Wednesday, April 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




NRI girl ‘murdered’ by parents
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 3
A 20-year-old girl was brought to India from England by her parents. She was allegedly killed by them with the help of her maternal uncle residing in this city after administering her poison by mixing it in a soft drink and cremated her with full religious rites to destroy the evidence. It is learnt the victim is Dalvir Kaur, alias Biri, a resident of England.

Biri, who was allegedly in love with her cousin, was reportedly murdered by her father Avtar Singh, mother Kulwinder Kaur and maternal uncle Paramjit Singh.

Police sources said the suspects who were angry over Biri’s ‘relations’ with her cousin Sukhdev Singh, also a resident of England, killed her in a well-planned manner in 1996. The deceased was made to drink ‘Coca Cola’ containing celphos tablets. After that she was locked into a room in the house of her maternal uncle located in the Chandsar Basti in this city.

The suspects, who allegedly killed Biri on June 22, 1996, cremated her in the cremation ground located near DAV College next day without informing the police and other relatives.

However, the district police got information regarding this ‘murder’ on April 2, 2001, and a case was registered under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC in the city police station.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said after making investigations into this case, Mr Paramjit Singh, the maternal uncle of deceased, had been arrested. He added that the other suspect was residing in England now.

The police sources said the suspects killed Biri as they were feeling insulted over Biri’s relations with her first cousin. They were also apprehending that Biri and Sukhdev Singh would solemnise their marriage whenever they would get an opportunity.


Rift in Punjab unit of CPM deepens
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 3
The differences in the state committee of the CPM have deepened, dividing the party into two groups. One group is pro-Harkishan Singh Surjeet and the other is opposed to his policies. The loyalists are led by Prof. Balwant Singh, state secretary, while the opposite group is led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, former state secretary of the CPM’s Punjab unit.

Party sources do not rule out the possibility of a split. At the same time, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet is understood to be trying to win over the dissident group leader, Mr Pasla.

Enquires made by The Tribune reveal that differences in the state CPM started four years ago on the question of having Mr Jyoti Basu as the Prime Minister with the support of the Congress. This proposal was opposed by a section of the central committee of the CPM and was thus dropped.

Mr Pasla sided with the group opposed to the idea of a coalition at the Centre with Mr Basu as Prime Minister. Since then, the Central leadership and the state unit has been opposing Mr Pasla and he was removed from the secretaryship of the state unit in 1998, and Prof Balwant Singh, a protege of Mr Surjeet, was made the secretary of the State Committee despite opposition from a majority of the members.

The differences in the Punjab unit of the CPM have been mounting. Mr Tarsem Jodhan, a former MLA, was expelled from the primary membership of the party in 1999. Mr Jodhan has been a staunch supporter of Mr Pasla. The Central party leadership also directed the cadre in Punjab not to have any truck with Mr Jodhan.

Owing to the differences in the party’s state unit, parallel groups of various front organisations like the Teachers Union and Janwadi Istri Sabha have emerged.

The Istri Sabha is opposed to the dominant group in the party and its meeting held at Chandigarh on February 28 was allegedly disrupted. Besides, some of its woman members were allegedly beaten up by a group of youths led by Sukhwinder Singh Sekhon, state president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India.

At the state committee meeting of the CPM at Chandigarh on March 7, the issue of alleged beating up of the women was raised and 13 members of the committee staged a walkout when the demand for action against those responsible was not accepted.

Mr Pasla when contacted in his village by the Tribune denied that there was any move for a split in the party’s state unit. He said that he would continue to work for the party. On the other hand, Prof Balwant Singh refused to comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, the politburo of the CPM in a letter to the party cadre on March 5, 2001, asked them not to have any truck with Mr Tarsem Jodhan.

The politburo also admitted in the letter that it was unfortunate that some of unions and federations had also split and has directed the party to unite all groups.


Sangrur MC passes 10 crore budget
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
The local municipal council has unanimously passed its budget for 2001-2002. Giving this information here today. Mr Mahesh Kumar ‘Meshi’, President of the council, said the budget had proposed an income of Rs 10.36 crore from different sources and an expenditure of Rs 10.22 crore on development work and establishment expenses.

The council would earn Rs 3 crore from octroi collections, Rs 1.5 crore from excise duty, Rs 75 lakh from house tax, Rs 1.8 crore from the sale of land and properties, Rs 90 lakh from water and sewerage rent, and Rs 10 lakh from rent of shops etc.

He said the committee would spend Rs 2.54 crore on the salaries of employees, Rs 46 lakh on contingency expenses, and Rs 7.22 crore on development work. He said the council would spend Rs 2.5 crore on the construction of roads, floors and drains while Rs 50 lakh and Rs 30 lakh, respectively, would be spent on water supply and sewerage works. The council had also earmarked Rs 50 lakh for the construction of its office.

The council had purchased a dumper placer and 20 containers for lifting and collecting garbage. It had also purchased a machine to clean sewers.


Punjab to set up special cells
Crimes against women, children
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab Government has decided to create special cells at all district headquarters in the state for the prevention and detection of all categories of crime against women and children.

Talking to newsmen here, the Additional Director-General of Police (Crime), Mr S.V. Singh, said that the Superintendent of Police (Operations) would head these cells. They would also maintain a special register to monitor all such cases, summon the staff of the police stations concerned to inquire and guide them, visit the scenes of crime and satisfy themselves that the investigations were done on proper lines.

Mr S.V. Singh further said that the SP (Operations) would be assisted by a team of Inspectors which would also take up inquiries or investigations of these cases if the complainants were not satisfied with the inquiries or investigations done by the local police. Mr S.V. Singh said that as far as crime against women was concerned, there were 122 murders last year against 123 in 1999 and 110 in 1998.

The incidence of dowry deaths in Punjab was also on the high side. There were 187 reported cases of dowry deaths in 2000 against 109 in 1999 and 212 in 1998. There was a slight fall in the incidence of cases registered under Section 306 of the IPC (abetting suicide). In the year 2000, there were 111 such cases against 123 in 1999 and 120 in 1998.

There was a steep increase in the number of rape cases. Against 204 reported cases in 1998, the number rose to 310 last year with 261 cases reported in 1999. Similarly, the number of reported cases of kidnapping and abduction had been going up.

Against 207 cases in 1998, the number increased to 251 in 1999 and 295 in 2000.

The same was is true for molestation cases. From 108 cases in 1998, the number went up to 160 in 1999 and almost doubled to 323 in 2000.

Interestingly there had been very few cases of eve- teasing. Against seven cases in 1999, the number was 27 last year while in 1998 , the number was just 10.

Mr S.V. Singh said that these special cells would also monitor cases of women and children who had been missing or had been kidnapped or abducted and later their bodies were recovered in suspicious circumstances warranting proceedings under Section 174, Cr PC.

Besides the special cells in the districts, an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General would head the man cell at the state headquarters here. He would be assisted by other officers. For the time being the DIG (Crime) would hold additional charge of this special cell.

Mr S.V. Singh said that as and when required a team of officers from the state headquarters would conduct inquiries or investigations into cases related to crimes against women and children.


Job for daughter of war hero after 30 years
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Thirty years after Naik Mohinder Singh of 4 Sikh was posthumously decorated with the Vir Chakra for holding an enemy attack despite being wounded and forcing them to flee, leaving a tank behind, during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, his daughter, Ms Balwant Kaur, has been appointed Deputy Superintendent of Police by the Punjab Government.

She is among 21 next of kin of battle casualties whose appointments at various levels in the state government, depending on their qualifications, were cleared on compassionate grounds by a high-powered committee headed by the Chief Secretary, Mr N. K. Arora, today. The 31-year-old appointee is currently working at the Western Command Hospital, Chandimandir.

The appointees include another DSP, two Punjab Civil Service officers, two Inspectors in the state police, one Excise and Taxation Officer, two sales tax inspectors and 12 senior assistants. The appointees included seven next of kin of posthumous Vir Chakra recipients.

Though the state government has appointed disabled soldiers to administrative posts in the police, this is the first time that an appointment has been made on compassionate grounds to the post of DSP.

Giving details of the appointments, the Director, Sainik Welfare, Brig K. S. Kahlon (retd), said that so far 130 next of kin of battle casualties or disabled soldiers had been given jobs by the state government.

He added that as per the revised policy, next of kin of posthumous gallantry awardees of all battles fought since Independence were being considered for employment in the state government. Earlier policies covered only battle casualties or next of kin of those killed in operations on or after January 1, 1999.

Gursharandeep Singh, whose father, Major H. S. Grewal of 9 Jat, had been decorated with the Vir Chakra posthumously has also been appointed DSP. During the 1971 operations in the Chhamb sector, Major Grewal had repeatedly repelled enemy attacks from December 7 to 10 and, though wounded, continued to direct the operations till he was felled by enemy machinegun fire.

Mrs Ranjit Kaur, wife of Major Surinder Singh, and Mrs Poonamdeep Kaur, wife of Major Manvender Singh, have been appointed PCS officers. A Vir Chakra recipient, Major Surinder Singh of 16 Rajputana Rifles, had been killed in the Jaffna operations, while Major Manvender Singh was killed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Next of kin of other Vir Chakra recipients include Ms Daljit Kaur, daughter of Nb Sub Gian Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh, son of Sub Gursharan Singh, who was also decorated with the Sena Medal during operations in Mizoram, Mr Harjot Singh, son of Sub Gursharan Singh, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, wife of Shamsher Singh, and Ms Surinder Kaur, wife of Nb Sub Avtar Singh.


Conserving the royal heritage
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 3
In an ironic development, the Punjab Archaelogical and Cultural Affairs Department is using funds at its disposal on works which should otherwise be the domain of the Public Works Department. The department is presently engaged in laying a concrete floor in the open space between the entrance to the Quila Mubarak complex, the historic fort established by the Patiala royal dynasty, and the entry into the Quila Androon, which houses the erstwhile residential quarters. However, conservation work, which is the job of the department, is not being done by it with cracks in the Quila Androon and steady deterioration of other buildings in the complex not meriting its interest.

The department is presently engaged in laying a concrete floor on half of the open space in between the inner and outer gates of Quila Mubarak. This area was earlier covered by a tar coating.

The work, however, has invited criticism from various quarters as it is not a conservation exercise. Around Rs 3 lakh is being spent on the concrete flooring, according to officials.

One does not have to go far to see where conservation work needs to be done. The inside part of the massive gate of Quila Androon has developed huge cracks which are increasing with time and could endanger the gate itself, which houses the ‘gaddi’ of Baba Ala Singh, the founder of the Patiala dynasty. A little further away, cracks have developed above the painted jharokas in the main structure. The jharokas themselves are a unique blend of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. Though the entire structure was painted at one time, the paint is visible only on part of it now with the jharokas and its surrounding wall still retaining the painted motifs of flowers and other designs. If nothing is done to arrest the cracks, extensive repair later would ruin the painted motifs, besides endangering the jharokas.

This is not all. On the upper floors, another structure which needs urgent attention before the onset of the monsoon season is the only European ‘mahal’ built for Florence, the English wife of Maharaja Rajinder Singh. The roof of the structure’s verandah has already caved in and its columns are also in danger of falling apart. Besides this, its roof needs strengthening at places.

Among the other major conservation works which need to be taken up is relaying of the roof above the “dhuni” (smoke fire) which has been burning since more than 200 years. In other parts of the complex, the Sard Khana (cool house) and the Jalau Khana (exhibition house) are still waiting for restoration work to be conducted on them with repeated estimates not passing muster with the department. The situation in the Sard Khana is precarious with makeshift brick pillars being erected to support the roof of its verandah whose columns had collapsed some months back.

Department Assistant Conservator Balwant Singh said the department had started work on laying the concrete floor as part of the building material was available with it. When questioned that conservation work could also be carried out with the same material, he said the conservation exercise would need scaffolding and extensive preparation due to which it had been decided to go ahead with the floor laying. He said the department would now take up conservation work in Quila Androon in the next phase. (To be concluded)


Kanshi promises free land to poor in UP
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Kanshi Ram, President, (BSP) has stressed the need to amend the constitution of the country for improving the plight of the weaker sections of the society like the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), which he described as the Bahujan Samaj.

Mr Kanshi Ram, while addressing party workers here last evening said they would get rid of the zamindars and the Bahujan Samaj would rule the society for which they would fight against every force. He asked the party members to be prepared for that.

The rally was organised at a marriage palace for creating awareness among the educated people belonging to the Bahujan Samaj. Mr Kanshi Ram exhorted people to vote for his party in the Assembly elections which were due next year.

The BSP supremo addressed the audience for more than two hours. Mr Kanshi Ram said that the main reason behind the bad condition of many sections of the society was illiteracy. He criticised the government’s education policy which deprived the poor from getting education. He charged the present government with following the same policy which was adopted by the British in India before Independence.

Mr Kanshi Ram claimed that the BSP was the third largest party at the national-level although it had only 14 MPs in the Lok Sabha. He said that his party was planning to increase its vote bank by 20 per cent in all states.

Later, addressing a press conference Mr Kanshi Ram said his party would fight for all seats in the Assembly elections in Punjab which were due early next year. When asked about the strategy and the main issues on which his party would ask for the vote he did not give a direct reply but said that the people who wanted the establishment of the Bahujan Samaj would support him.

The Dalit leader said that his party would not enter into an alliance with other parties for the elections. “No party was working for the upliftment of the weaker sections thus we would not join hands with any party,” he said.

Mr Kanshi Ram said that if they came to power in Uttar Pradesh, they would give the land to the weaker sections, free of cost so that they could be freed from the shackles of the landlords. He said that there was about 50 lakh acres of such land that could be ‘used’ for better purposes.


YC to show black flags to ministers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 3
The Punjab Youth Congress will show black flags to Union Ministers and force them to go back on their arrival in the state whenever they come in protest against the corrupt deeds of the NDA government as recently exposed by the

This was disclosed by Mr Davinder Singh Baboo, President, Punjab Youth Congress, while talking to this correspondent on telephone from Civil Hospital, Jalandhar, yesterday. He said he had instructed all district units of Punjab to strictly follow the decision.

Mr Baboo was seriously wounded during a lathi charge by the police on March 18 at Chandigarh.

He condemned the lathi charge on peaceful Youth Congress workers and alleged that it was preplanned on the instance of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister, Haryana, only to crush the Youth Congress through undemocratic manners.

He said Mr Badal was ready to transfer police officers even for the minor lathi charge on SAD workers at Jalandhar whereas he remained silent on the lathi charge on the Youth Congress workers.


PM’s resignation demanded
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 3
Ms Praneet Kaur, Member of Parliament from Patiala, along with her supporters stagged a dharna for over two hours before the office of the Sub Divisional Magistrate here today. They were demanding that the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, should resign following the Tehlka episode. The protesters raised slogans and blocked traffic on the Dera Bassi-Issanpur link road. Later they also submitted a memorandum to Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, SDM, Dera Bassi.


Fundamentalism ‘fatal’ to religions
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Sarawan Bodla, April 3
Baba Virsa Singh, a preacher of Gobind Sadan, Delhi, today said that fundamentalism was fatal for any religion and every one should respect all religions.

Baba Virsa Singh, who visited his native village in connection with the unveiling of foundations stones of Gurdeep Singh memorial hospital and mata Iqbal Kaur memorial senior secondary school, said the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh should be followed.

He said some people had become “so-called gurus” without saving the masses, he said one should help the poor and the down trodden with out giving any thought to tasteism.

He said it was the duty of SGPC President Jagdev Singh Talwandi to make people aware of Sikh maryada by organising village-level campaign and “diwans”.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, said the Punjab Government was committed to carry out development in the rural and urban areas.

He said Rs 1.30 crore would be spent on the hospital which was being built in the memory of Baba Virsa Singh’s father. The government would also give monetary help for setting up a senior secondary school for girls in the memory of Baba Virsa Singh’s mather.

Mr Mohan Singh, owner of the Ranbaxy group, said his company would give Rs 25 lakh for the construction of the hospital. Apart from it, all equipment relating to the treatment of eye ailments would be provided at the hospital free of cost.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi also addressed the gathering. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Tota Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Gobind Kanjla (all ministers) were present on the occasion.

Mr Kanjla handed over 6,000 cheques of pensions to Mr Badal.


Commotion at CM’s function
Tribune News Service

Sarawan Bodla (Muktsar), April 3
Commotion prevailed at a function organised in connection with the foundation stone unveiling ceremony of a hospital and school here when Mahanto, a woman of this village crossed the barricade and entered security ‘D’ while Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was addressing the gathering.

Mahanto, who tried to meet Mr Badal for securing the release of her husband Hardeep Singh, who was arrested by the police allegedly for smuggling narcotics.

Mahanto, who was pushed away by plainclothes men, alleged that her husband had been implicated. She was taken outside the pandal by police personnel and other villagers.

Punjab Cabinet minister Gobind Singh Kanjla also tried to pacify her but without any success. The police had a tough time stopping her from going on stage as she started crying loudly and attracted the attention of the gathering.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, said Hardeep Singh was arrested and poppy husk was recovered from his possession. He alleged that Mahanto was using pressure tactics to prevent any legal action.


Helping poor expectant mothers
J. S. Malhotra

The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India ( FOGSI) has adopted several villages in the district to create awareness among poor women, particularly those living in the rural areas, about the importance of antenatal check-up and breast-feeding among mothers.

The Jalandhar chapter of the FOGSI has adopted Kangniwal, Ranipur and Sofi Pind and Lohian subdivision where free medical camps are being organised every Thursday for poor expectant mothers. The FOGSI takes the help of NGOs in identifying such women in the remote areas of the district and bringing them to nursing homes for free medicare.

Dr Kamal Gupta, president of the Jalandhar chapter, said that to reduce the maternal mortality rate, which was very high in India, the FOGSI was organising the camps under its Reproductive Child Health (RCH) Programme in the slum areas of the city and in villages with the cooperation of various NGOs. Literature on safe motherhood and the benefits of breast-feeding was distributed to educate the masses. The chapter had also organised seminars and conferences, which were attended by many prominent doctors, during the past five years, Dr Gupta added.

“Poor pregnant women are provided with free medicines and nutrition and given the required vaccinations at the weekly camps in these villages. Special medical tests required in the case of complicated pregnancies are conducted at subsidised rates. Funds are raised for this cause with the help of women from families connected with industries in the city,” Dr Gupta said.

The FOGSI has been arranging free medicare for pregnant women for the past five years with the assistance of 143 doctors, who are working in 32 local private nursing homes and in government hospitals.

“The increase in the maternal mortality rate in India is basically due to anaemia and the use of unsterilised instruments during deliveries by untrained dais in villages. Another factor which leads to complications during pregnancy is ignorance about the usefulness of an antenatal check-up,” Dr Gupta said.


Dal Khalsa blames clergy for crisis
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
Sikh radicals seem to have lost their mass base as the much-talked about political conference of the Dal Khalsa today saw a poor gathering.

While addressing the conference, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), reiterated that the Sikhs would materialise their dream for a separate state through peaceful means.

In all, 12 resolutions were passed by the Dal Khalsa on the occasion. The Dal Khalsa alleged that the present Panthic crisis was due to the role of high priests as the jathedars were not being allowed to guide the Panth to chalk out proper political goals. The resolution alleged that the authority of high priests had been eroded due to rising interference of the ruling ‘Panthic’ party.

The resolution sought timely guidance by the high priests to the Sikh Panth. It asked the jathedars not to confine themselves to religious activities but guide the Sikhs.

Another resolution sought immediate release of the Sikh youths who were languishing in various jails of the country without trial.

Some speakers alleged that the SGPC had failed to contain the menace of drug addiction.

Among those who addressed the convocation were Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an Akali MLA and senior leader of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, president, youth wing, SHSAD, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon, chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Col Devinder Singh (retd), Prof Jagdish Singh Mukerian, Col Channan Singh Dhillon (retd), Mr Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib, vice-president, Dal Khalsa.


Thanksgiving today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Bhog ceremony of “Akhand Path” at Sri Akal Takht by Baba Santa Singh, Budha Dal Chief, will mean end of the presidentship for Baba Balbir Singh, who was accepted as head of the Nihang sect of Budha Dal by the Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee after the excommunication of Baba Santa Singh from the Panth 17 years ago on September 2, 1984 by the Sikh convention.

The Nihang head Baba Santa Singh had presented himself at the Akal Takht for atonement on March 17 to be readmitted into the Panth.

He served the ‘tankha’ (religious punishment) likhansar at gurdwara at Talwandi Sabo at Bathinda with five times recitation of Japji Sahib’s path for five days daily besides ardas and Rs 1100 offering at the gurdwara.

In a press note Baba Harbhajan Singh of the Nihang sect of gurdwara Burj Baba Phula Singh ji Akali informed that the bhog for Akhand Path in thanksgiving by Baba Santa Singh would be held tomorrow. The siropa, traditionally offered at the bhog ceremony by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti will virtually put the stamp of legitimacy on Baba Santa Singh while sidetracking Baba Balbir Singh. 


A colony without water, power and roads
Our Correspondent

Lalru (Patiala), April 3
Absence of roads, electricity connections, water supply and other basic civic amenities have become a nightmare for the residents of Nagla Colony in Nagla village about 10 km from here, for the past over two years.

A majority of the houses in this colony are in a deplorable state which clearly indicates the negligent behaviour of the government.

Residents of the area revealed the colony, which consists of 21 houses, was established by the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Department under a scheme to rehabilitate “homeless persons” in the state.

Residents of the colony complain that the government has ignored the colony since they were rehabilitated. The roofs of a majority of the houses leak whenever there is rain. The government has not fixed shutters on the doors and the windows since they were allotted to them.

Mr Sham Singh, a colony resident, complains that the authorities ignored the colony and have hardly maintained it. The streets were not carpeted even after two years. During rains slush accumulates in the streets and they have to wade through it.

The floors and the walls of the houses were not plastered. The plaster of the roofs has started peeling off, which clearly indicates the negligent behaviour of the concerned authorities, alleged Mr Gurdev Singh, another colony resident.

A visit to the colony revealed that though a high tension wire overhead crosses over the colony, the residents are living without any electricity connection. The residents are forced to pilfer power throw a kundi connection from an electricity pole which supplies power to the village.

A 70-year-old resident of the colony, Mr. Kewal Singh, alleged that the government has not provided any water connection to the colony.

The Public Health department had installed a handpump which has also gone dry. The residents have to trudge a long distance to get water for their other domestic needs, he added.


Citizens cry for civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 3
Citizens of Gurdaspur headed by Lt Gen Kanwaljit Singh Kalhon (Retd) have faxed a memorandum to the Minister of Local Bodies at Chandigarh directing his attention towards unavailability of civic amenities here.

The citizens are surprised that civic amenities have not been improved in spite of the fact that the finances of the committee from octroi collection have gone up from Rs 86.67 lakh to Rs 253.63 lakh.

A copy of the memorandum was also given to Mr Rakesh Jyoti President of the local municipality, but no action was taken. General Kahlon has demanded the removal of encroachments and garbage, regulation of traffic lights, provision of drainage, system, potable water and parking places.

Mr Jyoti, said the fund was spent for the development of the town for which the priorities had been fixed.

He admitted that there were certain localities where sweepers had not been employed. In this regard the demand for recruitment of more than 24 sweepers was pending with the Local Bodies Department.

According to official sources, the Punjab Government has not released any grant for providing better civic amenities in the town for the past three years.


Claimants to treasure vault told to be patient
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Even as confusion over the real hair to Princess Catherine’s vast bank vault treasure continues, the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts (CRTFDA) has asked claimants to be patient.

In a letter dated March 15, written to Mr Meet Pal Singh, a claimant, the CRTFDA chairperson, Prof H. M. Reimer, said “The particularly complicated legal and procedural issues have required the tribunal to seek advice from outside sources and certain important information is awaited before the process of arbitration of this case .”

The tribunal is Zurich-based comprising 15 arbitrators screening claims to dormant Swiss accounts, including the wealth of Princess Catherine. (One of the three daughters of Maharaja Duleep Singh).

The large number of claimants have balled Swiss authorities who delayed the opening of the account scheduled for September 1999. The account had lied dormant since 1945 till in 1997 the publication of list of accounts by Swiss banks flooded the bank with several claimants to the account. The mystery of Kohinoor diamond changing hands from Maharaja Duleep Singh to the British could be exposed with the opening of the vault.

The other claimants are Mr Beant Singh Sandhawalia, Lieut-Col Karan Vir Singh and five other Sandhawalia Sikhs of Rajasansi — Mr Sukhraj Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Sarbjit Singh and Mr Tarsem Singh.


PSEB imposes 6-hr power cut
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has imposed a six-hour power cut in all urban and industrial areas of the state.

Stating this, the PSEB XEN, Mr Ajit Singh, told this correspondent here this evening that power cut would be imposed from 12 noon to 6 p.m. daily in all urban and industrial areas of the state till further orders.

Low generation of power is said to be the cause of power cuts.


BJP leader cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 3
The general secretary of the Gurdaspur unit of the BJP, Balwinder Mahajan, and his son Sankalp Mahajan were killed, while his wife Asha, and his daughter Insha suffered multiple injuries in a road accident.

The accident took place near Jhakholahri village, about 10 km from here, on Sunday when a truck collided with the Maruti car in which the victims were travelling. The youngest son of Balwinder Mahajan, Gaury escaped unhurt in the accident.

The cremation of the deceased took place yesterday. A large number of people attended the cremation.


Youth conference on April 6 & 7
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
First all-India conference of delegates of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) will now be organised on April 6 and 7 here. Earlier, this conference, scheduled to be held on March 23 and 24 was postponed.

Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, convener of the central coordination committee of the AIFDY, today said the delegates would hold discussions on unemployment, illiteracy, costly education, adverse effects of the multi-national companies on the Indian economy, negative effects of the WTO, struggle against new economic policy and struggle for world peace etc.

Mr Sekhon said a large number of delegates from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa would take part in this two-day conference.

Mr Sekhon also called upon all the members of the AIFDY and other like-minded people to cooperate.


Probe into fodder scam ordered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, has ordered an inquiry into the fodder scam exposed by The Tribune.

A government press note today said that the Secretary, Mr D. S. Jaspal, had been asked to submit a report within two days.


Laxmi Kanta questions security to ex-militants
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, has questioned the security and freedom allowed to former terrorists.

In a pressnote, she said Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, a militant, was seen on the night of April 2 at a wedding party at the residence of an Akali leader residing in Sector 34, Chandigarh, accompanied by security guards.

She sought the government’s clarification whether Zaffarwal was in Punjab. She said people were not ready to accept or let politicians manipulate the entry of militants into the political scene in Punjab.


Minister threatens ban on vulgar songs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 3
Punjab Cultural Affairs Minister Swarna Ram today said he would not hesitate from banning vulgar songs.

Addressing the sixth cultural mela organised here by the Sarb Naujawan Sabha and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Yadgari Trust, the minister called upon writers and singers not to degrade culture by promoting nudity and intoxicants. He would censor such songs, he declared.

The minister said the government would spend five crore for promoting clean culture. He also gave Rs 31,000 to the sabha. Another Punjab minister, Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, also spoke on the occasion.


Lok Adalat settles 85 cases
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
As many as 85 of the 168 cases were settled and a compensation of Rs 42,61,468 were awarded in a Lok Adalat here on March 31.

A total of 16 Lok Adalat Benches, presided over by a judicial officers, were constituted. Nearly 81 MACT cases were taken up out of which 45 were settled. Compensation ammounting to Rs 33,28,500 was awarded.

Nearly 50 students of the Law Department of Punjabi University also participated. The adalat was presided over by the District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.N. Aggarwal.


Reduce area under paddy: Director
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
To improve the lot of farmers the traditional pattern of wheat and paddy should end and the farmers should grow more of pulse crops, as these enjoyed good market value.

Mr Mewa Singh, Director Agriculture, Punjab, said this at a kisan mela, organised here today to educate the farmers on the coming season of Kharif crop. The pulse crops, sugarcane, soyabean, groundnut etc have good potential in the state and these could help debt-ridden farmers of the state.

Later addressing a press conference, Mr Mewa Singh said that the area under paddy cultivation should be reduced, as almost all other states have become self sufficient in paddy production and also water level of the state was decreasing by the day. In the last financial year the total area under paddy cultivation in the state was 26.11 lakh hectares, and the target for the current year had been put at about 24 lakh hectares.

Mr Mewa Singh added that there was scope for reducing the area under paddy in the cotton belt as cotton showed good results last year. As the area was deficient in water resources and paddy needed more water than cotton. The target for cotton cultivation for the current year has been increased from the 4.74 lakh hectares of last year to 6 lakh hectares. Even in case of paddy, the cultivation of ‘Basmati’ was recommended and Gurdaspur has been selected under the pilot project to export basmati, he added.

There was an increase in average yield of rice and the estimates for cotton production have also been nearly met. The area under forests in the state was less than the minimum requirement and the Forest Department was trying to grow, xerophytic plants, to increase the same, he added.

With the “implementation” of Seed Act, the sale of inferior seeds and those and without proper certification would be checked. Those found guilty would be punished. Mr Mewa Singh however pleaded ignorance about the terminator seeds technology, being used for cotton.

Mr Gurdial Singh Khera, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, gave the figures for various crops of the district and the production targets for the current year. Various farm equipments, including, aeroblast, reapers, rolta balers, spray pumps, zero-till drills were being given on subsidised rates to farmers. He added that those farmers, who had installed sprinkler sets were being given power connections on priority.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner gave details of arrangements made for wheat procurement, in the district.


MC staff on fast against worker’s promotion
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 3
Employees of the local municipal corporation sat on an indefinite fast today in front of the Commissioner’s office to register their protest against the decision of the local government department to promote a tubewell operator to the post of inspector allegedly violating all rules and procedures.

Though employees of the civic body, on a call given by the Municipal Employees Union and the Scheduled Caste and Backward Employees Union had been sitting on dharna outside the Commissioner’s office since March 22 but the indifferent attitude of the department towards their demand had forced them to resort to an indefinite fast today, Mr Jitpal Joshi, general secretary of the union said.

Mr Santok Singh, a tubewell operator, had filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year seeking his promotion as inspector or senior assistant on the ground that other employees who were junior to him had already been promoted. He was subsequently promoted by the department as inspector on ad hoc basis in pursuance of the court directions on December 26.

Interestingly, the Director of the Local Government Department, Mr J.B. Goel, in his order on December 26 had said, “As regards the provisions and rules, if we revert the persons who had been already promoted from this cadre, then we will have to face a number of court cases. If we deny the same to the petitioner we will be doing injustice to him. In view of above, the claim of Mr Santokh Singh, tubewell operators, is accepted and he is promoted to the post of inspector/senior assistant on ad hoc basis against a vacant post.”

According to Mr Jitpal Joshi, a deputation of the union met Mr Goel on December 28 and objected to the promotion of Mr Santokh Singh on the plea that the latter does not belong to ministerial/clerical cadre and did not have the requisite experience of five years as clerk which is mandatory for promotion.

The department issued fresh order revoking the promotion orders of the tubewell operator on December 29, which was again challenged by the latter in the court.

In his three-page order issued on February 19, Mr Goel, however, promoted Mr Santokh Singh. The order further states that this decision, however, may not be treated as a precedent in future and a person who merely possess the requisite qualification for a post will not be entitled to be promoted/appointed to that post.


Cross-firing over land dispute, 5 injured
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 3
Five persons were injured seriously in cross-firing between a farmer and his supporters on one side and arthiya’s of Sardulgarh town in the district yesterday regarding a land dispute.

Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that Jagdev Singh, a farmer, had sold his land to arthiyas Rajinder Singh and Rohit Singh. The farmer Jagdev Singh and his supporters fired at the arthiyas in a bid to disposess the arthiyas, which was allegedly replied by the other party and as a result five persons — Jagdev Singh, Makhan Singh, Amrik Singh, Butta Singh and Gurnam Singh — were injured and rushed to hospital in a serious condition.

Jagdev Singh, who had sold the land, now claims that he had not sold the land and it was mortgaged with the arthiyas and the sale deed was executed fraudulently.

The Sardulgarh police has registered a case under Section 307, IPC. No one has been arrested by the police so far. 


Tohra decries abolition of varsity faculty
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 3
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) while condemning the abolition of the Faculty of Humanities and Religious Studies in Punjabi University and merger of the Department of Religious Studies with a faculty of Social Sciences, has said the party will take up the issue of launching an agitation on this issue at its meeting on April 5.

Addressing a press conference here the SHSAD president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra said he could not find words to condemn the action as Punjabi University had been established with a view to promoting Punjabi language and culture, but the opposite was happening at present. Referring to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he said it was unfortunate that the government was unconcerned about the matter, alleging that it was akin to Nero playing the flute when Rome was burning.

Mr Tohra said he had learnt that Punjabi University had formed a committee to merge all departments related to Punjabi, including the Punjabi Department, Punjabi Literature Department, Punjabi Lexography and Department for the Development of Punjabi, into a single department. Such a move would kill the spirit behind the formation of the University as a centre of Punjabi excellence and would adversely affect Punjabi teaching and research in the University, he cautioned.

The top posts in all universities should be held by academicians only. Appointing non-academicians with moderate qualifications as Vice-Chancellors only eroded the image of universities and also reflected upon the state of education in the State.

On the issue of the Anandpur resolution, the Akali leader, in a direct reference to the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, said the resolution had not been drafted by the Vice-Chancellor, as claimed by him. Various leaders, including Mr Balwant Singh and Mr Gurnam Singh Tir were responsible for drafting the resolution and the Vice-Chancellor’s contribution was limited to elaborating on the resolution in an accompanying pamphlet, he claimed.


GND varsity entrance test on June 19
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Guru Nanak Dev University will conduct an entrance test for admission to BIT, BCA, B.CAM, BIS, and B.E. commerce courses in its affiliated colleges on June 19.

Stating this, Dr S.P. Singh, Dean, College Development Council and coordinator of the entrance test, said the admission to all these four-year courses relating to information technology would be on merit.

New Dean takes over
Prof Satvir Singh, a senior professor of psychology, took over as Dean, Academic Affairs of Guru Nanak Dev University here on Tuesday.

He has published 155 data-based research papers.


‘Comparative religion not taught in varsities’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
An eminent academician, Prof N.S.S. Raman, of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) today said in the educational sphere it was regrettable that no steps had been taken to nurture a feeling of religious friendship and mutual dialogue.

Delivering a keynote address at the inaugural function of the three-day national seminar on ‘Religious scriptures: A philosophical study in global perspective’ organised by the Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies at Punjabi University, Professor Raman said out of 200 universities or institutions deemed to possess that status, very few taught comparative religion or history of religions as part of their various curricula.

“If mutual understanding among religions of the world is to be promoted, attempts should be made to understand each others religious language and for this purpose one had to go back to the original sources.

A sound acquittance of sister faiths is possible only by a careful reading of the holy texts,” he said.

In his presidential address, the Vice-Chancellors Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, observed that, “A comparative study of scriptures of different religions shows that different divine revelations are stages in the spiritual evolution of a man towards realising the unity of a man, nature and God”. Scriptural studies in global perspective are essential for inter-religion dialogue, Dr Ahluwalia added.

Earlier, Dr Jodh Singh, seminar Director, while introducing the aims and objectives of the seminar said one of the main reasons for the lack of religious concordance was the unwillingness of people to understand the deep truths of their own scriptures. Prof Vidya Niwas Mishra, Prof A. Ali and Dr Darshan Singh also spoke during the seminar in which 100 delegates from various parts of India and abroad are taking part.


Coop bank delaying payments: depositors
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 3
Depositors of the local Citizen Urban Cooperative Bank are running from pillar to post to get the payment of money deposited by them in the past three years.

In May 1998, accounts ledgers of several depositors of the sabzi mandi branch of the bank were destroyed in fire. The depositors alleged though they had made several visits to the bank, nothing had been done to release payment.

They had also complained to the Reserve Bank of India about the indifferent attitude of the bank authorities but to no avail.

Mr Parminder Singh, a depositor, said they had also met the Punjab Cooperative Minister who had set up a committee headed by the Joint Registrar of the Jalandhar division to conduct an inquiry into the matter. The committee had held the bank authorities responsible for a delay in the release of payments.

The report said though the ledgers got burnt in the fire, it was the duty of the bank to pay its customers.

“I have visited the bank several times to withdraw Rs 87,000, but every time I am told that the payment will be made very soon since the accounts are being verified”, he said.

Another depositor alleged that the fire was not reported to the police.

Mr K.K. Sharma, Chairman of the bank, denied the allegations and said most of the claims of the depositors had already been settled, “In fact, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum had dismissed the claim of payment of Mr Parminder Singh Dhillon last year. He wants to draw benefit from the destruction of the records, he alleged. 

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