Saturday, April 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




PUTA seeks audience with Joshi, CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 6
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today sought an audience with the Union Human Resource Development Minister and the Punjab Chief Minister. The two are visiting the university tomorrow to discuss the situation on the campus, even as the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, rebutted the allegations levelled on him by Pradesh Congress president Amarinder Singh, saying that it was a politically motivated attack.

The PUTA president, Dr B.S. Khaira, and secretary, Dr Balwinder Singh, said the association had sent fax messages to both the Union Minister and the Chief Minister in this regard. They said earlier they had informed the university Chancellor and Punjab Governor J.F.R. Jacob of the various “violations and irregularities” being committed by the Vice-Chancellor.

They also extended their support to the students in their fight against the victimisation of student leaders. Cautioning the Vice-Chancellor against playing with the sentiments and careers of the students, they said former campus unit president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad Sandeep Kapoor was being victimised with his fifth semester result in the law course being delayed.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor stated that Capt Amarinder Singh had reacted against him because he had not allowed an election rally of the Congress party on the campus during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

In a separate statement six senators of the University — Dr M.S. Setia, Prof P.K. Singla, Dr D.S. Dhillon, Mr Pitambar Dutt, Mr Anil Bajaj and Dr B.M. Singh — said the Tohra group of the Akali Dal and the Congress should desist from making the university an arena for their political activity. They said baseless allegations were being levelled against the Vice-Chancellor.

They also accused the PUTA Executive of submitting a baseless memorandum to the university Chancellor and termed the issue as a conspiracy hatched by the Congress and the Tohra group to spoil the peaceful atmosphere in the university.

The Teachers Welfare Front of the university in another statement claimed that controversies were being raised by a small section of the teaching faculty and some outsiders.

The Organisation of Punjabi University Students claimed PUTA was playing a negative role on the campus in a memorandum to the university Chancellor, according to its Chairman Bhupinder Singh Cheema.


VC flays Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, today criticised the Punjab PCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, for his “outburst” against him and the university.

In a statement issued here, he said there was a definite background to Capt Amarinder Singh’s “outburst”.

At the time of parliamentary elections in Punjab, the PCC chief had announced a political meeting on September 1, 1999, on the campus to address teachers and students. He put his foot down on the proposed political meeting for he did not want the university atmosphere to become surcharged by political meetings of different parties. The matter was reported to the Election Commission Observer, Mr P.M. Kuriakose.

Ultimately, in the face of the firm opposition, the Congress election campaign meeting was held outside the campus, across the road, but in the process, he earned the displeasure of Capt Amarinder Singh.

As regards his (VC’s) closeness to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to which the Congress chief had objected, “I want to stress that I am steadfast, and do not change my ideological commitments and allegiances unlike some leaders who, while in the Congress, keep closeness with the mainstream Akali Dal and when in the Akali Dal, strengthen their closeness with the Congress. That is why such political leaders are called ‘deputationists’ from one political party to another.”


3 units trip; power crisis deepens
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
The power crisis in Punjab, which has been witnessing unscheduled and unannounced power cuts for the past one month, further deepened when three units of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) tripped today afternoon.

Official sources said three units of the GNDTP, having capacities of 110 MW each, tripped when some of the transmission lines developed fault at about 1.50 p.m.

The units were recommissioned at about 4.30 p.m. The fourth unit of the GNDP had been shut down for repair.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities had already been facing problems to meet the ever-increasing demand of power and it had started drawing power from the central pool despite the fact that the paddy season was yet to arrive.

Yesterday, one 210 MW unit of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) also tripped when there was ‘mishandling’ of the isolator and the breaker at the grid located at Barnala.

The sources added that one unit of the GNDTP, one unit of the GHTP and two units of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) had been shut down for annual maintenance.

The generation of power from the hydro electric project was very less as the water level in Bhakra Dam Pong Dam was very low.

The power crisis has already forced the industrialists of the state to rationalise their operations and the farmers have been running their tubewells on diesel pumps to irrigate their fields in the past.

Earlier, two units of the GNDTP got tripped on March 25 and plunged the state into a deep power crisis.

Power generation from the recently inaugurated Ranjit Sagar Dam had already stopped due to low level of water in the reservoir.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that unscheduled and unannounced power cuts had made the supply of drinking water erratic and rural folks had to drink underground water drawn by hand pumps which had been declared unfit for human consumption. 


Admn gears up for wheat purchase
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 6
The Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anirudh Tiwari, has ordered all officers and employees of various government procurement agencies not to leave their stations without prior permission during the current wheat procurement season.

Addressing a meeting of the representatives of procurement agencies, secretaries of the Market committees and the SDMs held to review the arrangements for the procurement of wheat here yesterday. Mr Tiwari also said that negligence by officials of procurement agencies in the wheat procurement would not be tolerated. He said strict action would be taken against the officials responsible for carelessness.

The Deputy Commissioner also instructed the officers to purchase wheat, brought in the grain markets. He said the procurement agencies would purchase wheat of the current season as well as of the previous season.

Mr Tiwari added the administration would ensure the procurement of the wheat as per the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government. He also asked the procurement agencies to make prior arrangements for the storage of wheat, gunny bags and tarpaulins etc.

The Deputy Commissioner said the administration now had opened 202 purchase centres besides 17 main yards and 28 sub-yards for the wheat crop procurement in this season. He said it had also ensured proper arrangements of light and drinking water in the procurement centres.

On this occasion, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, Sangrur, said in all grain markets, policemen had been deployed to maintain law and order. He also said that nobody would be allowed to jam traffic. He also assured that the police would extend every type of assistance in the current wheat procurement season.

Meanwhile, Mr Tiwari also stated that the arrival of the wheat had started in the grain markets. He said nine tonnes of wheat arrived in Sunam so far.

Relief for farmers
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 6
To improve the economic condition of farmers, steps are being taken to sell their produce in the international market for which Rs 50 crore have been provided in the Budget to compensate losses suffered against the sale of vegetables.


MLA’s kin, 4 others held for liquor smuggling
Jupinderjit Singh and Iqbal Singh

Ludhiana, April 6
Rampant smuggling of liquor in the district in the wake of the stalemate of the auction of vends due to a feud between two Akali Ministers is assuming serious proportions as now even influential people have allegedly resorted to illegal selling of liquor.

The Khanna police booked five persons, including a kin of high-profile liquor contractor and sitting Congress MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon at Samrala here today. The persons were arrested in special raids by the police as reports of sale of spurious liquor which allegedly led to the death of six persons yesterday in Samrala.

Those arrested were Baljit Singh (close relative of Mr Dhillon ) and four other persons namely — Gian Chand, Surjit Singh, Surinder Singh, and Baljinder Singh. The SHO Samrala police station said the accused were selling liquor from a tempo near the GT road when they were caught red-handed.

The police has impounded the tempo PB-10-AH-9985. It has also seized 55 bottles of country-made liquor, 24 bottles of Aristocrat and Bagpiper and 18 bottles of beer from their possession.

Meanwhile, a joint team of the police and district administration also visited the aggrieved families of the victims of the yesterday’s hooch tragedy. Unconfirmed reports said that the administration was trying to cover up the deaths as caused due to excessive drinking and not due to spurious liquor. Sources said that the team headed by SDM Sandeep Hans and DSP Sham Sunder also took written statement of the families in this connection.

It may be recalled here that six persons had died in hooch tragedy in Samrala yesterday. The tragedy only reaffirmed the fears of the administration that the non-auctioning of the liquor vends in the district due to controversy between the two Akali Ministers Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha. Even media reports had higlighted the smuggling of liquor and sale of spurious liquor as the vends were opened in few areas only thus encouraging smuggling in other areas where the Excise Department was running vends on their own.

The acute shortage of liquor can be gauged from the fact that long queues of liquor lovers can be seen outside the vends. 


Istri Akali Dal to motivate J&K ultras
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 6
Activists of the Shiromani Istri Akali Dal has decided to motivate the militants to give up bloodshed and join the mainstream.

The leadership of the dal will invite wives of the heads of different militants’ organisations in Jammu and Kashmir along with other prominent women at its conference to be held here on April 12.

Dr Shawinder Kaur Johal, president and Ms Harjeet Kaur, general secretary, talking to the TNS today said influential women from Pakistan would also be invited to motivate the country to desist from becoming a nuclear power.

The agenda of the conference also includes fighting against social evils like dowry and drug addiction.

Efforts will be made to generate a public opinion for more respect to women in society and reducing crime against them.

She said the Shiromani Istri Akali Dal, which had always supported the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) in the elections, would also honour the women who had participated in various ‘morchas’ organised by ‘Akalis’. She said the conference would be religious, social and political in one go. Sant Daler Singh Kheriwala and Sant Hardev Singh Lallowaliwale would participate in the conference, she added. 


Officials overstaying in govt houses
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Can government officials treat their government residences as their permanent “jagirs” and cause huge losses to the state exchequer? Yes, if one goes by instances in Jalandhar, Amritsar and other districts headquarters of Punjab, where scores of senior officers are overstaying in government houses, for months and years, even after their transfer to other stations.

Investigations carried out by The Tribune revealed that encouraged by the alleged indifference of the authorities and lack of penal action, most government officers are ‘flouting’ the norms, under the rules, any government officer can overstay in his official accommodation for a-two-month period, which is extendable to six months by the Chairman of the House Allotment Committee at the respective district or divisional headquarters.

However, according to information available with The Tribune, a large number of senior officers violate the Public Premises Act by retaining their sprawling bungalows even after their transfer to other places since they feel that there is nobody to get the houses vacated from them.

The most glaring example of “unauthorised” occupation of government accommodation is the case of Mr Jang Bahadur Goyal, the former Commissioner of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, who was transferred by the Punjab Government to Chandigarh as Director, Local Bodies, Punjab, about 10 months ago. It is alleged that Mr Goyal, who had joined as the Commissioner of the civic body in 1998, occupied a government house, 10-B in Baradari here after assuming charge and also retained simultaneous possession of a huge bungalow, Corporation House, in Adarsh Nagar till the joining of his successor, Mr B.C. Thakur. This bungalow belonged to the civic body. Simultaneous retention of two government accommodations by hin has caused huge losses to the state exchequer.

According to a senior officer, the established practice was that if a government officer wanted to retain a particular house, he vacated the other one. Interestingly, it is learnt that the house (10-B) was allotted by the authorities to the Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA, Mr H.S. Nanda, in early 1998, but Mr Goyal allegedly refused to vacate it and the former had to shift to another house.

Mr Goyal was not available for comments, but the Deputy Commissioner Mr K. Shiva Prasad, admitted that the former was ‘overstaying’ in his official accommodation.

Informed sources in the administration said any officer retaining a government accommodation beyond six months was liable to be charged rent at the market rate, which in case of B-type houses was estimated to be around Rs 20,000-25,000 per month. The Public Premises Act specifies that if any employee refuses to vacate the house voluntarily, the administration can get it evicted forcibly. However, such a step had never been taken by the authorities.

Another officer in this category is Mr Tulsi Ram, a Punjab Police SP, who was transferred from Jalandhar to Kapurthala about seven months ago. However, he is allegedly still retaining the sprawling government house here. Similarly, Mr Amarjit Singh, the Deputy Director, Food and Civil Supplies, Jalandhar, had been transferred to Ferozepore about a year ago, but he allegedly retained the same house for about a year, though he was shifted back to Jalandhar in January this year.

Besides, some IPS officers, who have been posted with the PAP, where sufficient accommodation is available, are putting up in PWD houses in Baradari since they ‘prefer’ to live in the heart of the city.

The practice of overstaying in government houses is prevalent in Amritsar also, it is learnt. Sources said Jaspal Singh, the current Special Land Acquisition Officer, was shifted to Moga and Jalandhar as GA to DC and the DDPO, Jalandhar, respectively after 1995-96, but he allegedly had never vacated his government house.

Similarly, a number of PCS officers in various districts in Punjab were enjoying dual accommodations — the one which was given to them when they were posted at the district headquarters and the other which they have got in the form of SDM’s residence-cum-offices at Subdivisional headquarters.

Mr K. Shiva Prasad admitted that no eviction notices had been served on any senior officer in Jalandhar. “We have, however, issued such notices to 10-15 junior employees like clerks and teachers,” he added.


Efforts on to unite splinter Akali factions
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 6
Efforts to unite the four splinter Akali groups have been intensified and the mediators are hopeful of achieving the mission in the near future. The efforts have been initiated by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president, Gurmat Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj which represents more than 150 sants of Punjab.

The four Akali groups are namely the All-India Akali Dal led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the Akali Dal (Panthic) led by Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode and the Akali Dal (Democratic) led by Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi held a meeting with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann here yesterday and impressed upon them the need for uniting the Akali Dal factions to save “eroding” Sikh traditions. Baba Bedi is understood to have made aware the two leaders that Sikh institutions like the Akal Takht were being denigrated and the Sikh youth was becoming “pat it” and there was a need to launch a campaign to save the Sikh institutions and the Sikh traditions.

The two leaders Mr Tohra and Mr Mann are understood to have expressed solidarity with Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi and assured him that they would be willing to have cooperation of all Sikh organisations.

Baba Bedi told the Tribune today that he was confident of the unity of the Akali Dal factions as there was agreement in principle that the unity should be achieved at all costs.

Baba Bedi said that he would be meeting the other Sikh leaders namely Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode and Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala soon to clinch the issue. He went to meet Mr Ravi Inder Singh at Chandigarh yesterday but he was away. However, Baba Bedi said that Mr Ravi Inder Singh would also be a part of the unity.

Baba Bedi said that it was decided at yesterday’s meeting that all at Talwandi Sabo on April 13 would celebrate the Baisakhi festival. He said that modalities would be finalised on the return of Mr Tohra from foreign tour.

Baba Bedi denied reports in a section of the press that he would be heading the united Akali Dal and said there was no truth in such reports nor was he interested in becoming the president of the Akali Dal. He said that the Sant Samaj would work for the spread of gurbani and save the Sikh youth from being ‘pat it’. The Sant Samaj would make efforts to save the Sikh traditions and institutions which were being destroyed.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar) when contacted by The Tribune confirmed that they met at Ludhiana at the residence of Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general secretary of the Akali Dal and discussed the prospects of unity of the four Akali factions. Mr Mann said they would meet again after Baisakhi to decide about modalities. He also confirmed that they would hold a joint stage at Damdama Sahib on April 13.

The Tribune has learnt that the Akali factions are likely to unite before the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha are announced in the state.

These Akali factions will work in collaboration with the Sant Samaj led by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi who has sizeable following in the state. There are more than 150 sants associated with the Sant Samaj headed by Baba Bedi and has strong following among the Sikhs and other sections of the population of Punjab.

When Mr Mann’s attention was drawn towards the statement of CPM general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet expressing reservations over the participation of the Akali factions in the third front Mr Mann reminded Mr Surjeet,“It was Mr Surjeet who drafted and passed the resolution for Khalistan in 1944 by the Communist Party of India. Mr Surjeet had been changing his stand and had never stuck to one position. Even Mr Surjeet also had his links with the militants, said Mr Mann. We are fighting for our rights and cannot be labelled as communal,” he said. 


Amarinder for House dissolution by May 15
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 6
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Captain Amarinder Singh has reiterated that despite several denials by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he will recommend the dissolution of state Assembly around May 15, after the completion of election process in some states and mid-term elections for Punjab Vidhan Sabha could be conducted in the middle of June this year.

Addressing a news conference at Sutlej Club here, before addressing a state-level protest rally of the Congress at Noormahal today, Captain Amarinder Singh said that people should take opposite of what Mr Badal says as he was in the habit of going against his words. He appealed to Congress men to be united and ready for polls which could be announced at any time. On preparations of the Congress for Vidhan Sabha elections, Congress president said the Congress could make election alliance or election adjustment with any anti-Akali-BJP like-minded parties including the CPM.

Reiterating his stand against the use of Electronic Voting Machines in elections, Congress president said a panel of seven lawyers of the Congress would move high court to prevent the use or misuse of EVMs in elections. He claimed that software engineers engaged by the Congress could prove tampering of EVMs.

When asked whether the Congress could make an adjustment with the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress chief said, yet we have not received any offer but the Congress could consider it whenever it received. Captain Amarinder Singh claimed complete unity in the Congress and said he would meet senior Congress leader Moti Lal Vora after finalising new appointments in the Punjab Pradesh Congress. He did not answer a question on ignoring Congress leaders Harnam Dass Johar and Rakesh Pandey for the preparations of proposed Congress rally at Ludhiana on April 11.

PPCC president alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was misleading the people on the whereabouts of top terrorist Wassan Singh Zaffarwal. He said that Zaffarwal’s aides from Switzerland confirmed his presence in Punjab in a section of press.

He expressed apprehensions on the statement of Akal Federation chief Kanwar Singh Dhami today that he had resemblance with Zaffarwal and some persons, including a police officer took me as Zaffarwal. On BJP Minister Balramji Dass Tandon’s close relations and business partnership of Tehelka episode hero and RSS worker Raj Kumar Gupta, Captain Amarinder Singh said that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Tandon are keeping mum and now only a high-level CBI probe could reveal the truth. He said integrity of the Bharatiya Janata Party had been exposed by Tehelka.

The Captain did not rule out the revival of terrorism in Punjab and said that problems of unemployment, corruption, farming, industries, traders, agriculture have increased day by day which could fuel disturbance of peace in the state. On a question about WTO agreement Captain Amarinder Singh said that the BJP government could withdraw itself from the agreement with a three-month notice if it was harmful. Congress leaders Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Charanjit Singh Channi, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Amarjit Singh Samra, Harjit Singh Parmar, Gurwinder Singh Atwal, Jai Krishan Saini were also present on this occasion.

Meanwhile factionalism in the Congress was witnessed when Mr Santosh Singh ex-MLA from Phillaur brought the Captain to Landhrra guest house before reaching the scheduled programme of Sutlej Club Phillaur which could begin half an hour behind the schedule. Supporters of Mr Gurwinder Singh Atwal and Mr Santokh Singh met PPCC president separately and voiced grievances against each other.


Fight graft, AIFDY urges youth
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 6
Participants at the first all-India two-day conference of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) here today gave a clarion call to the youth to fight against the present corrupt, unjust and exploitative system for bringing about positive, just and socialistic change in the country.

The inaugural session of the conference was presided over by Mr D.Vijay from Andhra Pradesh, Mr Virender Chaudhary from Rajasthan, Mr Naseer Shah from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Raja Babu from Bihar, and Mr Malkiat Singh from Punjab.

About 200 delegates from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, West Bengal and Chandigarh are participating.

Mr Jagjit Singh Layallpuri, General Secretary of the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI), opposed globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation, saying that it would not only ruin the country but also prove fatal for the farming sector and peasantry.

He called upon the leaders of the AIFDY to make available sources of recreation like libraries and rich cultural events besides progressive ideology to the youth of this country so that they would not be drawn towards vulgar culture, bad drinking habits and obscene films.

Those who addressed the conference included Mr D.Vijay, Mr Virender Chaudhary, Mr Tara Keshwar Tiwari from Rajasthan, Mr D.C. Verma from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Parsad Rao from Hyderabad, Mr Kiranjeet Singh Sekhon and Mr Tejwant Mann from Punjab.


Mad rush for police recruitment forms
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, April 6
The recent advertisement of the Punjab police for the recruitment of constables in the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) has created a mad rush for application forms among unemployed youth.

Interestingly, the total number of vacancies to be filled have not been indicated in the advertisement and this is reportedly the main reason for the sale of such a large number of forms. Also, as the minimum educational requirement is matriculation, a large number of youths are qualified to apply.

Though the state government had announced a blanket ban on all types of recruitments, it was lifted with the announcement of the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, recently.

Mr Rajdeep Singh Babbar (name changed) alleged that the government had initiated the fresh recruitments with an eye on elections.

When the posts were advertised, it was stated that graduates or those with higher qualifications would be given 10 extra marks (out of a total of 160).

This has led many graduates and even postgraduates to make a scramble for application forms, which are available at the SSP’s office for Rs 30 each.

The earlier notice was amended and the benefit of higher qualifications to graduates and postgraduates was withdrawn, reducing the maximum marks of the test to 150 from 160.

Lakhs of students, who had earlier applied for various posts advertised by the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB), the Directorate of Rural Development and Panchayats (DRDP), Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation (PUNSUP), the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and many other departments, have been awaiting the results for the past few years.

Nikhil Bansal (name changed) lamented that he had applied for many competitive exams but the process has been sabotaged at one stage or the other. “The test for DSPs was postponed in October, 1999, and a fresh date is yet to be announced. The government collects the applications and the suspends the process, with the result that the future of candidates hangs in the balance. I fear the same will happen with these vacancies also”, he lamented.

Police sources added that there were a total of five IRB battalions in the state and the sixth was to be created after the new recruitment process was completed. The number of forms sold in the state would cross 75,000, it is estimated.

Senior police officials, however, were non-committal about the time likely to be taken for the completion of the recruitment process. 


Residents ‘suffer’ VIP’s visit
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Tight security arrangements for Rajya Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Badal caused much inconvenience to residents fo Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar here today where a large number of Akali leaders waited for hours to garland and have a glimpse of their leader.

The police remained on its toes. The security arrangements for the junior Badal were more or less unprecedented. What caused inconvenience to the people was the unannounced traffic restrictions imposed by uncourteous policemen on roads and narrow lanes of the locality. Mr Baral was to visit Mr Gurbaksh Lal Montoo, a senior Youth Akali Dal leader. All roads in the area were under siege hours before the visit of Mr Badal. Vehicle owners had to take long alternative routes to reach their homes.


Mobile vet services paralysed
Gurbax Puri

Tarn Taran
The mobile veterinary services started by the Punjab Government to provide veterinary facilities in the border and the rural areas have come to a standstill as the Tata Mobile vans provided for the purpose have become unserviceable for the last two years. The drivers of these vehicles these days have no work and sit idle.

According to sources in the Animal Husbandry Department, due to efforts by the then Animal Husbandry Minister for Punjab, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, this facility was started to provide veterinary services in the rural and border areas. Tata Mobile vans were provided for this purpose to the subdivision-level veterinary hospitals being run by the government. These services had proved helpful for the people of Khemkaran, Khalra, Valtoha, Ajnala and other border areas, including rural areas as well.

After a while these vans demanded repairs but the government did not release any funds for this purpose. However, the local authorities had spend a minor amount for the repairs of these vehicles from their own sources. But about two year back these vehicles needed a major overhauling but due to lack of funds nothing was done and as a result these vans became immobile.

These mobile vans at Civil Veterinary Hospitals at Amritsar, Ajnala, Patti as well as in this town were standing idle.

This matter would become more effective when a report in this regard comes from Ajnala, the Assembly constituency which is being represented by the Animal Husbandry Minister, Dr Rattan Singh, as the van of this veterinary hospital too is standing immobile.

The Punjab Government had not released any fund for the repair of these vehicles for the last three years.

In the present situation the van belonging to Baba Bakala was the only vehicle which was in a mobile condition.


Pak to open 3 more shrines for devotees
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Three Pakistani gurdwaras, including Kartarpur Sahib, near the Indo-Pakistan border, Mata Sahib Kaur shrine and Gurdwara Dera Baba Karm Singh Hotimardan, will be opened to devotees for ‘darshan’ for the first time after partition on the demand of Sikhs.

This was stated by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, former President, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee. He said he would send to Pakistan a jatha of 1200 by train on April 9. At least 120 devotees would reach Pakistan by air from New Delhi.

More than 3,000 devotees would go to Pakistan on behalf of the SGPC which a jatha of 500 would leave for Lahore on behalf of the Mardana Society led by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar.

After a gap of two years, the SGPC has decided to send a jatha to Pakistan.


SGPC bid to attach farmer’s property foiled
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 6
Activists of the Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) foiled attempts by members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to attach the property of a farmer, Mr Gurdial Singh, Bhaini Bhagha village, near here, last night.

Tension between the SGPC and BKU activists was defused till April 9, and to sort out the matter a meeting has been arranged between the BKU (E) and the SGPC at Amritsar. To attend the meeting state vice-president of the union Mr Ruldu Singh along with 12 other senior leaders of the union would go to Amritsar. The BKU (E) foiled two attempts, to attach the same property earlier also.

Sources said that the members of the task force of the SGPC accompanied by the Naib Tehsildar of Mansa, Ms Balvir Kaur reached the village, 10 km from here, to attach the property of Mr Gurdial Singh. In the meantime activists of BKU (E) gathered at the gurdwara of the village and stalled the proceedings after reaching at the office of the patwari. The BKU (E) activists forced the SGPC out of the village.

Ms Balvir Kaur, naib tehsildar, was quoted as saying that she was deputed by the courts to attach the property. But villagers did not listen to her and shouted slogans against her. Sources said that the entire dispute dates back to 1968-69 when Mr Gurdial Singh, Pritam Singh and Devinder Singh, were the members of the Gurdwara Committee.

The historical gurdwara, Rakabpur, has got farm land and a portion of that was given on rent to the owner of a brick kiln. But the committee had decided to charge rent in terms of bricks rather than cash.

The residents pointed out that the bricks were used to construct school, veterinary hospital and a dispensary in the village.

Two years after the incident a senior official of the SGPC went to the court to get compensation of the bricks, and out of the three members, two, namely, Pritam Singh and Davinder Singh managed to get acquitted from the case and the third, Gurdial Singh could not do so due to poverty and illiteracy.

The court decided in favour of the SGPC and asked Mr Gurdial Singh to give Rs 8.77 lakh as compensation. The task force of the SGPC has come to recover that amount. Mr Gurdial Singh died six years ago and is survived by four sons.


Leaders’ tussle delays construction
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 6
Tussle between some local political leaders and the district administration has delayed the construction of the district administrative complex here as one of the supporters of these leaders has filed a writ petition against this project in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which granted stay on its construction.

The district needs this complex as almost all government offices are scattered in and around various localities. People have to face a lot of inconvenience while getting their works done at different offices. Moreover, the buildings of various government offices are in dilapidated condition. Most of the buildings have already declared unsafe.

The district administration had proposed to construct the complex over 7.56 acres of land near the local DAV College on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road. Five acres of the zila parishad land, where an old orchard was existing, was transferred to the Revenue Department and the remaining acquired from private sources. The PUDA has been authorised to construct this project worth Rs 20 crore.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, told this correspondent that the complex would have administrative block, security block, treasury block and judicial block. 


No idols damaged, feud was personal: panel
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 6
In a press statement issued here today, Mr Harjit Singh, president, Geeta Bhavan Committee, Shehna, Mr Gursharanjit Singh, sarpanch, Shehna village, Mr Mohan Lal and Mr Lajpat Rai, members of the Geeta Bhavan Committee, have clarified that no harm had been caused to idols in a Shiva temple, Gita Bhavan and idols of Goddess Durga as the April 4 incident was not an act of ‘sacrilege’ or ‘communal disharmony’.

Mr Harjit Singh and Mr Gursharanjit Singh claimed here today that the breaking of the door of the room of Hari Krishan Sharma, a priest of the temple in the Gita Bhavan Complex, was part of a game plan of Jagseer Singh Seera and Hari Krishan to scare away Roshan, who was tipped as a replacement for Hari Krishan as the priest of the temple.

Jagseer Singh had only torn off a calender of Goddess Durga and hit the door of Hari Krishan’s room and had not entered the temple room where the idols were kept.

Jagseer and Hari Krishan knew each other well and had therefore made a plan to upset Roshan, who had become a strong contender for the post of priest. Mr Harjit Singh further clarified that in his capacity as president of the Geeta Bhavan Committee, Shehna, he had lodged a complaint against Jagseer Singh as it was a case of personal enmity.

Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, SSP, Barnala, informed The Tribune here today that the police had rounded up Jagseer. The idols in the Shiva temple or Geeta Bhavan were fully intact.


Punjab Secretariat to be computerised in 3 months
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 6
The Punjab Secretariat, Chandigarh, will be fully computerised within the next three months. This was disclosed by Mr Sat Pal Saini, Minister for Information Technology and Administrative Reforms, while talking to this correspondent here today.

He said computerisation at all district headquarters in the state had already been done while computerisation of the Excise and Taxation and Revenue departments was being done. He said the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had been computerised while work in this regard was in progress in the Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar Corporations.

He said with the computerisation the working of the offices had improved to a great extent.

Mr Saini said the Punjab Government had decided to form clusters consisting of at least 10 villages each and attach them with the focal points of their respective areas to provide accountability to the public in every respect.

With this setting, all types of information relating to the cases of the public in their respective areas of focal points would be provided by the authorities concerned.


Devi Lal’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, expressed his profound grief and sorrow over the death of a former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Devi Lal.

Describing him as a versatile genius, true nationalist, seasoned politician, a messiah of masses and an ardent champion of the farming community, Mr Badal said in his death the country had lost an illustrious son.

Mr Badal conveyed his heartfelt sympathies to Mr Om Parkash Chautala and other members of his family and also to the people of Haryana.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, chief of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, also mourned the death of Mr Devi Lal in Delhi today.

Mr Om Prakash Chautala, said in a statement issued here today that in the death of Mr Devi Lal, not only the people of Haryana, but the entire nation, especially the farmers and those belonging to the weaker sections of society had lost a messiah.

Mr Chautala, elder son of Mr Devi Lal, was touring Kaithal when he received the news of the death. Punjab Governor and UT Administrator J.F.R. Jacob expressing shock, said in the death of Mr Devi Lal, India had lost a messiah of farmers.


Sukhbir Badal inaugurates water scheme
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 6
The Member, Rajya Sabha and General Secretary, Akali Dal (Badal), Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today ruled out the possibility of early elections to state assembly. He said the SAD-BJP combine would complete its term.

Talking to mediapersons today at Paramjitpur village in Sultanpur-Lodhi, he said the Youth Akali Dal would be reorganised soon by the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He also ruled out the possibility of any compromise with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

On implementation of GATT agreement, he admitted it would affect interests of farmers.

Mr Badal inaugurated the drinking water scheme which would benefit five nearby villages. He also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the development of Guru Nanak Stadium at Sultanpur-Lodhi.

Punjab Transport Minister, Mr Raghbir Singh and Urban Housing and Development Minister, Ms Upinderjit Kaur, were also present on the occasion.


Roads to get facelift
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 6
Roads in the district will soon get a facelift and Rs 2.75 crore will be spent for patch works and the link roads of Nathana-Bhagta-Bagha Purana and Slabatpura-Phul-Maur Mandi will be widened. The Chief Minister has directed the authorities of the PWD to identify the roads in need of repair.


Cotton likely to yield more profit
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 6
Businessmen dealing with cotton of this region are expecting to earn more profit in the next kharif season as they are expecting that the area under cotton cultivation would increase this year.

The cotton crop, which had taken a back seat in the area during the past few years due to the adopting of paddy cultivation by the farmers, is expected to get back its earlier position. Cotton, which was considered a profitable crop not only by the farmers but also by the businessmen received a setback when paddy was introduced in the area.

Mr Fateh Chand Sharma, the President of the Northern India Cotton Association Limited said the lowering of the ground water in the region had forced the farmers to change the trend of paddy-wheat rotation. He said the farmers had lost interest in paddy cultivation because of low profit.

He said the area under cotton cultivation in Mukatsar, Kotkapura and Bartwala regions would be more than the previous year as the problem of waterlogging, which had gripped these regions, had been solved to a large extent.


Mob gheraoes police station
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
The Assistant Sub-Inspector and in charge, Verka police station, Mr Randhir Singh, had to flee when an irate mob gheraoed the police station for more than two hours due to the alleged ‘inaction’ of the police to book the owner of a marriage palace here today. The mob was protesting against the burning of two women in the marriage palace.

Residents of Khushipur Khurd Kotla village blocked traffic on the main Amritsar-Batala road and raised slogans against the Punjab police for not arresting the owners and waiters of the marriage palace where two women were burnt alive while attending a wedding ceremony a few days ago. The residents of the village alleged that the women Jagdish Kaur (40), mother of five daughters and a son, and her relative Baljinder Kaur (24) died due to putting of ‘thinner’ on a stove at the dining table in the presence of the owner of the marriage palace.

The Sarpanch of the village, Mr Kuldip Singh, Mr Jagwant Singh, local leader of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Peer Mohammad) and Mr Kulwant Singh alleged that the body of one of the victims was still lying in DMC Ludhiana as the Verka police had filed a “wrong FIR” to favour the owner of the marriage palace.


Munim’ withdraws 4 lakh by fraud
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, April 6
A fraud allegedly committed by an employee of an iron store in connivance with employees of a branch of Punjab National Bank here has come to light.

Police sources said the suspect, Sunil Kumar, working as “munim” in an iron shop here, allegedly managed to withdraw Rs 4 lakh from the bank from the account of Mr Faqir Chand, the owner of the shop through cheques.

The sources added that Sunil Kumar got this money withdrawn through 23 cheques which he managed to procure. The suspect used to put forged signature of Mr Faqir Chand on the cheques and withdraw the money. The sources added that in a complaint made to the police Mr Faqir Chand alleged that Sunil Kumar in connivance with the bank employees had committed the fraud. He added that the signatures on the cheques through which the money had been withdrawn were entirely different from his signature.

After this fraud came to light, a section of the traders, who are perturbed over this development, have started checking their accounts to ensure that there is no such bungling.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, SP(D), Faridkot, said the police had been investigating the matter and would take action according to the findings of the investigations.

He added that all cheques through which the money had been withdrawn had been sent to experts to verify the signatures.

He added that the rules laid down for withdrawing money were also being scanned to find out who was responsible for passing the cheques for making payments when these were presented at the counter by Sunil Kumar.

He said in the complaint, Mr Faqir Chand had not named any bank employee in this fraud and hence it was very difficult to judge at the moment whether any bank employee was involved in the case or not.

Earlier, in another bank fraud, a clerk of the State Bank of Patiala, who was addicted to lottery “satta”, managed to defraud the bank of lakhs of rupees in Jaitu town of this district. 


Bathinda as coaching centre
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 6
The city which, according to the 1991 census, has been described as “educationally backward” and “the most ill-iterate district” of the state has recently emerged as the main ‘coaching centre’ of the region. A large number of coaching centres, academies and tuition centres have mushroomed here in the recent post.

To cash in on the trend, college lecturers are also not lagging behind in the race to make a quick buck.

But contrary to the popular belief, there are also some dedicated people who are running coaching centres not to mint money, but to help students.

In a unique attempt, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), United Welfare Society, of the city has started imparting free coaching to the students who are to appear in the Joint Entrance Test (JET) to be conducted by the Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training.

Mr Vijay Bhatt, president of the society, said although there were a number of coaching centres in the city, but such a facility should be made available to those who could not afford to pay for the same.

“The students, most of whom have just appeared in the matriculation examination, are lured by fancy advertisements of coaching centres and end up paying through their nose, Mr Bhatt added.

We want to check this trend and that is why we have launched free coaching for JET by our team of qualified teachers for the third year in a row”, added Mr Bhatt.

Mr Bhatt said all expenses, including advertising, books, building and furniture, would be met by the society.

No fee would be charged from the students although voluntary donations were welcome.


Staff scarcity hits SBP functioning
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 6
Staff scarcity has hit the State Bank of Patiala with various offices and branches wearing a deserted look post the VRS (voluntary retirement scheme), forcing the authorities to initiate a redeployment exercise to rationalise postings according to workload.

As many as 600 clerical staff members, including a least a hundred peons, have taken voluntary retirement under the VRS, besides 306 officers. The bank has lost clerical staff in branches where it needed them the most and where it will be difficult to transfer others. In the officers’ category, it has lost senior officers involved in the decision-making process, including two Deputy General Managers, 12 Assistant General Managers, 48 Chief Managers and 92 Managers, besides 144 lower ranked officers.

This has left many offices and branches with a minimal staff and affected work. Sources say that the Internal audit system was on the brink of a collapse with single offices being assigned the job of concurrent auditor for three to four branches, reducing the system of concurrent audit to a farce. Monitoring and follow-up of borrowal accounts was also not possible due to a drastic cut in the strength at the branch level.

The bank authorities are in the process of shifting 100 clerical staff members and 60 officers from the head office situated here under a redeployment exercise after abolishing their posts. Sources said while the officers would join the new places of posting, the clerical staff may not do so as there is no provision to transfer them. The clerical staff may not opt for field postings defeating the purpose of the exercise.

The Bank General Manager, Planning and Development, Mr R.S. Nanda, said the staff was being posted to various head offices and zonal offices under the exercise. He was hopeful of a smooth shift-over claiming the Association of the Ward Staff was committed to the bank and it would not come in the way of such an exercise.

However, Bank Associate Banks Officers Association Secretary Amar Singh said though his association supported the redeployment exercise, some incentive must be given to the clerical staff posted out of the head office. He said they could be offered incentives in the form of more house rent allowance if needed.

He said it was imperative to effect the shift-over in a smooth manner or else the bank’s industrial relations would be affected. Mr Amar Singh said there was a shortage of clerical staff since 1992 with no recruitment since then. He said now with more staff choosing to leave the bank, it would be difficult to transfer staff members to problem branches. He said the Officers Association had demanded fresh recruitment after the VRS wherever needed.

Mr Amar Singh said to tackle the issue of increased burden on officers and the resulting frustration post the VRS, the bank should initiate promotions in all grades this month itself . He said besides officiating arrangements should be made in all vacancies till regular promotions were made and the bank should consider re-introduction of allowances withdrawn earlier.

Mr Amar Singh said there was an urgent need to strengthen the supervisory staff as a large number of officers had volunteered for retirement. He said with the depletion of strength at the branch level, maintenance of day-to-day services had become extremely difficult.

He said supervisors had to stay on till late in the evening and even attend office on Saturdays and Sundays. If this situation continued, it was bound to have a negative impact on the efficiency and morale of the employees.


MNCs launch direct marketing
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 6
Residents of this city, who are not used to the ‘metro-culture’ of door-to-door marketing are being taken by surprise by visiting teams of sales personnel marketing products of multinational companies (MNCs).

Although the trend of ‘home-delivery’ was introduced a few years ago in the city by some departmental stores, food outlets and electronics dealers, of late MNCs have also joined the race to capture their share of the market.

In the past few weeks, sales persons of about three MNCs have taken the city residents by surprise by going door to door to market their products, mostly ‘home use’ items.

The sales persons not only market their products, but also collect information about families as part of a market survey.

The questionnaire of a company, marketing their newly-launched washing powder, asked varied questions from consumers, including number of members living in the family, number of home appliances in use, educational level of the members of the family, monthly income, number of vehicles etc.

Ms Rashmi Arora, a housewife who recently met a team from an MNC marketing personal care products, said the marketing spree launched by the MNCs was good for the consumers who could try products before buying these, including getting free trial offers, and that too at their doorsteps. The market thus was a consumers’ market.

However, not all residents of the city are happy with the trend. Ms Aarti Ashok Bansal said sometimes sales persons visited at odd times. “If we find a complaint with the product, the dealers do not listen. Sometimes one is compelled to buy these products, even if we do not want,” she complained.

Enquiries by The Tribune revealed that teams of MNCs had visited almost all ‘potential’ areas of the city and had build a very good data base, probably also lifted from the 1996 telephone directory of the city.

The strategy adopted by these companies would mean good business to us in future, as the market ‘created or captured’ by the companies would lead to increased sales for us, said Mr Pardeep Ladi, proprietor of a departmental store in the city.

A professor of management and marketing at the Guru Kanshi Institute of Management Studies, Talwandi Sabo, commented on the trend saying, “Door-to-door marketing builds a sound rapport between a company and customers.

To build a strong brand loyality, mass media advertising coupled with these strategies work well.”

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