Wednesday, April 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Duped by agents, they languish in Pak jail
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Mustafabad (Fatehgarh Sahib), April 24
After remaining lost for a while in a maze of narrow lanes and bylanes of this non-descript village, The Tribune team finally makes it to the house of Desh Raj who is lodged in a jail in Baluchistan (Pakistan). His two daughters — Jasvir and Lakhbir— and their mother, Amarjit Kaur, sit in a corner of their one-room house.

Their faces brighten for a moment as we ask them about Desh Raj. They think that someone has been sent by the Punjab Government to free Desh Raj from the jail. The elder daughter, Jasvir, says: “We were waiting for you for the past three days. Someone was saying that the government will send a team of officials to the village”. However, the moment they realise that it is a team of journalists, they slip into gloom.

Desh Raj, along with 28 other Punjabi youths, is yet another victim of greedy travel agents having a wide network with a base in Punjab. They continue to sell dreams of “greener pastures” to Punjabi youths who want to make a fast buck.

Desh Raj left his village about 15 years ago for a job in Iraq. He stayed their for five years and returned to India. Again he left for Lebanon to take up another job. His two brothers are also there. In Lebanon, he came in contact with a travel agent who assured to take to him to Italy and charged Rs 4 lakh for it. However, he was arrested en route to Italy and is now lodged in the Pakistani jail.

In fact, the story of Desh Raj and the others would have never come to light if Gurdeep Singh, who is also lodged in the jail in Baluchistan, had not written to his relative in Morinda explaining their fate. Gurdeep Singh belongs to a Scheduled Caste family of Buraj village, near here, and is a carpenter. About seven years ago, he left for Dubai where he was reportedly lured by an agent to push him to Greece. He came to the Buraj village in the first week of January and sold his scooter, which was given by his in-laws, and also borrowed Rs 50,000 from a friend, who had to sell his car to arrange the money for him. Gurdeep Singh left for Dubai a few days before “Lohri” telling his maternal grandfather that he would be going to Greece soon.

However, instead of reaching the cherished destination, he landed in the Pakistani jail. According to Gurdeep Singh’s letter, he and the 28 youths were on way to Turkey through some clandestine route. They were arrested by the army on the border in Turkey from where they were handed over to the Iran army which subsequently handed them over to the Pakistan army, perhaps, with the intention that they be handed over to the Indian authorities. However, the authorities concerned in Pakistan put them behind bars for entering their country without valid documents. According to the latest message received from Gurdeep Singh and others, the Pakistan authorities have sought character and verification documents from them for their release.

Gurdeep Singh and others have given all details about their families and their addresses in the letter. The interesting part of the letter is their appeal to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to get them freed from the jail. Gurdeep Singh and others in the Jail have requested their relatives to gather at Chandigarh at a pre-fixed date and to request Mr Badal to take up their cause with the authorities concerned in the Union Government.

Though families of the detained youth say that they have taken up the matter with the Punjab Government through official channels, Mr Badal showed his complete ignorance about the issue when asked in this connection by a private TV channel at a conference held immediately after the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee ( PAC) on Friday.

There are several questions, however, which remain unanswered. Firstly, why did the authorities concerned in Pakistan not inform the Indian Embassy in Pakistan about the detention of the Punjabi youths handed over to them by Iran? Secondly, why has the Indian Embassy on its own not taken up the issue with the External Affairs Minister in Delhi and also with the Punjab Government to get the youths freed? Why the Punjab Government has not shown any interest to get the youths released though its officials, including the police authorities, have been informed by the relations concerned about the detained youths?

Mrs Amarjit Kaur says her elder son Gurmeet Singh met the district authorities concerned at Fatehgarh Sahib to get the necessary documents prepared. She is unable to understand that the release of his husband and others would not be that easy. The External Affairs Ministry would have to take up the issue with their counterparts in Pakistan for getting the youth freed. The External Affairs Ministry is not likely to do anything until “forced” by the Punjab Chief Minister, to do something in this connection. The names of the other youths detained in the Pakistan jail are as under: Preet Pal Singh, son on Dharam Singh (Mukerian), Gurpal, son of Jang Singh (Ropar), Kulwinder Singh, son of Kaur Singh, Khamano (Fatehgarh Sahib), Tirath Singh, son of Dharm Singh, Lanbra (Hoshiarpur), Pavitar Singh, son of Rachan Singh, Banmajra (Ropar), Satwinder Singh, son of Amar Singh, Daulatpur (Nawanshahr), Harmesh Singh, son of Bakshish Singh, Jajantpur Jattan (Nawanshahr), Seva Singh, son of Niranjan Singh, Jandiali (Jalandhar), Surjit Singh, son of Sohan Lal, Langeri (Nawanshahr), Harjinder Singh, son of Surinder Singh, Mithra (Jalandhar), Jujhar Singh, son of Tarsem Singh, Patti Sura Singh (Hoshiarpur), Makhan Giani, son of Resham Singh, Sindhala (Jalandhar), Devinder Singh, son of Sucha singh, Chamba (Hoshiarpur), Mehar Singh, son of Malkiat Singh, Raune Khurad (Ludhiana), Gurnam Singh, son of Karnail Singh, Tanda Ram Sahai (Hoshiarpur), Sajjan Singh, son of Amrik Singh, Masadpur (Mukerian), Sarabjit Singh, son of Niranjan Singh, Rajasansi (Amritsar), Narinder Pal Singh, son of Ram Singh, Salara (Jalandhar), Jagmel Singh, son of Hari Singh Cheema, Thathabahi (Moga), Baldev Singh, Son of Sadhu Singh, Godhewal (Moga), Harbans Kali, son of Gurdev Singh Mehana (Moga), Buta Singh, son of Satpal, Mehta Chowk (Amritsar), Paramjit Singh, son of Niranjan Singh, Taleheri (Kurukshetra) and Dial Singh, son of Banta Singh (Udham Nagar).


Zaffarwal’s claim sounds hollow
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 24
Dreaded terrorist and self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force Wassan Singh Zaffarwal who claims to have killed nobody in his lifetime, was in fact responsible for the influx of massive firearms at the behest of the ISI from across the border. These arms were used to kill innocent persons in Punjab, especially during the nineties.

After Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, slain chief of the Bhindranwale Tigers Force, Zaffarwal was the only top-ranking militant to be intensively interviewed by a number of mediapersons from India and abroad. Zaffarwal was shown worshipping weapons in Pakistan in a photograph published by the media those days.

Though Zaffarwal claims he was a mere puppet in the hands of the ISI, the tone and tenor of his interviews given to the foreign media during the peak of militancy spoke otherwise. His claim that he had not owned responsibility for any killings cannot be believed, his interrogators say.

Several politicians and bureaucrats, especially police officers who fought against terrorism, were against “stage-managed” arrest of Zaffarwal.

Joyce J.M. Pettigrew, an Irish woman who has done a lot of work on Sikh militants, in her much-talked-about book, “The Sikhs of Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence”, published in London gave two comprehensive interviews of Zaffarwal. Both interviews threw enough light on his nefarious designs.

Zaffarwal was quoted saying in the book that after Labh Singh’s death, “the baba announced a new KCF and a new Panthic Committee”.

During his interview with Pettigrew, Zaffarwal had said that the KCF had been given a lot of ideas on its operations by intellectuals, including lawyers.


Modern equipment for hospitals
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
All government medical college hospitals in Punjab with virtually obsolete equipment will now get modern diagnostic machinery for the first time in a decade.

All three government medical colleges in Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot are in the process of getting phaco-emulsification equipment to be used for cataract operations, besides endoscopy. The Medical College Hospital in Faridkot will get a treadmill and a colour doppler testing machine. All equipment is being imported.

Sources said this was the first time in nearly nine years that medical college hospitals were importing equipment from abroad. They said this had become possible due to the enhanced medical fee after the hike in treatment charges. Besides, funds had been generated from Non-Resident Indian students who had been admitted to the medical colleges after paying a hefty fee.

The sources said, the Controller, Stores, had approved a kidney dialysis machine for the Medical College, Patiala. The case for the acquisition of a video-endoscopy machine and laproscopic surgery equipment had been approved for the Medical College, Amritsar. The Patiala college was also pursuing the case for importing both machines approved for the Amritsar college.

All three medical colleges have generated huge funds since the past more than one year. The Patiala and Amritsar medical colleges have accumulated nearly Rs 5 crore each.

The sources said the medical colleges were likely to get a big boost with the influx of modern equipment. For instance, the Medical College Hospital, Patiala, had recently started conducting CT scans this service had been discontinued for some time as the radio-activity tube of machines could not be replaced. The tube was replaced recently at a cost of Rs 16 lakh. Faulty equipment was also being repaired.

The government had earmarked budget for the three medical colleges in the beginning of the year. This was usually done in the last few months of a year and the authorities had to go in for bulk purchases at the end of the year. Directions have been given that a near-equal amount be spent every month as per the need.

The sources said thought the government had amalgamated the funds collected through enhanced fee as well as those from NRI admission in the budget, it had promised that more money would be forthcoming to the institutions once they spent their allocated budget. However this might be wishful thinking as the current procedure for acquiring machinery and other essentials is so cumbersome that it will be difficult to spend the funds allocated in the budget.

Doctors of the local Medical College, however, said when the fee structure was enhanced the government had promised that the extra amount so collected would be used for the improvement of the medical institutions only.

They said only if the government allowed the medical institutions to use funds collected through enhanced fee and NRI admissions could the problems facing the institutions, particularly those of lack of medicines and modern equipment, be removed.


BSP rules out joining third front
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 24
The Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, yesterday alleged that the NDA government was not serious about national security. It had been proved by the brutal killings of 16 BSF personnel by Bangladesh Rifles at the Pyrdiwah border outpost, he said.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Mr Kanshi Ram said after Kargil, the government had again been caught napping at Pyrdiwah. After Nepal, Bangladesh, the only peaceful border with India, had also become tense. The NDA government, he said, was heading towards failure on all fronts.

He asserted that the judicial probe into the Tehelka episode was not likely to be impartial and suggested the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the scandal.

He criticised the Congress for stalling parliamentary proceedings. Open debate was the only way to go into the Tehelka expose, he added.

He disagreed that the Congress-NDA stand-off would lead to the fall of the NDA government. “Even Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had dared the Opposition to move a no-confidence motion against his government” he said. The BSP president ruled out snap poll in Punjab.

The BSP President ruled out snap poll in Punjab Calling Bahujan Samaj (society) an alliance in itself, Mr Kanshi Ram ruled out joining any third front in Punjab in the forthcoming poll. “If I can manage and add just 2 per cent votes of other categories to the SC votes, the BSP will win 25 seats in the Doaba region and wield the balance of power” he said. His party was very keen on contesting the SGPC poll slated for November, he added.

The BSP supremo talked along the same lines at public meetings at Goraya and Hadiabad near here.


NABARD adopts Bathinda
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 24
The NABARD has adopted this district under the District Rural Industry Programme (DRIP) in which rural people will be given incentives for starting small-scale industries.

Bathinda is the first district in the state to be adopted under the scheme in the third phase of the programme. There are seven other districts throughout the country that will benefit from the scheme.

The DRIP will provide the much- needed financial help to rural youth for starting their own business who have been rendered jobless due to frequent crop failure in the state.

The condition of farmers is very bad due to unprofitable output from the agricultural sector, and are also faced with helplessness due to unavailability of any other option. Although some of them have started agriculture-based allied occupations but due to lack of infrastructure, they have not found these profitable. The potential of rural people has been going waste because of non-availability of work.

Under the DRIP scheme, attempt will be made to create awareness among the rural people to start their business. Financial help will also be provided to them through banks and other financial institutions. The NABARD will work as a mediator between the producer and the buyer so that small-scale industrialists do not face any problem in the markets. Stress will be given to those industries for which raw material is available in the village or nearby city. The plan is to utilise the sources available in the village to the maximum.

The DRIP was launched in 1993-94 with a motive of creating employment for the rural people. The scheme, which was originally thought to run for five years was extended to seven years. The scheme has given employment to nearly 1.6 m persons.

A series of seminars will be organised in the district at various places in which bank officials, industrialists and officials from the Department of Industries will participate.

Under the scheme, no subsidy will be given to beneficiaries and interest taken on the loan given to them in order to motivate them to use the loan in a proper way.

The NABARD will not make direct payments to the beneficiaries, rather it will give financial help to banks which will give loans to the people.

Mr Gurinder Singh, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, said the main motive of the DRIP was to generate employment for the rural people in the non-farming sector. He said even bank employees in the region were not well aware about the rules while dealing with the loans given to the small industrial units as they mainly deal with agricultural loans.


Branding in jail alleged
Medical check-up of undertrial ordered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
A judicial magistrate today directed the Civil Surgeon, here conduct the medical examination of an undertrial Raman Kumar, alias Nikka, who has filed a petition before the court that two officials of Central Jail here to branded ‘qatil’ word in punjabi on his back with a hot iron rod after brutally beating him up.

The jail authorities, however, refuted the charges levelled by the undertrial against two staff members. They counter-alleged that the undertrial had played a trick by using a chemical to settle scores with the jail staff who had not accepted his illegal demands for certain facilities in the jail.

According to the complaint filed by the undertrial , who has also sent representations to the Punjab Human Rights Commission , Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the state Director- General of Police and district police officials, the incident took place this morning. He said he was not feeling well for the past several days and requested the jail staff to provide him medicines.

He alleged that instead of helping him Assistant Jail Superintendent Mulraj Singh and Hawildar Jarnail Singh beat him up severely and later inscribed ‘qatil’ on his back today morning.

Mr G.S. Sidhu, Superintendent, Jail, however said the allegations were wrong. He said the undertrial wanted some out of the way facilities and hit upon this idea to pressurise the jail staff.

He claimed that according to his inquiry the undertrial and the constable had an argument over some point recently when the undertrial was being taken to a court. He said that in order to teach the constable a lesson, the undertrial branded himself using a chemical at the district court complex.

He also claimed that a number of other undertrials present in the ‘Bakshikhanna’ had given it in writing that the alleged victim did it in front of them.

Meanwhile, sources claimed that preliminary medical examination has confirmed that the inscription on the body was done sometime in the morning. However, final report was awaited.


SAD dist chief’s removal sought
Tribune news Service

Jalandhar, April 24
The simmering differences in the district unit of the SAD (Badal) reached the boiling point today when a powerful group opposing the district unit president, Prof Inderjit Singh, refused to recognise him and urged the party high command to sack him.

The group, led by the recently appointed Improvement Trust Chairman Sarabjit Singh Makkar, and Parminder Pal Singh Khalsa, which held its meeting at the local Gurdwara Central Town here today, tried its best to use the recent outbursts of Prof Inderjit Singh as its trump card. He had allegedly criticised the SAD President and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

However, Prof Inderjit Singh maintained that he had every right to raise his point at the party fora in a democratic manner.

The Makkar group today went to the extent of seeking removal of Prof Inderjit Singh saying he had no ability to run party affairs.

The supporters of Mr Makkar who held a meeting at the local Central Town Gurdwara passed a resolution that all Akali workers would hold a conference on May 20.


Amarinder denies deal on giving ticket
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said today that he had not struck any deal with the party Members of Parliament from Punjab on the issue of allotment of assembly seats. He said that the reports appearing in a section of the press had no basis.

A meeting with the senior leaders of the party including, MPs, was held to discuss issues concerning Punjab and strengthen the party in the state.


Antique British clock to chime again

Kapurthala, April 24
Residents of the princely town will soon hear the melodious chimes of the famous British-made clock, popularly known as “Ghenta Ghar”, situated in the heart of the town, after a gap of four decades.

The clock, which was installed by the then Maharaja of Kapurthala in 1880 after importing it from a London firm, was out of order for the past over four decades because of a technical fault.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr V.K.Singh, contacted a Kolkata-based firm for the repair of the clock and representatives of the firm visited the town during the past week. The chief technician of the firm, Mr S.K. Dutta, told the Deputy Commissioner after the inspection of the clock that it could function normally.

The firm first offered to buy the clock by installing a new clock in its place free of cost. The firm said it could sell, the clock after repair for more than Rs 10 lakh.

Mr V.K.Singh declined the offer by saying that the historical clock should be preserved for future generations as a relic.

The Deputy Commissioner has given the contract for the repair of the clock to the firm.

He told reporters that the clock would be repaired within the next three months.

He said the clock tower would be renovated at a cost of Rs 3 lakh.

The clock has three big bells each weighing about 150kg.

Old-timers say the then Maharaja had deputed a person to wind the key of the clock once in a week.

The Kolkata-based firm, M/s Aglow Swiss Watch Company, claims to have repaired many old clocks in the country.

It has also installed a clock at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. PTI


Resentment against re-employment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
There is resentment among employees of the Punjab Architectural Department against the move of the State Government to re-employ a senior functionary of the department in the same capacity for one year immediately after his retirement. The functionary is due to retire on April 30.

Certain employees, who have also approached the Minister of State of Public Works (B and R), Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpura, to oppose the re-employment, said such a move would block the chain of promotions down the line in the department. Some officers in line for promotion would retire during the period, they said.

The reason advanced by the government for the re-employment is that the functionary has been associated with various projects taken up at Anandpur Sahib during the Khalsa tercentenary celebrations. However, those opposing the re-employment say that various projects at Anandpur Sahib were taken up by different architects and even architects engaged from abroad were asked to do specific projects.

Employees said that there were a number of other talented architects in the department and they should be provided a chance to prove their worth.


Litterateurs kick up row
A.S. Prashar
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The storm kicked up by the haphazard manner in which the Indian delegates to the recent World Punjabi Conference held at Lahore were selected by the organisers refuses to die down.

A large number of “left out” delegates to the conference who met here the other day and formed themselves into a Sangharsh Samiti, have decided to meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and submit a memorandum demanding the removal of Dr Harcharan Singh and Mr H.S. Bhatty as president and secretary of the Punjab Arts Council for allegedly misusing the offices of the apex arts body to promote a parallel body under the name and style of “World Punjabiat Foundation” and raise large sums of money for obscure purposes.

It is alleged that all preparations for the Lahore conference were made by the duo from the offices of the council in Sector 16 here. The council’s premises, services of staff members, stationery, telephones, etc, were put to unauthorised use. “This is blatant misuse of the arts council and the government, which has nominated them, must intervene and put its foot down,” they say.

They point out that similar “mismanagement” marked the holding of the “World Punjabi Conference” on the Panjab University campus here in December by the same set of persons. But at that time, things did not get out of hand totally as they did this time.

A large number of Punjabi writers, artists, litterateurs, journalists, etc, who were invited by the organisers themselves to join the Indian delegation to the Lahore conference, had to face embarrassment and mortification on being left out of the delegation at the last moment. Some of them had to face the ultimate humiliation of coming back from Wagah where they had been told to gather for crossing over to Pakistan.

While well-known litterateurs and artistes like Mr Gurdial Singh, a Jnanpith laureate, Dr S. Tarsem, Secretary of the Kendri Punjabi Likhari Sabha, and Mrs Primilla Puri, a renowned vocalist, were left out after being invited to join the delegation, several others who were not even remotely connected with Punjabi literature were included and taken as delegates to the Lahore conference. One office-bearer took his car driver on the trip to Lahore, another was accompanied by certain tamba-wearing farmers from his native village while a third took along his wife and other members of the family.

Although a large number of “left out” delegates were informed a few hours before they were to leave for Lahore that they had been refused visas by the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi, enquiries made at the offices of the arts council reveal that their passports were not even submitted to the embassy. One well-known woman singer who had been told that she had been denied a visa by the Pakistani Embassy, contended that if she had been refused a visa, her passport should carry the “rejection” stamp. But this was not so. “They have just played a fraud on us,” she complained.

The same discovery has been made by several other “left out” delegates. One of them, Mr N.S. Parwana, a Punjabi journalist, has decided to return the honour conferred on him at the World Punjabi Conference held in Chandigarh in December in protest against the non-inclusion of litterateurs like Mr Gurdial Singh and Dr Tarsem, who is visually impaired.

Dr Harcharan Singh, Chairman of the arts council, who went to Lahore to attend the conference, cut short his visit and returned to Chandigarh after he learnt that he was not among those to be honoured at the conference. He has also resigned from the World Punjabiat Foundation which is headed by Mr Kanwaljit Singh Mandher, a close relation of a Union Minister.

Mr Bhatty, one of the principal organisers for the Lahore conference, admitted that there had been “bungling” in the selection of delegates. “But there is nothing much that can be done now. No useful purpose will be served by holding an enquiry and trying to fix responsibility. We are sending letters of regret to all those who could not go with us. We are also returning their passports along with the money collected from them by way of travel expenses.”

He was at pains to stress that the arts council had nothing to do with the Lahore conference, which was organised by the World Punjabiat Foundation. He also noted that most of those who were now protesting against non-inclusion in the delegation to Lahore were not members of the foundation.


Sheikh Hasina’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 24
Activists of the Punjab Hindu Shiv Sena today burnt an effigy of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a Bangladesh flag outside the bus stand on the G.T. Road and disrupted traffic for about 20 minutes in protest against the brutal massacre of 16 BSF jawans by the Bangladesh Rifles.

The protesters were led by Mr Surinder Dogra, chairman of the Punjab Hindu Shiv Sena.

Talking to mediapersons later, Mr Dogra alleged that the NDA government had not dealt firmly with Bangladesh in this regard.

They asked the Prime Minister to pursue a policy of “an eye for an eye” with Bangladesh.

Mr Dogra announced that the Shiv Sena would contest the Assembly elections in Punjab but would not enter into an electoral alliance with any party.


NFL employees hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 24
The employees of the local unit of the National Fertilisers Limited (NFL) held a dharna and a rally here yesterday. The employees have been protesting over privatisation of the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).

Mr N.C. Sharma, general secretary of the Fertilisers Workers Association Federation of India, said the PSUs had made unparalled contribution in the development of the nation. He alleged that the Union Government was bent on privatising the PSUs due to pressure of the IMF and the World Bank. The activists of the district unit of the NFL Employees Union (NFLEU) raised slogans against the Union Government and the IMF.

The activists said NFL was the only profit making PSU of the country. After privatisation, job security and employment of thousands of workers would be at risk, they alleged.

Mr N.S. Brar, district president of the NFLEU, said in a written statement issued here yesterday that a two-day strike would be observed on Wednesday and Thursday in all the units and offices of the NFL throughout the country to protest against the disinvestment of NFL, he added.


Two shells recovered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
Bomb-defusing experts and divers of the Army along with officials of the district police today recovered two live shells from under a Sirhind feeder bridge.

The experts said at least five more shells were still in the water which could be recovered only after the water level in the canal was reduced.

Disclosing this to The Tribune, Mr Pramod Ban, SP, city-II, said the experts of the Army based at the Baddowal unit launched the operation at about 5:00 p.m. After about an hour, they were able to recover and defuse the two shells from the water.

He said the operation would continue as soon as the water level reduced and added that it could not be ascertained how the shells reached there.


Diversion leads to traffic jam
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 24
The traffic to Mansa, Dabwali and Talwandi Sabo came to a standstill today when the level crossing near the TV tower was closed for repairs at about 11 a.m. It was later diverted through the Hazi Ratan road, which is hardly fit for heavy traffic.

The level crossing known as the Patiala phatak in the city generally does not remain closed for more than 15 minutes. When drivers of the vehicles today made inquiries from the gatekeeper they were told that it would remain closed for quite some time but he could not tell them the exact time and said that the drivers should talk to the senior officials.

With no option the vehicles started to move through the Hazi Ratan road though it was closed for heavy traffic a few years ago. Barricades to check heavy vehicles were erected on residents request.

Otherwise also the road is unfit for heavy vehicles because its condition is very poor. There is no concrete flooring on that road and it is too narrow.

The drivers of the heavy vehicles faced many problems but they did not have any options.

A senior official of the railway said that they were helpless in the matter. He said he could understand the difficulties faced by the commuters, but the repair work was also necessary.


Cops’ plea for cancelling FIR refused
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 24
Mr Lalit Kumar Singla, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), has rejected an application by the city police for cancellation of an FIR relating to alleged forgery and original conspiracy in a land deal. The court ordered that the accused be summoned under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC read with Section 120-B. The court also ordered that it should be treated as a state case.

Mr Vijay Kumar Bholusaria, a local resident, had complained to the DGP in 1997 that some persons in connivance with the revenue patwari and nambardar of Bhagu village had made some changes in the revenue record of his ancestral, undivided agriculture land and sold it but the police was not registering a complaint against the accused, who reportedly enjoyed political protection.

The DGP directed the SSP Ferozepore to take action. An FIR was registered by the city police on February 3, 1998, but during the investigation the police moved an application in the court seeking cancellation of the FIR on the pretext that the prime accused, Ram Lal, had not benefited due to the changes in the revenue record of the land in dispute.

When the court issued a notice to the complainant, he objected to the plea and filed a separate complaint against the accused in the court.


Plan to sell Lahori Gate draws flak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 24
The proposed move to sell a portion of the Lahori Gate at Sri Hargobindpur has drawn strong protests from art and cultural preservation societies in the state.

While the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has strongly criticised Sri Hargobindpur Municipal Committee’s proposal, the Punjab convener INTACH, Mr Sukhdev Singh, responding to comments of Punjab Minister and officials of the Cultural Department said an ambivalent and ambiguous attitude was apparent that indicated lack of interest. Dr Sukhdev has urged the Chief Minister to take immediate measures to protect Sikh heritage in the state under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964.

The INTACH said team of experts should be taken into perspective for the preservation of historical monuments rather than evading responsibility.


Ambulance donated
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 24
The local Rotary Club has donated an ambulance to the district police for providing timely first-aid and medical help to accident victims. The Rotary District Governor, (designate), Mr Mohan Singh Sachdeva, along with local Rotarians handed over keys of the ambulance to the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, at a function held at Rotary Chowk here.

Mr Vinod Arora and Mr Satish Vohra, president and project in charge, respectively, of the local Rotary Club, said the free ambulance service project had been sponsored by the Rotary Foundation besides sanctioning a grant of $ 2500.


1 killed as van hits tree
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 24
An unidentified young driver of a Maruti van was burnt to death when his vehicle dashed against a tree and caught fire near Goraya late last night. The van was badly damaged, the police said.

According to reports received here this morning, the Jalandhar-bound van was hit by a heavy vehicle. As a result the driver lost control over the vehicle. People from nearby villages rushed to the spot but they could not rescue the driver


Pensioners’ Association seeks age reduction
Our Correspondent

Sangrur, April 24
The local Government Pensioners Welfare Association has urged the Union Government to reduce age limit from the existing 65 to 60 years and grant them status of senior citizen.

The association has urged the government not to impose income tax on pensioners. This was stated here on Tuesday by Mr Vinay Kumar, a retired DEO and president of the association.


Khosla resigns as Dy AG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Mr Rupinder Khosla, working as Deputy Advocate-General in the Punjab Advocate-General’s office for four years, has submitted his resignation. In his resignation letter submitted to the Advocate-General, Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, Mr Khosla stated that he was quitting as he wanted to start his own practice.


Girl abducted
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 24
Failo, a 16-year-old girl, was reportedly abducted by seven persons from Bahadur Lahri village under Pathankot subdivision.

According to police sources, Ali Hussain of Bahadur Lahri village lodged an FIR with the Sadar police station, Pathankot, stating that on April 11 there was a religious gathering at his house which was attended by Sheru, Ishu, Pannu, Lal Din, Sham Din, Sahbi and Rahima, along with others. He alleged that the seven suspects made Failo to sleep near them and kept talking to her till late at night.

Ali Hussain also alleged that early next morning, the seven-member group took the girl with them on the pretext of answering the call of the nature but they did not return.

The Sadar police registered a case on Saturday.


Woman, daughter commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 24
Extreme poverty forced a woman and her 22-year-old ailing young daughter to commit suicide by consuming poison in their small house in Mohalla Chandigarh in the basti area yesterday.

Shanti Devi, 70, hailing from Bihar, was staying with her daughter Mamta and her husband Jatinder, a rickshaw puller, for the past three years and was perturbed over her and her son-in-law’s inability to get Mamta treated for gall stones as they did not have Rs 25,000 needed for the operation for the removal of stones.

As the mother could not bear her daughter’s suffering she allegedly decided to commit suicide and her daughter followed suit.

The residents of Mohalla Chandigarh had to collect Rs 2,500 for the cremation of bodies.


PUTA to launch stir against VC in May
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today announced that it would launch an agitation on the university campus in May with the help of other teachers’ organisations in case the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, did not stop the “violation” of university rules and regulations, the “creation” of fraudulent organisations and the “blackmail” of teachers under the career advancement scheme (CAS).

Meanwhile, the recently formed parallel PUTA body has requested the Vice-Chancellor to take up the issue of taking action against the ‘’ousted’’ body in the Syndicate meeting tomorrow. The new body’s vice-president, Dr Ajit Singh Bhatia, said the request had been made following an emergency meeting of the body’s executive committee.

In a separate statement here, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira and Dr Balwinder Singh, PUTA President and Secretary, respectively, both of whom have been derecognised by the university authorities recently in favour of a parallel organisation, said an agitation would be launched on May 1 if the Vice-Chancellor continued to treat the university as his ‘’personal fiefdom”.

Both leaders said an emergency meeting of the PUTA executive had termed the “illegal” notification by the Registrar derecognising PUTA as “fraudulent’’.

The leaders also alleged that the Vice-Chancellor had promoted ‘’self appointed’’ president Dr Manjit Singh to professorship a few weeks ago by ignoring the seniority of a large number of Readers.

Meanwhile, the campus unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) today condemned the role played by two BJP leaders with regard to the issue of delay in declaring the result of ABVP campus unit convener Sandeep Kapoor. In a statement here, Sandeep Kapoor said Senator Pitambar Dutt and Syndic Pawan Singla had played a “negative” role by taking the side of the Vice-Chancellor on the issue of harassment of students of the unit.


Private schools mushroom
Ashok Grover

Over the past couple of years this border town has witnessed a mushroom growth of unaffiliated private schools. The ongoing academic session has seen the opening of eight such institutions. Perhaps, these days the setting up of a school is a good business proposition.

The premises of these unaffiliated schools often not only lack basic facilities like proper water supply but also adequate space for the children.The classrooms are usually poorly lit and ventilated. Besides, many teachers working there do not have the necessary academic qualifications.

Most of these institutions are registered under the Societies Act with the Registrar of Firms and Societies, Punjab. Interestingly, the students of these private schools have to be enrolled simultaneously in government schools for appearing in board examinations. In fact, teachers of government institutions often approach these unaffiliated schools for the admission of students to their institutions to ensure that posts are not declared surplus by the Education Department.

Most of the students of the unaffiliated schools usually belong to nearby villages. Poor parents prefer to put their wards in these schools rather than sending them to rural government schools or expensive reputed schools. In that way their children get better education than is available in village government schools and at an affordable cost. The condition of government schools is also pathetic. These are short of staff and also lack basic facilities.

Mr Sher Singh and Mr Paramjit Singh, MLAs, had apprised the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, about the prevailing situation at a public function held here recently.

Ms Jupinderjit Kaur, principal of Mata Gujri Public School, Chak Suhelewala, said there was nothing wrong in opening private schools. After all, she said, these institutions were imparting education at an affordable cost. However, she added that there must be some regulations regarding the size and plan of the school building and the qualifications of the staff.


Office-bearers of PCCTU elected
Our Correspondent

Doraha, April 24
Prof Kuldip Singh of Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, and Prof Parminder Singh of Arya College, Ludhiana, have been unanimously elected president and secretary, respectively of the Ludhiana district of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, respectively. Prof Kuldip Singh has been elected for the office of the district president for the second time.

The election was held at the annual session of the Ludhiana district council of the PCCTU on Monday at the Arya College for Boys, Ludhiana.

The election was attended by the state president, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi and more than 50 delegates and activists from 25 colleges of the district.

The inaugural address was given by Mr V.K. Mehta, principal of the college. Prof V.K. Bhardwaj, the outgoing district secretary read out the annual report of the union. Prof Sodhi said annual election of the PCCTU would be held on May 6 at GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana.


Class X exam to be reconducted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 24
The Social Studies paper of Class X will be conducted again on April 29 as the paper taken earlier on March 23 has been cancelled.

The students got the wrong question paper at centres number 10 and 24 of Khalsa Senior Secondary School. Question papers at these two centres got interchanged due to centre controller’s mistake. So students who were to get the question paper based on the old syllabus got the question paper based on the new syllabus and vice-versa.

The paper will be conducted at Government Senior Secondary School in Parasram Nagar from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the old roll numbers.

This was stated in a notification of the Punjab School Education Board issued on April 19.

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