Monday, April 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Cabinet clears changes in panchayat Act
1.25 cr for memorial to Devi Lal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The Punjab Council of Ministers at its meeting held here today under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, expressed profound grief over the death of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal. Two minutes’ silence was observed as a mark of respect to the departed leader.

In a condolence resolution passed at the meeting, the council lauded the invaluable services rendered by Chaudhary Devi Lal to the nation in different capacities. The council unanimously decided that in view of the contribution of Devi Lal a suitable memorial should be built to him for which approval for incurring an expenditure of Rs 1.25 crore was given.

By another significant decision, the council gave its approval for amending Sections 99, 100, 100-A, 101-A, etc, of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, which will provide for:

(a) indirect elections of members of the Panchayat Samitis from amongst sarpanches to the extent of 50 per cent of the total number of seats meant for election

(b) an increase in the number of directly elected members to a maximum of 10 and a minimum of six and a decrease in the norm for determining a constituency for direct election from a population of 30,000 per constituency to 15,000 per constituency

(c) an increase in the total elected strength of members in a Samiti to a maximum of 20 and a minimum of 12

(d) a suitable amendment to the heading of Section 101-A

(e) the deletion of sub-section (2) of Section 101-A.

The council also gave its approval to the promulgation of an ordinance for carrying out the aforementioned amendments to the Act.

It was felt by the council that under the present dispensation, though there was a provision to provide appropriate employment to dependant children of government employees who died in harness, a lot of harassment was caused to the dependants due to procedural complications. Therefore, it was decided to formulate a comprehensive policy in order to streamline the system and procedure of induction of the dependant children of such employees. The draft policy in this regard would be brought before the council for its approval shortly.

The council also gave its approval to notifications on the following service rules:

— Punjab Tourism (Punjab Tourism-Head Office, Group C) Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Tourism (Tourism-Field Staff, Group C) Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Tourism (Punjab Tourism-Head Office, Group B) Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums (Group B) Non-Ministerial Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums (Group C) Non-Ministerial Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums (Group B) Ministerial Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums (Group C) Technical Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Archives (Group C) Ministerial Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Small Savings (Group A) Service Rules, 2001, and Punjab Small Savings (Group B) Service Rules, 2001.

— Punjab Legal (Class I) Service Rules, 2001.


Talwandi defends honouring of PSGPC chief

Batala, April 15
SGPC President Jagdev Singh Talwandi today defended the decision of the SGPC to honour the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) chief Javed Nasir Ahmed with a “siropa” in Pakistan on Baisakhi.

Talking to mediapersons here, he said the presentation of a “siropa” by the leader of the SGPC jatha, which is in Pakistan on a pilgrimage to the Sikh holy shrines, was a religious matter and conclusions should not be drawn from this step.

The Sikhs have a tradition of presenting “siropas” and it was keeping in line with these traditions that the honour was bestowed, he added.

When pointed out that Mr Nasir Ahmed once headed the ISI agency, Mr Talwandi reiterated that their motive was a religious decision. He, however, categorically stated that the SGPC was firm on its stand on its refusal to accord recognition to the PSGPC.

Mr Talwandi said the gurdwaras in Pakistan were in a state of neglect and needed to be repaired. The SGPC was willing to take up the kar seva of shrines across the border if the Indian Government took up this matter with the Pakistan Government and sought the approval for the SGPC to undertake the ‘kar seva’.

About the “safe passage” offered by the Pakistan Government to Indians wishing to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, Mr Talwandi said it was a welcome offer. The Indian Government should also respond to the offer in a positive manner as Kartarpur Sahib is one of the most revered shrines of the Sikhs where Guru Nanak stayed for 18 long years, he added. UNI


Jagmeet Brar admits rift in Punjab Cong
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
In fighting in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee came in the open today with the PPCC Vice President, Mr Jagmeet Brar, saying time had come for the party high command to intervene and give a re-look to the Punjab affairs.

Mr Brar, who was speaking to reporters after attending the bhog ceremony of Mrs Charan Kaur, wife of former Foreign Minister Swaran Singh at Shankar village near here today conceded that the PPCC was facing internal bickering and advised the high command to intervene to save the situation. He said at this juncture, the high command should not sit idle as this could have an adverse affect on the performance of the party in the forth coming elections. Striking a cautious note, he, however, said on his part he was ready to quit whatever position he was holding in the party for the sake of unity. “We should unite ourselves and form a big platform if we want to win the next elections”.

He alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was going to get rid of the BJP and the stage-managed arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was an indication that he was going to side with fundamentalist elements in future.

Former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is considered a rival of the PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh was too well guarded in her response and refused to say anything whether she accepted Captain Amarinder Singh as leader of the party or not.

Those who paid tributes to Mrs Charan Kaur included her nephew and local MP Mr Balbir Singh, the PPCC Vice-President, Mr Avtar Henry, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, the Punjab Youth Congress Chief, Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, Mr Anil Dutta and the PPCC secretary Tejinder Singh Bittu.


Custodial death: Punjab told to pay 3 lakh

New Delhi, April 15
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Punjab Government to grant an immediate interim relief of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of a person electrocuted in police custody whose body was disposed of by policemen to avoid “criminal liability”.

NHRC sources told UNI that a full-Bench of the commission headed by Mr Justice J.S. Verma asked the state government to pay interim relief under Section 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, within four weeks to the next of kin of the deceased Hargobind Singh and submit a compliance report.

The commission was informed by the SSP, Tapa range that a DSP had received a complaint on January 31, 2000, from Harpal Singh, of Sirsa district in Haryana that his brother Hargobind who had gone to meet his relatives at Didargarh village under Sherpur police station two to three days prior to Lohri was since missing.

In his complaint, Harpal alleged that a police party from Tapa police station had picked up Hargobind on the Barnala-Mansa road near Pakho Kalan village and recovered 2.5 kg of poppy husk.

The complainant suspected that his brother was kidnapped and wrongfully confined by the police since the SHO of Tapa police station could not give a satisfactory reply.

Subsequently, when the DSP, Tapa, on being approached conducted an inquiry, it was found that Hargobind Singh had indeed been picked up by the police team headed by Head Constable Jasveer Singh for possessing some incriminating substances and was brought to the police station.

He was produced before Sub-Inspector Ashok Mohan who made him sit in the recreation room of the police station without taking any legal action.

However, around 2 p.m. the SHO and Constable Jasveer Singh heard some shrieks from the recreation room and rushed there only to find Hargobind Singh electrocuted on account of being in contact with a naked electric wire of a television set.

Instead of informing senior police officials and the commission about the custodial death as mandatory under the NHRC guidelines, the police officials concerned immediately removed the body of Hargobind Singh from the police station.

Along with five other police personnel, the SHO and Constable Jasveer Singh disposed Hargobind’s body of by throwing it in a canal during the night with the intention to save themselves from the criminal liability, the report stated. UNI


Clinton keeps promise with soothsayer
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Kedar Sharma looks like an ordinary man but he is not. He predicted the victory of Ms Hillary Clinton in the US Senate elections and hence made friends with Mr Bill Clinton while he was President of the USA. Clinton had promised him in case his prediction came true, he would visit him at Jaipur to say thanks. Hillary won and Bill kept his word. He came to Jaipur to thank Kedar Sharma. In return, Kedar Sharma presented the horoscopes of Clinton, Hillary and Chelsea to the former US President.

What is so special about Kedar Sharma? The moment he sees a person he tells him his date, time and place of birth. In some cases he also tells the name of the father. This may sound incredible, yet it is true. He makes calculations on his fingertips and within a minute, he writes down the accurate time, date and place of one’s birth.

This was enough for Mr Clinton to accept Kedar Sharma’s mastery over the subject. After Clinton, it was Mr Bill Gates who also acknowledged his knowledge of astrology. And India there is no end to VIPs who seek Kedar Sharma’s counsel. He predicted the return of Amitabh Bachchan into limelight. He had forewarned Mr Rajesh Pilot against driving the vehicle so had he cautioned Mr Bal Thackrey about his son. Both lost their lives in road accidents.

Kedar Sharma, who prefers anonymity, is a doctorate in economics and has published a book Dynamics of Industrial Finance and Development Banks, which is a research work on developmental banking. He teaches economics in a Jaipur college and prefers to maintain low profile away from the media glare. He refused any interviews to the media once it became known in Jaipur that Mr Clinton had come to collect the horoscopes of his family from Kedar Sharma.

As a matter of principle he does not accept money for all he does. In fact he does not accept anything whether in cash or kind. “I am a teacher and earn my livelihood from teaching. This (astrology) is my hobby and by the grace of Almighty I have been able to make accurate calculations”, he explains, adding “without the divine grace I will not be able to calculate anything”. In case anyone insists on offering something to him he advises to donate it to some temple.

Kedar Sharma went to the USA in November and was invited to the White House by Mr Clinton, when he was then the President of the USA. He had been introduced to Mr Clinton during his previous visit as the President and since then the relationship has been growing.

Yesterday he was here in the city at the invitation of his friend Dr G S Grewal. Kedar Sharma is reluctant to face the camera. “It gives you too much publicity and people are after you”, he says, while pointing out, “You cannot do your own work”. It was after a long persistence that he was ready to talk about his relationship with Mr Bill Clinton or Mr Bill Gates.

Kedar Sharma argues that astrology is a mathematical science based on calculations and the planetary positions. He asserts that the planets and stars have a definite and decisive impact on the life and personality of people and astrologers only draw their observations on the basis of mathematic calculations.


Infighting irks Faridkot DCC
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 15
The District Congress Committee, Faridkot, has appealed to the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to constitute a three-member panel comprising Mr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Ambika Soni and Mr Moti Lal Vora, to iron out the differences among the rank and file in Punjab.

If no immediate steps are taken in this connection, the party might suffer a major setback in the forthcoming assembly poll in the state.

This was stated by Mr S.K. Gupta, president, DCC, Faridkot while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. Mr Gupta who attended five district-level and one state-level rallies at Muktsar, Jalalabad, Sadiq, Sardoolgarh, Talwandi Sabo and Ludhiana at the instance of the central leadership said resentment prevailed among the party workers against the infighting in the state unit.


Breathing new life into old buildings
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

If you enter this city, known as the “Paris of Punjab”, you will get glimpses of a bygone era in the form of heritage buildings which are now under renovation.

Most of the historical buildings like the Jagatjit Club, the Clock Tower, the Darbar Hall and Panch Mandir had been ravaged by time and would have crumbled like many other such buildings in the state had not the district administration initiated restoration work.

Knowing that it was not an easy job to get funds from any quarter for the restoration of the landmarks of the city, the administration roped in some members of the prestigious Jagatjit Club and persuaded them to make contributions for at least the restoration of the club building.

The club is housed in a beautiful French-style building, built by the then Maharaja of Kapurthala State Jagatjit Singh as his personal movie theatre where he used to entertain royal guests. Later the theatre was converted into a club by the Maharaja in 1942. But it was in the late seventies that the condition of the building started deteriorating due to the lack of upkeep by successive governments and the club management.

The building is now being renovated, though not in a very scientific manner. The priority of the club and its president, Mr V.K. Singh, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner, is to first give the exterior of the building a new coat of cement plaster. “Funds were a major problem, but it was solved to some extent when almost all 120 members decided to donate some money.”

The restoration work started about a year ago,” said Mr Kailash Kumar, club manager. He said Rs 6 lakh had already been spent on the renovation exercise which was likely to take another three or four years.

After a gap of almost 20 years, the residents might hear the chime of the huge clock in the tower which used to tick till the late seventies. A plan has been drawn up by the administration and the Government Girls School authorities to get the Swiss-made masterpiece in working order. Ms Tejinder Kaur, principal of the school, said she had contacted the Calcutta-based Anglo Swiss Company and had even deposited Rs 7,000 so that it could send its representatives for inspection and repair of the clock, which was manufactured and installed by the Swiss company Ben Jonson in 1855. Actually, it stopped working after the person in charge of the clock, Kanshi Ram, who was employed by the local civic body authorities, died and his son did not take up the job.

Mr V.K. Singh said a survey of all endangered historical buildings had been done. “Repairs to the clock alone involve an expenditure of Rs 1 lakh and for the renovation of the whole clock tower structure in a scientific manner more than Rs 15 lakh is needed. At present, we don’t have so much money, but still we are going ahead with the hope that contributions will be made by residents”, he said.

He said the main Durbar Hall building, near his office, was being handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India for it required scientific renovation. “The state government has given us Rs 15 lakh for this. The amount has been transferred to the ASI,” added Mr V.K. Singh, the man behind the whole renovation exercise in Kapurthala.

He said since renovation required huge funds, he was trying to persuade some NGOs, industrial houses and individuals to make contributions. “In the matter of the renovation of the 200-year-old Panch Mandir an industrial house came forward and spent about Rs 25 lakh on repairs to the temple,” said Mr V.K.Singh.

Panch Mandir, comprising five temples, is said to have been constructed by Maharaja Fateh Singh after he was ordered to do so by God in a dream. The temple, before renovation work began, was virtually crumbling.

During a visit to the place, this correspondent saw construction activity in full swing on the Sun and Lord Ganesh temples. The three temples in the corners of the main Radha-Krishna temple have already been given a facelift. The mandir gives a celestial look when the recently installed floodlights are switched on at night.

Mr V.K. Singh said the pace of renovation work might be a bit slow but he did not want to compromise on quality.

If everything went smoothly and funds continued to pour in from the government and people, the entire project would take two or three years to complete.


Kashmir scenario changing ‘for better’
Our Correspondent

Nabha, April 15
“It is absolutely correct that militancy cannot survive without the support of the masses but now the scenario in Kashmir has taken a drastic turn as public in general has realised that their interests are more safe in India than they will ever be in Pakistan. Now even the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, cannot any more count on the support of the local population which will adversely affect its nefarious and notorious designs,” these views were expressed by Dr Sudhir S. Bloeria, IAS, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Jammu and Kashmir, during the course of a lecture delivered by him on the occasion of the second Lt. Gen Gurbachan Singh Buch, PVSM, memorial lecture at Punjab Public School, Nabha.

Tracing the genesis of the problem, Dr Bloeria pointed out that militancy took a decisive turn with the kidnapping of the daughter of a former Union Home Minister, who was subsequently freed by the militants after they had secured the release of some of the militants. This incident encouraged militants and they intensified their efforts on a large scale. According to him the situation further deteriorated with the break-up of the former USSR, which had an immense psychological impact on the general public and in particular on the militants. The atmosphere of violence and insecurity forced the Kashmiri Pandits and other non-Muslims except the Sikhs to leave their homes. Life was disturbed on a massive scale with the targeting of bridges, schools, communication centres etc. During the period even the intelligence agencies were not spared. The judiciary was also put under pressure. At this stage the security forces intensified their drive to curb the violent acts of militants, which was highly successful. It was only after 1994 that foreign intruders infiltrated the ranks of Pakistani-sponsored militants. From 1997 onwards the security forces significantly curtailed the activities of the militants which resulted in the successful holding of parliamentary and state elections.

He sought to dispel certain misconceptions prevailing among a certain section of the public. First, he declared that the religion-based division was strictly confined to the Kashmir valley and it did not hold true in other regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Second, he stressed that from his personal experience, he could vouch that only a certain segment of the Muslim population harboured anti-Indian sentiment. On the contrary, he pointed out that in occupied Kashmir, the Muslims might not be in favour of India but were definitely prejudiced against Pakistan.


Doctor, midwife charged with negligence
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 15
Mrs Gurjeet Kaur, a victim of alleged medical negligence, has prayed to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to direct the SSP, Sangrur, to register an FIR against a woman doctor who runs a hospital and maternity home at Bhawanigarh and a midwife also from Bhawanigarh for causing pain and sufferings to her after she gave birth to a child.

In a complaint in form of an affidavit sent to the Chief Justice, Mrs Gurjeet Kaur alleged that the woman doctor and the midwife were using allopathic medicines without having any proper knowledge of the same. She also accused them of medical negligence.

In the complaint the victim stated that she was married to Anil Kumar of Patiala but had come to Bhawanigarh for the delivery of her child at her parent’s residence. She said that she was taken to the house of midwife on February 25 for delivery where the midwife administered injections to her. Later, the complainant delivered a child on February 26 at 12.45 a.m.

On February 27 the complainant’s parents informed the midwife about the patient not passing stool and urine besides excessive bleeding.

The complainant further stated that when the problem persisted she was taken to the midwife on February 28, who examined her and opined that she had a ‘rasoli’ tumor in her uterus and further advised her parents to take her to the private hospital of the woman doctor.

The doctor examined her and helped in passing stools and urine by using medical techniques. She also administered some allopathic medicines to Gurjeet Kaur and took her to the operation theatre.

The complainant also alleged that in the operation theatre she was asked by the doctor to exert pressure on her abdomen so that accumulated blood in the uterus and remaining portion placenta be flushed out. During this process, she fell unconscious and she was then taken to the Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, on the advice of the woman doctor, where she remained admitted for seven days, she added.

The victim also claimed that the advice to exert pressure on abdomen and administration of medicines had resulted in inversion of her uterus, clots of blood in uterus and urethral lacerations on each side while the woman doctor had also put some cloth inside her and did not stich her properly before sending her to Rajindra Hospital.

Meanwhile, Mr Sohan Singh, father of the complainant who sells pakoras at a rehri at Bhawanigarh, has demanded justice for his daughter and also that innocent persons could be saved from such negligence by the midwives and doctors running private hospitals in future.


Undertrial dies, wife alleges foul play
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
More than 100 agitated relatives and friends of an undertrial, who has died under mysterious circumstances in the local Central jail last night, blocked traffic on the G.T. Road for more than two hours and held a dharna near Balmik chowk to protest against the alleged delay in providing proper medical facilities to the deceased.

The protesters led by Mr Joginder Singh Toni, councillor, raised anti-government slogans and demanded that the Jail Superintendent, Mr Jagjit Singh, should be arrested for negligence in providing proper medicare to Harbhajan Singh, a resident of Pacca Bagh colony, who was arrested for smuggling narcotics. The police had seized 9 kg opiumbase from his possession in July last year.

Harbhajan Singh, who had complained of heart trouble, died on way to the local Civil Hospital last night, the police said.

Paramjit Kaur, wife of the deceased, alleged that she had met her husband several times in the last month and he had told her that the jail authorities were allegedly not providing any medical facilities to him despite of the fact that he had complained of chest pain to them. “I met the Jail Superintendent yesterday to persuade him to provide my husband better medical aid since he was a heart patient.

But the jail superintendent asked me to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 as bribe for the purpose. The refusal to pay bribe infuriated the latter, who intentionally did not take care of my husband leading to his death last night,” alleged Mrs Paramjit Kaur.

Mr Toni alleged that this was the third case of death of an inmate in the jail due to the negligence of the authorities. “The Jail Superintendent should be arrested and the allegations against him should be probed by the state government,” he demanded.

The Jail Superintendent, Mr Jagjit Singh was, however, not available for comments. 


Child labour laws being flouted
Harjeet Singh

Bathinda, April 15
Her name is Simriti and she is only 10. She works in one of the homes as a domestic help. She washes clothes, sweeps floors, cleans utensils and sometimes prepares food for a family.

Her father works in a factory and her mother too is a domestic help. The only thing her parents have given her is her beautiful name — Samriti — and deprived her of everything else.

Vikas (13) who works at a dhaba, to gets up early in the morning and goes to the bed late in the night. His duty is to take orders from customers and to serve them their order. He has never been to school. He hails from Bihar and sends money to his parents. He is not aware of the fact that he is being exploited by his ‘master’.

There are thousands of children who are working in various industries, factories, homes and other workplaces only to get two square meals a day.

The Constitution of India says that children up to the age of 14 will not be employed anywhere. They will not be compelled to work in factories, industries, hotels and other workplaces.

But children can be seen working even at hazardous workplaces. These children are being exploited by employers, who mainly constitute ‘educated’ families belonging to the upper middle and the middle classes.

Child abuse, child labour, child education are the frequently at seminars, workshops and lectures organised by various organisations but practically, nothing is being done.

Even the authorities concerned make little effort to uphold the law.


Jobless duped in name of Ambujas
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, April 15
The Bathinda unit of Gujarat Ambuja Cement Limited was inaugurated with much fanfare by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on February 26. Residents hoped that the industry would result in employment for the youth of the area, but the latter have been reportedly duped by the unscrupulous elements by cashing in on the name of Ambujas.

The modus operandi adopted by the thugs has been unique and quite similar to the recruitment process generally adopted by companies.

An advertisement appeared in leading newspapers of the region inviting applications for various posts from eligible candidates.

A large number of booksellers sold the forms in the city and there was a mad rush for the same as many had been waiting for the inauguration of the plant and subsequent employment.

When the candidates approached the local office of the Ambujas, they were shocked to learn that the plant had not advertised for any vacancy.

The district police authorities, reacting to some newspaper reports, ordered a probe into the incident, but no formal FIR has been registered so far.

Now a new twist has been added to the story. Some candidates who had applied for various jobs have started getting “appointment letters”.

Mr Kuldeep Kumar (name changed), who has received one such letter for the post of Field-Officer, told The Tribune that he and many of his friends had applied for a job in the company.

One such appointment letter was procured by The Tribune. There was no address mentioned in the letter. Neither did it bear signatures of any official. There was no mention of any telephone number either.

The “appointment letter” simply asked the candidate to deposit Rs 1975 in cash at the Delhi office of the company.

The letter stated that a security fee of Rs 1575 would be refunded after a month with an interest of 5 per cent and Rs 400 would be deducted as fee.


Zaffarwal’s arrest a drama: Shiv Sena
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 15
The Punjab Shiv Sena has termed the arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal as a drama of the Punjab Police, staged by the state government.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Sena’s vice-president Bawan Parbhakan, chairman Surinder Dogra and Phagwara unit president Inderjit Kanwal alleged that Zaffarwal had been roaming in the state for the past 20 days and was waiting for the appropriate time for his surrender with the help of an Akali minister, patronised by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, but the scheme was exposed by the press.

Sena leaders asked the state Chief Minister to explain the truth of this drama of surrender which was later converted in to Zaffarwal’s arrest.


5 pilgrims killed in mishap

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
Five persons were killed and as many injured when the Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck on National Highway-1 at Sirhind, about 3 km from here, late last night, the police said.

The accident occurred when the driver of the truck lost control and rammed into a Tata Sumo.

The victims, who were returning after visiting Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, have been identified as Puran, Hari Shankar, Mahesh, Rajinder Sharma and Parveen (driver of Tata Sumo), all employees in Nagar Nigam, Ghaziabad.

The three seriously injured were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. Other two nigam employees identified as Sanjeev Goel and Vijay Pal Tyagi were discharged this morning from the Civil Hospital.

The relatives of the deceased along with the Health Officer of the nagar nigam, Mr S.D. Sharma, arrived here this morning to take the bodies. UNI


State govt wants single labour Act
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 15
The Punjab Government is in favour of one high-powered labour Act instead of 27 existing different Labour Acts.

This was announced by Punjab Labour and Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tandon while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

He said the government wanted to simplify the labour laws. He claimed that the government had succeeded in solving several disputes between owners and labourers through lok adalats in the state.

Commenting on the Local Bodies Department Mr Tandon said much-awaited new Municipal Act 1999 would give council and corporation presidents more powers.

He said the contract system in octroi collection had been abolished . He said the new Municipal Act was lying with the Union Home Ministry for approval and expected to be approved shortly. He said the new Act could be enforced in the state within three months.


Roads acquire new look
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
Construc-tion and repair work on most roads in the district is in full swing and will be completed by June-end, Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner (since transferred), has said.

Mr Sudan said on the directions of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and Chairman of the Fatehgarh Sahib Development Board, construction and repair work on roads with a total length of 1221.97 km in the district was being undertaken on a war footing.

Eighty per cent of the work had already been completed. He said premix had been laid on 159.74 km of roads and repair work on a length of 192.13 km had been completed at a cost of Rs 7.52 crore. The construction of new roads under the 20 km per assembly constituency scheme was on.

Work in the Sirhind and Amloh constituencies had been started. In the Sirhind constituency, 14.44 km and in Amloh 20.11 km of roads were being constructed, whereas in the Khamano, Sirhind and Bassi Pathana Market Committee areas work on 22.92 km of roads was over.

He said work on 73.47 km of roads, which were in bad shape as repairs had not been undertaken since 1996, was being carried out on priority. Widening and strengthening of the Gobindgarh-Nabha and Sirhind-Chuni roads has been completed at a cost of Rs 3.80 crore.

Similarly, work on widening and strengthening of the Madhopur bypass, the Amloh-Khanna road, the Bassi Pathana-Saheedgarh road , the Chuni-Morinda road and the Bhaironpur bypass was in progress. Premix had been laid on circular roads in most villages.

During the inspection of newly built roads he found that the quality of work on two roads — Panjkoha to Doomcheri and Khant to Sidhpur — was not up to the mark. The Executive Engineer (PWD) told the Deputy Commissioner that the two roads had been got constructed by his predecessor. However, he gave an assurance that he would ensure that these roads were built as per the specifications within two months.

Mr H.S. Gill, Executive Engineer( PWD) said work on new link roads had been divided into two phases. In the first phase 90 per cent of the work was over while in the second phase 80 per cent of the work was in progress. He said emphasis was being laid on quality during construction.


IRB to be raised soon: ADGP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 15
Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Additional Director-General, Punjab police, yesterday said that an Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) would be raised soon in the state for which recruitment of 600 to 700 jawans would be done.

He said to deal with cases pertaining to women and children, a special cell each at district headquarters would be set up soon. An officer of the rank of SP would be made in charge of the cell. He said to impart training in traffic management, special staff had recently been sent to Mumbai. After getting training, the members of the staff would be posted at the traffic training school being opened at Police Recruits Training Centre, Jahan Khelan.


Club staff demand salary
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
Salaries of employees working in the Patiala Civil Aviation Cub have not been paid for the past 21 months.

Mr Balwinder Kumar, president of the Patiala Aviation Club Workers Union, said the authorities concerned had been repeatedly informed regarding the non-payment of salaries to the employees but no action was being taken.

He claimed that the workers were now finding it difficult to cope with their daily household expenses and wanted the authorities to take strict note of the issue, failing which the workers may be forced to adopt agitational means.


Bad weather adds to farmers’ woes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 15
There have been mild rain and dusty winds in the region during the past two days, resulting in losses to standby wheat crop. A few weeks ago, rain and hailstorm had lashed the region and the state government had ordered that special girdawaris would be conducted and the loss to the standing wheat crop would be assessed. The compensation package for the loss of wheat is yet to be announced.

Some farmers had started harvesting wheat a few days before Baisakhi, keeping in view the bad weather conditions. Although no new stocks of wheat were reported from the local grain market, but mandis in the surrounding areas have witnessed an increase in the activity of farmers.

Mr Harnek Singh, state vice-president of the BKU (Ekta), said the farmers were passing through a critical phase. The WTO agreement, frequent power cuts, low yield, inferior seeds and pesticides, and alleged unfavourable policies of the state government had taken their toll and now, the untimely rain would add to the woes of the farmers. The much talked-about scheme of crop-insurance had not yet been implemented by the state government, he lamented.

Senior officials of the Agriculture Department confirmed that the untimely rain would damage the standing crop. The moisture content of the produce would increase and it would need more time and an increased exposure to the sun to dry and mature, they said. Although no major pest outbreak has been reported so far, but its possibility could not be ruled out they added.


30 acre of crop burnt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
Around 30 acre of wheat crop was burnt in a fire which broke out at Mithu Majra village on the Patiala- Bahadurgarh road, near here, today.

According to a report lodged in the Sadar police station by Col Alamjit Singh, a resident of the village, the fire, which occurred in the evening, was caused by a short-circuit in the electric wires passing over the fields.


Steps for more transparency in admn: Tandon
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 15
Various development projects to be undertaken by municipalities, trusts, corporations and other local self bodies would be kept under public gaze with a view to increasing transparency in the administration.

Stating this here last night, Punjab Local Bodies’ Minister Balaram ji Das Tandon said details of projects would be displayed on boards to be put up at offices of these bodies.

Besides giving the length and breadth of the roads under construction, these boards would have telephone numbers of authorities and engineers concerned, said the minister.

This would act as a kind of scrutiny by people and curb corruption, claimed the minister while talking to a group of reporters after the annual prize distribution function of S.D. Model Senior Secondary School.

Mr Tandon said an anti-corruption cell would be set up in his department. A chief vigilance officer would head it, he said.

The minister, who also holds Labour port folio, advocated simplification of Labour Laws. Twenty-seven such laws should be brought under the Labour Act, added Mr Tandon.


Woman held for son’s murder
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, April 15
The Kotbhai police has solved the mystery of murder of 10-year-old Gurpreet Singh of Buttersrihn village with the arrest of his mother and maternal uncle Jagroop Singh, despite the fact that mother of deceased Chinder Kaur had herself registered a case against three persons of same village for murdering her son.

The police personnel, who were finding it difficult to find the real culprit in the murder of Gurpreet Singh, who was done to death on March 13, found in the investigations that his mother was the real culprit.

Police sources said on March 13, the body of Gurpreet Singh with multiple injuries was found hanging from a tree under mysterious circumstances. His mother Chinder Kaur reported the matter to the police.

In her complaint, she alleged that her son Gurpreet Singh, who was a student of fifth class, did not return home after he left around 6 p.m. for fetching candies from a nearby shop.

She further alleged that her son had been murdered by three brothers, Baldev Singh, Pargat Singh and Mander Singh, of the same village. She added that these accused had killed her son as she had once got their illegal pistol seized by the police.

However, the police made intensive investigations and began suspecting Chinder Kaur. When she was questioned, first she refused to confess her crime but after some time broke down and admitted that she, along with her three brothers, had done this to get their enemies implicated in a false case.

She said her son died when she hit him on his head with a log when her son refused to take medicine. She added that she then thought that three persons of the village who were having some animosity with her should be fixed into this case.

Mr S.S. Cheema, DSP, Gidderbaha, when contacted, said Chinder Kaur and her brother Jagroop Singh had been arrested while the search was on to nab her two other brothers, Nagendar Singh and Darshan, who were also involved in the crime.

A case in his connection had been registered under Section 302 of the IPC at Kotbhai police station.


3 of family die as bus hits scooter

Hoshiarpur, April 15
Three persons of a family died on the spot near Samundra, 35 km from here, today when their scooter was allegedly hit by a Punjab Roadways bus.

Sukhwinder Kaur, wife of Paramjit Singh, her daughter Amarjit Kaur and her son Pargan Singh,residents of Rasoolpur, died after a bus coming from the opposite direction hit their scooter near Samundra on the Hoshiarpur -Chandigarh road here today.

The Garhshanker police has registered a case in this connection against driver Surjit Singh. PTI


46 hurt in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 15
At least 46 passengers sustained injuries in three separate road accidents yesterday. According to the police, 35 passengers of a Katra-bound Yamuna tourist bus coming from New Delhi overturned on an overbridge after hitting an electric pole near G.T. Road here. In another mishap, a four-wheeler turned turtle, resulting in injuries to two persons. In the third mishap, nine persons were injured in a collision between a Punjab Roadways bus and a truck.


Mohan Lal denies stealing Ph.D thesis
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 15
Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, while talking to newspersons at Pathankot said he has not submitted any thesis so far and there was no question of stealing material from other’s works as alleged by Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, in his press statement.

He said the Vice-Chancellor by doing so had only over-reacted to an enquiry ordered by him in connection with some posting of teachers and some financial irregularities.

The Vice-Chancellor had earlier said the minister was not authorised to order an enquiry against him as the university was an autonomous body. The state government could not interfere in its affairs.

Mr Mohan Lal said his Ph.D papers were on trends in Punjabi literature in 20th century.

He said the grant of pension and gratuity to government-aided private college teachers had been handed over to the Chief Minister for a decision.

The Chief Minister was likely to call a meeting of Secretary, Higher Education in this connection. He said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had given them a stay, according to which the services of ad hoc lecturers will not be terminated till a decision on their case regarding regularisation. Mr Mohan Lal said the state government had banned the opening of new government colleges.


Syndicate decision ‘not honoured’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) today condemned the Punjabi University authorities for giving “a silent burial” to the decision of the Syndicate to confer honoris causa degrees on Dr R A Mishalkar, Director-General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, and Dr J S Grewal, eminent historian and former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University.

In a statement here, forum president Amarjit Singh Dhillon alleged not conferring the honorary degrees to the eminent personalities was not only illegal but also unethical and the university Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, owed an explanation to the academic world.

The forum president said the Syndicate at its meeting in January, 1999, decided to honour Dr Mishalkar and Dr Grewal with Doctor of Science (D.Sc) and Doctor of Literature (D.Litt) degrees, respectively. However, there was a change in the vice-chancellorship of the university shortly afterwards with Dr Ahluwalia taking over from Dr J S Puar.

He said it was the responsibility of the university to honour the decision of the Syndicate and that if the commitment could not be honoured at the 27th convocation, both personalities could have been awarded the degrees at the recent convocation held in the university.

The Vice-Chancellor, however, when contacted, said according to the set procedure, the Syndicate only recommended names for grant of honorary degrees which were approved by the university Senate and finally the Chancellor. He said he was not aware of the decision regarding Dr Mishalkar and Dr Grewal. Their cases must not have been cleared by the Senate and the Chancellor as it would not be possible to revoke the decision if this had been done, he explained.

Speaking on the issue of the merit of candidates who had been granted honorary degrees this year, which included newspaper publisher Barjinder Singh who had been given the D. Litt degree, and Dr Jasbir Singh Mann, who had been given the D. Sc degree, he said there could be different opinions on their ability to qualify for the honour, but they had been selected following due process.

Meanwhile, the United Teachers Front today accused the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) of indulging in anti-teacher activities. In as statement here front convener Dr H S Boparai said PUTA had fabricated allegations against the Dean, Academics. He said the Dean could not be responsible for harassment faced by some teachers at the hand of security personnel deputed for the Chief Minister’s visit to the campus. Dr Boparai said the front had requested the Chief Minister to instruct Higher Education Minister Master Mohan Lal not to “malign” the university by issuing irresponsible statements in the Press.


Her oration quietens many
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
Eighteen-year-old Sandhya Sarad, a student of the local Modi College here who has won the Punjabi University zonal and inter-zonal competitions in elocution and debating for three years on the trot, has added another feather to her cap this year by emerging first in the debate event in the National Youth Festival held at Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi, recently.

The teenager, who has not received any formal training in public speaking, said she was encouraged by her parents to take part in extra-curricular activities. ‘‘My mother, who is presently the Principal of Government Ranbir College, Nabha, and my sister were excellent orators and I always wanted to emulate them. My father also encouraged me by saying that I must strive to make it to the national level.

Sandhya has made it to the national level taking the honours in debate, besides securing the third position in the western group singing event. ‘‘It was not easy to walk away with the honours at the national level. I had to put in many hours of preparation for it,’’ she said adding that she preferred to prepare her topics herself. ‘‘We are given a day before major competitions to prepare our topics and it is this preparation which, I think, is my strong point,’’ she said.

Her success story started from school itself. ‘‘I first won a competition organised by the State Language Department and there was no looking back thereafter’’, she said. She continued to participate in extra-curricular activities in school and college. Amongst her latest achievements is the bagging of the first prize in a state-level debate competition organised by the Government College of Girls here, besides the first position in the debate section in the Inter-Varsity Youth Festival held at Rohtak in Haryana.

She is a second year student of the Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) course and wants to pursue a career in software. She hopes that her skills in public speaking would hold her in good stead even in her chosen profession.

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