Thursday, March 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Stunning win for Tohra, Libra
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
It was not only a stunning win for the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and his lieutenant, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, but also a crushing defeat for the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance candidates — Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur and Mr S.S. Ahluwalia — in the elections to the Management Board of Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra), held today.

Both Mr Tohra and Mr Libra were declared elected, polling 10 and 11 votes, respectively, while Mr Tur (Shiromani Akali Dal) ended a poor third with seven votes and Mr Ahluwalia (BJP) finished last with just four votes.

The Management Board of the takht has 17 members of which two are Sikh MPs.

The SHSAD candidates were presumably supported by all Opposition MPs, including those of the Congress, the CPI and the Lok Bhalai Party. At present, there are 23 Sikh MPs in both Houses of Parliament. Of these, eight belong to the Congress — Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mrs Parneet Kaur, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib (all from Punjab) and Mr Lachman Singh (Haryana) — and one each to the BJP (Mr S.S. Ahluwalia), the Lok Bhalai Party (Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia), the CPI (Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura), and the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Mr Simranjit Singh Mann). One is a nominated MP (Mr Kartar Singh Duggal).

Though officially the Shiromani Akali Dal has seven MPs — Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, Mr Zora Singh Mann, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra — the last two owe their allegiance to the breakaway Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was elected after the finalisation of the poll schedule and was thus not eligible to cast his vote. Another seat held by the Shiromani Akali Dal was vacated by Mr Raj Mohinder Singh after his election to the Punjab Assembly from Majitha last month. He, too, was not eligible to vote.

Only Sikh MPs are eligible to vote for two positions on the Management Board of the takht. Each Sikh MP has two votes.

Interestingly, the votes polled by Mr Tur, a candidate himself, and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, General Secretary (SAD), were rejected. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann either did not vote or his votes did not reach the Returning Officer in time.

Of the 17 MPs who cast their votes, two preferred to cast one vote each. In all, 32 votes were polled.

Since the SHSAD has only two MPs, their success is attributed to the support they got from the Congress and other Opposition MPs. Interestingly, none of the Opposition parties decided to put up its own “united” candidate. They, however, achieved their aim of defeating the candidates of Punjab’s ruling alliance.

Mr Tohra was first elected President of the Management Board of the takht in 1972 when he was not even the President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He continued to head the managing committee of the takht for more than 10 years. He has been continuing as a member of the Management Board for almost three decades now.


Confusion in House over Budget
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Confusion prevailed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today both before the commencement of the general discussion on the Budget estimates for 2001-02 as well as at its conclusion after the Finance Minister had replied.

When the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, announced the discussion on the Budget estimates, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, stood up to say that as per tradition the general discussion was opened by the Leader of the Opposition. Since there was no Opposition, the Finance Minister should speak.

At this several members, including those owing allegiance to the Treasury benches as well as the ‘’únattached’’ Akalis, protested and demanded that they should be allowed to speak. They included Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Ranjit Singh Chhajjalwadi, Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, Mr Jagdish Sahwney and Mrs Lakshmi Kanta Chawla.

The Speaker relented allowing members to be brief and adhere strictly to the time allotted. The refrain of the speeches was more political in nature and less financial. The members took the opportunity to lodge their protests and air their grievances, saying since ‘’democracy stands murdered in the House, at least it should be given a decent burial’’. They also complained that the voice of the people had been scuttled by not allowing members to speak inside and articulate the aspirations of the people.

All speakers were critical of the Budget and the manner in which certain basic postulates of the SAD had been ignored and a report on the actual performance and progress of initiatives taken in the past four years not presented. The Budget, it was made out, had neither direction nor depth.

Without mincing words, members made a direct attack on the policies the government had pursued all these four years and chided the leadership for saying goodbye to the basic philosophy of the Akali Dal which had failed to protect democracy and human rights.

But for Mr Jagdish Sawhney all others spoke against the Budget. Yet, using the opportunity as a cover they poured their heart out telling the House how disappointing Akali rule had been. The BJP member ridiculed the negative approach of the “ruling” party members, though they did not owe allegiance to Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, on his part, showed his dismay and disappointment over the points raised by the members who spoke without having bothered to go through the Budget documents. That was one basic reason that their utterances were sentimental and stemmed from political exigencies. What the members spoke was influenced more by politics than logic, having failed to submit any concrete suggestions.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said he had come prepared to accept and incorporate suggestions, if any, into the Budget proposals. He said he was no better educated by what was said on the subject.

After the Finance Minister finished his speech with the remark that “the Budget be passed”, the Speaker adjourned the House till 10 a.m. tomorrow. At this Capt Kanwaljit Singh stood up to say that the Budget be passed since he had replied to the general discussion on the budget estimates and the same had concluded, as stipulated in the business to be conducted for the day.

This caught the Speaker, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs as well as the Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr N.S. Mavi, off guard. Everyone scrambled for the rules book to see what was to be done.

Following quick consultations and anxious moments, the Speaker ruled that the Budget would be formally passed by the House when the Appropriation Bill was taken up on March 26 along with discussion and voting on the Demands for grants for 2001-02, as per the tradition. Because of this he had to announce twice the adjournment of the House.

Earlier during the day, on the issue of the ‘’freedom of the Press’’ Mr Ravi Inder Singh staged a walkout because he was dissatisfied with the reply of the Speaker when he pointed out that Press photographers were not allowed into the Lobby. On another occasion all eight “unattached” Akali MLAs had trooped out as had Mrs Chawla for not being allowed to either speak or be heard by the Chair.

There were three call-attention motions, two by Mrs Chawla, one on mass copying in the Punjab School Education Board examinations and the second on the charging of capitation fee by the managements of the institutions seeking admission to nursing courses. The third was by a member concerning the Animal Husbandry Department.


Ensure support price for crops, panel urged
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 21
The Punjab Government has asked the Agriculture Costs and Price Commission (ACPC), Government of India, to assure the minimum support price (MSP) for crops other than wheat and paddy also to encourage crop rotation.

Though the government has fixed the MSP for other crops like maize, pulses, etc, this price is not paid everywhere. Due to this, farmers hesitate to opt for crops for which the MSP is not easily available. At a meeting held recently with the ACPC, experts from the Agriculture Department, Punjab, stressed that a comprehensive policy should be formed to ensure that the MSP fixed for all crops was made available to farmers all over the country.

This was stated by Mr Meva Singh Sonar, who was here to attend a district-level camp and seminar on farmers’ training and oilseeds held at Ambedkar Bhavan yesterday.

He said that due to increasing prices of farm inputs, the Punjab Government had demanded from the ACPC that the MSP for common grade paddy should be fixed at Rs 655 per quintal, grade A paddy at Rs 720 per quintal, basmati at Rs 3160 per quintal, maize at Rs 720 per quintal, pulses at Rs 1500 per quintal and groundnut at Rs 500 per quintal.

Answering a query about crop rotation, Mr Sonar said the government had drawn a long-term plan to reduce the area under paddy. It had been proposed that the area under paddy in the state would be reduced from the current 26.11 lakh hectare to 18 lakh hectare during the next three to four years. The area under basmati rice would also be increased from the current 1.04 lakh hectare to 3 lakh hectare to produce export-quality rice. The Centre had selected four states, including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttaranchal for pilot project to promote the growth of basmati rice. In Punjab, Gurdaspur district has been selected for this project. The farmers in this district would be motivated to sow 386 varieties of basmati, he said.

The Union Government had also authorised four agencies, the State Trading Corporation (STC), MMTC, PEC and Markfed, to export foodgrains from the surplus producing states. These agencies would soon export 25 lakh tonnes of wheat to Sudan and West Asian countries.

Earlier, speaking at the seminar, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Printing and Stationery Minister, Punjab, who was the chief guest, promised that the SAD-BJP government would ensure an increase in the support price of wheat in the current season.

Agriculture experts pointed out that there was no scope for increase in sugar yield in this district. The two sugar mills in the region — the Morinda and Nawanshahr sugar mills — were already procuring 40-50 per cent sugarcane in excess of their capacity. The government should revive the idea of installing a sugar mill at Balachaur to make the optimum use of sugarcane production in the area, they suggested.


BSNL’s tall claims prove false
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 21
The tall claims of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) authorities that it was providing better quality services to its subscribers notwithstanding, more than 3000 residents of Goraya Town, 30 km from here, have been facing problems due to some fault in the telephone exchange.

Though the residents of the town were complaining that their telephones were not functioning properly for the past one month, but nothing concrete was done in order to rectify the malfunction of the exchange for reasons best known to local telecom officials.

Mr Jatinder Singh Narula, a shopkeeper, said though the department had been claiming that all stations falling within 200 km would be connected directly by dialling 95, but one has to wait for almost an hour or more to get connected to an outstation call.

Similarly, Mrs Nidhi Pasricha, a housewife, said it was difficult even to get connected to a local person for the past ten days.

According to the residents, though the Union Communication Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, had ordered that telephone complaints would be redressed within 24 hours, and special attention would be paid to improve functioning in rural areas, but the telecom officials were least concerned to attend to their complaints.

When contacted, Mr K.C. Jindal, General Manager (Telecom), admitted that there were some technical problems in the Goraya telephone exchange. “We are going to add 120 new circuits to the existing level of 240 circuits by March 31, which will ease the traffic problem to a great extent,” he added.


Preity wins over Sangrur women 
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 21
Wearing a red and white T-shirt and blue jeans, popular film star Preity Zinta, today captured the hearts of a large number of persons, especially the rural women at a function organised by the Umeed Khanna Foundation, a charitable social organisation, here.

Preity was here to give a boost to the activities of the foundation regarding the uplift of rural women. The function was organised to inaugurate the “Adolescent Girl Stitching Centres Project” for poor girls. Stitching centres will be opened in 111 villages of Sangrur and Barnala blocks to benefit 4,000 girls.

Hundreds of women from the Umeed Mahila Manch, formed by the foundation in different villages clapped as Preity lighted the ‘jyoti’.

The star opened and ended her address with Sat Sri Akal. She expressed her inability to speak in Punjabi, she promised the town in Hindi that she would come here again.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Preity said that she had come here to boost the good project of Mr Arvind Khanna, who is the husband of her classmate.

Mr Arvind Khanna is the Chairman of the Umeed Khanna Foundation, and a leader of the Punjab Pradesh Congress.

Preity expressed her anxiety over the condition of rural women, saying that very little was being done for them. She said she could do a charity show for the foundation as she had done for the Kargil and Gujarat earthquake victims.

Regarding Punjab, she said her films had Punjabi sons which made her popular.

She appealed to the people to keep the atmosphere clean to prevent diseases.


Sukha case: SP, DSPs’ bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 21
Mr S.N Aggarwal, District and Sessions Judge today rejected regular bail applications of SP Mohinder Singh Chahal and two DSPs, Jagtar Singh and Ramesh Chander, all accused in a case pertaining to illegal detention and subsequent disappearance of a Babbar Khalsa activist Sukhdev Singh in 1993.

However, the court has granted them time till April 5 to enable them to file regular bail applications before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The DIG (Patiala range), Mr Sanjiv Gupta was earlier granted regular bail in the same case. On a bail application moved by Sukhdev Singh’s wife, Kamaljit Kaur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had asked the CBI to conduct an inquiry.

The CBI has claimed that Sukha was called to the Sohana police station in Ropar district and was later detained at the CIA police station in Ropar.


BJP to stay away from rally
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 21
To recover from the aftermath of tremors experienced following the expose, the Punjab Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to abstain itself from the rally being held at Hussainiwala in Ferozepore on March 23 to pay tributes to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

This decision was announced at a press conference held at the residence of Mr Bhupender Sochi, senior Yuva Morcha activist, by the top leaders of the party this evening.

Talking to newspersons after the first executive meeting of the state BJP Mahila Morcha here, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the state BJP, said that the working committees in all the states had been directed by the party high command to hold extraordinary meetings not later than March 23 to prepare for the NDA mass rally scheduled to be held in New Delhi on March 25 to fight against the “Congress-ISI nexus” which resulted the expose by

Mr Jaiswal said as per a decision take long back, the state BJP Yuva Morcha would organise a rally at Hussainiwala tomorrow, a day before the state function, to pay homage to the martyrs. Workers have been mobilised all over the state to participate in the Thursday rally. Senior party leaders from New Delhi, including Mr O.P. Kohli, in charge of party’s affairs in Punjab, are expected to address the rally. Some BJP ministers may also reach Hussainiwala tomorrow.

Asked why the party had decided to keep away from the March 23 rally which is to be addressed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, they said the state working committee would be busy in holding an extraordinary meeting at Muktsar on the same day to chalk out a plan for ensuring good participation from Punjab in the New Delhi rally being held on Sunday.

Mrs Trishna Minhas, state president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, said the working committee today resolved to hold a rally at the Amritsar on April 6.


Suspension of MLAs was ‘undemocratic’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 21
Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, yesterday alleged that the SAD-BJP combine had effected the suspension of all opposition members of the House in its bid to skirt discussion on all major and long-pending issues of the state.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Chaudary said it was for the first time in the legislative history of the state that the entire Opposition was suspended in an “undemocratic way” for airing their views against the uneven disbursement of funds among the MLAs belonging to the ruling and the opposition parties. “It has never happened that a session was deliberately cut down to just 10-12 days. It is violation of the democratic norms and we have been protesting against it in a peaceful manner by sitting outside the House,” Mr Chaudhary said.

He said the motive of the ruling party was to avoid discussion on issues, which could prove uncomfortable for it. “Have they ever discussed the issue of SYL canal even as the neighbouring state of Haryana has been demanding its share of water from Punjab. 


Speaker adjourns MLAs’ case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, today adjourned the case related to the disqualification of 11 ruling Shiromani Akali Dal legislators to June 22.

The case was adjourned after counsel for them appeared before the Speaker. The case has been pending since five ministers filed two identical petitions before the Speaker seeking the disqualification of the 11 legislators on the ground of defection, on May 26.

These legislators are close confidants of SHSAD President G.S. Tohra.


Bathinda resident gets life term
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 21
Mr B.C. Rajput, Sessions Judge, has sentenced Gurdeep Singh, a local resident, to imprisonment for life for killing Jagdeep Singh, alias Laddi, after exceeding his right of private defence.

In a judgement delivered on March 16, the Sessions Judge held that Gurdeep Singh was guilty of offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27 of the Arms Act.

Gurdeep Singh has also been sentenced to pay fine of Rs 1,000 and in default of payment of fine, he would have to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) of six months further. He was further sentenced to suffer RI of five years and a fine of Rs 500. In default of payment of fine in the second sentence, the accused would suffer further an RI of three months.

Both the sentences would run concurrently. The imprisonment undergo by the accused during the inquiry/trial, would be set off against the substantive sentence.

According to the case, Jasmel Kaur, mother of deceased, mortgaged her house to Gurdeep Singh in 1993 and kept one room in her possession. After some time, she decided to get her vacated from Gurdeep Singh after paying him the mortgaged money. The mortgage deed was not registered.

Gurdeep Singh, was not permitting them to even them to even enter the room which was in her possession. On August 15, 1995, at 7 pm she, alongwith her son Jagdeep Singh, alias Laddi, Balwinder Singh, driver of the Jeep, Kaur Singh and Bittu came to Bathinda to meet Gurdeep Singh.

When she was opening the door of her room, Gurjit Singh and Banta Singh, associates of the accused, threatened that if she entered the room, they would kill her. At that time, her son was standing at some distance from her.

After that, Gurjit Singh and Banta Singh challenged them and Gurdeep Singh gave a fire shot injury from a double barrel gun to her son and the bullet hit the head of her son and he fell down. Gurdeep Singh fired another shot at her son which hit at his chest. Her son died due to gun shot injuries.

The accused pleaded that he fired two shots in the self-defence and in the defence of his family. The Judge held that Gurdeep Singh fired twice at Jagdeep Singh, alias Laddi. If the accused after firing once, had not fired the second time, he could well claim that he had exercised the right of private defence. Accused Gurjit Singh and Banta Singh were given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted of charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC. 


2 sub-tehsils suffer in neglect
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Narot Jaimal Singh and Bamial, two sub-tehsils of Pathankot sub-division, are being totally neglected by the government. The population of these two sub-tehsils is over 50,000.

These two sub tehsils are surrounded by rivers: on the eastern side the two are encompassed by the Ravi while to the north-west these are surrounded by the Jalalia and Ujh rivers.

Owing to these rivers these tehsils mostly remain cut off from the rest of the state. It takes almost a full day to reach the district headquarters at Gurdaspur. Had there been a bridge on the Ravi the distance between the district headquarters and villages like Bamial, could be cut by 50 km. Now residents of these tehsils have to come via Kathua and Lakhanpur (Jammu and Kashmir) to reach this sub-division at Pathankot and district headquarters at Gurdaspur.

In the last Parliamentary elections there was call for total boycott of the elections by the people of these sub-tehsils. The common slogan of the area was “Pul nahi to vote nahi” (No vote without bridge), but after repeated assurances by local leaders the poll boycott call was withdrawn. With this assurance the people agreed to participate in the election.

However with the efforts of the local MP, Mr Vinod Khanna, work on a temporary pontoon bridge is in progress, but according to local residents the bridge remains a dream.

The main occupation of the residents of this area is agriculture and most of the land has been eroded by the rivers and barren. As much as 80 per cent of the land is unirrigated and the average yield is very low. The overall economy of this area is poor.

The education system is in a shambles. There is no degree college and students of the area mostly discontinue their studies at the plus two level.

The conditions of the roads in the area is bad and some of the roads which have not been metalled for more than 20 years.

It is said a special drive for the development of border area had been launched by the state government but the ground reality is different. Repeated assurances by the authorities have not assuaged the grievances of the people.

There are about five veterinary dispensaries in the area. All the dispensaries lack basic facilities. The health services in the area are poor. The condition of the primary health centre at Narot Jaimal Singh is pathetic. People have to rely on quacks and unregistered medical practitioners for minor and major ailments.

The two sub tehsils are functioning in the area but documents for registration are entertained only twice a week, causing great hardship.

The fence erected on Pakistan border has also caused a great hardship to those farmers whose land falls across the fence. The affected villages are Bamial, Kanshi Barwan, Jaidpur, Khudaipur, Ferwal, Paharipur and Barmal Jattan.

It is surprising that most of the land of Jaidpur village lies across the fence. According to Mr Karan Singh, a sarpanch, because of non-cooperative attitude of the administration the residents of the area have no work to do as most of their crops have been destroyed by wild animals.


SHSAD: summon Kanwaljit to Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
Mr Harbans Singh Manjpur, executive member of the SGPC and senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to summon Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, to Akal Takht for making a budgetary provision for installation of an ultra-modern slaughter house in the holy city of Amritsar.

Mr Manjpur alleged the status of ‘holy city’ had been achieved with great struggle. The ruling party which claimed to be ‘Panthic’ had given an “anti-Sikh” speech during the Budget session.

Mr Manjpur said he would raise the issue at the joint meeting of High Priests and the SGPC executive scheduled to be held at Anandpur Sahib tomorrow.

He said he would not allow the proceedings of the meeting to take place unless a unanimous resolution was passed against the proposed move of the state government.

The SHSAD would also take a firm stand at the meeting on the ‘maryada’ issue. He said the deadlock must be resolved ‘honorably’. He hoped the members and the High Priests would find a way out in this regard tomorrow.

Mr Onkar Singh Arora, another executive member of the SGPC belonging to the SHSAD, sought immediate resignation of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as Chief Minister for having failed to make a statement after the expose.

He said the SAD had earlier refused to withdraw support to the NDA government though Udham Singh Nagar was transferred to Uttaranchal.

Mr Arora alleged Mr Badal wanted to accommodate his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal in the Union Ministry. Hence, he did not want to withdraw support to the Vajpayee government.


Sikh clergy becoming ‘patit’: Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
The ‘open letter’ written by Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, in the name of SGPC members may cast its shadow over the crucial joint meeting of the SGPC executive and high priests, to be held at Anandpur Sahib tomorrow.

In the letter, Giani Kewal Singh has said that the SGPC members who had already completed four years in office had failed to come up to the expectations of the Sikh sangat.

Giani Kewal Singh, who is also one of the five high priests, has pointed out a number of shortcomings of the members.

The agenda of the proposed meeting is ‘Sikh maryada’. The proposed joint meeting of high priests and SGPC executive is one of the rare occasions where the issue of ‘Sikh maryada’ would be discussed at length.

The open letter also mentions the rising trend of drug addiction and consumption of liquor. He points out that “those who were supposed to launch a campaign against drug addiction, themselves contest elections of the SGPC, assembly and Parliament”.

Earlier, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, had criticised the ruling SAD for having failed to curb the menace of drug addiction in the state. Later the SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi had also reiterated that the SGPC would launch a campaign against the menace.

Giani Kewal Singh said that it was a matter of ‘great shame’ that the family members of most of the SGPC members, ‘panthic leaders’ and administrators of religious institutions were becoming ‘patit’ (apostate).

Giani Kewal Singh did not mention the case of Mr Balbir Singh Naushehra Pannu, senior vice-president of the SGPC who was killed in a road accident near Bareilly whose sons are ‘patit’. The letter emphasised that the priests, raagis and preachers of the SGPC should be recruited on merit. It may be mentioned here that eyebrows were raised when the SGPC recently appointed two priests of the Golden Temple without any test.

In yet another significant point raised in the letter, Giani Kewal Singh said that the SGPC members should be above political factionalism. 


Kids stray into ash heap, burnt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 21
More than six children sustained burn injuries when they strayed into a heap of ash dumped by a factory near Dana Mandi on the Hoshiarpur road here last evening.

They were treated in private and civil hospitals and were discharged after first aid since the burns on their hands and feet were said to be minor.

The incident occurred when the children belonging to the adjoining Palahigate and Dharamkot localities were playing near the ash dump said to have smouldering contents underneath. The wind blew off the cool upper part of the heap of ash fanning the fire with dry grass, papers and scraps lying around fuelling it. The fire brigade had to be called to extinguish the fire.

The children who sustained burn injuries have been identified as Sunny, Happy, Sajjan, Kalu, Sanjiv, Shahid, all of Palahigate, and Sonu of Dharamkot.


23 Shiv Sena activists held
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 21
The city police arrested 17 male and six female activists of the local unit of the Shiv Sena yesterday for indulging in unruly behaviour, raising slogans and using abusive language against the Senior Sub-Judge, Mr Kuldeep Singh.

The arrested include Ramesh Nayyar, Jatinder Tikka, Kamal Kishore, Rakesh Kumar, Davinder Kumar and Ashok Kumar.

Meanwhile, the Batala Bar Association went on strike and submitted a memorandum to the Subdivisional Magistrate, Batala, Mr Pardeep Sabharwal, and the District Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, Mr M.R. Batra.


Mob pelts train with stones
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 21
An irate mob pelted the Amritsar-bound 1AJL train with stones and cut the wires of the outer signal of a branch line near Phillaur railway station at 9.35 am today. Senior officials of the Railway Police and the Railway Protection Force, including Mr R.K. Tyagi Commandant of the RPF, and some railway officials visited the spot.

The people were protesting against the demolition of more than 300 shops, houses and kiosks on the Phillaur-Noormahal road near railway crossing by the railway staff. The demolition was continued even today.

Mr Santokh Singh, former minister, who visited the site today, strongly condemned the demolition drive and demanded sufficient compensation for the victims and separate land for them. The Railway Police had registered a case under Section 150 of the Railway Act.

Meanwhile, on an assurance given by some prominent persons for vacating the railway property in a meeting with the Subdivisional Magistrate, Prem Chand, the railway staff had postponed the demolition drive for fifteen days.


Israeli team meets Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
A two-member delegation led by Mr David Aphek, Ambassador of Israel to India, called on the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here this evening and discussed issues of general interest. The visitors offered collaboration and setting up joint ventures with Punjab in different sectors of the economy.


Farmers should seek subsidies: Bhunder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
In a significant statement, which could have far-reaching implications for SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, senior Akali leader and member of Parliament, said today that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had failed to stop corruption in the country.

Mr Bhunder, who was here as the chief guest at the Kisan Mela organised by the Punjab Agricultural University at the Regional Research Station, said the “drama” exposed by was fake but it actually showed what happens in the system. While addressing the gathering of farmers he said the farmers should organise dharnas against the Central Government to get the maximum subsidies and in this struggle he along with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would stand by them.

He pointed out that the farmers would have to face problems due to WTO policies under the GATT agreement, which was signed in 1995. He said the WTO policies had destroyed agriculture products and the industry. He added that the farmers would have to compete in the market if they wanted to survive and they would have to make efforts to improve the quality of agriculture produce.

He added that the WTO policies had increased unemployment in the country.

He said the farmers should reduce production cost of different crops by not depending on hired labour. He added that the farmers should avoid wastage and use scientific methods.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, said the farmers could fulfil their domestic requirements by producing vegetables and pulses.

He said the farmers should follow the recommendations of the scientists of PAU to get maximum yield and buy seeds from the PAU centres only.

Dr K.K. Dhingra, Head, Department of Agronomy, said mentha and haldi were more profitable as compared to paddy. He pointed out that the farmers should grow commercial or cash crops to improve their economic condition.

Mr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director of Extension Education, PAU, said the use of seed varieties, which were not recommended by PAU could be harmful and it could spread disease.


Punjab lifts ban on recruitment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today told the state Vidhan Sabha that the government had lifted the ban on recruitment in various departments.

Intervening on a question by Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, who sought to know the clear picture on the filling of posts pointing to the contradictory replies of two ministers, Mr Badal said at the last Cabinet meeting it was decided to withdraw the ban imposed on fresh recruitment.

There was, however, a rider. Any department making fresh recruitment could do so only in consultation with the Chief Minister and with his permission.

This announcement by the Chief Minister has to be seen in the context of the coming elections to the Assembly.

Mr Grewal wanted to know when vacancies of government college principal would be filled. There are 16 vacancies with the total number of colleges being 48.


Only perishable relief items were sold: DC
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 21
Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner-cum-President of the District Red Cross Society (DRCS), Sangrur, yesterday clarified that the society had only sold perishable relief material, collected for the Gujarat earthquake victims, because there was no demand for this material in the affected areas. Besides, the DRCS authorities wanted to save this perishable material from rotting.

Mr Tiwari said this when his attention was drawn to the fact that one Baljit Singh has filed a complaint with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) alleging that the DRCS, Sangrur, had sold the relief material like wheat, flour and rice, collected for the Gujarat earthquake victims. On his complaint, the PSHRC had directed the Deputy Commissioner to submit a report in this regard to the commission.

The Deputy Commissioner denied that the DRCS authorities had misappropriated the relief materials by selling it, claiming that the amount, to the tune of Rs 1.25 lakh, earned from the sale of relief material had been sent to the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Mr Tiwari said the administration had formed a committee, headed by Mr Rajesh Dhiman, Assistant Commissioner (General), to dispose of the perishable goods. The other members of the committee were the DFSC and the president of the Municipal Committee, Sangrur.

Mr Dhiman said about 200 quintals of wheat and flour, and 20 quintals of rice had been sold to earn about Rs 1.25 lakh and this money was sent to the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Our Correspondent adds: On the complaint of Baljit Singh Nayak, President, Sarv Sanjhi Indian Party, Mr M.S. Chahal, member, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, in his Monday’s order directed the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, who is also a president of the District Red Cross Society, to inquire into the matter personally and submit a report to the commission before next date of hearing, May 22, 2001.


Punjab transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
A few postings/transfers were ordered by the Punjab Government today.

Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr, has been appointed Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, vice Mr Bidhi Chand.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Executive Director, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation goes as Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr.

Mr B.R. Banga, Special Secretary, Irrigation, is now Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar.

Mr Mohinder Pal Arora is new Secretary, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation, while Mr Jarnail Singh is Administrative Officer, DPI (Schools), Punjab, according to a press note.


Liquor shops auctioned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
The auction of the liquor shops in Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa districts was held for the financial year 2001-2002 here today. The auction in this district earned Rs 53.1 crore, which was Rs 93 lakh more than the last time. The earnings in Muktsar were Rs 29.01 crore, as compared to Rs 28.21 crore last time, while in Mansa district, the shops were auctioned for Rs 25.01 crore, an increase of Rs 1.07 crore from last time. Bathinda-I, Bathinda-II, Goniana and Bhuchu blocks together were auctioned for Rs 26.63 crore, Talwandi and Maur blocks for Rs 7.48 crore, Raman and Bhagta blocks for Rs 6.81 crore, Sangat block for Rs 3.70 crore and Rampura for Rs 6.49 crore.


Wakf Board officer held for bribery
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 21
The Estate Officer of the Punjab Wakf Board, Ropar, Mr Abdul Shakeor, was arrested by district vigilance officials while accepting a bribe last evening.

The DSP, Vigilance Ropar, Mr Malvinder Singh, giving information to this correspondent about the case, said the accused was arrested in a trap laid on a complaint by Mr Chet Ram of Katta Sabur village in Anandpur Sahib.

The complainant told the vigilance officials that he had eight kanals of Wakf Board land on lease since the past 20 years. There was another 32 kanal and 6 marlas of Wakf Board land in the same village that could be transferred in his name.

He approached the accused Estate Officer, but he declined to help him. There after, he approached the Chief Executive Officer of the Wakf Board at Ambala, who sent his application to the Estate Officer for further action.

The accused initially refused to acknowledge that he had received the application. Later, he asked for a bribe of Rs 5,000 from Mr Chet Ram for transfer of the land in his name.

The complainant approached the vigilance officials who asked him to pay the bribe to the Estate Officer as part of a trap.

A case under Sections 7, 13 (2) and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the Estate Officer. He was produced in the court of the CJM, Ropar, today who remanded him into judicial custody till April 3.


Truckers’ leader booked
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 21
Acting on a complaint lodged by Ms V. Neerja, Superintendent of Police Traffic, Amritsar, the authorities of police station, Sadar Pathankot, have registered a case against Mohan Singh Bal, president of the local truck union, under Sections 332, 506, 186, 148 and 149, Indian Penal Code.

Ms Neerja complained on Monday that on December 13, 2000, when she and her team at a naka on the Sujanpur road were challaning driver Onkar Singh not possessing some documents, Mohan Singh Bal, started abusing the officials and blocked traffic along with around 25 persons who had rods with them.

The SP further alleged that she was forced to cancel the challan and deterred from discharging their duty.


School board cancels papers at 10 centres
Tribune News Service

S. A. S. Nagar, March 21
As per the campaign by the Punjab School Education Board to check copying during the ongoing matric and senior secondary school examinations, a case of fraud involving 29 private candidates who are appearing at an examination centre in the senior secondary school, Kurali, has been detected by board officials.

Sources in the board said the proprietor of Adarsh Public School had himself attested the examination forms of his students with fake stamps and interestingly roll numbers were issued by the examination branch in the board to the candidates without properly scrutinising the examination forms.

Meanwhile, in wake of mass copying the board authorities have cancelled the papers of English, Punjabi, History, Social Science and Physics at 10 different centres in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Rajpura, Patiala and SAS Nagar.

A spokesman of the board said the following papers had been cancelled — English ( class X ) held on March 12 at Lailpur Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar; Punjabi ( 10+2) held at Shivalik Public School, Phase 6 of SAS Nagar on March 14; History ( 10+2) held at Lailpur Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, KK Senior Secondary School ( block 2), Rajpura, BN Senior Secondary School, Ghi Mandir, Amritsar (Block 1 and 2), DAV Senior Secondary School, Amritsar ( block 1) , Ashok Senior Secondary School, Kot Baba Deep Singh, Amritsar — all held on March 17; Physics ( 10+2) held at Government Senior Secondary School, Town Hall ( Block 1), Amritsar; Social Science ( 10+2) at Government Senior Secondary School, Handesra ( Patiala) on March 21.

The dates and centres for re-examination will be announced at a later date. 


Making business out of admissions
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 21
If you are a topper in any of the all-India or state-level competition for admission in postgraduate medical courses by various academic institutes, you should consider yourself lucky as you can cash in on it.

What you will have to do is to get domicile certificates of all states where you want to appear for counselling with regard to admission in postgraduate courses. Once you get admission in the institute of your choice you can mint money by appearing in the counselling at other institutes and undeserving candidate securing seats for an in the course, which suits him or her, in lieu of money.

For the past many years, admission through counselling in postgraudate medical courses has acquiring dimensions of a business as the tail-enders in the merit lists have been succeeding in getting admission in the courses of their choice by “paying” money to top-ranking candidates.

The modus-operandi of these elements is unique. What the aspirants do is that they find a top-ranking candidate, who has already got admission in one of the institutes and ask him to pick the seat of his choice in the institute where he wants to get admission. After the top ranking candidate picks up the seat of his choice, he gets himself registered as a waiting candidate in the same course.

After the admission process is over, the aspirant gets admission in that course with ease after it is vacated by the top-ranking candidate. In this way, they have been denying other waiting candidates admission into these courses.

Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, when contacted, said it had been happening for the past many years. He added that such frauds were being committed by top-ranking students as it was very easy to get domicile certificate of Punjab, while for getting domicile certificate of other states, it was mandatory that the candidate to get education from that state for the past five years.

When asked that students, who were to appear for counselling in postgraduate medical courses from March 29 were expressing apprehensions about the fraud being repeated this year, he added that the university authorities had made arrangements with the universities of neighbouring states and Delhi to avoid such a thing.

He pointed out that whenever a complaint was received about the fact that a candidate had appeared in one of the institute earlier before appearing in the counselling of Baba Farid University, the complaint would be cross-checked with the authorities concerned and if the facts were found to be true, that candidate would not allowed to attend counselling. He added that preventive measures in this connection had been taken.

Meanwhile, students and their parents pointed out that when the results of postgraduate competitions were declared, the result cards containing the marks obtained were posted to the students without any indication of individual ranking. The students had to make efforts to know their individual ranking.

They demanded that counselling should be transparent and all seats available in each course should be made known to the candidates before counselling. After the start of counselling, the latest position of seats of each course should be displayed at regular intervals to the students sitting in the waiting room. The whole exercise should be held in a very efficient manner.

Dr Sandhu, however, claimed that the university authorities were vigilant.


VCs to decide on student bodies’ poll
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 21
The decision to conduct elections of the various students bodies in the state would be taken in the next academic session after consultation with the Vice-Chancellor of all universities. This year also the proposal to hold the election was there but two Vice-Chancellors opposed it.

This was stated by Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, while talking to mediapersons at Government College here today. The commission’s recommendations for college and university teachers had been implemented. In the current financial year the government was considering improving the facilities in the existing colleges rather than opening new institutions, the minister said. He was here to attend the annual function of the college.

Responding to a query, he said 32 technical courses had been introduced in various colleges in the state. The computer education had been launched in 40 government colleges in the state. The faculty for the newly started courses would be recruited on ad hoc basis initially. They would be paid Rs 6,500 per month.

Mr Mohan Lal, ruled out the possibility of the requirement of college lecturers in the near future by saying that the shortage of staff in most of the colleges had been fulfilled by recruiting lecturers on ad hoc basis and where the problem still persisted the principals had been authorised to recruit lecturers on ad hoc base.


Varsity exams from April 4 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 21
Punjabi University will conduct the annual examination for BA, BSc, and B.Com from April 4 and for MA, MSc, M.Com and others from April 19.

Giving this information, Mr Paramjit Singh Khaira, Controller of Examinations, said the arrangements for the smooth conduct of examinations had been finalised at over 125 examination centres in different colleges spread over seven districts.

Mr Khaira added that the practicals would be held after the theory examinations.


College panel calls off dharna
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 21
The Coordination Committee of 11 colleges run by the SGPC has called off its proposed dharna outside the Ludhiana residence of the SGPC chief on March 25 following an assurance by Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi to a deputation of the committee.

This was announced here yesterday by Prof Jasbir Singh Dhaliwal, Convener of the Committee-cum-District President, Punjab and Chandigarh Colleges Teachers Union. The deputation had called on Mr Talwandi at Ludhiana two days ago, said Prof Dhaliwal.

The teachers are demanding revised pay scales.

Meanwhile, the circle Akali jatha of the ruling SAD has presented a memorandum to the SGPC chief, demanding restoration of Phagwara’s status as an independent and separate SGPC seat.

It has also demanded that even the assembly seat should be allocated to an Akali candidate in the next election. 


Faux pas by exam staff
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
Regular students taking matriculation examinations at Khalsa Senior Secondary School, here and centre number two at Talwandi Sabo today came in for a rude shock when they learnt they were given question papers for social study meant for compartment candidates.

Official sources said at these two centres, the supervisory staff distributed the question paper meant for regular candidates to those appearing in compartment exams. Dr Surinder Gill, Principal, Khalsa Senior Secondary School, when contacted, said the Controller of Examination had been informed about the incident.

Mr Gurdev Singh, DEO, when contacted, said arrangements would be made to enable the affected students to take the exam again by the PSEB.

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