Sunday, March 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Tohra, Mann factions to join third front
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 24
In a significant development, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and the Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann have decided to join the third front at the national level.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Mann said both the Akali Dal (A) and SHSAD would organise a joint political conference at Damdama Sahib to mark the Baisakhi festival.

Mr Mann appealed to Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, president SAD (Panthic) and Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, President SAD (Democratic), to forge a ‘Panthic unity’ so that the ruling SAD and the Congress could be defeated in the forthcoming general election.

Earlier, Mr Mann visited the religious place and expressed sympathy with the Muslim brethren over the alleged sacrilege conducted by activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Dal recently. Condemning the incident of burning the holy book, Mr Mann sought a ban on the suraksha dal which had claimed the responsibility of the crime.

Mr Mann also appealed to the Taliban not to destroy the statues of the Buddha.

On the ‘open letter’ written by Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Damdama Sahib, in which he has expressed concern over the non-performance of SGPC members, Mr Mann said Akal Takht should initiate action against them.

He suggest that, the SGPC general house (which is considered the ‘mini-parliament’ of Sikhs) should run on the pattern of Parliament where opposition members could raise points over the decisions of the ruling party. One neutral member who should be acceptable to all the sections should act like a ‘speaker’ of the house and due weightage should be given to the member belonging to opposition parties.


Movement to fight TB
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
The Punjab Government is generating a community-level movement in the state to focus public attention on the ensuing tuberculosis epidemic in the country.

Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Heath and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, stated this at a public function organised here to mark the World Tuberculosis Day today.

He said the inclusion of five more districts of the state in the revised national tuberculosis control programme (RNTCP) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Government of India had further strengthened efforts of the state to control the epidemic. Earlier Dr Ajaib Singh Sandhu, Deputy Director and Civil Surgeon, here presented a cheque of Rs 1 lakh contributed by doctors of the district towards the corpus of the district TB control society. He said there were 8,582 TB cases in the district and a majority of them were being treated at government health institutions. Various NGOs in the district had adopted 1,820 patients.

KULU: The district TB control society launched the directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) under the national TB control programme here today. Mr Karan Singh, the Minister of State for Primary Education, said the awareness campaign regarding the diagnosis and treatment of the disease had to be initiated along with the control programme.

Mr G.D. Gaur, Chief Medical Officer, said in this district all the basic equipments for diagnosing TB were available in the pivotal health centres. Dr Shamsher Singh, the district TB control officer, said there were 259 cases per lakh in Himachal Pradesh who were suffering from TB in this district.

As many as 1,100 cases have been identified so far. He said under the DOTs programme, trained health workers in remote areas would personally provide the periodic doses to patients.


Seepage destroys Sheesh Mahal chamber
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

The large painted chamber at the Sheesh Mahal complex along with its glass-covered antechamber is befittingly its piece de resistance. Seeing the chamber from inside is barred for tourists thronging the site. They have to peep in from glass windows on both sides of the chamber to view the magnificent wall paintings a blend of the Mughal and Rajasthani style commissioned by the Patiala rulers.

Most tourists seeing the wall paintings from outside marvel at the still sparkling colours used by artisans of yore as well as the themes chosen by them. Seeing most of the paintings they do not realise that the very existence of the painted chamber is threatened and that part of it has been destroyed beyond redemption.

Water seeping in from the roof of the painted chamber over the past few years has taken its toll resulting in destruction of its upper portion at two places. At both places paintings in an area of around two metres each have been destroyed with even the plaster peeling off. Constant seepage is also playing havoc with an entire portion of the wall with cracks being noticed in it. Paintings along the crack are also threatened.

The Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums Department is apparently not perturbed at the developments as it is still to give a small grant to do repairs on the roof of the painted chamber. Various officials of the department posted at Sheesh Mahal as Assistant Conservators have stressed the need to repair the roof of the chamber but all their efforts have come to nought.

On January 16, the department asked whether the leakage persisted. The Assistant Conservator replied on February 1 that water was still seeping in from the roof of the painted chambers along the wall and that the paintings in an area of around three square metres had been affected.

The Assistant Conservator wrote that such a situation had arisen as bitumen had been laid unevenly on the roof of the chambers. As the expansion of the bitumen and the floor differed during summers, the former expanded resulting in cavities and bubbles at the surface. Due to this, the report said, the bitumen contracted along the sides of the walls resulting in cracks and gaps. It said during the monsoon, water penetrated through these cracks and damaged the chamber walls below. Rain water seeped through these cracks and damaged parts of the painted chamber every year. If this seepage persisted, one of the two longitudinal walls of the painted chamber would be completely destroyed.

A visit to the site revealed that the bitumen had been laid in such a fashion that water stagnated over the roof. Moreover the flooring along the sides of the ventilators in the buildings was unfinished besides being laid unevenly. Sources said the bitumen needed to be discarded and proper plastering done according to the slant of the roof to set things right.

The department wrote back asking the local Assistant Conservator to start work on the roof of the chamber. The Conservator replied in mid February later that he needed an experienced mason and labour besides Rs 4,000 to carry out repairs. Both his demands were denied to him. His last communication to the department has been “it is a matter of concern that I am waiting for your benevolence for even a single paisa.”

(To be concluded)


CM wooing voters with grants: Ramoowalia
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), March 24
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is trying to woo the voters by distributing “grants” at various sangat darshans keeping an eye on the coming Assembly elections.

This was stated by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP and president of the Lok Bhalai Party, at a rally in connection with the Baba Kalu Nath Memorial mela today. He said this “purchase politics” would not work.

Mr Ramoowalia said the money which Mr Badal was distributing belonged to people. He said his party was ready to join hands with like-minded and secular parties, adding that his party would contest 90 Assembly seats.

Commenting on the WTO regime, he said the agreement was against the interests of farmers.

To protect the automobile industry, anti-dumping duty had been imposed on the import of second-hand cars. The same treatment should be given to the agriculture sector. The import of wheat was allowed even when our stocks were overflowing,” he alleged.

The recent increase in the MSP of wheat was not adequate as the costs of input had increased. The government should declare a bonus of Rs 70 per quintal.

He alleged that the state government was selling state property at throwaway prices. All state-run departments were running into losses and they were being sold at throwaway prices to “supporters” of politicians, he said.

He said the Armymen involved in the alleged arms deal exposed by tehelka. com were being court martialled where as the politicians were being spared by the Union Government.

Meanwhile, the SAD put up a poor show when its conference organised on the occasion of the mela could not attract more than few hundred people.

Addressing the conference, the SAD general secretary and MP, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, said the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance had gained for Punjab in its short tenure what was not achieved by the Congress in 40 years.

He said the government had increased the MSP despite the recommendations of the Agricultural Price Commission to reduce it.

Mr Bhunder said the WTO regime was against the interest of the nation, but said the Akalis and the BJP were not responsible for it. He said the agreement was signed during the government of Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Mr Sikander Singh, Power Minister, also addressed the gathering.


Basic rail facilities lacking at Kapurthala
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 24
Once an advanced erstwhile princely states, this district comprising the historic Sultanpur Lodhi, considered to be the fountainhead of Sikhism where Guru Nanak attained enlightenment, is perhaps the most backward district in respect of railway travel facilities.

The rich cultural heritage of Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi notwithstanding, residents and tourists face problems in commuting through trains, primarily on accounts of lack of basic facilities and fast trains. Both Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi fall on the Jalandhar-Ferozepore branch line which does not have any fast train between the two cities and Delhi even after the Rail Coach Factory was set up in the area about a decade ago. The local railway station does not have computer reservation facility. The tourists have to go to Jalandhar, 25 km from here, for the purpose.

“Though a lot of people, especially Punjabis settled in other states, want to visit Sultanput Lodhi, the absence of fast trains and other rail travel facilities is a dampner,” Mr V.K. Singh Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner, said “If they want to take a fast train to Amritsar or Delhi, they will either have to cover a distance of 25 km to go to Phagwara or Jalandhar or Hamira, 12 km from here. The problem can be solved to some extent by upgrading the existing Hamira railway station,” he said.

According to Mr Mohan Singh Anand, city president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the residents had apprised the railway authorities of their problems a number of times, but nothing had been done so far. He said the railway authorities should run a special fast train to link Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi to Delhi, which would boost tourism.

“If someone has to go to Nanded Sahib by boarding the Sachkhand Express running between Amritsar and Nanded Sahib, he will have to go to Jalandhar since the train does not stop even at the Phagwara railway station. The Union Railway Minister of State, Mr Digvijay Singh, who is on a visit to the city, should solve their problems”, said Mr N. Kalia of the Senior Citizens Club.

Mr Ashok Malhotra, a former municipal commissioner, urged Mr Digvijay Singh to mitigate the sufferings of the passengers by ordering the setting up of a computerised reservation counter at Kapurthala. Heads of several social organisations said they would take up the matter with the minister.


11 more held in sacrilege incident

Chandigarh, March 24
The Punjab police has arrested 11 more persons in connection with the incidents of alleged sacrilege and hurting of religious sentiments at Patiala and Amritsar early this week, the police said today.

A Patiala police spokesman said here that seven persons were arrested from different areas in the city today in connection with the setting afire of a religious book outside a place of worship in Arya Samaj chowk of the city on Thursday.

All seven arrested were activists of the All-India Hindu Suraksha Samiti (AIHSS), he said. The outfit’s Chairman, Mr Sanjiv Bharadwaj is absconding.

The Amritsar police arrested four persons yesterday in connection with the sacrilege on March 20. The four — Vijay Kumar alias Vicky, Sahib Dhir, Manish Kumar, Tejinder Kumar — along with the three arrested earlier have been remanded to police custody till March 28 by a local court. The police arrested Statish Kumar, alias Manager, another activist of the AIHSS, on the same day. PTI


VHP suspects political mischief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Punjab unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in a statement issued here today urged the Punjab Police to arrest all those involved in the desecration of religious places.

Mr Vijaya Singh Bhardwaj, a spokesman of the parishad, said his organisation suspected political mischief with the objective of maligning Hindu organisations and to incite Hindus and Muslims to violence.

He said it was the duty of the government to protect religious places of all communities. The government should take action immediately against those involved in these incidents.


Tohra demands PM’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Dhanaula (Barnala), March 24
Demanding resignation of Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee on moral grounds in the wake of Tehelka expose, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), strongly advocated in favour of the implementation of Inderjit Gupta Committee’s report on poll reforms to effectively curb corrupt practices and money power in elections in India.

Mr Tohra was today addressing a press conference in a gurdwara here after taking part in the death anniversary of Baba Jagat Singh along with Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, SHSAD General Secretary, and Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, SHSAD youth wing chief.


PPCC meeting tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has convened a meeting of the party office-bearers, district, presidents, MLAs, MPs and former MLAs and MPs and other important functionaries on March 26 at Punjab Congress Bhavan here.

Mr Moti Lal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab affairs of the party, will address the meeting. The expose will be discussed.


Badal gives sweets to Pak Rangers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Hussainiwala (Ferozepore), March 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Union Minister for Non-Conventional Energy, Mr M. Kannappan, Mr Vikoo, General Secretary, MDMK, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon and scores of civil and police officials crossed the zero line last evening to distribute sweets to Pakistani Rangers on the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of ‘Shane-e-Hind’ gate.

Mr Badal and other Central leaders also talked to the Rangers one by one. The foundation stone laying ceremony and handing over of baskets of sweets and fruits to the Rangers took place in a cordial atmosphere, rarely witnessed here ever since the site was closed for trade after 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

The crowd which assembled on both sides was much delighted after watching the impressive retreat ceremony executed by BSF jawans and Pakistani Rangers.

Though the crowd on Pakistan’s side outnumbered that on the Indian side, the BSF jawans kept on getting huge applause. The tapping of feet by BSF jawans was matched by clapping from the gathering. The BSF jawans’ performance made people raise slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

However, most of the people who were not allowed to go near the zero line for watching the flag-lowering ceremony by the BSF authorities returned disappointed and condemned the ‘irresponsible’ attitude of the authorities concerned.

The visitors alleged that it was wrong on the part of the BSF authorities to deny them the right to see the retreat ceremony even on this historic day. They added that only ‘VVIPs’ and other influential’ persons were allowed to go near the zero line.

Meanwhile, cross-section of residents of this town to whom The Tribune spoke, demanded that the Hussainiwala border should be opened for trade with Pakistan and the business atmosphere prevailing before the 1971 war should be restored.

The residents demanded that road and rail link between Ferozepore and Lahore should be restored and train and bus services should be introduced for the convenience of the residents of both countries.

They demanded that more facilities should be provided for the visitors at the joint checkpost. The Punjab Government should take necessary steps to develop it into a full-fledged tourist spot. 


Dyal wants panel on terrorism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The CPI has urged the Punjab Government to set up a commission under the chairmanship of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to determine who was responsible for terrorism in the state.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said here today that the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were blaming each other for the same. Only a high-level commission could settle the issue.

The CPI leader said his party had criticised Operation Bluestar but the BJP had supported it. He urged the BJP leadership to clarify its position vis-a-vis Operation Bluestar. On recent incidents, Dr Dayal said anti-social and fascist forces were trying to spread communalism in the state.

He said that the Rs 30 per quintal increase in the minimum support price of wheat did not meet the expectations of the farming community as the cost of the produce was higher than the MSP announced by the Union Government.

Dr Dayal said the SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was playing a double game on the issue of the WTO. While it was opposing the WTO at public rallies in the state, it was supporting the same in Parliament. He said SAD members in the Lok Sabha had not opposed the WTO in Parliament. The import of over 1400 items would be allowed from April 1 by putting these on the general list, he said. Mr Badal should put pressure on the Union Government to opt out of the WTO, he said.

He expressed concern at the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. Dr Dayal said the farmers would continue their agitation. Justifying the agitation, he said that the farmers were facing the worst times as the government was not sincere to their cause.


Man seeks probe into son’s ‘murder’ 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
In a complaint to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Kashmir Singh president of Kasal village, Tarn Taran, police station Sarai Amanat Khan Amritsar District has sought a fresh probe into the death of his son Tejinder Singh.

Tejinder Singh an employee in the grading unit of the Agriculture Marketing Department died on March 11, 2001. According to FIR No. 10, father Kashmir Singh stated that he and his family were away to UP when the news of his son’s death was disclosed to him. On return he was told that his son died in an accident. An FIR was lodged on March 12 (the next day) declaring the death due to accident.

However, Mr Kashmir Singh stated that after a survey of the site of the accident he apprehended that his son was “murdered”.

In defence of his version he stated that the site of the accident bore no blood stains even as the face and nose of his son’s body were badly smashed. The face was blackened with some substance and his trouser’s bottom muddied. There were pieces of straw found in the beard and turban of the deceased while the body lay face down and his hair spread out, as if pulled, the scooter which allegedly the deceased was riding on, was parked nearly 12 feet away from the body facing the opposite direction and was locked and its lights were switched off.

Mr Kashmir Singh said that photographs of the deceased were denied on the pretext that the photo reel got accidentally washed. “All these facts are a pointer to something unusual” he said, stating the names of six persons who accompanied his son Tejinder on that fateful night.

The father has sought justice and a high-level inquiry into the death of his son. A copy of the letter was sent to the DGP, Punjab IG, DIG, SSP and the Agriculture Minister Punjab. A detailed sketch of the scene and site of the reported death has been attached as annexure, by the complainant.


Telephone subscribers resent rental hike
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 24
Resentment prevails among subscribers of telephones in this telecom district on account of sudden burden imposed on them by resorting to charging arrears of rent from April 1, 2000.

The subscribers have been served with telephone bills, along with a copy of a message issued on behalf of Mr Mohan Lal, General Manager of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) here, vide which the subscribers have been informed that the switching capacity of Pathankot S.S.A. had crossed 30,000 lines on March 31, 2000.

The subscribers have been asked to pay bimonthly increased rental with effect from April 1, 2000. Earlier the bimonthly rent for low calling subscribers (calls not exceeding 400 bimonthly) was Rs 275. But with the increased switching capacity, the subscribers had to pay Rs 360 bimonthly, irrespective of metered calls.

The message said due to some technical fault developed in E-10B Exchange here, which lasted for four days from January 24 to 27, as such the bills due from March 2001 consisting of monthly reading from January 1 to February 23 had been split up into two categories.

According to the message, the department shall charge as per actual meter reading from the period January 1 to 15 and from February 1 to 28.

However, in the second category in which the technical fault developed in the exchange i.e. from January 16 to 31 the subscribers have to make payment on average basis.

Telephone subscribers had been therefore, perturbed over the decision of the BNSL and said due to this decision they had been unnecessarily burdened with heavy amount initially due to a technical fault and then on account of exceeding switching capacity of the exchange. It was after 11 months that the department had imposed enhancement in monthly rent which was not justified.


Rice millers concerned over govt policies
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 24
The Punjab Rice Millers Association said here yesterday that millers of the state were disturbed over policies framed by the Centre as the chances of milling of paddy for 2000-2001 are bleak despite their best efforts.

Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the association, said the policy formulated by the government to move rice out of Punjab remained on papers only as for the past three-four months there was a programme to make out 2.5 to 3 lakh tonnes of rice every month, but only 1 to 1.5 lakh tonnes was moved out.

Mr Saini further said the high time of milling which was up to March could be extended maximum up to April. After this, due to rise in the temperature, quality rice could not be prepared whereas due to fixation of rice yield from 67 per cent to 64 per cent, best quality rice had been prepared in Punjab than any other states of the country.

He said the Centre had failed to specify the allowance for milling of paddy crop for this fiscal year adding that it was for first time that levy payments had not been made for the past two months, He said that the recovery rate of bardana had not been fixed which remained surplus with the millers after the milling and paddy crop for 1999-2000.

The association had made it clear that owing to delayed milling, the state government would loose crores as interest money besides losses to be suffered due to deterioration of quality of paddy and rice stocks.

The association has appealed Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, and Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, to initiate steps immediately to move 6 to 7 lakh tonnes of rice every month from the state besides relaxation of damaged percentage to 3 per cent, and enhancement of milling rate for raw and parboiled to Rs 40 and Rs 60 per quintal, respectively.


Panel exonerates PTU VC
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 24
The inquiry committee set up by the Punjab Government to probe charges against the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU) has not found substantial evidence against him and has recommended the setting up of a high-powered committee to further probe the alleged malpractices committed in the university during the past few years.

The Chief Minister had ordered an inquiry against the Vice-Chancellor following complaints by female employees that he allegedly made objectionable remarks against them. The issue had been taken up by Mrs Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, BJP legislator. The government had deputed Mr B.S. Kapoor, additional director, Technical Education, to look into the complaints, including those of alleged leakage of question papers and enhancement of awards of students in the final award lists for different examinations conducted by the university.

Mrs Daljit Kaur, Deputy Director in the Technical Education Department, was asked to assist Mr Kapoor in the inquiry and talk to the female employees. Besides, the Registrar of the university was also involved in the inquiry into the alleged leakage of question papers and enhancement of awards.

The allegation against the Vice-Chancellor was that he had described the female employees as a show piece, while on duty. The inquiry committee has since submitted its report to the state government exonerating the Vice-Chancellor of the charge.

The inquiry committee has recommended that a high-powered committee be set up to further probe the alleged malpractices committed in the university during the past few years.

The committee is reported to have found the reports of leakage of question papers and enhancement of awards correct and also caught some employees in this regard.

It has found that the award lists were forged and even the signatures of the examiners were forged. It has recommended action against those involved in the racket. The Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, was not available for comments.


LIC facility for customers opened
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
Metro area network (MAN) for the five local branches of the city and branch office ‘Chheharta’ of the LIC of India Amritsar Division was inaugurated on Friday by Mr K.C. Jindal, GM, BSNL. Mr Jindal, speaking on the occasion, said that this would connect all five city branches and ‘Chheharta’ branch with one another for better customer service and the policy holders.

Divisional Manager, LIC, Rajesh Kandwal explained that metro area network (MAN) would help the policy holders of the city in depositing premium in nearby branch irrespective of it being the servicing branch of their policy or their policy or not. Policyholders would also have the facility of getting details of their policy from any of the branches connected by MAN.

Mr Kandwal said that this division had already under scheme (interactive voice response system) operating wherein the status of a policy can be had on telephone numbers 535312, 535313, 535314, and 535315. 


Privatisation of Railways ruled out
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 24
The Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr Digvijay Singh, today ruled out the possibility of the privatisation of Railway.

Talking to mediapersons here this afternoon, Mr Digvijay Singh said the NDA government was ready for any kind of inquiry into the Tehelka expose. Asked about the NDA allies the Biju Janata Dal and the Lok Jan Shakti Party attacking the government for pursuing anti-labour disinvestment policies, the minister said the disinvestment was part of the NDA manifesto and the process of disinvestment was going on as per the agenda of the government. He said his party stood by the agenda of the NDA government in this regard.

The minister refused to comment when asked whether the Tehelka expose had affected the image of his party and the government.

Mr Digvijay Singh was here to attend the closing ceremony function of the Inter-Railway Golf Championship being played at Rail Coach Factory.

Earlier addressing people at the local Jagatjit Club, Mr Digvijay Singh announced that computerised reservation facility would be started at the local railway station within two months. On the demand of the people of the town for a train from Sultanpurlodhi to Delhi, he assured to look into the matter. A memorandum of demand for starting a train from Kapurthala to Delhi was also given to him.

The minister, who was to stay here for three days, had cancelled all his appointments to participate in the NDA rally in Delhi.


Police academy renamed
D.B. Chopra

Phillaur, March 24
The Punjab Police will soon have special cells at all levels to check the growing crime against women and children.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, today directed the Director-General of Police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, to immediately create these cells to check the growing incidence of crimes against women and children in the state.

Mr Badal, who was addressing the annual investiture ceremony of the Punjab Police Academy here this morning, observed that maintenance of law and order was a prerequisite if the state was to prosper and be peaceful.

Congratulating the policemen who passed out today from the academy, the Chief Minister exhorted them to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities.

He sanctioned an immediate grant of Rs 50 lakh for completing the school building in the academy and assured a regular grant to the Police Welfare Fund which could take care of the schools run by the Punjab police as well.

Earlier, at an impressive ceremony, the Chief Minister took the salute at the passing-out parade of the academy, formally named Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy today, and gave away prizes. Later, he released the academy magazine, “The Perspective”.

Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director of the academy, presented his report and Mr Sarabjeet Singh, DGP, congratulated the 170-odd trainees who passed out today and lauded the efforts of the academy.

These trainees belong to the police forces of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Union Territories of Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, the CISF, SSB and Punjab. Mr Rajesh Verma, DSP from Himachal, was the commander of the parade.


Postal stamp on Bhagat Puran Singh soon: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers, today announced that a postal stamp on Bhagat Puran Singh, founder of Amritsar Pingalwara, would be got issued soon. He said he would take up the matter in this regard with the authorities concerned as issuance of the postal stamp had already been delayed by several months.

Participating in the inaugural ceremonies of the local branch of the All-India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar, here today. Mr Dhindsa announced an ambulance for the Pingalwara. The minister said he had asked the Deputy Commissioner to arrange an ambulance as he had already sent funds for the purpose from his MP fund.

Earlier, welcoming the minister, Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the All-India Pingalwara Society, said more than Rs 1.35 crore had been spent so far by the society on the construction of the Pingalwara. 


Govt urged not to privatise PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
The People’s Law Forum (PLF) has urged the Punjab government to withdraw its decision to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and not violate provisions of the Constitution of India.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Vasudev Aggarwal, president of the PLF, said thousands of workers would have to face problems if the government privatised the PSEB. He added that the privatisation would be taken as violation of the directive Principles of state policy and the Fundamental Rights as thousands of posts of workers would be abolished.

He pointed out that the government had taken initial steps to privatise the PSEB under the Electricity Bill of 2000. He said the PSEB workers had been opposing this move by the government but nothing had come out.

He said the Punjab Government had, so far, issued a notification to abolish about 7000 posts of electricity workers. He alleged that in this way the law making agencies were misusing their power.

He demanded that the government should protect the Fundamental Rights of workers by withdrawing its decision to privatise the PSEB.


Rice millers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Members of the local Rice Millers Association, Sangrur Industry Chamber and the local Arhtiya Association today took out a protest march throughout the town and staged a dharna for about four hours in front of the local police station demanding arrest of president of local Truck Union and some other persons.

They alleged that president of the truck union and some other persons had on Thursday beaten up and threatened to kill Hem Raj Bansal, a rice mill owner, on Ubhawal road near here and the police had allegedly failed to arrest the culprits.

The dharna reportedly was later lifted on an assurance given by the tehsildar here that proper action would be taken in this case on Sunday.

Mr Jagdish Bansal, president of the local block of the District Industry Chamber, threatened to intensify stir if the ‘culprits’ were not punished.


Farmers unhappy with wheat price hike
Our Correspondent

Moga, March 24
A deputation of progressive farmers of this district headed by former president of the Punjab unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union Kuldip Singh Sandhu said that the increase in price of wheat by Rs 30 per quintal was a cruel joke with the farmers. It said that the increase in wheat price by the Union Government by Rs 30 per quintal was not acceptable to farmers.

 They demanded that price of wheat should be at least Rs 750 per quintal. He asked the Union Government to increase the price of wheat taking into consideration the price of inputs like fertilizer and other farm implements. The deputation further said that the increase in price would not serve the purpose as the farmer was forced to pay the hiked prices of these implements and also petroleum products and if the price on it was not increased more the farmers would launch a stir.


Punjab may set up hydel units in Uttaranchal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Uttaranchal, today said Punjab and Uttranchal might set up hydel units in a joint venture in Uttaranchal as talks were in progress in this direction between both governments.

Mr Barnala, who was here to participate in the inaugural celebrations of the Sangrur branch of the Amritsar Pingalwara, talking to mediapersons said there were enough possibilities to set up hydel units in Uttaranchal.

He said the chief of the Punjab State Electricity Board has visited Uttaranchal recently and had talks with the Uttaranchal Power Minister.

Mr Barnala said Punjabis living in Uttaranchal were now happy. He said none of them has visited him with any complaint.

He said work on the delimitation of Assembly constituencies had already begun. There could be 70 constituencies in place of the existing 30.


Gang selling women busted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 24
The police has busted two gangs involved in the circulation of fake currency and indulging in the sale of women.

Mr S.K. Kalia, SP (D), told newspersons today that Sawinder Singh of Nanoke village in Gurdaspur district has been apprehended and 19 fake currency notes worth Rs 500 had been recovered from his possession. His accomplice managed to escape.

He said the other members of the gang were Rajan and Vijay Kumar of Gopal Nagar (Amritsar) and were going to give the fake currency to some residents of Khalra village.

A case under Sections 489-B, 489-C, and 420, IPC, has been registered.

Mr Kalia said one woman and two men have been arrested under Sections 366, 344, 420 and 120-B, IPC, for allegedly selling women. This gang would bring girls from Kolkata and sell them between Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000.


Constable killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 24
Gurmail Singh, a police constable in the Haryana Police posted in Rohtak district, died on the spot late last night near Dera Tapp village on the Bathinda-Goniana road when his scooter was hit by a four-wheeler.

The police sources said Major Singh, a cousin of the deceased, who was riding pillion, was seriously injured and was taken to the Civil Hospital by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa.

Sources added that the deceased, along with Major Singh, was going to Khialiawala village to see his new born boy.

A case in this connection had been registered and search was on for driver of the vehicle, the police sources added.


One arrested for rape
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 24
A 20-year girl residing in a locality near the railway station was allegedly abducted and raped by two businessmen on the evening of March 20.

Police sources said one accused had been arrested while raids were being conducted to nab the other. They said the accused met the victim when she was going on a cycle and asked her to come along with them as her father had been hospitalised. The victim agreed to go with them and sat on their scooter. On the way, the accused made her unconscious by making her inhale some chemical.

They took her to some place and raped her. The victim after getting herself released from their custody came back to her house and narrated the matter to her family. One of the accused also beat up the brother of the victim when he along with his father went to his house to lodge their protest. The boy reportedly suffered head injuries.

The sources said a medical examination of the victim was done today. Civil Hospital sources said there were injuries on the private parts of the victim. The confirmation of rape would be done only after the report of chemical examination was received. A case under Section 363, 376, 506 and 34, IPC, had been registered.


Future of students uncertain 
Order to shift ITI courses
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 24
A recent order of the Industrial Training Department has inconvenienced students of industrial training institutes (ITIs).

Border district institutes are the ones severely affected by the decision to shift professional courses (trades) to other ITIs in the state. Those seeking admissions, scheduled for July, have been directed to seek seats at alternative ITIs. More than a dozen ITIs throughout the state are on the verge of closure. Out of these, eight institutes are for women.

This step is reportedly being taken to make semi-functional institutes functional.

The move to shift the ITI at Dera Baba Nanak to Kalanaur is being opposed as the ITI at Kalanaur has not been getting power since the past over a year.

Rayya ITI is being shifted to Khaddor Sahib even as eight trades of ITI Baba Bakala have been shifted to Khadoor Sahib. The Amritsar ITI, too, has fared no better. There has been a reduction in student strength; from 700 students in 1995 to only 56 in the current year. Out of the 20 trades in the institute, only nine are being run.

Similarly, the ITI at Jandiala Guru for women is being deprived of the only three trades that the institute runs. These are being shifted to Tarn Taran.

The only computer course at Faridkot ITI is being shifted to Nathana ITI while six of its other trades are to start at the ITI in Jalalabad.

Shahkot ITI will get four trades from the Nakodar ITI. The ITI at Bhogpur will have its future courses at Maksoodpura.

Professional courses of Rampura Phul ITI will be shifted to Nathau, while four trades of Utalan ITI will benefit ITI Burar (Patiala). Maksoodur will get three trades from ITI Kartarpur while Gurdaspur will concede six trades to ITI Mukerian. Incidentally, a majority of the ITIs are in the border districts of Dera Baba Nanak, Rayya, Jandiala Guru, Baba Bakala Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has said the move of the government is only to please the World Bank which had given money for an ITI building constructed a few years ago.

However, since it had nil student strength, the World Bank is reported to have taken objection over the non-functional status of the ITI.

He said the new ITI should be made functional but not at the cost of rendering the already functional ITIs non-functional. The new institutes should have been provided with fresh staff, machinery, equipment and allotted courses according to the demand and location of the ITI, he added.


Question paper not from syllabus, says union
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
The question paper of Physics of class XII for which the examination was held on March 17 was not according to prescribed syllabus, thus creating difficulty for students.

This was stated by Mr Darshan Maur, district secretary of the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), Dr Harminder Singh, convener of the Medical Service Centre and Dr Ajitpal Singh, district president of the PCMS Association, in a joint press note issued here today.

They said the students should be given additional marks in that subject to compensate for the loss that occurred due to no fault of theirs. They further said the questions which were out of syllabus carried 20 marks. They said a lot of time was lost while the students were attempting to solve those questions. They added that the students could not concentrate on other questions also because of the faux pas.

They said the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) should appoint those persons for setting questions who have experience in the field to avoid such instances. They added that it was not the first incident of such kind.


Punjab Govt to upgrade 1,404 schools
Our Correspondent

Lalru (Patiala), March 24
The Punjab Government has decided to upgrade 1,404 schools during the next academic session apart from boosting computer education along with technical education in the state.

This was disclosed by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons on the annual prize distribution function of Samta Public School, Lalru here today.

The minister said the school would be upgraded from Primary to Middle, level. He stressed upon the need of technical and computer education as per the changing educational trends.

He said Lalru and the surrounding areas had developed to a great extent in past four years.

The Finance Minister assured the farmers that the government had made elaborated arrangements for the procurement and the storage of the wheat crop. “The farmers would be given the justified rate for their produce”, he said.

The government has already stand to benefit the Punjab farmer by hiking a minimum support price for wheat by Rs 30 per quintal, he added. He also gave prizes to the students and appealed to them to participate in co-curricular activities.

Earlier, Ms Neelam Bakshi, the school Principal read out the annual report.

Besides parents of the students, Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, DSM, Ms Inderjit Kaur Kang, Tehsildar, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, and other prominent persons were also present.


Wood sellers create problems at mandi
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
Piles of wood, steel rods and heaps of garbage and animal dung can be seen on the space meant for storing agricultural produce for auction at the local grain market.

The undeveloped part of the market is being used by wood stock sellers for holding auction. The process takes about four hours in the morning. When it is off-season and no crop comes in the market, the wood sellers do not create any problem but when the produce start coming, the space is reduced because of tractor trailers of the wood sellers. These also damage roads and the floor on which the produce is stored. A large part of the produce gets spoilt when put in such a place. Commission agents use polythene sheets to store the produce.

Apart from this there is no proper lighting system and the sewerage is also not up to the mark. Rain water and sewage often stagnates the area. Stray animals move freely as there is no boundary wall. Farmers have to save their produce from pigs and other animals.

The commission agents have written an application to the authorities of the Market Committee who are responsible for the maintenance of the grain market in this regard.

They have also sent a copy of the application to the Chief Minister, Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board and Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Surjit Singh, Press secretary of the Arhtia Association, said they had brought the condition of the market to the notice of officials of the Market Committee earlier, but no action had been taken. He said they had themselves cleaned the area in front of their shops. Although there was a concrete road, it could not be used due to sand.

Meanwhile, the wood sellers have said they do not create problems for the farmers. They said they used the space only when it was off-season. They added that whenever the officials of the Market Committee asked them to vacate the space, they did so.

A senior officer of the Market Committee said the department was aware of the problems in the grain market. He said before the starting of the rabi season, they would get the space vacated from the wood sellers. He said all facilities would be given to the farmers who would come to the mandi for selling their produce.

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