Tuesday, April 17, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Water in Punjab mandis a cause of concern
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Condition inside a shed in Jagraon mandi.
Condition inside a shed in Jagraon mandi which is supposed to protect agricultural produce from rains. 
— Photo Inderjit Verma

Jagraon, April 16
After months of physical labour, farmers of Punjab have finally managed to take their produce to mandis, only to discover that that their problems are far from over. Taking the state of mandis into consideration, it appears that their actual problems have just started. Heavy rains that have lashed the region over the past two days have resulted in rain water pools in most mandis.

The worst-hit is the Jagraon mandi, considered to be the second biggest market of the state, which actually exposed the government’s preparations of mandis during the procurement season. Because of low plinth level, this mandi was filled with water last night causing damage to the produce of a number of farmers.

A survey of Mullanpur, Sawaddi and Humbran mandis by a Tribune team revealed that the conditions in these mandis were far from satisfactory and the farmers were a worried lot. At Jagraon mandi, the rain water had even entered the sheds which were supposed to protect the produce from bad weather. Here, due to low level, water flowed from within the sheds and spoiled the produce kept there.

Water was there even 12 hours after the rain. The farmers had assigned labourers to spread the wet wheat under the sun. Mr Amrit Lal, a commission agent said that more than 1500 sack-fuls of wheat were lying in rain last night and this rain would delay the procurement as it would take two-three days to dry the wheat.

Mr Nidaan Singh, a farmer who had downloaded his produce in the mandi last evening, said that he could not protect his wheat from rain as water up to knee level had accumulated there. He said,”We were confident that we would cover it with tarpaulin sheets in case of rain but what could a single sheet do when heaps were lying well within the pool of water.”

The chairman of the market committee, Jagraon, Mr Baldev Singh, said that there was a sort of inbulit curvature on the mandi roads which acted as a cup, making water to accumulate. He said, “For the last one year we have been telling the mandi board to raise the plinth level of this mandi but to no avail. We even took the chief engineer on the spot and showed him the problem. We are already falling short of money and it is not our duty to raise the plinth level. The floors are also faulty as they are made out of premix which gets spoiled after some time. If the floors are bricked then we can get it repaired as it not need much money.” The chairman, however, said that not much damage was caused to the wheat.


Crop damage: Cong for special girdawari
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today urged the state government to order a special girdawari to assess the damage caused by hailstorms to wheat and other crops in the state during the past 48 hours. He said he had got reports of damage to the wheat crop in the Ferozepore, Jalalabad, Bathinda, Samrala and Kharar areas.

The affected farmers should be compensated for the loss immediately after preparing a preliminary report of the damage, he said.

Meanwhile, he said his party would move court if an ordinance was issued to make what he described as “undemocratic” amendments to the Panchayati Raj Act. His party wanted direct elections to panchayati raj institutions and was opposed to indirect elections in any form. He apprehended the misuse of official machinery by the government to win such elections.

The Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra has also opposed the proposed amendments to the Act. Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra said Mr Parkash Singh Badal had opposed the indirect election of 40 per cent of the members of the Zila Parishads from among the sarpanches during the tenure of the Beant Singh government. In fact, Mr Chandumajra said, Mr Badal’s party had then knocked at the door of the court to seek justice in this connection.

Now Mr Badal had gone one step ahead of the Congress as far as making amendments to the Act was concerned. Mr Badal had proposed the indirect election of 50 per cent of the members of the Panchayat Samitis from among the sarpanches and the remaining direct by the people.

He said if an ordinance was issued, his party would knock at the door of the court, he said. 


SGPC charged with doublespeak
Our Correspondent

Attari, April 16
In a significant statement accusing the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee of doublespeak, Mr Harcharan Singh, General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi), after alighting from the Samjhauta Express here today lashed out at the SGPC for the “shortsighted gains” they hoped to achieve by honouring Mr Javed Nasir, who is a former ISI chief and is now heading the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, with a siropa.

Angry over the call given by the SGPC jatha head, Mr Shingara Singh Lohian, and Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, SGPC secretary, to Punjabi Sikhs to present a united front to have more say in Sikh affairs in Pakistan, he said instead of dividing the Sikhs a united Sikh front should be formed to represent the Sikhs.

Charging the SGPC with mismanagement, Mr Harcharan Singh said the SGPC had asked jatha members to deposit Rs 9,500 each with the SGPC but failed to give exchange money in Pakistani rupees to devotees for nearly two days after their arrival in Pakistan on April 9 hence most jatha members were left standing without any money.

Meanwhile, Mr Harcharan Singh said Mr Nasir had announced that open visas for every “puranmashi” (full moon day) celebrated at Panja Sahib would be made available to Sikh pilgrims without any restrictions unlike the present when permission was granted only twice or thrice a year.

Mr Nasir has also given assurance on road passage in addition to the PSGPC resolve of providing 10 luxury buses via the Wagah route to Sikh pilgrims desirous of paying obeisance. The Pakistani Government has also given permission for a corridor plan to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara and assured that at least 10,000 Sikhs will be allowed to pay obeisance provided non-Sikhs are left out. The corridor will be under constant Pakistani surveillance, he said.

However, in a contradictory statement Mr Baldev Singh Ranike, Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) vice-president, said, “We acknowledge the SGPC gesture of truce with the PSGPC and the honour was rightfully bestowed. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee is supreme.” At least 981 persons on religious tour to Pakistan arrived here today.

In the meantime, the general opinion among Sikhs who disembarked from the Samjhauta Express is not too favourable over the SGPC surrender of its ideals.

Gagandeep from Texas, USA, says the Pakistanis have succeeded in dividing the Sikhs on issues and are now establishing their credentials by playing one against the other. This has triggered a war of one-upmanship in Sikh religious circles.

Interestingly, the arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, a dreaded terrorist and head of the KCF militant outfit, made no waves in the radical circles of Pakistan who continued distributing secessionist literature in addition to giving calls for Khalistan, passengers alighting from the train reported.

Meanwhile, three persons, including a woman, were arrested today by the police here on charges of possessing tampered passports today. The woman, Sabira (30), a resident of Gangoke Saharanpur, was accompanied by four minor children. Others were Bashir Ahmed (67), a resident of Madipur village near Delhi, and Rizwan Khan (25), a resident of Rampur, UP.

All three were booked under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the IPC.


SGPC member’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal has expressed grief over the death of the SGPC member, Mr Ranjit Singh Sanoure.

The secretary of the party, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, said here today that Mr Ranjit Singh was a loyal activist of the party and as SGPC member made a notable contribution to the religious field. He expressed sympathy with the family of the deceased.


Zaffarwal issue divides state BJP unit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Differences have surfaced within the BJP on the issue of the return of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal.

While, a senior leader and Rajya Sabha member, Lala Lajpat Rai, has said that if anyone wants to return to the mainstream, he should be welcomed, another senior leader and party legislator Ms Laxmikanta Chawla does not want any concessions to be given to hardcore militants.

Workers of the party find themselves in a difficult situation due to the party’s position on the Zaffarwal issue. It was under pressure from party workers that the state BJP chief, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, had issued a clarification on the party stand, saying that the law should take its own course.

However, Ms Chawla appears to be more frank in saying that the law should take its own course. She says that she is projecting the sentiments of party workers in the state who don’t want concessions for Zaffarwal. She has said that such concessions will hurt thousands of persons whose relatives were killed on Zaffarwal’s orders.

At a reception hosted by an Akali legislator, Mr Bagh Singh Malla, at Jagraon, Lala Lajpat Rai had said he would welcome the return of Zaffarwal to the mainstream. He had also said, if others like Zaffarwal were involved in national development, decade’s job would be accomplished in two years.

Ms Chawla says, “You cannot spare those who have murdered thousands of persons. “Zaffarwal is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of youths whom he made militants and who were later killed by the police, besides those whom he ordered to be killed,” he said.

She said it was sad that the government had a soft corner for persons like Zaffarwal. She said, while Zaffarwal was being treated like a VIP, Amarjit Singh Chawla, also an accused in several cases of militant activities, had been appointed a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission. She said if a person had been in jail, he could not even become a peon anywhere, but murderers were being made bureaucrats, doctors and police officials.


Rajasthan demands money for rest houses sold
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Sriganganagar, April 16
Rajasthan has demanded Rs 30.30 lakh from the Punjab Government for selling its canal rest houses situated along the Gang Canal (Bikaner Canal) in the state.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had carried a story on the sale of the rest houses a month back forcing the Punjab Chief Minister to tender an apology to the state government holding Punjab Irrigation Department officers responsible for the lapse. He had also offered to pay back the money to the Rajasthan Government with interest. The rest houses had been clubbed with those of the Punjab Irrigation Department being auctioned.

Sources said the state Irrigation Minister had ordered an evaluation of the three sold properties — the papers of the others are being traced — from a private evaluator, who had assessed the value at Rs 30.30 lakh. She had also directed her department to locate papers of other properties of the state in Punjab and their current status.

Rajasthan had apparently lost track of its property bought along the canal when it was being constructed from the Harike Barrage in 1922. Not only was land purchased for the canal but land for establishing several brick kilns for lining the canal was also purchased. While the rest houses were used till recently, what happened to the brick kilns is not known.

Sources said the minister had also directed officers to prepare a list of all properties — current ownership, in case of encroachments — bought during the five-year construction period of the canal which was inaugurated in 1927 by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. The records in some cases were said to untraceable while efforts were afoot to dig out the others from Bikaner and Sriganganagar.

A letter had been written by the minister to her counterpart in Punjab regarding the payment of the sum but no reply had been received so far. Given the fragile economy of Punjab, the outcome was being eagerly awaited, the sources said.

Local irrigation officers said the rest houses were auctioned at throwaway prices — in some cases as low as Rs 1 or Rs 2 lakh — to certain favourites of the government, some of whom have not even deposited a paisa above the earnest money. “Will the government pay the difference from its coffers or take the money from the current owners,” they questioned ?

Meanwhile, the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti has demanded cancellation of the auction and urged the state government to take possession of the rest houses.

Mr Subash Sehgal, president of the samiti, said it was economical for the state government to retain and renovate the rest houses since Rajasthan Irrigation Department officers routinely inspected the canal and would be camping in Punjab during the repair work scheduled to begin in October.

“Since we do not have any rest house in Punjab, the officers will have to stay elsewhere adding to the state’s expenditure”, he added.


Moolwasi Party merges with Akali Dal (A)
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 16
In a significant political development, the Moolwasi Party Punjab headed by Dr Harjinder Jakhu announced its merger with Akali Dal (A) today.

Dr Jakhu has been appointed national general secretary of the Akali Dal (A).

Welcoming the merger, Mr Gurdial Singh Mannawali, former district general secretary of the Moolwasi Party, said the SAD, BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Bahujan Samaj Morcha had done nothing to safeguard the interests of Dalits but the Akali Dal (A) would work for them.


Arora gen secy of BJP cell
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab BJP has appointed Lt-Col Ram Lal Arora (retd) general secretary of the ex-servicemen cell of the party in the state. The party has also named eight district presidents of the cell.


Doctor sues DC, others for damages
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 16
Dr Harmanderjit Kaur Joga, daughter-in-law of renowned freedom fighter and former MLA Jangir Singh Joga, has filed a suit for damages of Rs 20 lakh for mental torture, loss of reputation and malicious prosecution against an employee of the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, Mr Raj Kumar, the Secretary Health, Punjab, Dr Rameshwar Chander, the then Civil Surgeon, Mansa, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, the Superintendent of Police Mansa, Mr Sanjay Kumar, the then Deputy Commissioner, Dr N. S. Suman, the then Civil Surgeon, Mansa, Dr O.P. Goel, the Professor and Head of Medicine Department, Dr Sushila Goel, the Head and Professor, Gynaecology at the Medical College, Patiala, in the court of Ms Baljinder Kaur, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mansa.

The doctor has alleged that Raj Kumar got his daughter Meenakshi admitted in her hospital on February 21, 1997, for delivery. After delivery Meenakshi was discharged from the nursing home on March 4. Later, due to sugar problem Meenakshi developed some complication and she was treated at the DMC, Ludhiana, and the PGI, Chandigarh, where Meenakshi expired on April 10, 1997.

Mr Raj Kumar then filed a complaint before the Secretary, Health, Punjab, against the lady doctor. Dr Rameshwar Chander gave his report against the lady doctor.

The DC, Mansa, Mr Sanjay Kumar, vide its letter no. 1459 dated September 10, 1998, ordered registration of a criminal case under Section 30 of the IPC but the district attorney did not agree with the Deputy Commissioner.

The matter was then again referred to the Secretary Health, to constitute a medical board. The medical board comprised Dr N.S. Suman, the then Civil Surgeon, DR O. P. Goel and Dr Sushila Goel.

The medical board after inspection of records gave the report on January 12, 2000, against the lady doctor. Dr Joga alleged in the copy of suit that Mr Raj Kumar filed a false criminal complaint under Section 304 of the IPC against Dr Joga in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in which she was discharged on November 13, 1999.


2 die, 30 hurt as bus rams into tree
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 16
Two persons were killed and 30 injured, two of them critically, when a bus rammed into a tree 19 km from here today. The injured were rushed to Pathankot Civil Hospital. Twelve patients with minor injuries were discharged after being administered first aid. Eighteen persons who sustained fractures were rushed to Civil Hospital, Gurdaspur. Two persons whose condition was serious were referred to Amritsar.

Amarjit Singh of Sujanpur and an unidentified woman were killed in the mishap. Of the patients admitted to the local Civil Hospital, four were discharged while 12 were under treatment.

According to an eyewitness, the accident occurred when the driver of a private bus lost control of the vehicle and it rammed into a tree.

The driver has been arrested and the bus impounded. 


More jaundice cases reported
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 16
Even as the district administration claims that the number of patients suffering from jaundice, which gripped this town about more than a month ago, is on the decline, the local Civil Hospital today received seven more cases of jaundice. One tested Hepatitis-B positive.

Though the local executive has ordered the closure of ice factories and banned the sale of ice candies, the district health authorities are perturbed over the number of jaundice cases still being received at the local Civil Hospital.

Official sources said so far this month, 68 patients had been detected suffering from jaundice by the hospital OPD and seven had been admitted.

Staff members of the hospital, Dr Balkar Singh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), and five other employees were also treated for jaundice.

Apart from Civil Hospital employees, hundred of residents of this town have been afflicted by jaundice. There is no sign of decrease in the number of jaundice cases.

In March, 42 cases were received by the Civil Hospital OPD. This month, the number has gone upto 68, as per the information revealed by an employee of the hospital on the condition of anonymity.

Mr Vikas Garg, SDM, when contacted, said apart from closure of ice factories clorine tablets had been distributed door-to-door and residents advised to use boiled water.

Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, said about 15 days ago, out of 14 samples of water taken from this town by the health authorities, 11 had failed to meet the standard specifications. Out of 14 samples again taken about three days ago, four had failed to meet the specifications.

He pointed out that water supply in some pockets where there was chance of contamination from sewerage water was being delinked. In certain other pockets, underground water pipes had been replaced. He claimed the number of jaundice cases was on the decline.

Residents alleged that the authorities concerned took measures only when news regarding the spread of jaundice started appearing in various dailies.

Mr Cheema said about 30,000 clorine tablets had been distributed among residents. Health education camps had also been organised to motivate the people to take certain steps on their own to check the spread of jaundice.

The Civil Surgeon, Muktsar, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Law to check migrants’ influx sought

Jalandhar, April 16
Mr Sukhpal Singh Khera, president of the Progressive Farmers Association, today demanded that a legislation should be enacted to “protect” the people of Punjab from the impending socio-economic and political “invasion” of the state by migrant labourers from Bihar, Uttar Pardesh and other states.

Mr Khera, talking to mediapersons here, opined that the migrant population had not only harmed the Punjabis economically but the polity in this state was feeling endangered by this growing alien population. Many migrant labourers had been elected councillors in cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar, and similarly, many sarpanches and panches in rural Punjab were migrants from other states, Mr Khera claimed.

Referring to the rising crime rate in the big cities of the state, Mr Khera claimed that the police had generally failed to verify the antecedents of the migrants involved in criminal activities. The social fabric of the state was being threatened by the influx of migrants, he claimed.

Mr Khera, who is also the secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee, demanded that a legislation on the pattern of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and many other states of the country should be introduced to prevent non-bonafide Punjabis from purchasing agricultural, residential or commercial property in Punjab. The migrants should not be allowed the right to cast their votes in this border state, he said, while making it clear that these were his personal views and not of the party.

Mr Khera further pointed out that according to the latest census figures, the migrant population in the state had gone up to 25 lakh, which was about 10 per cent of the state’s population.

He alleged was that many migrants had managed to garner government jobs for themselves.He claimed that these jobs were given to them by politicians and bureaucrats as they had been employed as domestic servants in the homes of these influential persons at one time or the other.

Mr Khera said he was not against the migrants coming to the state so long as they earned their living and went back home rather than settling down here. Unemployment was on the rise and the situation had worsened in recent years with the migrant labourers making Punjab their permanent home, he added. UNI


Writers bound for Pak left in the lurch
Our Correspondent

Attari, April 16
Punjabi Sabhyacharak Academy, an intellectual writers’ body of Ludhiana delegation, comprising nine members and seeking to participate in the World Punjabi Conference were left in the lurch when visas were provided to them after the departure of the Samjhauta Express on April 12. The disheartened delegation was awaiting the Samjhauta Express at the Attari railway station on the penultimate day of the World Punjabi Conference at Ludhiana today.

Alleging a total blackout of information regarding the Samjhauta’s arrival, departure etc, the delegation was misinformed by the railway authorities that the train would depart by 1.30 p.m. here. They kept waiting here till 5.30 when they were finally ushered in for customs clearance. The delegation included a woman and eight others including, Dr Gulzar Pandher from the PAU, Ludhiana, Principal Prem Singh Bajaj, Dr S.N. Sewak, Mr H.S. Mangat, Manager, Mr U.K. Sharda, editor of a fortnightly Mr Mohinder Dosanjh, farming programmer at the PAU, Mrs Amrita Sewal, writer and stage artist etc.

However, the railway authorities at Attari have pleaded the exact time cannot be ascertained due to reasons of customs clearance as arrival and departure depend on the number of passengers. The visas being time-bound the authorities have no option but to clear all passengers before the train is flagged for departure.


Sunami Gate may collapse
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 16
Once monuments which lent grandeur and majesty to this former princely city, the historic gates of Patiala, have come to be associated with backwardness and neglect and seem to be unwanted now by the people living adjoining them.

The city has already lost two gates in the past few decades and there is a danger of losing another one soon if the Department of Archaeology and Cultural Affairs does not move fast in this regard. Sheranwala Gate and Saifabadi Gate just crumbled away in the recent past before being literally torn away by adjacent shopkeepers so that the area could be developed into a commercial centre which it has now.

Sunami Gate is in a precarious condition presently. The gate, which leads to the traditional market — Adalat Bazaar — is shorn of its traditional finery. Once extensively painted and engraved, today the paint work can barely be seen in a few feet of space. The very existence of the gate is at stake with huge cracks having developed on the side which faces Modi College. People living nearby said if the cracks were not attended to immediately part of the gate could fall apart. Besides the cracks on the walls, the roof has also fallen away in places. Due to this few rooms in the double-storey gate are littered with bricks from the fallen roof on top of them. This sources said would further weaken the structure as rain water could now easily seep into the building. The maintenance of the gate is also in poor shape as its plaster having peeled off in various places.

The sources said even though estimates to repair the gate have been made since 1996, nothing has been done till now. They said an estimate of Rs 2 lakh was made in 1996 and Rs 6 lakh in 1999. However, work on the gate had not been carried out since then. Officials said a recent departmental communication had asked the local Assistant Conservator to take up work on the gates in February this year. They said, however, even then the work could not be taken up as the department did not give any money for the project.

The sources said it was difficult to initiate restoration work on other gates also. While giving the example of Darshani Gate where high-voltage wires pass directly over it due to which no work can be carried out on its roof. They said Darshani Gate where ‘Prakash’ of the Granth Sahib brought from all other gates was done on a regular basis was also becoming unfit for the purpose as no maintenance was being done on the gate. The premises near the gate stink as the area is used for defecation by many people and there is no check to it.

The sources said a move had been initiated recently to give a fresh coat of paint to all gates in the city but even this could not be carried out. Except for Sirhindi Gate, which has been restored by the department after a portion of it crumbled around two years back, the other gates need some work.

The gates besides serving as entrances into the city from different corners were also commercial hubs with shops selling wares from inside and around them. They also served a religious purpose with all of them having ‘Prakash’ of the Granth Sahib installed in one room. Presently, only four gates are protected by the Cultural Affairs Department namely Sirhindi Gate, Sunami Gate, Samania Gate and Darshani Gate.


Army help to continue

Jalandhar, April 16
The Army in Punjab would continue to work in tandem with the civil and police administration and with the paramilitary forces in order to maintain peace in the state.

This assurance was given by Lt-Gen Kamal Davar, goc, 11 Corps, while presiding over a meeting of senior state civil and police officials here today. Senior officers of the BSF and officials of the state Canal and Drainage Department were also present at the meeting.

According to an Army spokesperson, the Minister for Defence Services Ajit Singh Kohar was the chief guest at the meeting which was attended by the state DGP, Sarabjit Singh and senior civil and police officials of eight districts. UNI


Pensioners’ conference on April 25
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 16
The executive committee of the Punjab Pensioners Association today under the chairmanship of its president Hardev Singh appealed to the 1.50 lakh pensioners to participate in the state-level conference to be held at Todar Mal Hall in a Fatehgarh Sahib on April 25.

Mr Hardev Singh said Punjab Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh would preside over the conference.

They would demand a minimum 50 per cent pension of the basic pay as on January, 1996, pensionary benefits of service rendered beyond 33 years, increase in medical treatment expenses etc.


Foundation stone of bridge missing
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 16
The foundation stone laid by Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal of a bridge near Bambihabhai village in this district yesterday has been taken away by some miscreants.

It may be recalled that the foundation stones of as many as six community centres which were laid by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh and former Union State Minister for industries Sukhbir Singh Badal some three years ago were also taken away by certain persons immediately after their laying.

Meanwhile villagers said here today that none of the complexes whose stones were laid in their villages have been completed.


Lawyers begin chain fast
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 16
A group of 15 members of the Sangrur District Bar Association, led by Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the association, began a chain fast in the existing judicial complex here today protesting against the non-construction of a chamber block for the lawyers in the newly-built district judicial complex here.

Members of the association have been observing ‘no work’ since April 9 besides staging a protest dharna daily since April 10 in judicial complex here in support of their demand.

Mr Sohi and Mr Sat Pal Sharma, president and secretary of the District Bar Association, respectively, here today said that a group of 15 bar members would observe fast daily. They also claimed that on a call by them the Bar Associations of Dhuri, Sunam, Malerkotla and Barnala also today observed ‘no work’.

Mr Sohi said a deputation of the Bar would submit a memorandum of their demands to the Deputy Commissioner tomorrow. He also said the local lawyers would start their indefinite strike from tomorrow to put pressure on the government for the construction of chambers for the lawyers.

Mr Sohi also said if the government failed to accept their demand by April 18, the District Bar Association would give a call to the other Bar Associations of the state to observe strike for a day in support of their cause.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has also extended his support to the agitation of the lawyers. He said an action committee comprising local citizens would be formed to press the government for the construction of chambers for the lawyers.


Two farmers killed by lightning
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
As many as two persons were killed and one injured when the lightning struck them in the district in the past 24 hours.

The first incident took place at Raikalan village about 20 km from here, in which a man and his son died when lightning struck them last evening. According to the sources, family of Nazar Singh was harvesting wheat in their fields last evening when lightning struck them. Nazar Singh (55) and his son Atwar Singh (35), died due to it.

In an other incident that took place at Harraipur village Jagpal Singh (18) received injuries when lightning struck him while he was working in his fields. The incident took place yesterday when he was putting the harvested wheat along with his family members. He was admitted to a private hospital here.


Shortage of canal water
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
Shortage of irrigation water is forcing the farmers in this cotton belt to refrain from sowing of cotton which should ideally start from April 15.

The announcements made by the government of increase the supply of canal water by 20 per cent in the areas, where no other mode of irrigation is available, do not seem to be true as various canals in this region are frequently closed for 15 or more days.

Agricultural experts had suggested that the sowing operation for cotton should start from April 15 and should end by May 15. The reason for earlier sowing was that it would lessen the chance of attack of American bollworm and other pests on the crop. The attack of these pests and caused big loss to the crop in the previous years which had forced some farmers to adopt other crops.

The untimely suspension of water from the Harike headworks for various canals like Sirhand feeder, Rajasthan feeder and Ferozepur feeder has created a shortage of water for irrigation in various districts of the region. The affected districts are Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepur which are the main cotton producing centres of Punjab.

The farmers of the region are dependent on the canal water as the underground water is not fit for irrigation. The quantity of fluoride minerals is more than the recommended quota in the underground water which is dangerous both for the crop and the soil. Frequent use of that water could reduce the fertility of the soil which in turn could make the land barren in few years.

The reason of the shortage of canal water is attributed to the non-melting of the ice and less amount of rainfall.


New DC takes over
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 16
Mr Sarvjit Singh took over as the Deputy Commissioner here today in place of Mr Anirudh Tiwari who relinguished charge this morning. 


Candidates, Army men clash, 12 held

Gurdaspur, April 16
Twelve aspirants for recruitment in the Assam Rifles were arrested for causing damage to property at the Tibri contonment today. The accused had gone to the cantonment to participate in recruitment rally of the Assam Rifles.

According to an eyewitness, misunderstanding arose between the accused and some Army officials on duty. The Army officials allegedly took off turban of the father of one of the candidates which enraged them and they attacked the officials.

The candidates were chased. They tried to enter nearby shops. They pelted stones at the police and Army officials. The police also canecharged them.

Three policemen and a PCO owner were injured. The PCO, a cycle shop and a furniture shop were damaged.

Mr P.S. Purewal and Mr Jaswant Singh, both DSPs, rushed to the spot with force and controlled the situation. Recruitment was later carried on peacefully. 


Travel agent dupes 29
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 16
As many as 29 persons belonging to various villages have been allegedly duped by a travel agent of the district.

They complained to the police that the agent collected Rs 70,000 from each of them for sending them abroad. But at the time of emplaning, they were ordered to return as the documents were found to be bogus.

The villagers have demanded action against the travel agent.


Student crushed to death

Kapurthala, April 16
A Class IX student of a local public school was crushed to death by his school bus as Shiv Mandir Chowk here this morning.

The victim was going to school on his bicycle. The police has registered a case against bus driver Sukhdev Raj, who fled after the accident.

The deceased was the only son of his parents. UNI


Dental graduates’ fate hangs in balance
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
Students of the Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences (DIRDS), who have passed the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course have allegedly not yet received permanent registration certificates.

Rakesh Singla (name changed), who had done his BDS from DIRDS in September, 1999, lamented that the students of his batch were in a tight spot ever since they completed the course from the institute. “If the institute did not fulfil the mandatory conditions, why we were given admission through the Pre-Medical Test conducted by the state authorities? Due to non-registration, we have been reduced to the status of quacks,” he alleged.

Showing his degree awarded by Punjabi University, Patiala, the provisional registration certificate for compulsory internship given by the Punjab Dental Council (PDC), and relevant documents issued by the institute, he lamented that all these certificates had been rendered useless.

Interestingly, he was issued a registration certificate by the Delhi Dental Council in January, 1999, under the Dentists Act, 1948. However, he was issued a letter by the council in November, 1999, asking him to return the certificate, as the DIRDS was not recognised by the Ministry of Health, the letter said.

Students were also denied the chance to appear in the all-India entrance examination for Master of Dental Surgery conducted by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in November, 2000. The bulletin of information issued by the AIIMS contained a list of the dental colleges recognised by the Dental Council of India (DCI) which included the DIRDS, Faridkot, bearing code number D062. But when the students applied for the test, the applications were allegedly returned by AIIMS by saying that the DIRDS was not recognised by the DCI.

Rakesh Singla, while referring to a news item published in The Tribune dated April 14, 2001, said it was not clear yet whether the directions of the high court regarding permanent registration of the petitioner would apply to all candidates who had done their BDS from the institute, or only to applicants in whose case the directions had been given.

Mr Vasudev Aggrawal, president, People’s Law Forum (PLF), said the Punjab Dental Council (PDC) authorities had been denying registration to DIRDS graduates verbally without authenticating anything in black and white. “The PDC is bound to give permanent registration to such candidates who have completed the internship, along with their BDS, under the Dentists Act, 1948. The forum holds that the DIRDS management is responsible for not getting the institute recognised by the DCI. “The PDC cannot violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution (equality before law) by giving recognition to students who have obtained BDS degrees from Punjabi University (but from institutes other than the DIRDS) and not to those who have done the course from the DIRDS falling under the same universities,” Mr Aggarwal added. 

Information & Technology college stone laid
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 16
Education is important for the development of the country, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, said while addressing a gathering on the outskirts of the town after laying the foundation stone of a multi-crore Shri Atam Vallabh Jain Information and Technology College being set up by the Sri Bhagwan Mahavir Charitable Trust, here yesterday.

A sum of Rs 5 crore will be spent on the construction of the college. About 25 acres of land situated at Chaurianwali village has been provided free of cost by the Punjab Government to the trust. Mr Badal presented a cheque of Rs 50 lakh to Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, Forest Minister, as the first instalment for the development of the town.


Out of syllabus
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 16
The question paper of BA/BSc Part I in Computer Application - A of Punjabi University, Patiala, was full of howlers. The examinees who appeared in April 8 examination were baffled when in question number B(ii), they found that the word “Computer” was mentioned instead of “compiler”.

Besides, the question number 9 (i) and 9 (iv) of the same paper were out of syllabus. Students and teachers have expressed concern over the “inefficiency” of the university and demanded grace marks.


Personator caught
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 16
An impersonator was caught yesterday at a local elementary teacher training (E.T.T.) examination centre. He was handed over to the police.

The impersonator was an engineer, Avtar Singh, who appeared in the examination in place of Harkesh Kumar. The duty of many supervisors who failed to check copying was changed.


Tools-down strike by industrial workers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
More than 5 lakh industrial workers in Punjab observed two hours’ of tool-down strike today. The call for strike was given by various trade unions, including CITU, INTUC, AITUC, UTUC and HMS, against the proposed amendments in labour laws and the economic and industrial policies of the government.

Stating this, Mr Balwant Singh, President, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said in a press note that the industrial workers held protest rallies and processions in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Batala, Nawanshahr, Mukerian, Hoshiarpur, Garhshankar, Asron, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Ahmedgarh, Barnala, Malout and Rajpura. 

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