Wednesday, April 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Surrender of more militants likely: SSP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
With the surrender of Rachpal Singh Lali, a former militant, before the Jagraon police yesterday, several others, who have been underground for the past decade are reported to have expressed their desire to return to the mainstream.

According to information from highly-placed police sources, a number of former militants have approached Akali leaders or police officers through their mediators, expressing a desire to return to India.

The sources said the militants, mostly of Jagraon, Batala and Gurdaspur belt, had sent feelers to give up their assumed names. Peace in the state and “friendly” approach of the state government were the main reasons for the sudden shift in their mindset.

The trend started with the arrest of Wassan Singh Jaffarwal early this month. The surrender of Lali, who was a member of the Jaffarwal group, is referred to as only one of the several former militants whose arrest or surrender is on the anvil.

Meanwhile, contrary to the police claims, The Tribune has learnt that Lali who was declared proclaimed offender in 1991 in two cases had arrived in India about a month ago. Though the police denies that he was an associate of Jaffarwal, his arrival in India coincides with the arrival of Jaffarwal.

Confirming this, Ms Joginder Mann, sister-in-law of Lali, who lives in Sidhwan Kalan said he had come to the country about a month ago. He had also visited his village recently. Declining to talk much about him, she said the family also did not know about his plans to surrender. ‘‘ We learnt it through the newspapers only,’’ she said.

According to her, Lali had settled in Manila (Thailand) about five or six years ago after living for small durations in various countries. He had become a cloth merchant in that city. She said he had come back to India to settle down here and live a peaceful life as a law-abiding citizen.

She also revealed that though Lali had come back to the country, his wife Balwinder Kaur and their son were still in Manila. She said as Lali had joined the mainstream, people of the state should help him.

Mr Jaskaran Singh, SSP, Jagraon, before whom Lali had surrendered two days ago, also gave an indication that more such militants might follow suit. He said those who had been declared proclaimed offenders in cases which were not so serious, should be given a chance.

The SSP said Lali was wanted in two cases registered in 1987. In one, he was found in illegal possession of arms and ammunition while in another he was accused of looting some persons.

He said in total, seven cases were registered against him but five were later dismissed by various courts. He said the police was sent feelers by Lali earlier which culminated in his surrender. He declined to provide details about the mediators.


Pak media blacks out Zaffarwal arrest
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 17
Lack of reaction to Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s arrest in Pakistan comes as no surprise. Zaffarwal was coordinator of militant activities in Punjab on the behest of the ISI with a stay of over a decade in Pakistan.

But surprisingly no major Pakistani newspaper carried even a hint about the arrest that happened on April 11. Other popular newspaper dailies such as The Dawn, The News, The Nation, The Jang etc from April 12 onwards to date did not make any mention of the arrest which remains an issue of much speculation in the Indian media.

The Dawn, Pakistan’s most popular English daily till yesterday did not feature the sensational arrest of Zaffarwal.

This was evident even at Attari yesterday when most Sikh devotees alighting from the Samjhauta Express expressed ignorance about the arrest of the militant who was operating from Pakistan soil. They did not find any reaction among Khalistani elements promoting secession.

Intelligence sources point out that at present Pakistan is indulging into a two-pronged strategy. One by which Sikhs could be divided on vital issues relating to religion that will ultimately create two power fronts among Sikhs. Second is to let the Khalistan, “sentiments and elements”, “simmer” until they could be called upon to “thrust” another era of militancy in a highly divisive Sikh community.

That the Pakistan Government is behind the news blackout about Zaffarwal is evident from the highly restricted press of Pakistan. Another reason for the alleged censure of news is the fear of the Khalistan movement suffering a set back due to the arrest of “one among them”....

While top police officials claim that Zaffarwal, once an active terrorist, has become ‘dormant’ now and hence of no further use to Pakistan, his fallout with the ISI in 1994 before he left for Switzerland in 1996 was preceeded by his house arrest for nearly six months in 1994 by the ISI. Hence his connections with ISI had turned sour even though he made concerted efforts to recruit nearly 300 Sikh youths for militant activities and imparted training in use of arms and ammunition, commando operations etc to more than 70 youths in camps at Sialkot, Lahore etc who further organised subversive activities.

Consequently the fear of demoralising Khalistani elements and sustaining their support becomes a prime concern of the ISI. Hence the news blackout. The resultant ‘nil’ reaction of Khalistanis has thus succeeded in not diming the secessionist movement to the interest and greater plan of Pakistan.


5-year RI for acquitted ex-cop
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
In a complete reversal of events, a retired Punjab Police Inspector, acquitted by the trial court in a 1988 custodial death case, has been sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment, and fined Rs 5,000 by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Lakhbir Singh, posted at a police station at Majitha in Amritsar district, was earlier booked by the Punjab Police for allegedly causing the death of Harpal, alias Pala, after beating him in the presence of an ex-sarpanch while investigating the theft of an electric motor from Jagdev Kalan village.

According to the prosecution, the police had initially picked up Pala’s brother, Bagga, after a search of their house. The family was informed that Bagga would be released only after Pala was handed over to the police. Bagga was permitted to leave after Pala reached the police station.

Bagga, the prosecution had added, had subsequently overheard some persons talking that Pala had died and his body was lying in a mortuary at Amritsar. The body was later identified by the family.

Lakhbir Singh, on the other hand, in a report prepared soon after the incident, had stated that Pala had died on the way to hospital in Amritsar where he was being taken after he had complained of illness.

When confronted with the incriminating evidence against him, the accused had claimed innocence. He had added that Pala had sustained injuries after falling down from a cart. After going through the evidence and hearing arguments, Amritsar’s Additional Sessions Judge had acquitted the Inspector.

Pronouncing the orders on an appeal against the acquittal filed by the state of Punjab, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice A.S. Garg observed: “We are of the firm view that the offence committed by Lakhbir Singh squarely falls under Section 304 part II of the Indian Penal Code and he is convicted accordingly.

“The occurrence relates to 1988 and the accused now stands retired. We are of the view that rigorous imprisonment for five years and a fine of Rs 5,000 are sufficient to meet the ends of justice,” they concluded.


DCs told to visit grain markets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
As the weather continues to play spoilsport and the Meteorological Department forecasting no change in the inclement weather during the next 24 hours, the Punjab Government has directed the Deputy Commissioners to ensure prompt draining out of rain water from grain markets.

Weather experts say that there will be no let-up in the bad weather during the next 24 hours. They also do not rule out the possibility of hailstorms in some parts of this region during that period.

Taking serious note of a report in The Tribune today with regard to the accumulation of water in the grain markets, the Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, issued instructions to the staff concerned in the field to provide polythene sheets and other required material for protecting the heaps of wheat in the grain markets from rain water.

He had given an assurance to the farming community that their wheat would be procured and they should have no worry on this count.

Mr Mittal said the Deputy Commissioners were overall in charge of the procurement operations in their respective districts and they had been told to visit the grain markets as farmers were worried because of the unprecedented rainfall in various parts of the state.

Owing to the inclement weather, the arrival of wheat in the grain markets has slowed down. According to official sources, only 2,609 tonnes of wheat arrived in markets yesterday. Till last evening, about 3.38 lakh tonnes of wheat had been procured in the state. The government is expecting 120 lakh tonnes of wheat in the grain markets till the end of the procurement season. Interestingly, private traders have shown no interest in wheat procurement so far.

Procurement will also be made on Sundays. Officials engaged in the procurement operations of the Food and Supplies Department have been told not to seek any leave during the procurement season, which will continue till June 30. In case of emergency, gazetted officers will have to take the permission of the Secretary of the department and non-gazetted officers that of the Deputy Director concerned.

Meanwhile, expressing their concern over the prevailing bad weather, agriculture experts said that further prolonging of such weather would hit the wheat yield. They said there could also be an increase in the incidence of pest attacks during the coming weeks because cloudy weather was conducive to the growth of various pests.

However, they said rain at this stage could prove a blessing to farmers interested in sowing the cotton crop. They advised such farmers to take advantage of the moisture in the soil for the early sowing of the crop. An unofficial view among experts is that the early sowing of the cotton crop could save it from the attack of the American bollworm.

Several areas, especially Jalandhar, Bathinda, Ludhiana and Amritsar, witnessed moderate to heavy rainfall last night. The Ludhiana area received the maximum rainfall (27 mm) during the past 24 hours.


PAU draws up crop diversification map
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Agriculture is once again at centre-stage of the national politics with pressing concerns related to it and the management of the food economy engaging the attention of New Delhi.

This is evident from a communication sent by the Union Minister of Agriculture, Mr Nitish Kumar, to all Chief Ministers asking them to meet in the Capital on April 23. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will address that meeting where the focus will be on agricultural production strategies — diversification, post-harvest technology and value addition; decentralisation of procurement; removal of restrictions on the movement and stocking of all agricultural produce; operation of the Essential Commodities Act as related to food and agriculture; and the impact of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) on Indian agriculture. 

Punjab is concerned at what the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, had hinted at in his Budget speech in respect to the winding up of the Food Corporation of India, and the public distribution system and the discontinuation of system of the minimum support prices.

Admittedly, these had become inefficient and a burden on the state. But these did serve the nation and are still needed for food security and providing the poor an access to foodgrains, say agricultural scientists, economists and administrators. These issues are crucial to states like Punjab (and Haryana) that have contributed substantially to the Central food pool enabling the country to tide over a serious food crisis in the past. 

If other deficit states have increased agricultural production over a period of time, should agriculturally progressive states like Punjab be ‘’punished’’ by dismantling the system, ask farm experts.

Even as Punjab prepares for the April 23 meeting of the Chief Ministers, a high-level committee of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has submitted to the state government a detailed scheme on diversification from rice-wheat for implementation. The crop diversification map drawn up by PAU does not discourage the production of rice and wheat from the national point of view but suggests encouraging alternative farm enterprises from the point of view of the state and farmers so that dependence on these two crops was reduced.

Talking to TNS, PAU’s Director of Research, Dr M. S. Bajwa and Senior Economist, Dr P. S. Rangi, today said that the scheme envisaged the diversification of 10 lakh hectares under rice and wheat to other crops in the next seven years to 10 years. During the "adjustment period’’ as they put it, the Central Government should provide direct income support with Punjab seeking financial assistance from New Delhi to achieve two objectives: income insurance and environmental protection. 

Such assistance to farmers from the Centre was permissible even under the WTO. It would be necessary to create an ‘’adjustment fund’’ of Rs 2,000 crore, the income of which would be used only for this purpose. In the initial years, the area under the suggested crops would be low and the savings from the income added to the fund itself.

Both Dr Bajwa and Dr Rangi explained the diversification scheme drafted by experts, incorporating the recommendations of the Report of the Experts Committee on Diversification of Agriculture in Punjab, submitted by Dr S.S. Johl to the government in 1986. Ironically, that report has remained under wraps all these years. The recommendations of the 62-page report are still relevant. Incidentally, Dr Rangi, then an Assistant Economist at PAU, had assisted that committee in collecting and tabulating the relevant data.

As per the proposed diversification plan, specific districts and regions have been identified for sowing particular crops as alternative farm enterprises to rice and wheat. The following table is self-explanatory (area in lakh hectares):


Existing area Additional  area proposed   Dist/region for sowing
Maize 1.64 1.7 central and submontane districts
Cotton 4.74 2.0 south-west districts
Oilseed 0.90 1.4 R&M*:gobhi, sarson: Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Ludhiana districts. Raya: western districts. Soyabean: central districts of the State *(rape, mustard)
Pulse 0.58 1.4 gram: Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur districts. moongbean: whole of Punjab. summer moong: central districts mash: submontane districts.
Durum wheat 0.35 1.0 Patiala, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib districts.
Basmati 1.00 1.0 Amritsar and submontane districts.
Sugarcane 1.20 1.0 whole of Punjab
Fodder 7.80 0.5 whole of Punjab
Agro-forestry 0.60 1.5 poplar, eucalyptus, dek, etc. along with river beds, bet and foothill area
Fruits 0.32 0.4 south-western and submontane districts
Vegetables 1.35 0.4 whole of Punjab
Mentha, celery, floriculture, Ornamental trees 0.20 0.2 area where assured good quality water is available, ie Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Ludhiana districts.

  By now the ill-effects of the mono-culture of rice in kharif and wheat in rabi are well known. The two have caused the serious problems in terms of the depletion of the water resources and biodiversity, multi-nutrient deficiencies, appear acne of new pests and diseases and environmental pollution. The increased use of inputs — fertilisers, machinery, insecticides-pesticides, energy etc — and over capitalisation of agriculture coupled with the sub-division of land holdings have further resulted in escalation in cost of production and reduction in the income of farmers.

The emphasis of the scheme is that nothing would succeed unless farmers were given a remunerative minimum support price and assured market.

Dr Bajwa said the agro-eco system of Punjab had become extremely fragile. Similar concern was echoed in the Johl committee report on diversification that had identified soil health, crop diseases, human health and the overall living environment as of particular concern due to the cyclic rotation of rice and wheat.

In fact, besides what experts have suggested to ‘’save’’ Punjab’s ecology and economy, it was imperative to ensure the synchronised working of various government agencies, both central and state, dealing with farm inputs and agricultural outputs as well as research institutions and farmers at large, as the Johl committee had concluded.

The Johl report says: "It must be remembered there are no real surpluses of foodgrains in terms of the needs of society. Moreover, as farmers make a shift from rice and wheat, they have to take up more sensitive and risk-prone farm enterprises. The alternative enterprises yield more perishable products than rice and wheat . Their storage is low and market prices and demand are more uncertain. Therefore, the interests of farmers as well as the state and the nation must not operate at cross-purposes. It has to be an integrated and cooperative endeavour to ensure the success of diversification’’.


Jaswant assures Badal on Baddowal depot
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17
The Centre today assured Punjab over the shifting of Baddowal ammunition depot which is only 7 km away from the heart of Ludhiana city to some other suitable place.

This assurance was given by the Defence Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, when the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, called on him here.

Mr Badal highlighted the enormous problems faced by the people residing around the ammunition depot and danger posed by the depot to the city.

Regarding the firing range at Sidhwan Khurd village in Jagraon tehsil, the Defence Minister assured that the farmers would not be dispossessed of the land and they would continue the earlier practice of the yearly lease of land.

On the request of Punjab Chief Minister for the execution of a pilot project Harike wetland, the Centre has agreed to create a special task force of ex-servicemen for control of water hyacinth and the services of the territorial army can be availed for the purpose.

All other aspects of conservation and management, including soil conservation, bio-control of weed, management of fisheries, local involvement for eco-tourism would continue to be with the department of the state government, Mr Badal said adding that the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology would continue to be the nodal agency for conservation and management of the Harike wetland project.

The Punjab Chief Minister also met the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu and stressed on the need to expedite the case of Shahpur Kandi dam project. The funding modalities for the project were also discussed during the meeting.


Who is PSGPC co-Chairman?
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 17
The antecedents of Sham Singh (65), a co-Chairman of the PSGPC, are doubtful as most of the Pakistani Sikhs allege that he is basically a Muslim and adopted Sikhism at the behest of the ISI.

Sources pointed out that Sham Singh was once arrested by the Jalandhar police in ‘70s on the charge of overstay. He had reportedly visited India on a mission.

However, Sham Singh, while talking to TNS, at Panja Sahib (Pakistan) refuted the charges of Gian Singh, a Sehajdhari Sikh, former Deputy Minister, Minorities and founder member of the PSGPC. He alleged that Gian Singh himself was a Hindu and his original name was Gian Chand.

Mr Sham Singh claimed that his family had been perpetuating Sikhism for the last two generations. He, however, admitted that he was not getting support from the local Sikhs. He further admitted that most of the time the PSGPC would fail to hold meetings due to lack of quorum.

Interestingly, the PSGPC has virtually closed its office at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, for the reasons best known to the Evacuee Trust. However, Mastan Singh and his brother Naam Singh — both Pakistani Sikhs — evaded direct question on the existence of the PSGPC. They did not entertain any question regarding the antecedents of Sham Singh.

Sham Singh said he was basically a Sikh as the Pakistan government could not permit a Muslim to adopt any other religion.

Sham Singh said he was born and brought up at Sahiwal Kadarban (Chakk number 62) and later shifted to Thatha, Ghorabari tehsil, post office Vur. He said his father was Mr Sunder Singh and the name of his grandfather was Partap Singh Hazara (Pindi-Pothohari area). He said he was responsible for getting a number of tribesmen from Pakistan baptised to mark the tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa panth.

The co-chairman, who had virtually no say during the Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev in November last year, has been provided with a brand new car now.

Though the team of the PSGPC has been over for several months, but new members have not been nominated so far.


Kidnapped infant rescued

Jalandhar, April 17
The city police today claimed to have solved the kidnapping case of a three-month-old infant from near Jyoti Chowk in the city and recovered the child and arrested two perpetrators of the crime.

Stating this to newsmen here, district police chief Gaurav Yadav claimed that one of the alleged accused Ranjit Kaur, alias Jeeto, was arrested by a local police party from Tardeo village under the Mehta police station of Majitha police district, while her accomplice identified as Jaswinder Singh, alias Pappu, was taken into custody from his house in the Preet Nagar locality on Sodhal road yesterday evening. The kidnapped male child was recovered from the possession of Jeeto and handed over to the parents Kailash and his wife Saraswati, residents of Swaran Park in the Gadaipur area of the city, he added.

According to the SSP, the child was kidnapped to satisfy Jeeto’s urge for having a child of her own as she was issueless from her third marriage. The two alleged accused have been remanded to police custody.

Giving details of the crime, Mr Yadav said Jeeto and Pappu contacted the child’s father Kailash in the first week of this month and showed interest in purchasing the house where Kailash was staying with his family. The house belonged to a local contractor Dharminder Kumar and Kailash was working as a mason for him, he added.

On April 10, Jeeto and Pappu took Saraswati and her two children along with them on the pertext of striking a deal with the contractor who owned the house, the police official said. When they reached Jyoti Chowk, Jeeto took the three-month-old infant from Saraswati and she, along with Pappu, fled leaving the mother shouting and screaming, he added.

Giving further details, Mr Yadav said a case was registered at division number four police station on the statement of Saraswati and a special team under SP (City) Pawan Kumar Uppal was formed to investigate the crime. UNI


Jail Supdt refutes allegation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 17
The Superintendent of the Central Jail here, Mr Jagjit Singh, today refuted the allegation levelled by Mrs Paramjit Kaur, wife of an undertrial, that her husband had died last Saturday due to negligence of the former in providing proper medical aid to him.

Mr Jagjit Singh, while talking to this correspondent here today said Nirmal Singh, brother of undertrial Harbhajan Singh had informed the jail staff at around 6 p.m. that his brother had pain in the chest. Subsequently, the jail doctor, Mr Jagir Singh, had provided him with first aid and the matter was shifted to the local civil hospital by 6.35 p.m.

He said Harbhajan had died in the local civil hospital on Saturday night.

He further said they had provided all medical facilities available with the jail staff to the inmate. “I had not demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 to provide medical aid to her husband. In fact, I have never met her as she has alleged,” he added.

The Superintendent maintained that Harbhajan had never complained of any health problem in the jail.


‘Hold SGPC elections on schedule’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Sikh Core Group (SCG) wants that appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that the SGPC elections, due in November, are held onschedule and not postponed for political reasons.

The Chandigarh chapter of the SCG, which met here yesterday, also expressed its concern over the unethical practices that had crept in the selection of candidates and the conduct of the campaign for the SGPC poll.

The SCG wanted that institutions like Akal Takht in conjunction with two other Takhts should play a major role in evolving a system so that the management of the gurdwaras was directed towards the best interests of the Sikh sangat and the maintenance of high Panthic traditions.

The SCG also wanted that a dialogue should be held before evolving a definite scheme by inviting the heads of the World Sikh Council, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, the Institute of Sikh Studies and the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, besides the Jahedars of the five Takhts. The Jathedar of Akal takht should chair the conclave to be organised in May in Chandigarh.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Principal Gurbax Singh Shergill, Mr Gurdev Singh, Brig Gurdip Singh, Dr Gurmit Singh, Maj-Gen Jaswant Singh, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Kirpal Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh and Mr Jabir Singh Mann.


Army holds medical test in downpour
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, April 17
Thousands of youths from Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar districts awaited their turn for medical test in the downpour at the ground of the local Government Rajindra College where the recruitment for the Army started today.

Aspiring candidates thronged the premises of the college in large numbers in the morning. As many as 5,000 candidates were given tokens to appear for the physical and medical tests. The tokens were issued on the first-come first-serve basis.

The first 1,000 candidates were asked to stay for the test while the others were asked to come the next day. The recruitment will continue till April 20.

Even when it started raining, the candidates were made to wait for their turn in the rain. For the physical tests like measuring height, chest and the weighing the candidates had to be in minimal clothing.

The candidates were not allowed to stand under trees or take shelter inside the building of the college. Some of the candidates were using polythene bags to keep their belongings dry. No arrangements were made for refreshments even though some shopkeepers had put up stalls for eatables near the college.

There were several categories like technical and non-technical for which the recruitment is on.

A senior officer of the recruitment team who was supervising the process said there was no discrimination and every thing was done on the basis of merit. He said the candidates should not fall in to the trap of touts and should inform the officials if they came in contact with such persons.

He said arrangements could not be made indoors. He said the number of candidates was large and it was not possible to conduct the physical and medical tests inside the building.


New turn to civic body row
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, April 17
The controversy between the executive officer and the president of the local municipal council which erupted about more than two weeks ago over the passing of a resolution for transfer of the former has taken a new turn with nine municipal councillors out of the total 23 alleging that the resolution was not valid as it was not passed in a proper manner.

The nine municipal councillors, name Ms Gurmeet Kaur, Mr Harjinder Singh, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Mehar Chand, Mr Mahna Singh, Mr Pawan Deora, Mr Mohan Singh, Mr Gurbachan Singh and Ms Kanta also pointed out that the work and conduct of the Executive Officer, Mr Jangir Singh Thind, was satisfactory.

They alleged the recommendation for the transfer of Mr Thind was not on the agenda of the meeting which was held on March 30. However, the resolution was passed when the meeting was over. They alleged it had been done with an ulterior motive.

In a letter written to various authorities, these municipal councillors had urged them not to take any action on the resolution which had no legal sanctity.

Mr Kala Ram, president of the municipal council, said the resolution for the transfer of Mr Thind from local municipal council to some other place was passed when Mr Thind misbehaved with him over an issue relating to the confiscation of goods belonging to the foothpath vendors and other squatters.

He alleged that on March 29, Mr Thind confiscated goods belonging to foothpath vendors and other squatters through staff members of the tehbazari wing. When he asked the EO to return the same to their rightful owner, he (Mr Thind) refused to do so and challenged him to do whatever he (Mr Kala Ram) wanted to do. He added that after this incident the municipal councillors felt bad and decided to pass a resolution for the transfer of Mr Thind.

He claimed that out of the nine municipal councillors who had written in favour of Mr Thind and against the resolution, five municipal Councillors had approached him again and said their signatures on that letter were taken fraudulently.


Murder case: Bittu acquitted
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 17
Daljit Singh Bittu, president of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) and his accomplice Gursharan Singh Gama, were acquitted by the Ms Sabina, Additional District and Sessions Judge, here today, in a case pertaining to the alleged murder of a sarpanch in 1990.

A case under Sections 302,148, 149 and 25 (Arms Act) were registered against the leaders of the SSF in 1990. However, Daljit Singh Bittu, though acquitted, will not be released from custody as he is facing other charges in cases framed against him in courts at Ludhiana and New Delhi.


Recruitment rally from April 21
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 17
An Army recruitment rally will be organised at Kathunangal (Amritsar-Batala road) for soldiers to (general duty) for Sikhs, Sikh (Mazhabi and Ramdasia), Hindu Dogras, Brahmins, Muslims and other Indian castes and solider clk/sket, technical for all-India all caste from April 21 to April 29 for youths of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. The candidates are required to report at the Army ground near Kathunangal police station.

Recruitment conditions include a matriculation examination and age between 16 and 21 years for solider (GD) and 16-23 years for clerk-skt and solider (technical). Candidates are required to bring their caste certificate issued/attested by the SDM concerned education certificate, character certificate and residential certificate.

They should bring along 12 photographs. Sikh candidates should have 12 photographs in turban and 12 without. Wards of ex-servicemen and servicemen should bring their discharge book or copy of their fathers.


1 pilgrim killed, 13 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 17
Hazari Lal of Gundpur district in Gurdaspur died on the spot ‘while 13 other pilgrims wounded when their Tata 407 over-turned near Nangal Kalalan village on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road, 25 km from here, today. Ten of them have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur and three to the Civil Hospital at Tanda. The condition of four of them is stated to be serious.

According to the police, the pilgrims were going to Gurdaspur from Baba Balak Nath, Deot Sidh. The driver tried to save a scooterist.


Cheque bouncing case: 1 acquitted
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 17
Mr Bhajan Ram, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Pathankot, recently acquitted Sat Paul Singh of United Builders Pathankot, in a case involving the bouncing of a cheque.

The complainant Messers Scientific Corner through its partner Mr Krishan Dev, a local resident, filed the complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act alleging that United Builders had been purchasing goods from the complainant’s firm and towards part payment issued cheque for Rs 50,000 dated June 19, 1998.

The cheque, when presented for encashment, was dishonoured on account of “insufficient funds” in the account of United Builders.

The Magistrate observed that the complainant had failed to prove the case and transaction and cheque in question was issued without any legal liability.


CM takes absentee officers to task
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 17
Two senior officers of the Public Works Department (B and R) had to apologise when found missing at a “sangat darshan” programme of the Punjab Chief Minister here yesterday.

The Chief Minister found the officers absent when a problem relating to their department was raised by the public. He immediately contacted the Secretary of the department on his mobile phone at Chandigarh and ordered that both be transferred.

The officers concerned reportedly rushed to the programme venue and expressed regret for their conduct following which the Chief Minister withdrew his orders.

The Chief Minister had agreed to spend a day here on the request of state BJP President Brij Lal Rinwa and Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, MLA from this constituency.


More lawyers join relay fast
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 17
On the second day of a relay fast by the members of the Sangrur District Bar Association, another group of 15 bar members observed fast today in the existing Judicial Complex here protesting against the nonconstruction of chamber block for the lawyers in the newly-built District Judicial Complex.

The members of the Bar under the leadership of Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the Bar Association, have been agitating since April 9 by observing ‘no work’ and staging protest dharna in the complex.

Mr Sat Pal Sharma, secretary of the association, said here that their agitation had badly affected the court work because of the indifferent attitude of the state government towards their demand.


Martyrs ignored by DD, says Sena chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 17
Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, head of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, lashed out at the government for not telecasting on DD-1 the homage paying ceremony held at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13. “It has hurt the feelings of thousands of Indians who felt that Government of India had ignored the sacrifice of Jallianwala Bagh martyrs”, he said.

In addition to that, the Sena chief demanded beautification of Jallianwala Bagh, including light and sound programme.


State-level Lok Adalat at Mansa
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 17
Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda, while presiding over a meeting of the district Free Legal Services Authority, Mansa, yesterday said so far 60 persons had availed of free legal service. He laid stress on giving wide publicity to the availability of free legal aid to the public through sarpanch, patwaris and gram sevaks.

Mr Rajput said a state-level Lok Adalat would be held at Mansa on April 28. He said at the last Lok Adalat held at Mansa 600 bank cases were settled.

He said he would write to the government to post an assistant district attorney (legal cell) at Mansa. The post had been lying vacant and the ADA, Bathinda, had been given additional charge of the post, who visited Mansa twice a month. Regarding chambers for lawyers, he said for the time being the lawyers would be allowed to work from the first floor of the new judicial complex.


PRTC men up in arms against GM
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 17
Employees of Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation are up in arms against the General Manager, Kapurthala depot, Mr H.S. Dhillon for his alleged dictatorial behaviour and corrupt practices and demanding probe by a high-ranking officer in the alleged charge of corruption against the General Manager.

The employees’ leaders threatened to go on an indefinite fast if their demand was not accepted.

The leaders alleged that the general manager had been allowing the plying of private buses without permits on PRTC routes.

When contacted Mr Dhillon refuted the charges of employees’ leaders. He said the union leaders had tried to exert pressure on him to post persons recommended by them to key posts and when he did not yield to their pressure they began agitation.


Action against speeding vehicles in cant area
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 17
A campaign has been started to measure the speed of vehicles in the Army Cantonment Area, running through Rajindra Hospital and Bhakra mainline road on the busy Sangrur road.

This was stated by Major Ameed Singh, who said speedometers had been set within the prohibited area to measure the speed of vehicles running above 40 km per hour. He said those violating the rules would be challaned. In hit-and-run cases, the number of the vehicle would be noted and action would be taken against them.

He expressed concern over the large number of accidents that had taken place last year. The campaign had been started by the civil and military men in cooperation with the city SSP and DSP.


OPD schedule
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 17
The Punjab Government has changed the O.P.D. timings of all government hospitals and dispensaries with immediate affect.

Stating this, Health Department sources told this correspondent here today that all Out Patient Departments would open for the public from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from today.


Barley, gram, sarson fetch prices below MSP
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 17
Even as the Punjab Government is yet to give compensation to those farmers who have sold off their paddy crop at a rate much below than the minimum support price (MSP) last season, the farmers have again been forced to sell off of crops of barley, gram and sarson at much below the MSP to the private traders as the authorities concerned have failed to start its procurement.

Sources said no government agency had started procuring barley, gram and sarson crops on the MSP and the farmers had been left with no option than to sell off the same at the rates ‘fixed’ by the private traders. The sources said that farmers had been selling off serson at rates ranging from Rs 950 to Rs 1,100 against the MSP of Rs 1,200, grams at rates ranging from Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,200 against MSP of Rs 1,750 and barley at rates ranging from Rs 350 to Rs 375 against MSP of Rs 500.

It may be for first time that these crops were being sold off at a price which was less than their respective MSPs. Earlier, their rates used to rule high in the markets.

Mr Ruldu Singh, vice-president, BKU (Ekta), said that farmers of this region had been deprived of crores of rupees on account of sale of their crops at the rates much below the MSP because of the fact that the Central Government had lifted restrictions on the import of certain agricultural items.


Farmers face seed shortage
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 17
Even as the sowing season of cotton crop has started from April 15 in the state, the growers are facing a acute shortage of certified seed of the same.

To clash in on the situation, a number of seed producing companies from Mahrashtra and Gujarat have started flooding the markets with the seed and have been doing roaring business by selling off the hybrid seed to the farmers.

Apart from it, the farmers are also facing the problem of spurious seed which have also been flooding the markets falling in the cotton belt of Punjab comprising Bathinda, Muktsar, Moga, Mansa, Sangrur, Faridkot and Ferozepore district.

Official sources said that on one hand the Punjab Agriculture Department authorities had been trying to bring more area under cotton this year as compared to last year but on the other hand they have been facing acute shortage of certified cotton seed.

The sources added that against the requirement of 1.50 lakh quintal certified seed, the Punjab State Seed Corporation had only 2500 quintal of certified seed. Punseed could arrange only 42 quintal of hybrid certified seed of cotton to be sold to the farmers

Dr Attar Singh, Manager (Production), Punseed, when contacted, while confessing, that farmers had been facing problem of spurious seed said that Punseed could not produce enough stock of certified seed due to its bad financial position.

Official sources said that farmers of the cotton belt had been making rounds to the Punseed office for getting the certified simple and hybrid seed of recommended varieties but had been returning disappointed.

In absence of certified seed, the farmers have been left with no other alternative than to buy the hybrid seed being offered to them by the Maharashtra and Gujarat-based companies.

Mr G.S. Khera, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Bathinda, when contacted, said that he had instructed the seed dealers to ensure that farmers were not cheated and only reliable seed should be sold to them.


Licences of 22 arhtiyas suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 17
As many as 22 licences of commission agents of various purchase centres of this district have been suspended by the Deputy Commissioner and District Food and Supply Controller after a surprise check was made in the past two days.

Official sources said the licences of commission agents were suspended when they were found filling uncleaned wheat in the gunny bags. During the check it was also found these commission agents did not have a power cleaner with them.

Mr Joginder Singh Kahlon, District Food and Supply Controller, when contacted, said these commission agents had also not made arrangements for tarpaulin and generators sets. He added that three licences had been suspended in the Gumti Kalan purchase centre, seven in Rampura Phul, two in Bhucho, two in Phula, one in Kothaguru, three in Jalal, two in Bhai Rupa and two in the Athana purchase centre. 


12 PSEB employees suspended
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 17
As many as 12 employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Shehna, including Mr Harjinder Singh, Junior Engineer, and two linemen, Mr Amarjit Singh and Mr Darshan Singh, have been placed under suspension, whereas six assistant linemen and three work-charged staff have been transferred out of zone on administrative grounds over the “controversial inauguration of a 24 hour power supply incident at Tallewal village about 20 km from here.

These employees victimised on the technical ground of starting and connecting a powerline at Tallewal village without passing of the power line by the Chief Electrical Inspector, according to reliable sources, became a victim of the annoyance of higher power board authorities in a tug of war for attaining supremacy among the rural masses between the two warring factions of the Shiromani Akali Dal — the Surjit Singh Barnala group and anti-Barnala faction led by Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, MLA, Barnala.


NRI murdered
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 17
Mr Jarnail Singh who had come from Canada to visit his Kotlin Mehar Singh Wala village under Baghapurana police station in this district was yesterday allegedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons while he was alone in his house. The police has registered a case.


Robbers loot jewellery, cash from dera
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 17
More than 12 armed robbers with muffled faces looted more than Rs 20,000 in cash and gold ornaments from a dera known as “Mai Daa Darbar” here late last night.

Bibi Nimmo Gaddi Nashin of the dera, and another sewadar Kamla were injured in the attack when they tried to resist.

The miscreants snatched gold ornaments from women present in the dera, and injured them.

Bibi Nimmo was treated at a private clinic here and was discharged with 15 stitches on the head.

Phillaur police S.H.O. Jasdeep Singh said the police has registered a case under Sections 458/380, IPC, but no arrest has been made so far.


Plan to improve conduct of exams
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 17
The Punjab Government is working on a major plan to improve the conduct of the annual examinations of the Punjab School Education Board. The objective is to decentralise the process of conduct of examinations, said the state Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, here today.

The minister, who was talking to mediapersons, said despite objections from certain quarters within the board, the initial groundwork under the plan had already begun. Three centres of the board had been planned at Moga, Sangrur and Jalandhar. The entire state would be divided into four parts, the fourth being at the board headquarters here.

The Moga centre would deal with the scrutiny of the examination forms of the candidates from Muktsar, Ferozepore, Faridkot and Moga districts. Similarly, the centres at Sangrur and Jalandhar would take care of other districts. The headquarters would take care of Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Patiala, Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib. The centres would be under the charge of Deputy Secretaries to be taken from the board. He said employees hailing from the district concerned would be given preference while being posted at the centres. Around Rs 1.5 crore would be spent on creating the infrastructure at the centres. The candidates would also be issued roll numbers at the centre concerned.

Another major step being taken was table-marking of the answersheets of the medical and non-medical streams. He said the issue had been discussed with the chairman of the board and at least 10 per cent of the answersheets of the two streams would be picked up at random.

The minister, who was at the board to take a decision on giving jobs to kin of deceased employees of the Education Department, said 76 persons who fulfilled the criteria were given appointment letters on compassionate grounds against posts of sewadar, clerk, master, elementary teacher, vocational teacher and lecturer. So far, around 1,480 such cases had been disposed of by the government.

Mr Tota Singh said 1,401 schools were being upgraded in the state and a notification in respect of 600 had already been issued.

He said the government was eager to fill vacant posts, but in some cases the matter was sub judice. To upgrade school buildings, the government had formed village-level committees and non-resident Indians were being requested to mobilise resources for the purpose. In some cases religious leaders had come forward to build the school infrastructure through kar seva.

On being asked about the feedback on putting JBT teachers on examination duty during the matriculation and senior secondary examinations of the board, he claimed that the experiment was a success. Admitting that the system needed to be improved further, he said those who were objecting to the new experiment had personal interests to protect. 


Accreditation of medical institutes sought
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 17
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has recommended to the Union Health Ministry that an accreditation scheme for the medical universities and medical institutions in the country be introduced to ensure quality of education on the pattern of gradation of the engineering institutes.

Inquiries made by The Tribune show that two years ago, the MCI set up a three-member committee comprising Dr Bhaskar Rao Chaudhry former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, Dr Livtar Singh Chawla, founder Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, and Dr Ved Parkash Mishra, member MCI, to study and formulate the scheme of accreditation for the medical institutes.

The committee has submitted a blueprint to the MCI. On April 3 the MCI organised a national workshop on introducing the scheme in Delhi. It was attended by the Vice-Chancellors of the medical universities, deemed universities and eminent medical personalities of the country.

The MCI observed that the assessment and accreditation of institutions of medical education has come to be recognised as the ‘quality ensuring mechanism’ all over the world. It has become necessary and relevant to India, which has developed the second largest system of medical education in the world.

There will be three accruable accreditation grades — A, B, C — based on the percentile score on the basis of compliance with specific inputs.

It has recommended that the process of assessment and accreditation should be mandatory in character so as to bring all the medical colleges/institutions within its fold. The character of the inspection committee for this purpose should be ‘composite’, so as to include experts from the field of finances and management alongwith those from the medical field including a full-time inspector of the MCI. The grade awarded shall maximally be for a period of five years or for such period as may be decided by the evaluating authority.

Dr Chawla says there are five full-fledged health sciences universities and three deemed universities in the country. Besides, there are 172 medical colleges, including 150 recognised by the Medical Council of India.


Where quality education, danger go hand-in-hand
Anita Tayal

Patiala, April 17
No Principal, no main office, no librarian, no bathrooms, poor wiring system, improper water supply, dilapidated building, screws coming out of doors and hanging window panes, are some of the characteristic features of Government Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, located in the Sirhindi Gate locality in the city.

The institute, apart from the primary and middle school, also includes the college, where the classes of degree and diploma courses are undertaken by the teachers. This is the first and only of its kind to hold diploma classes of Gyani regularly in Punjab. Such a school, rather than receiving any special funds, is a disaster and is left with just a structure standing in form.

The Directorate of Primary Education came into existence in 1966. The primary school till Class V got administered under the Block Primary Education Officer (BPEO). More than half of the building of this school situated amidst the busy bazaar is in a dilapidated condition and has been declared unsafe by the PWD. No action has yet been taken by the authorities concerned despite repeated requests made by the school authorities.

The teachers are scared that the building may collapse even while the teachers are taking the classes. The areas of prime concern are the stairs which lead to the primary school building. The teachers say they are afraid to use the steps, lest they fall.

A complete ruin, the walls of the unsafe building, broken floors and especially the area attached with the stairs shows big blocks of bricks literally falling apart. There is no other entrance to the school premises to enable the children and teachers to go to primary classes. Showing their contempt, the teachers of the primary school as well as the in charge of the college, Mr Khushi Ram Sharma, say if the PWD does not initiate any steps to improve the condition of the building, any mishap can occur.

The school authorities say according to the PWD, they have done their part of work by inscribing the word “unsafe” on the walls of the building with red paint. The school teachers add that because of the scarcity of rooms, they have to take their classes under such situations.

The rooms of the institute are also in poor condition, though a few rooms have been constructed only a few years back, probably because of the sub-standard quality of material used in the construction. During the rainy season, the walls leak, which is a danger for the electricity cables, which have no protective covering over them. The main electricity meter of the school is in the unsafe building.

Teachers say it is mainly because of the standard of education of the school that students come from far-off places. otherwise the building has to attract the number of children. They say the authorities must take immediate action to safeguard the interests of teachers and students.


Grace marks sought for wrong question
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 17
In a Guru Nanak Dev University faux pas, an incorrect question was put in the B.Com I (Regular) Paper IV namely Quantitative Techniques for Business in the evening session in the ongoing annual examinations.

In a representation sent to the university today, Prof S.K. Bhatia, Head of the Department of Mathematics of the local Guru Nanak College, has demanded six grace marks for the candidates as the question no. 21 in Section B of the paper carried six marks.

Professor Bhatia said the quantitative information (numerical expression) on basis of which the sum was to be solved was missing from the statement. Without giving separate probabilities of solution, the sum could not be solved at all, claimed Professor Bhatia, who teachers the class concerned.


Principal’s post: recommendation on PhD condition
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 17
In a significant step, the State Council for Higher Education has recommended that the UGC condition of Ph.D for the post of college principal be held in abeyance for four years and instead teachers with 25 years’ experience be considered eligible for the post.

This was stated here today by Prof KBS Sohi, president, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union. The recommendation would now be considered by the Council of Ministers and, if accepted, provide a reprieve to candidates for the post of Principal who do not hold the Ph.D degree.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |