridkot), Mr Amarjeet Singh draftsman and Mr Anshu Kumar instructor RIC SAS Nagar, respectively, Mr Dharam Pal instructor, ITI, Gurdaspur, Mr Nanak Singh instructor, ITI, Rajpura and Mr Lakhvinder Singh instructor, ITI Rajpura.


Harassment, school board style
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Feb 2 — When it comes to harassing students, the Punjab School Education Board seems second to none. For the second consecutive year, the students are bearing the brunt of the mismanagement of the board authorities in the conduct of examinations. Many candidates of matric and senior secondary school examinations are running from pillar to post to get their roll numbers for their practical tests beginning tomorrow.

Hundreds of candidates are coming to the board headquarters here to get their roll numbers after no response from the district sales depots. The goof up by the board authorities was today evident at the office of a private courier company at Sector 22, Chandigarh, when hundreds of private candidates of Chandigarh and neighbouring areas gathered there to get their roll numbers — allegedly given on yesterday evening to the courier company for delivery.

Such was the chaos at the top floor office of the courier company that police had to be called. A candidate of matric, Harish, lamented that he was told by the board officials to go to the office of the courier company if he wanted to get his roll number. A similar grievance was voiced by Amandeep, another candidate. Others candidates and their family members, who were sorting out their roll numbers, blamed the board authorities for the confusion.

Mr Waseem Khan, in-charge of the courier company, claimed that they were contacted yesterday by the board officials and the delivery of the roll numbers was made in the evening. “We were not told that the practical exams were beginning on February 3. We were sorting the mail when number of candidates gathered at our office,” he added. Neither the Chairman, nor the Controller of Examination of the board were available for comments.

Meanwhile, the board authorities said in a press note issued today that in case the candidates failed to get their roll numbers in time, another chance would be given to the candidates to appear for the same practical exam on February 7. The head of the school concerned would ensure that each candidate appeared in the practical exams.

Similarly the candidates of 12th class have been asked to contact the district science supervisor concerned by February 6 so that they could sit in the practical test on February 7. The candidates have been asked to contact at the examination centre concerned.


Roll No. slips not issued
From Our Correspondent

BARNALA, Feb 2 — Confusion prevails among students and authorities of educational institutions’ as the Punjab School Education Board has not issued roll number slips for the (Plus Two) and Matric annual practical examinations.

The Plus Two practical examination commenced from January 29, but in many schools and educational insitutions it was conducted under class roll numbers.

Practicals for Matriculation are due to start tomorrow but many institutions have complained that roll number slips had not reached by February 1. They also complained that the question paper packets were not sent to the Institutions. Instead they were asked to collect question papers.

Decision on PMT marks criticised
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 2 — The district unit of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association has criticised the new move of the Medical Education Department to club the marks of class XII with that of the pre-medical test (PMT) for admission to various medical colleges in the state.

Dr Ajit Pal Singh president of the PCMSA, said in a statement here yesterday that the move to give 50 per cent weightage to marks in class XII would encourage corruption. Introduction of the multiple type objective tests at state-level PMT was meant to filter the meritorious students for medical courses but the new move would lead to copying and various other means to get more marks in class XII. He further alleged that the pattern of exams at the level of Class XII was subjective and there were high-chances of favourism and corruption, leading to a false increase in the PMT merit.

Dr Ajit Pal Singh had written a letter to the Chief Minister appealing not to grant permission to the decision of the Vice-Chancellors of the state universities and the Department of Medical Education.

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