Thursday, April 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Zaffarwal allowed to roam freely: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said yesterday criminalisation of politics was proved from the manner in which former Panthic Committee member and chief of the Khalistan Commando Force Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was allegedly allowed to roam free in Chandigarh by the Punjab Government.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Tohra said if Zaffarwal had really been sighted in Chandigarh accompanied by armed personal security guards, it meant the government and the intelligence agencies knew about the militants’ presence in the state and could have even manipulated it.

He said the government must come out with facts on the matter and inform the people if it wanted to cancel the cases registered against Mr Zaffarwal. He said the manner in which the militant had secretly entered the state and was being allowed to move freely gave credence to the reports that the government had worked out a secret understanding with him.

Mr Tohra said earlier the former Panthic Committee member who had declared the formation of Khalistan in 1986 had appealed to the people to vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Majitha bypoll. He said in the light of such revelations the people had the right to know the truth and whether Mr Zaffarwal was indeed in the state.

Mr Tohra also claimed that the police was not able to provide justice to the people. He gave the example of the severe beating up of a party supporter and its Working Committee member Gursew Singh Harpalpur leading to his hospitalisation. He said action was taken in the case only when he approached the Patiala Zone Inspector-General of Police, but the district police had still not arrested the main suspect in the case.


Leaders’ links with ultras “no secret”
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), and member of Parliament today said most political parties had had proximity with militants during the heyday of militancy.

“I, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Beant Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, both former Chief Ministers, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjit, CPM chief, and senior leaders of various political parties had proximity with militants. I have first-hand information on the matter”, Mr Mann said.

He said these leaders would give them (militants) shelter in their own houses during the heyday of militancy.

The SAD (Amritsar) chief said it was an open secret that Mr Badal, Mr Talwandi, Mr Tohra and he himself were signatories to a joint memorandum addressed to the then Secretary-General, Mr Boutras Boutras Ghali, seeking a separate sovereign state for Sikhs.

Mr Mann said he and other Panthic leaders would frequently attend the bhog ceremonies of slain militants. “I remember that he (Mr Badal) had specially gone to village Dasuwal near Patti to attend the bhog of Sukhdev Singh Babbar, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International”. He however, said the militants would feel more secure in the hideouts of Congress leaders as nobody suspected them there.

On the demand of Capt Amarinder Singh, President Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, for a CBI inquiry into the alleged links between the ruling SAD and militants like Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, Chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, Mr Mann retorted: “He (PPCC chief) should himself have the courage to disclose his links with militants at that time”.

“During the heyday of militancy, militants were the actual rulers and those who did not have links with them were considered incompetent leaders”.

Mr Mann alleged that a senior Congress leader from Amritsar had got his nephew released from the captivity of militants at that time due to his “links with them”.

Meanwhile, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, has expressed concern at the “free movement” of Zaffarwal. She alleged that the Director-General of Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, had made himself unavailable on the phone to evade the issue.


Dharna to pressurise NDA govt to resign
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, April 4
Hundreds of activists of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today staged a dharna and held a rally in the city for pressurising the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre to resign in view of the startling revelations made by about defence deals.

Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, organising secretary, PPCC, while addressing the rally, said the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, had no moral right to stay in the office after the Tehelka episode.

He said on the one hand the BJP was spreading hatred among people belonging to different religions and on the other it had put the security of the country at risk.

He said the allegations made by the dot com company should have been taken seriously and the Central Government should have resigned immediately.

Mr Gill said the party which claimed to be free from corruption had shown its true face.

He added that the ministers of the present government were neck deep in corruption but it was a pity that their deeds did not come to light.

He said the efforts of the Tehelka people needed to be praised as they had brought the truth in front of the public.

Citing an example, he said the Defence Minister had ordered to purchase the anti-mine equipment from South Africa, despite the fact that it was discarded by that country because of it being below standard. He said the quality of the equipment was so poor that while using them during the mock drills 15 Army men were killed.

Mr Karnail Singh, vice-president, DCC, Mr Satveer Singh, general secretary DCC, Mr Harbans Singh Jabal, former MLA, and Mr Jagdev Singh and Mr Daya Singh Bhata, both block presidents of the Congress Committee, also spoke.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, while addressing the rally, said the scribes of the should be awarded by the President of India.


VC case : Jacob assures intervention, claims PUTA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today claimed that the University Chancellor and the Punjab Governor, Lt Gen J F R Jacob, had taken a serious note of violation of rules and irregularities being committed by the University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, and assured the body of favourable intervention in the matter.

PUTA representatives who called upon the Chancellor at Chandigarh yesterday said they had been given a patient hearing by him. The association president, Dr B.S. Khaira and the secretary Dr Balwinder Singh, said PUTA had also decided to submit a memorandum to the Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, on April 7 when he is scheduled to attend a convocation being held at the campus here.

The violations submitted in the memorandum to the Chancellor included granting of affiliation to privately owned colleges which did not have required infrastructure, including a college owned by the University Registrar, allowing a private foreign company to misuse the university infrastructure in the name of an Information Technology Centre, and manufacturing posts which were given to people without requisite qualifications which was clear from the fact that a person who did not know anything about computers had been made Director, Internet, and that the person appointed Director, Research and Development, was still to complete his Ph.D thesis.

The memorandum also alleged that the private secretary to the Vice Chancellor, Ms Kiran Sharma, had been admitted into a PGDCA course against employees’ quota despite the fact that she was not a regular employee of the university. It also claimed that migration of students from the regional centres into the main campus was being allowed against the rules and that announcements of appointments were being made at public melas.

The memorandum, while highlighting the various cases of victimisation, said on one single day police cases were registered against 14 students without the slightest of provocation and without any benefit of inquiry. It said a police case had also been registered against a senior Professor — Dr K C Singhal, who was removed from headship of the School of Business Management on flimsy grounds. It also claimed a large number of employees had been suspended or chargesheeted on arbitrary grounds.

The PUTA memorandum claimed that the university had been converted into a ground for holding melas like Divali, Holi, Lohri, Dhamaal , Punfest and Phulkari besides others in addition to regular youth festivals which had led to loss of teaching days. It said though melas were encouraged, genuine academic activity was strangulated. Conferences and seminars were being cancelled at the last moment causing damage to the credibility of the university and the organisers. It said the most recent such example was the cancellation of an IGNOU-sponsored seminar in the Correspondence Studies Department and a special lecture by Mr S P Shukla, a former member of the Planning Commission.

It said a number of major research projects particularly in the area of Punjabi development had been cancelled mid-way. These included English-Punjabi-usage dictionary, etymological dictionary of Sanskrit words in Guru Granth Sahib among various others. The publication of University’s much acclaimed research journal such as Samaaj-Vigyaan-Pattar had been stopped. Even the most prestigious annual feature of the university, the International Punjabi Development Conference had been given a burial.

PUTA also highlighted that the genuine demands of teachers, including those on the carrer advancement scheme (CAS), paying of arrears of salaries and abolition of a proposal envisaging evaluation of teachers by students were not being fulfilled despite assurances.


Criticism by Tohra baseless: VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, has reacted strongly to the criticism of the university by the SHSAD leader, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

In a statement issued here today, he said the criticism of Punjabi University Faculties by Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra at a press conference yesterday, as reported in some newspapers today, was “baseless and contrary to facts which he has distorted, and seems to be politically motivated. It does not behove a political leader of his stature to rush to the press without ascertaining the facts from the university management.”

The exercise for the reorganisation of the faculties, as by most the universities in India, to keep pace with the modern times, was undertaken during the regime of his predecessor, with a high-level committee headed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor whose recommendations were deliberated upon and accepted by the Academic Council and later by the Syndicate of the university.

Earlier, there were some faculties with just one or two departments under them, while on the other hand, there were some faculties having 10 to 15 departments. This lopsidedness and irrational configuration of the departments resulted in “over-representation” of single-department faculties in the university bodies, while quite a large number of professors in the multi-department faculties never got a chance till their retirement to be on university bodies, because the representation is faculty-wise.

Further, the earlier combination of departments under different faculties had become obsolete due to the present-day inter-disciplinary approach to different subjects. Reorganisation of the faculties was also necessitated by the creation, for the first time, of a new Faculty of Art and Culture to give boost to Punjabi arts and culture, which was one of the main objectives of Punjabi University and which area had remained ignored in the past 40 years.

With the reorganisation of the faculties, no identity or distinctiveness of any department had been diluted as all the departments retained their earlier identity; they had rather been strengthened in the new dispensation.

“However, whenever some innovative changes are made, then vested interests of status quoists are disturbed and such elements raise a hue and cry. But when a senior politician of the level of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra becomes privy to such vested interests, it becomes all the more deplorable. His statement is not going to affect the determination of the university management to go ahead with progressive educational and academic reforms to enable Punjabi University to meet the challenges of 21st century. It is for Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra to decide for himself as to whether he wants to go down in history as a destroyer of Punjabi and Sikh institutions or as their builder, though I hope he would choose latter, positive path.

“As regards the authorship of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, I have never claimed the same. But when the then Editor of The Tribune, Shri Prem Bhatia, in The Tribune issue of 17th July, 1979, wrote an editorial— A Draftman’s Identity— attributing the drafting to me, the government instituted an enquiry against me. This was in the full knowledge of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who for reasons best known to him, kept mum and left me alone to face the enquiry which ultimately was disposed of on the ground that whosoever might be the drafter of the 1978 Anandpur Sahib Resolution, it had pleaded only for autonomy of the states in a federal set up, without the fundamentalist terminology used in the 1973 draft of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution,” he added.


CBI seeks quashing of Bibi’s bail order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation today sought directions for quashing the orders passed by the Special Magistrate, dealing with CBI cases at Patiala, directing former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur’s release on bail with instructions to move the trial court for regular bail, and subsequent recall of the same. The petition is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Giving details, CBI counsel R.K. Handa stated in the petition that the Special Judge, on February 13, had formed an opinion that time should be given to Bibi for seeking regular bail from the trial court as period for which anticipatory bail was granted had not been specified. The Magistrate released her on bail with the direction to move the trial court for regular bail on the next date.

He had added that subsequently on March 12, the order was recalled after an application was moved by Bibi claiming that the bail granted to her absolute and final, not for a specific period, and as such the direction to get regular bail was contrary to law.


Accused flees, 3 city cops held
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
The city police has arrested three personnel of the Chandigarh Police following the escape of an accused in a case relating to smuggling of narcotics yesterday from a local dharamshala.

Police sources said the accused, Surinder Singh Mathru, who had been facing several trials in cases relating to smuggling of narcotics at Chandigarh and in this city, had escaped from the custody of Chandigarh police personnel on the pretext of answering the call of nature.

Assistant Sub-Inspector Harcharan Singh, Head Constable Jaidev Singh and constable Balwinder Singh brought the accused here from Chandigarh last evening for producing him in a local court today.

Instead of taking the accused directly to the police station concerned, the three personnel took him to a dharamshala for spending the night there. A woman accomplice, identified as Asha Kohli, and the accused managed to escape from the dharamshala.

A case in this connection has been registered against the five accused under Sections 223,224 and 225 of the IPC and efforts are being made to arrest Asha Kohli and Surinder Singh Mathru.

In another case, the city police has arrested Mohan Lal, administrative officer, district education office, andhis son Sham Lal, wife Murthi Devi and middleman Shankar, allegedly for harassing his daughter-in-law for bringing inadequate dowry. A case in this connection has been registered.

The police has succeeded in busting a gang of impersonators.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said two accused, one impersonating as a peon and the other as tehsildar, had taken Rs 500 from Mr Darshan Singh, a resident of Bibiwala village, on the pretext that there was a complaint against him (Mr Darshan Singh) regarding illegal construction. But the latter found out that he was a petty shopkeeper.

Mr Jain said one person had been arrested for smuggling poppy husk, two for possessing illicit distilled and countrymade liquor and two accused under the Gambling Act.


Cong sarpanch joins SAD
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
The District Congress Committee (DCC) today received a setback when the sarpanch and the members of panchayat of Virk Kalan village joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) along with their supporters.

At a function held at the village, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, said that the workers of the Congress party had joined the SAD as the present government had put in a lot of efforts for the development of the state. Common man as well as cadre of the Congress had lost faith in that party, he said. Mr Sambhu Singh, sarpanch, said the Congress had lost support of people. He said policies of the SAD were pro-people, that was why he had joined it. Besides, the Congress had been ignoring wishes of the workers.

He said the president of the state units of the Congress did not have knowledge of ground realities, therefore, he could not do anything for the betterment of the people.

The sarpanch said the facilities provided to the people by the present state government solved their problems that they had faced during the Congress rule.


SHSAD, BSP may form 'people front'
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) is in the process of putting together a “people front” in Punjab to take on both the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress during forthcoming elections to the state Assembly. The SHSAD is holding talks with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in this regard.

Talking to newsmen here, SHSAD President Gurcharan Singh Tohra said efforts were on to ensure that the BSP would form part of the front. He said other front members would include the Left parties and the Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Mr Tohra ruled out any rapprochement with the SAD. When his attention was drawn to a recent statement by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Jagdev Singh Talwandi that he should not put up too many preconditions, he said Jathedar Talwandi could deliver sermons on this subject to him only if he had approached him with any unity proposal.

Tha Akali leader also charged the Akali-BJP government with criminalising politics saying the government must come out with the truth regarding allegations that a former Panthic Committee member and Khalistan Commando Force chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was seen at a marriage function of an Akali functionary. He said the fact that Zaffarwal, as stated by the reports, was accompanied by his own personal security guards, was shocking and proved that the government and the intelligence agencies knew of his presence in the state.

Mr Tohra said there were earlier reports about an appeal made by the militant urging people to vote for the SAD candidate in the Majitha byelection. He said while it was the prerogative of the Central Government to hold talks with such elements, people had the right to know why Zaffarwal was being allowed to freely roam about in the state in this manner.

The Akali leader also alleged that the people were not getting justice from the police administration. He said he had brought such cases to the notice of Patiala Zone Inspector-General of Police R.S. Gill. He said giving a recent example the Patiala police was still unable to arrest the main accused responsible for the attack on his party’s working committee member Gursew Singh Harpalpur recently in which the latter had been seriously wounded. He said the police must function in fair manner so that people could retain trust in them.


This town makes badges too
Vikrant Jindal

Punjab’s only Muslim-dominated town, Malerkotla, is remembered in Indian history for the Kukas’ movement during the freedom struggle and also when Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan raised his voice against the tyranny of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in favour of Guru Gobind Singh’s two innocent sons when they were bricked alive in Sirhind fort. But this small Punjab town is famed for another reason.

About 50 families of this town engage 4500 boys and girls, to produce hand-woven crests, badges, insignias for colleges, universities, defence, forces and items for designers.

About a dozen families from this walled city are exporting their product to about 15 countries. While another dozen families supply their product to the armed forces and police as well as colleges and universities.

People may not know that badges, medals, decorations and insignias worn by soldiers, high military officers, and staff of firms are made at this small town. It is matter of pride that the crest, colours and roll of honour of Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard universities are prepared at this small town.

The idea of this hand-woven started as zardozi (stitching golden threads) for the rulers of this princely state. The Nawabs of Malerkotla always provided encouragement to those involved in this work as they always gave costly gifts to rulers of other states. Regular orders started coming from their nearby Phulkian states comprising Kapurthala, Patiala, Nabha and Jind apart from rulers of other states.

But slowly this art of bestowing costly gifts started disappearing after Independence. When the princely states were abolished, this practice ended as the rulers’ purchasing power fell drastically.

As time passed, these cottage industries started involving themselves in making college colours badges, crests, insignias and some firms in Delhi started procuring orders from other universities as well the Defence Ministry. Between 1980 and 1990 fashion houses gave Malerkotla craft a much-required fillip.

Many families started making embellishments in terms of buttons, appliques and exquisite borders using jute thread and wooden base for some of the leading fashion houses of the USA, Japan, France, Canada.

These cottage industries have a turnover of nearly Rs 2 crore per year. The labour employed in this industry are just paid from Rs 2 to Rs 7 per badge.

First it was the Nawabs, then regional buyers and then big export houses of Delhi came to Malerkotla for buying this product for exporting to Japan, Italy, UK, USA and making huge profits.

The only hitch for these cottage industries and artisans is that they don’t know anything about exports and have to depend on others. They are compelled to route their products through export merchants who receive orders from other countries.

The young artisans, initiated into the craft by their forefathers, are now running their units independently and would like to export directly but are wary of the complicated process. They are aware that on a sale of Rs 30 a piece, the profit margin for them is barely Rs 3 to Rs 4 per piece only, whereas the product costs something like Ł5 to 10 or its equivalent in dollars for the ultimate buyers.

These makers of colours and badges have no association. No effort has been made by the Punjab State Small Industries and Export Corporation to bring these units under the export promotion programme.

There are many houses in Delhi who collect huge orders from different countries and distributing the work in Malerkotla and believe it that those who take orders on behalf of these poor artisans over the year have shifted from scooters and cars to imported cars and from small houses to air-conditioned bungalows in plush colonies.


Long wait for ‘dead’ son
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
The state may have returned to normalcy after about a decade of blood- shed but the families affected by terrorism and those who bore the brunt of alleged police brutality, have not returned to normal lives, in most of the cases.

Mr Kartar Singh (76), a resident of Guru Nanak Pura, of the city who ‘lost’ his son during the height of terrorism, to the alleged police brutality, has not lost hope. None of the last rites of his ‘dead’ son have been performed by him. Mr Kartar Singh, who retired from the Railways, lives with his wife and two grandchildren.

Mr Kartar Singh said his son was picked-up by some Punjab Police personnel on December 16, 1991, who were in plain clothes and had come in a police Gypsy. Mrs Bachan Kaur, mother of the victim said that when she resisted the ‘abduction’ of his son, she was also forced to sit in the vehicle.

“They took us to an unknown destination”, she said. She added that from there she was dropped at Patiala railway crossing (near Model Town there). My son is missing ever since,” she stated as she burst into tears.

Mr Kartar Singh said his son was never involved in terrorist activities. His only ‘fault’ was that he was married to a sister of a hardcore terrorist Amrik Singh Kauli, of Patiala district, who was wanted in a case of the killing of an SSP. “My son (Harnam Singh) was picked up only because his brother-in-law was a terrorist and the police authorities, could not trace the terrorist,” he alleged.

Mr Kartar Singh lamented that his two grandchildren had been devoid of the love of their mother. “When my son was ‘abducted’ my daughter-in-law was pregnant. After the birth of my grandson, my daughter-in-law and the residents of her native village, Kauli (Patiala), met us and demanded that the marriage should be dissolved. I do not know her whereabouts and neither I am concerned with that,” Mr Kartar Singh said.

Repeated requests to the police authorities, district administration and even ruling politicians proved to be futile. Various chief ministers of state, including, Mr Beant Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the present Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, assured of a fair inquiry, but to no avail. Even a reply by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was received about two years back, stating that the case had been referred to the Punjab Police chief, but the puzzle had not been solved, lamented Mr Kartar Singh.

The old couple broke into tears and pleaded that if their son was dead, they may be told so.” It is our duty and right to perform the last rites of our son, if he is dead. The biggest burden on this earth is the ‘cremation of a son by his father and I have been uncertain that if I will have to do so,” Mr Kartar Singh added. “We are hopeful that our son is very much alive and would return home,” asserted the old couple.


Frescos need restoration
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
Four years back it seemed the forgotten painted chambers in Quila Mubarak would after all be saved from destruction. Experts from the National Research Laboratory for Chemical Conservation (NRLCC) in Lucknow took up the task of restoring the paintings to their former glory, besides making attempts to arrest the deterioration which had set in amongst them.

The experts from the NRLCC started work on the masnad (throne room) chamber in Quila Androon (which housed the residential quarters) and were able to restore paintings in one half of the chamber. However, the experts, who used to work in groups for a few months each at a stretch, stopped work as they were reportedly not given appropriate cooperation by the authorities.

So while one-half of the ‘masnad’ chamber is presently resplendent with glowing gold work and striking vegetable colours which have been uncovered to show off their natural beauty, the other half and another chamber in the same complex is decaying for want of conservation work since the last about two years when the NRLCC stopped work on the paintings.

Sources disclosed that the NRLCC experts had not only worked to uncover the beauty of the paintings but had tackled problem paintings also which had developed cracks. Such paintings, including one of Guru Nanak, was dismantled and put up again. They also gave chemical treatment to the paintings to ensure they did not flake off which was a major problem.

Today the paintings are in a precarious condition. A large number of paintings in the masnad chamber as well as the chamber behind it are being destroyed with the damage spreading from the lower areas to the upper ones. Strangely, no one seems to be sure as to why this is happening. Officials of the chemical laboratory said harmful chemicals were travelling up from the floor through capillary action to destroy the paintings. But even this view is contested by others who claim that the paintings were flaking off due to inordinate dryness as the water level in the area had gone down tremendously.

Whatever the reason, the steady destruction of the heritage site is there for all to witness, specially after both the chambers have been opened for public viewing. People are simultaneously awed by the breathtaking beauty of the paintings as well as saddened why no effort is being made to stem the rot. While the people look towards the state chemical laboratory, which is housed in the complex, to take a lead in the restoration work, the officials of the laboratory say they are simply not equipped nor trained for the task.

The NRLCC has a full-fledged team, including chemical experts, artisans and scientists from different fields who can pinpoint the reasons for decay of the paintings and take appropriate remedial action, said an official of the state laboratory, adding the state laboratory did not have the same kind of infrastructure nor technical expertise. Officials disclosed that the NRLCC was scheduled to take up conservation work of the painted chambers again but could not give the exact schedule.

Experts, however, opine that even if the NRLCC staff started visiting the Quila again, the entire restoration exercise could take several years before it could be accomplished.

The only way out, they said, was to develop one’s own capability of art conservation, specially when a chemical conservation laboratory was housed in the same complex. Only a dedicated team of experts based in the state could give momentum to the conservation exercise as not much headway could be made even if the NRLCC restarted work on the painting’s, they added.


PWD workers hold demonstration
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 4
Employees of the PWD (Public Health, Irrigation and B&R) and the Sewerage Board held a rally in front of the Chief Engineer’s Public Health) office in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

The rally was held on the call of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, Punjab. It was organised for the regularisation of services of daily-wage employees, non-sanction of vacant posts, promoting the Class IV employees, not appointing those who have passed the test for JE and to convert the posts of work munshi to pump operators and ledger keeper.

Leaders criticised the Punjab Government and the Chief Engineer for their “anti-employees attitude and sought the immediate acceptance of their long-pending demands. They warned the government and the Chief Engineer of the intensified struggle if their demands were not solved.

Traffic on the Mall Road was also jammed. It was addressed among others by the state president, Mr Karamjit Singh Veehla, the chairman, Mr Gurmej Singh and the general secretary, Mr Ved Prakash.


Engineers oppose bypassing of panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab PWD ( B and R) Senior Engineers Forum has objected to the determination of rates for engineering works by certain organisations bypassing the Committee of Chief Engineers, which has the authority to determine the common schedule rates (CSR).


DC’s order on construction flouted
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 4
Unauthorised construction is being done at the sangal akhara opposite the Golden Temple despite orders of the Deputy Commissioner last evening stalling it.

This akhara, besides many others, falls in the ‘galiara’ or gallery scheme of the Golden Temple at Mai Sewan Bazar. The land for the akhara was acquired by the government on the directions of the Project Director, Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner (DC). However, the Deputy Commissioner could not clearly specify whether the owners were paid compensation or whether the land was acquired by the government under the ‘galiara’ scheme.

The Joint Commissioner, Mr Gulwaryam Singh, confirmed that the land was acquired by the government.

Earlier, too, attempts were made to construct the akhara. About seven months ago, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had directed the Deputy Commissioner to stop the ongoing construction after it was brought to his notice.

Yesterday, the ongoing construction was again brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner and orders were issued to stall the work.

However, Mr Gurwaryam Singh said that the orders were not only to halt the construction but also to demolish the built area, including a four-walled enclosure. The gate to the akhara was being installed when the work was stopped by the authorities late night.

However, no demolition of the constructed area took place and nobody was deployed to keep vigil against the unauthorised construction, as claimed by the authorities. However, the photograph with today’s edition of The Tribune in the fore as construction is going on leaves no doubt that the Deputy Commissioner’s orders are being flouted.

The Joint Commissioner, when informed of the resumption of the unauthorised construction, expressed surprise and later called up to inform that orders to demolish the unauthorised construction had been issued (time 2.45 p.m.).

It is learnt that in the absence of a permanent commissioner, many unauthorised constructions are being carried on in the corporation’s jurisdiction, allegedly in connivance with high officials and politicians.

Incidentally, Mr Banga, formally joined as the Municipal Commissioner of Amritsar today.


Rights panel takes up doc’s complaint
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has taken cognizance of the complaint made by Dr Vineeta Gupta, a human rights activist, in connection with the raid conducted by policemen in plain clothes at her hospital on February 20.

In the complaint made to various authorities, including the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, Dr Vineeta Gupta alleged that raiding party started taking photographs of the hospital and entered the rooms forcibly.

The patients, neighbours and staff members were terrified, she added.

She alleged that the raid was conducted as she had filed a writ petition in connection with the shifting of Children and General Hospital from the heart of city to the premises of Civil Hospital and the administration was trying to pressurise her to withdraw the same. She added that even the DSP, who was leading the raid party, had asked her brother, Dr Vitul Gupta, about the writ petition.

Mr Justice V.K. Khanna while deciding on the complaint held that it was a fit case for taking cognizance of the matter under the provision of protection of Human Rights Act and it be registered as a case.

The case would come up before the commission on April 7.


Rally by BKU (E) man
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 4
The Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) has threatened to paralyse rail and road traffic as next phase of its stir if alleged false cases registered by the Barnala police against three Kiranjit Abduction Rape Murder Action Committee members — Prem Kumar, Narain Dutt and Manjit Dhaner — were not withdrawn immediately by the government.

This was stated by Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president of the Mansa unit of the union, while addressing a protest rally at grain market Mehal Kalan, about 20 km from here, on Monday.

Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanaula, general secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), said the members had been implicated in the March 3 courts complex assault case in which four persons had sustained injuries. He expressed solidarity with the members.

The rally was also addressed by Mr Surjit Phool, Punjab press secretary of the kisan union, Mr Surinder Singh Jlaldiwal, CPI leader, Lok Raj Mehraj, convenor, Punjab Lok Sangram Morcha, Darshan Singh Sherpur, Lok Bhalai Party leader and Jaspal Kaur, Punjab Aurat Mukti Morcha.


Protest against shifting of hospital
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
Activists of the Save Old Hospital and Government Properties Action Committee (SOHGPAC) have launched a mass contact programme in protest against the shifting of the General and Children Hospital from its present location to the Civil Hospital.

Mr Surinder Kapoor, former minister of Punjab Mr Joginder Bhasin, representative of the CPI, Mr Jagdish Singh Ghai of the CPI, Mr Ishatpal Singh, Mr Iqbal Bhasin and Mr Kamlesh of the Istri Sabha, Dr Vineeta Gupta of the Insaaf International, Mr Bhim Kansal and Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, trade unionists, went to shops in the main bazars of the city to form public opinion against the decision of the government.

All activists wore black badges on their shoulders and carried banners in protest against the government move.


Lawyers strike work
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
The lawyers here did not attend the courts today in protest against the amendments proposed by the Union Law Ministry in the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The amendments have been proposed in the amendment Bill 2000 introduced in the Rajya Sabha in December 2000.

The president of the Ropar Bar Association, Mr K.R. Joshi, while talking to newspersons here today said a meeting of all district bar associations would be held soon to discuss the issue of proposed amendments. The lawyers had launched a nation-wide agitation when the government passed a similar Bill in 1999. The government had then put implementation of the Bill on hold. However, now once again almost the same Bill had been introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The lawyers would thwart government efforts to carry out unjustified amendments that were against the interests of litigants by launching an agitation in a phased manner, he said.

Mr Joshi criticised the assertion of the Union Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitly, that the government would save Rs 300 crore annually, in upholding undertrials speedy justice through new fast track courts. The government already seemed to have anticipated releasing the criminals through the fast track courts by saving money that was detrimental for justice in the country, he alleged.

Mr Joshi also criticised the allegedly ad hoc manner in which the government had started the fast track courts in the country. For these courts the recruitment of retired judges on ad hoc basis was proposed. The judges posted on ad hoc would not be able to impart objective justice. If the government was serious about imparting speedy justice to people through such courts, then permanent judges should be recruited from the legal fraternity.


Chandigarh to have overseas employment cell
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
An overseas employment cell will shortly commence in Chandigarh. This was disclosed by Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, while presiding over a function organised by HFCL Infotech and Punjab and local Red-Cross societies for the benefit of handicapped persons here today. The cell will provide complete information regarding jobs and opportunities and extend help for seeking employment.

Lauding the efforts of voluntary organisations and corporate companies in extending a helping hand to the handicapped, the Minister distributed 160 tricycles, 71 hearing aids, 17 wheel chairs, 20 artificial limbs and 69 polio-affected persons were distributed support-boots

Speaking on the occasion, President of the District Red Cross, and Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Mr Narinderjit Singh resolved to help every handicapped person through the Red Cross. He said two new Red Cross centres will be opened shortly, one in the walled city area while another in the Civil Lines.

Prominent among those present were Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Minister for Health, Mr Ramesh Aggarwal, Deputy Director Red Cross Society, Punjab, Mr R.P.S. Dhanoa, Deputy General Manager HFCL, Mr Daya Singh, Ex MP and others.


Jaundice on rise in Nakodar
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 4
The rising number of jaundice cases in Nakodar town has created panic among residents. At least 30 patients of jaundice were admitted to the Civil Hospital besides the hundreds undergoing treatment in different private hospitals and clinics.

The Senior Medical Officer, Nakodar, Dr Balbir Singh, said here today the Health Department would start door-to-door survey in the town from tomorrow to diagnose other cases and ensure treatment. He said chlorine tablets would be distributed among the people.

The SMO said dirty water supply from Municipal Council, Nakodar, was said to be the main cause of the disease. He said samples of municipal water taken on March 10 had failed the laboratory test and the Council had been asked to chlorinate water and make proper sanitation arrangements in the town.

Dr Balbir Singh advised the residents to drink boiled water. He also suggested that the municipal staff should clean water tanks.


Tension grips Pathankot
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, April 4
Tension prevails in the town following owing to the police ‘failure’ to nab the killers of a local financier whose body was recovered from the Dhar Kalan Area on March 21 last by the police under mysterious circumstances.

The badly mutilated body of the Financier of Shiv Shakti Finance Company in the local Mahadev Market had more than 10 wounds on it.

On the morning of March 21, the Maruti Zen belonging to the financier was recovered from behind Hotel Alishan in the Mission Road area with blood stains on its seats.

There is resentment over the ‘failure’ of the police to nab the persons responsible for the killing even after the lapse of about 14 days.

Despite the interrogation of more than 60 persons, the police had ‘failed’ to make any breakthrough in the case.

The family members of the deceased have alleged that the murder was the outcome of a criminal conspiracy. It is being alleged that some politicians are sheltering the accused and that is why the police is not investigating the case properly.

According to police sources, prior to the murder, a call from a woman was received on the mobile by the deceased.

The residents and family of the deceased allege that though the telephone call could throw light on the murder, the police has done nothing to identify the caller.

Since the body of the financier was recovered from Dhar which is in the jurisdiction of the Dhar Kalan Police, and the Maruti Zen was recovered from the jurisdiction of police station Division No 1, Pathankot, no investigating agency is taking responsibility for solving the murder, it is alleged.

The S.S.P, Mr Varinder Kumar, said that now the investigation of the case has been entrusted to SHO Swarn Singh of police station Division No 1.


GOC visits academy site
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
The GOC, Western Command, Lt Gen Surjeet Singh, today visited the Junior Leaders Academy (JLA) site at Anandpur Sahib.

The General who was also accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Western Command, Gen H.S. Mann, conducted an arial survey of the 718-acre land in which the academy is proposed to be set up.

Earlier, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, and the SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, received the Generals, who came on the Army helicopters, at Anandpur Sahib.

Mr G.S. Grewal, said the Army had finalised all plans for setting up the academy at the proposed site in the Shivalik foot hills.


Rise in Punjab’s wheat contribution
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 4
The contribution of Punjab to the Central pool is expected to be more than 100 lakh metric tonnes of wheat this year.

This was announced by the Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Madan Mohan Mittal, while talking to newspersons here today. He was confident that the entire produce of wheat would be immediately picked up by the government concerned agencies. He said the government was expecting 120 lakh metric tonnes of wheat at different mandis of the state this year. Mr Mittal said the government had increased the storage space by 60 lakh metric tonnes. He said the government had been able to export 50 lakh metric tonnes out of storage. He further said the crop was likely to arrive by nearly April 11 or 12. Mr Mittal claimed that all government agencies had been fully geared up for the procurement and agencies were equipped with gunny bags, plastic sheets and vehicles.


Faulty drainage headache for MC
K.K. Goyal

The failure of the system introduced to drain rain water through sewers has caused an unpleasant situation for the Municipal Council and residents.

Despite opposition from the public, the council had constructed small drains in place of the existing bigger drains and connected them to the sewer. But it did not foresee the low capacity of the sewerage system which has resulted in the faulty drainage and has become a headache for the council. The sewers are overflowing and water is spilling on the roads in Ram Singh Kundan Street, Dhir Wali Gali, Midha Bhavan Street, New Court Road, College Link Road, Old Court Road and Railway Road.

There is a stench all around and people are facing trouble in crossing the roads.

Residents of Preet Nagar and Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar are living in filth as the council is discharging the sewer water into the open plots in these localities.

Several residents have approached the district administration to stop doing this, but in vain.

“The sewage discharge has made it difficult for us even to breathe,” says Mr Mohinder Singh, a resident of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar.

Mr Gurvinder Singh Bahia, an advocate and resident of this locality, said he would file a case against the council for polluting the atmosphere.

The Executive Officer, Mr Sat Paul Singh said the council had no option, but to drain water in the open as the Railways authorities had asked them to stop draining sewerage into the railway land along the tracks.

He said the council had got a drainpipe constructed from the disposal pump situated at the link road to the railway track.

But the early release of sewer water had caused leakage through the joints of the pipe. The council required about Rs 2 crore for setting up a disposal system at the bus stand.

Mr Narotam Singh Chahal, former President of the Council, said the scheme for connecting drains to the sewers had been discussed during his tenure, but keeping in view the demerits of the system, he had rejected the proposal.


Boy kidnapped by neighbour’s kin
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 4
Faqir Chand, alias Viky (11), son of Om Parkash of Kotla Gaunspur village, has reportedly been abducted by a son-in-law of the victim’s neighbour. A case was registered in the Sadar Police Station here yesterday. The boy and the kidnapper have still not been traced even after seven days of the incident.

Balwinder Singh, alias Toti (22) of Ghalow village under police station Mukerian came to his in-laws’ house on March 28. Next day at 5.30 p.m. he went to a washerman to get his clothes pressed. He also took Faqir Chand, alias Viky. Since then they did not come back.

Vicky’s father Om Parkash is a employee of the Central Industrial Security Force and is presently posted with the American Embassy. His brother Darshan Singh, who is working in the JCT Mill at Chohan, saw both Balwinder Singh and his nephew Vicky at Adamwal Chow on March 29 evening while he was coming back to his house from the mill.

Meanwhile, Balwinder Singh had come to his in-laws’ house after quarrelling with his parents.

According to Mr Shankar Singh, sarpanch of Gaunspur village, Balwinder Singh told him on telephone on the night of March 29 that he was calling from Jalandhar and Vicky was with him and both would come back to the village on March 31. When they did not come back Darshan Singh lodged a complaint with the Sadar Police Station.


Stolen rail property seized, 1 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
The local railway police authorities today conducted raids at two different places and recovered railway property, mostly iron rods, and arrested one person.

According to railway sources, the local Government Railway Police (GRP) authorities conducted raids at shop number 32 of the local Teachers Home market and seized 16 brake block BCN, 13 brake block IRS type, 1CST-9 plate, 1 Anchor plate and arrested Jaspal, alias Billu, the owner of the shop. Raids were also conducted at the godown of Billu and six more brake block BCNs were recovered from there.

GRP sources said that the raids were carried on specific information and more raids would be conducted on the premises of various scrap dealers of the area to recover railway property.

The scrap of railways as not sold in the open market and very few items were disposed of in open auctions. Most of the iron scrap was recycled by the Railways, the sources added.

The sources added that this was not the first case of its kind in the district. In the past, cases had been registered against various scrap dealers and sellers, including Raj Kumar, alias Kala, and Darshan Singh, who are now on bail.

Mr Abhey Singh, Company Commandent, Railway Police Authority, Bathinda, said that the suspect has been arrested under Section 3 of the Railway Property Unlawful Possession (RPUP) Act.

The approximate value of the items seized today was Rs 8,000, he added.


Woman alleges rape of niece
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 4
Ms Bala Devi of this town yesterday lodged a complaint with the police that a youth had allegedly raped her niece after abducting her from a street where she was playing along with other children.

She said two of her neighbours took her niece to his room and raped her. She said she heard, shrieks from the house and knocked the door. The accused ran away after opening the door while her niece was lying unconscious on the bed.

A case has been registered.


Woman killed
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 4
One woman, Harpal Kaur of Kailpur village in Ludhiana district, was killed while 31 persons, including 13 women and six children, were injured in a collision between two buses on the Barnala-Thikriwala road here today. According to reports a bus belonging to Sidhu Transport Company was going to Ludhiana whereas a bus belonging to Gill Transport Company was going to Jagraon when the collision occurred.


Killers of minor girl held
Our Correspondent

Doraha , April 4
The murder case of a minor girl was today solved by the Doraha police with the arrest of two accused in the case.

According to a press note released by Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Khanna, the police party under the command of Mr Charan Singh Atwal, SHO, Payal, and Mr Karnail Singh, Chowki in charge, Doraha, the alleged murderers were arrested while they were about to board a bus at Sherpur Chowk in Ludhiana. The two have been identified as Ravana Ali and Aamir Hussain, both natives of Assam, at present employed for the digging of a telephone exchange at Doraha.

Both have admitted to the murder.

Raj Kumari, 14-year old minor girl, who was staying with her father Sabhai Ram at the place where the two were working, used to take the food for her father in the nearby factory where he was employed. The accused worked in the nearby area and at the end of the day, put their tools in the house of Sabhai Ram.

The two labourers had allegedly first raped the girl and then silenced her by stabbing her several times.


5 killed, 3 hurt in collision

Amritsar, April 4
Five persons, including three women, were killed and three others injured in a head-on collision between a four-wheeler and a truck near Singbala village under the Mehta police station of Majitha police district today, the police said.

A police report here said that all deceased and injured were travelling in a Tata Sumo and were returning to New Delhi after paying obeisance at Vaishno Devi. Two of the killed were identified as driver Jagbir Singh and Savita.

The other three victims were relatives of Savita. The injured, who were admitted to Medical College, Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here, were Sanjeev Kumar, husband of Savita, Raj Kumar and Babloo.

Sanjeev Kumar was a resident of Mubarakpur locality of New Delhi. The truck driver abandoned the vehicle and has absconded. UNI


Governor stresses education for all
Our Correspondent

Vairoke (Moga), April 4
The Governor of Punjab, Lieut-Gen J.F.R.Jacob (retd), has stressed the need for education for all for the success of a democratic set-up.

The Governor was addressing a gathering of panchayats and ex-servicemen of this district at Vairoke village today after laying the foundation stone of a public school.

The school is being set-up in 14 kanals on the village pond which was filled up by the panchayat under the Vairoke project through a kar seva.

Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh Brar (retd) of Vairoke was the spirit behind the project without any help from the state government.

The Punjab government had allocated Rs 259.14 crore for education during 2001-2002 against the allocation of Rs 154.55 crore during 2000-2001.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal appreciated the role of the panchayat and General Brar.

The minister assured farmers water and electricity free of cost and said and “abiana” would be abolished.

A special feature of the function was that about 100 tractor owners who participated in the kar seva organised a march past and the Governor took the salute.

The Governor honoured Ms Manjeet Kaur, mother of a Kargil martyr, by giving her a cheque for Rs 5 lakh for a plot on behalf of the government. He also gave a cheque for Rs 20,000 to Mr Kuldeep Singh, a para-trooper who lost both his legs in Kargil. The Governor also distributed blankets and shawls among ex-servicemen and widows of Army jawans.


Students suffer at whose cost?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Two students of BA (II) are knocking at the door of the examination branch of Panjab University to get copies of their roll number cards making them eligible to sit in the coming annual examination.

These students of Government College, Zira, are likely to lose an academic year.

The tragedy is that they are not at fault. They attended classes and secured the qualifying marks, but their accounts at Panjab University show no deposit of the examination fees at their college.

Roll number cards are handed over to the students at their respective colleges. On non-receipt of their numbers, the students are seen doing the rounds of the office of the Joint Controller at the university. This is tough on students, particularly at a time when the examinations are round the corner.

Mr Ashok Raj Bhandari, Joint Controller of Examinations, confirmed the hardship being faced by students. “The university cannot do anything because it releases roll numbers only to those candidates whose fees have been paid.”

He said “the students contacted the university office. On perusal of the records, it was seen that there was no mention of any fees having been deposited by the candidates. We depend on the college records because it is not possible for university officials to visit more than 100 colleges. With less than a week’s time left, it is almost impossible for the university to make the necessary changes to assist them,” he added.

Mr Jasmer Singh, Principal of the college, when contacted on the telephone, confirmed the “unfortunate happening”. He accused a member of the clerical staff of having “misused the money and not updated the data.”

The Principal said that he had mentioned the case of alleged misappropriation of funds to the Education Department at least twice but to no avail. “Seeing the fate of the students for no fault of theirs troubles me immensely, but there has been no administrative support,” he said.

The college has 16 posts. The Principal is the only confirmed member of the staff. The job of checking the records of candidates before drawing up a final list was allotted to different teachers. “A person connected with the compilation of the list of BA (II) has maintained that the entire data was checked before forwarding the list,” he added.

Mr Jasmer Singh said he hoped the offices concerned would do the needful to help the students and save their academic year.


Copying leads to paper cancellation
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 4
The Punjab School Education Board has cancelled the social science paper of the middle class examination held at two different centres in Punjab due to reports of mass copying there.

Mr Baldev Singh Mann, Deputy Secretary of the Middle Cell, alleged that staff of Baba Budha Government High School, Teja, Gurdaspur, helped students in mass copying and threatened the centre Superintendent during the social science paper on March 31.

The re-examination of the paper would now be held at Government Senior Secondary School, Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur on April 8.

Similarly, due to reports of mass copying during the social science paper at Government Senior Secondary School, Bassi, Kapurthala, the re-examination would be held at Government Senior Secondary School, Phulakh, Kapurthala, on April 8. The papers at both centres would be held from 9 a.m to 12 noon.

Meanwhile, the board has cancelled the matric paper of science held at Government High School (Ghuman-1) Gurdaspur, on March 24. Similarly, the 10+2 paper of biology general foundation course held on March 24 at Government Secondary School (Kurali-1), Ropar, and the 10+2 paper of business statistics and maths paper held at Government Senior Secondary Nadhala, Kapurthala, on March 30 had been cancelled.


Punjab to open model schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab government has decided to open two senior secondary model schools, one for boys and the other for girls, in each education block to provide good education to students after Class VIII. This was stated in a press note after a meeting the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had held here today.

Parents with an annual income of less than Rs 50,000 will be able to send their children to these schools. Brilliant students of the scheduled castes and the backward classes securing the first division in Class VIII or X will get a scholarship of Rs 200 per month. For them, admission will be on priority.

Pending full implementation, a school in each education block will be upgraded and designated a model school with good teachers posted there for a period of at least five years. The medium of instruction will be English.


Punjab to protect local industry
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 4
The Punjab Government would frame a protectionist policy for safe guarding agriculture, agro-industries and indigenous industries in view of the WTO pact and free exim policy, according to Sohan Singh Thandal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab.

Dairy and poultry farming would also be protected, he said today. The issue of imposing heavy duties on agro-related exported items had already been taken up with the Centre, he claimed.

He admitted that the WTO agreement could hit agro-based industry and other indigenous industries.

He said complete arrangements had been made for wheat procurement. About, 1,626 purchasing centres had been set up in the state for the purpose, he added.

He said 125 lakh metric tonne wheat was expected to be purchased, while the total production was likely to be 145 lakh metric tonne.

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