Sunday, April 29, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Petition against Bibi Jagir fails
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 28
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) has dismissed a petition filed against former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur and three others filed by Mr Davinder Singh of Kalanangal in Gurdaspur.

The Chairman of the commission, Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, and members Mr Amrik Singh and Mr Ajawant Singh held that the hearing in the case of promotions of 489 employees of the SGPC was under Section 142 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, hence the writ petition of the applicant, Mr Davinder Singh, was rejected.

The petition filed by the applicant was against the non-conformity of Bibi Jagir Kaur, Secretary Gurbachan Singh Bachan and former personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Harjit Singh, in the promotion of Mohinder Singh, in charge, purchase, promoted as assistant secretary (establishment) via an order dated March 23, 1999, and simultaneously held the two posts. The two others had not advised Bibi Jagir Kaur against such an order, the applicant said.

Other orders that the applicant appealed against were an order dated March 30, 1999, wherein Golden offset press manager Joginder Singh was promoted as assistant secretary.

Another order of the same date wherein Mr Sukhchain Singh and Mr Nirmal Singh Superintendent, were promoted as assistant secretaries, and Mr Balwant Singh from supervisor to secretary, was also opposed.

The applicant also alleged that promotions and demotions between April 1, 1998, and December 15, 1998, via order no 1318 dated August 27, 1999, were set aside.

Meanwhile, the next date of hearing in the case of 489 employees inducted by the former SGPC president is May 15.

In another case of unauthorised payments to the tune of Rs 55 lakh made by Bibi Jagir Kaur and others in which the SGPC proceeded ex-parte against Bibi Jagir, the court today accepted her application under Rule 9/7 under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, vide a separate order on the payment of costs.

The next date for the hearing in the case is June 2.


Farmers’ query leaves CM speechless
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
“Which variety of paddy should we grow now?” This question posed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at the Khanna grain market on Friday during his surprise visit there, reflects the predicament of farmers of the State.

The Chief Minister had no answer. Instead, he tried to explain that the Union Government wanted to reduce the minimum support price of wheat. The area under paddy should be minimised, Mr Badal said.

The predicament of Punjab farmers is understandable. The controversy generated over the quality of paddy produced in Punjab is still not over. Immediately after harvesting wheat, farmers start transplanting paddy. All that farmers want is an assurance that whatever they produce should be procured by the State.

In view of controversies over the quality of paddy in general and rice in particular, neither the State Government nor the Food Corporation of India may be in a position to guarantee a “trouble free procurement of paddy later this year.”

Unfortunately, farmers in the State have still not been sufficiently educated about diversification of crops and growing better varieties of paddy.

In fact this is the time for the Department of Agriculture and its extension wing to organise special camps in the grain markets to educate farmers about growing nationally acceptable varieties of paddy or cash crops.

The Extension Education wing of Punjab Agricultural University, too, should be involved in this exercise. Unless there is not a sustained campaign in this direction, there will be another paddy glut four to five months from now.

Faced with the problem of plenty, the Food Corporation of India may raise its hands even before the start of paddy procurement season. The Union Government has decided to transfer foodgrains procurement operations first to zonal bodies and then to the States to the great dismay and discomfort of agricultural States like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

A massive campaign needs to be conducted immediately for reducing the area under paddy besides encouraging the cultivation of other cash crops, including oil seeds, by offering some incentives on their procurement.

Another issue raised by the Chief Minister’s surprise visit to a school, a hospital and the continent’s biggest grain market was the condition of roads. Though work on village roads at Chunni and near Fatehgarh Sahib may have warmed the cockles of the Chief Minister’s heart to an extent, but he had to rough it out from Sohana to Chunni, a distance of more than 20 km.

Though the State Government has been emphasising on the completion of 40-km long link road in the each Assembly segment, the factual position is otherwise. Some of the important and busy roads, especially those linking villages with the main grain markets are in shambles.

For example, the road that links Samrala with Khanna’s grain market has been in very bad shape. He condition of the Bija-Doraha road is no better. Similarly, the Doraha-Neelon road that runs along the canal, too, needs repair.

The worst affected are those portions of roads which form part of state and national highways and pass through villages, towns and cities.


Potato prices go up, growers happy
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 28
Having suffered huge losses during the past two years, farmers and commission agents of the Doaba region are all smiles now, reason — the shooting of potato prices during the past fortnight.

As they suffered heavy financial losses for two years due to the alleged indifferent attitude of the state government, agitated farmers had dumped hundreds of quintals of potatoes on various roads in the city in January.

Most of them had resolved not to go in for the crop next season while others had put their produce in cold storages. This had led to the constitution of a board by the state government to look into the matter.

Now, after three months, the situation has finally taken a favourable turn with the sudden rise in the prices of the crop. Potato growers, who had stored their crop in cold storages are a happy lot, but the shooting potato prices have created panic among common consumers.

Information collected by The Tribune reveals that the retail and wholesale prices of the crop have risen at least three times since the hike began around March 15. If good-quality potatoes were selling between Rs 2.50 per kg at that time, the price has jumped to Rs 8 per kg now and had even touched the Rs 10 mark during the Navratras. Similarly, the price of a 80-85 kg bag of the new crop had increased from Rs 50-75 in January and February to Rs 350-400 these days, depending upon the quality and availability of the produce in the markets of the state.

“Just 15 days ago, a good quality potatoes were available in the market for anywhere between Rs 3 and Rs 4, but yesterday I had to pay Rs 9 for that,” said Mr Sikandar Singh, a resident of Balachaur township in Nawanshahr district. Similarly, Mr Anurag Sood of Hoshiarpur apprehended that the prices could go even higher if the big farmers and commission agents continue to indulge in hoarding of the crop to create an artificial scarcity in the market.

Investigations revealed that the benefit of the price hike was being reaped by either big farmers who did not sell potatoes at throwaway prices and took a calculated risk of retaining their crop in cold storages, those who had been continuing with the crop despite the discouraging scene, and the commission agents who allegedly indulged in the hoarding of the produce.

Talking to The Tribune, a number of growers of the Doaba region, considered to be the potato bowl of the state, maintained that besides the tendency of hoarding among farmers and merchants, decline in the area under the crop in the state during the past two years and the reduction in lowering of yields this year due to the damage caused by frost to the crop were the main factors behind the price hike.

Mr Sarabjit Singh Bariana, a leading potato grower of the region, said the disinterest of farmers had led to a situation where none of the nearly 300 cold storages in the state had been able to fully utilise their storage capacity.

Mr Bariana maintained that the area under crop had not come down in Punjab only, but the decline in the area was also recorded in other major potato producing states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sidhu, another potato grower, said average yield had come down from 150 bags per acre during the last year to 120-130 bags per acre this year on account of frost attack, which led to the rise in the crop price.


Where tuition is like an industry
Chander Parkash

Over the years, the business of tuition has become a major industry in this town — the heartland of the Malwa region — as a number of coaching centres have mushroomed in every nook and corner. Senior secondary school and college teachers of science and math's faculties have been holding extra classes for students at their houses or at places arranged for them to mint money by cashing in on the aspirations of students to get a berth in medical and engineering colleges.

The race among the parents to place their wards into the elite sectors of society by getting themselves admitted into medical and engineering colleges has been forcing them to pay through their nose and in the past one decade the tuition business in this town has acquired a larger-than-life dimension.

In the past one decade, the town, which has come up on national map as the best coaching centre for competitive exams for entering medical and engineering colleges, has been witnessing a plethora of coaching centres on one hand and on the other, most of lecturers working in senior secondary schools and colleges have been making continuous efforts to get themselves transferred to an education institution in this town or in the surrounding areas so that they could start tuitions, which demands little investment.

Bathinda town came to the limelight as the best coaching centre when some of students who passed their plus one and two classes in local colleges topped various competitive exams for joining medical and engineering colleges. As word spread around, the city started receiving students from all parts of the country for getting coaching from local teachers.

Over the past five years, the city came to be known as the nursery of doctors and engineers and every year students who have been appearing for the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) and Combined Entrance Test (CET) and other exams have been producing excellent results.

An intensive survey carried out by TNS revealed that on an average, parents had been spending Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on extra coaching for one ward. Those living outside the city have to pay double that amount as they have to include accommodation for their wards.

On an average, those who have converted their residences into guest-houses and hostels and owners of newly constructed hostels, have been charging Rs 3,000 per month from each occupant for accommodation only. Over the past decade, a number of such guest-houses, and hostels, most of which are not registered with the local Municipal Council, have been making huge profits by charging exorbitant rents.

Though no major incident with the occupants of such guest-houses and hostels has been reported so far, about two years ago, an owner of guesthouse tried to molest one of the six girls living there. After the incident, all the six girls left the place.

Information revealed that hundreds of students who have been coming to this city from far away places for getting coaching for PMT, CET, IIT, Banaras Hindu university, AIIMS and other entrance tests every year, have been living in the guest-houses and hostels which have come on Power House Road, Jhujhar Singh Nagar, Balla Ram Nagar, Ajit Road, Aggarwal Colony, Civil Lines and Bibi Wala Road.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, when contacted, said the department had been finding it difficult to find out all those doing tuitions due to administrative reasons. In the absence of this arrangement in the last financial year, a meeting of most of those who were in this business was convened and they were advised to pay their tax voluntarily.

He pointed out that in the last financial year, the income tax authorities earned Rs 8 lakh from teachers which they deposited as tax on their extra income from tuitions.

The survey revealed that a section of parents who were in government and private jobs had taken loans from their provident fund to pay for the extra tuitions. Some of the parents had been borrowing money at the market rate of interest to pay for tuitions.

However, most of the students failed to make as they used to hop from one coaching centre to another or from one teacher to another and rarely found any time to learn what they had been taught or to carry out self assessment.

The craze of tuition, which has been increasing day by day, had reached a point where the teachers and owners of coaching centres had started issuing advertisements in various dailies. (To be continued)


Cong unity: Jagmeet offers to forgo post
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Rayya (Amritsar), April 28
Even as Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, senior vice-president Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and chief whip of party in parliament has offered to sacrifice any post yet the unity in the Pradesh Congress seems to be a “distant dream”.

The senior Congress leaders, who gathered at the 15th death anniversary of Sant Singh Lidhar, father of Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, general secretary, Indian Youth Congress, here today, during informal discussion emphasised the need on party unity at the earliest.

They categorically said that if the party failed to forge a complete unity, it was going to lose ground to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP during the forthcoming general elections.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, general secretary PPCC and former minister appreciated the speech delivered by Mr Brar at death anniversary in which he had pointed out that the unity of the party was need of the hour.

Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Mr Tejparkash Singh — both former Ministers, Mr Gurbachan Singh Ghalib, member of Parliament, Mr Surinder Gupta, president district Congress Committee, Faridkot were among those present on the occasion.

Later talking to the press here today, Mr Brar said that veteran Congress leader Mr R.L. Bhatia had been deputed by the high command to bring rapprochement in different factions of the party.

He said a very crucial meeting of party member parliaments was being held at Chandigarh at behest of the party high command on the unity issue.

Mr Amarinder Singh, president PPCC, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Chief Minister and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, leader of party on floor of Punjab assembly were also being invited to a question, Mr Brar admitted.

However, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar refused to budge from his stand on World Trade Organisations.

He admitted that the “difference of opinion” between him and Mr Amarinder Singh on WTO did not figure during the three meetings on the unity issue.

He claimed that the party high command too was convinced with his opinion on the WTO that it would ruin the farmers of developing countries.

The member of Parliaments of various parties were unanimous on the point that the WTO had benefited the developed countries most at the cost of developing countries.

The farmers needed direct subsidies instead of indirect subsidies.

Mr Brar said that the Congress members of Parliaments would meet the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in near future on the long pending demands of Punjab.

He said the Congress party had to take this decision to meet Mr Vajpayee for the first time as ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP had failed to implement their common minimum programme as promised during the previous elections.

He said the burning issues like fair distribution of inter state river waters, transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab were part of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and election manifesto the SAD could not be taken by Mr Badal with the central government.

He said that the Congress members Parliaments would also force the Prime Minister to shift the venue of proposed nuclear plant in Patiala district as it was being established on fertile land of the farmers.

Earlier, the death anniversary of the father of Mr Dimpa turned out to be pre-election rally of the Congress Party.

The speakers accused the SAD-BJP government for its alleged non-performance during its four-year regime.

The leaders urged the party high command to allocate Assembly ticket to Mr Dimpa during the forthcoming elections. 


SGPC poll may not be held in October
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
The election to the general house of the SGPC may not be held on schedule in spite of the assertions of the Chief Minister and the SGPC chief that the election would be held on schedule. The voters’ list of the SGPC has not been prepared so far and a notification, seeking reduction in the voters’ age from 21 to 18 years has also not been issued.

The election is due to be held in October as the last election was held in 1996. According to the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, it is mandatory to hold the election to the general house of the SGPC after every five years. The last election of the SGPC in 1996 was held after 17 years.

The general house of the SGPC which met in Amritsar on March 30 to pass the annual budget passed a resolution seeking reduction in age of voters’ from 21 to 18 years and debarring Sehajdharis from voting in the election.

Election to the general house is conducted by the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, who is appointed by the Union Home Ministry with assistance from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

The Gurdwara Election Commission has been functioning for the past five years. It was revived by the Home Ministry in 1995. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) had requested the Union Government and the National Commission for Minorities to make the Gurdwara Election Commission permanent.

Justice Harbans Singh, Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, said the commission had not received the resolution of the SGPC passed so far and unless this was notified, the commission could not initiate the process of revising the voters’ list. Amendment to the Sikh Gurdwara Act was necessary to start the process of election, he said.

Both Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi had said the election would be held on schedule in October before the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha next year.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar), alleged today that Mr Badal and Mr Talwandi were deceiving the Sikh masses. Without setting in motion the process of making the voters’ list, the election could not be held.

Political observers were of the view that the Chief Minister would not like to start the controversy over the issue of debarring the Sehajdharis and he would want the SGPC election to be held after the Vidhan Sabha elections.

The BJP and the RSS leadership would also oppose the debarring of the Sehajdharis. The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, affiliated to the RSS, has been claiming to contest the SGPC election.


‘Probe irregularities in pension fund’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has demanded a high-level probe into the alleged bunglings of pension funds meant for widows but were fraudulently being given to unmarried girls.

In a press release, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the SHSAD, said that his party would move the court and also ask the Central Government to look into the matter of diverting social welfare and pensions funds meant for widows but which were being distributed among unmarried girls in connivance with government officials.

He also said that during the ongoing wheat procurement season, various irregularities were being committed by commission agents in connivance with officials of the procurement agencies and the state government was deliberately turning a blind eye towards such irregularities.

Mr Chandumajra added that government officials, particularly from the police, transport and taxation departments, were fleecing the common man and the government was not taking any concrete step to stop this harassment.


Police drive against drugs pays
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 28
Campaign by the police to make the district narcotics-free has started showing results as more and more smugglers are booked under the NDPS and Excise Acts.

The police has recently arrested 33 persons allegedly involved in the smuggling of narcotics, illicit liquor trade and other anti-social activities like gambling and satta.

Camping against the anti-social elements who induce youngsters to take drugs was started in January this year. Special nakas are set up in the district to nab the culprits.

Not only the narcotic smugglers but also unregistered medical practitioners are kept under special watch. Some of these practitioners sell medicines and syrups which are used by the youngsters for “kick”.

The police has arrested eight such quacks in the district in this year and recovered banned medicines from them in large quantity. The police has recently arrested Pawan Kumar resident of the city in that connection. Pawan Kumar used to supply syrups like Corex and Cosidial to the youths without any prescription.

Although such medicines could not be given to anybody till that person did not have the prescription of a qualified doctor.

Pawan Kumar was running the illegal ‘business’ from his shop established under the name New Mukesh Medical Store in the Mehna Chowk area of the city. He was also doing practice as a doctor although he did not have any such qualification.

The police has recovered 17 bottles of Cosidial and 33 bottles of Corex syrup from the “hospital” of the alleged culprit.

A case has been registered against him under Section 420 of the IPC and 16 of the Indian Medical Act 1956 at Kotwali police station.

The campaign of the police against the smugglers of poppy husk and opium has also shown good results. The police makes special raids on the houses of the suspected smugglers.

In the past eight days the police recovered 50 kg of poppy husk from different parts of the district. Two persons have been arrested in that connection.

Bawa Singh, a resident of Ghandabana village was arrested while he was trying to smuggle 35 kg of poppy husk. A case was registered against him at Phul police station under Sections 15, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act on April 21.

Bhinder Singh of Rajgarh Kube who was involved in the trade of smuggling was nabbed by the police while he was carrying 15 kg of poppy husk. A case was registered against him at Raman police station on April 22.

Police sources said that in the recent time it has booked 15 persons who were allegedly involved in the manufacturing or storing of illicit liquor from various parts of the district. They were doing the business independently in their respective villages.

The police has recovered about 75 kg of lahan, 57 litres of illicit liquor and 32 litres of country-made liquor from the culprits. Although the details about liquor recovered from each culprit was not available, the police has also recovered two illegal distilleries from them.

The alleged culprits have been identified as Banta Singh and Sukhdev Singh of Tungwali, Beant Singh of Panniwala Morika, Bhura Singh of Bandi, Satish Kumar of Maur Mandi, Darshan Singh of Ghuda, Amarjeet Singh of Hamirgarh, Darshan Singh of Jassi Pauwali, Gohle Singh of Jeeda, Piara Singh of Pitho, Malkit Singh, Mahinder Kaur and Rajinder Singh, all of Bir Talab, Makhan Singh of Kotha Guru and Harnek Singh of Ramnagar city.

To curb satta and gambling the police has arrested 15 small-time gamblers and ‘satta’ traders. It has also recovered Rs 14,019 from the culprits.

The culprits have been identified as Nachhater Singh and Kulel Singh of Malkana, Ajay Kumar, Jagdish Rai and Amarjeet Singh, Makhan Singh and Bhupinder Singh of Rampura Mandi, Sunil Kumar of Bhuchu Mandi, Jaga Singh and Subash Mittal of Mehraj, Ashok Kumar, Hari Ram, Krishan Kumar, Sohan Singh, Mangat Ram, all of the city.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, when contacted said that the campaign against the culprits had yielded good results. He said that most of the cases registered in the recent time against patty smugglers, the reason for which was to curb the nip in the bud. He said that these small time smugglers needed more attention as their activities could increase if not curbed earlier.


Mann seeks Advani’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President and member of the Parliament, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today alleged that China was behind the full-scale secret joint naval exercises conducted recently by Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal.

An anti-India block was emerging in the region following the failure of the NDA government in developing friendly relations with its neighbours, Mr Mann said while talking to newspersons here.

Mr Mann termed the killings of 16 BSF jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles a serious matter and demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani for the “failure” of the Home Ministry to deal with the issue. He demanded relief for the families of those killed on the pattern of Kargil martyrs.

He blamed for Congress for its failure to force the government to order a JPC probe into the Tehelka expose. He said the Congress had met its nemesis.

On KCF chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s arrest and reports of some listed terrorists, including Zaffarwal, wishing to rejoin the national mainstream, Mr Mann said they should not be allowed to do so after having massacred so many innocent.

Mr Mann said after the return of Jathedar G.S. Tohra SHSAD President, from the USA, a third front of panthic forces would be formed to defeat the SAD-BJP ruling combine and the Congress. He denied that any contact had been made with the BSP in this regard. He also pleaded ignorance about any meeting between the BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, and Ravi Inder Singh, SHSAD leader, and the subsequent projection of the former Speaker as the next Chief Minister by the BSP president.

Mr Mann alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was doling out grants to villages out of the Rs 350 crore Central package meant for paddy with an eye on the Assembly elections.

He threatened to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the “unofficial” school opened to train youths of the Lambi and the Gidderbaha Assembly constituencies for recruitment in the police. As many as 400 favourites of Mr Badal were being given training there, he alleged.


Mann for strong third front

Phagwara, April 28
Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann today stressed the need for a strong third front to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance as well as the Congress in the next Vidhan Sabha election.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Mann said a strong third morcha would be formed after the return of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal President Gurcharan Singh Tohra from the USA.

Mr Mann described the role of the Congress in Parliament as friendly towards the BJP regarding the tehelka episode. He condemned the Congress for stalling Parliament work.

Mr Mann described the arrest of hardcore militant Wassan Singh Zaffarwal as a surrender. Asked about the possibility of the revival of terrorism in Punjab, Mr Mann said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would know better about it, as he had attended bhogs of slain militants along with him. UNI


Doors open for Tohra: Dhindsa
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
The Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister and the secretary-general of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today said there was still enough scope for unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, while adding that the door was still open for Mr Tohra and others to return.

Talking to reporters after presiding over a meeting in connection with holding the National Games, Mr Dhindsa said personally he favoured unity between the two leaders as unity is always in the interest of the party and claimed he had initiated such a move on several occasions.

The senior Akali leader said, on several occasions he had taken initiatives in this regard but regretted that Mr Tohra’s attitude was not forthcoming and encouraging. He said, “Except for the Congress our doors are open for everyone”, more so for people like Mr Tohra, who is himself an Akali.

Mr Dhindsa expressed confidence over the prospects of the SAD-BJP alliance in the forthcoming assembly elections. He pointed out that for the past four years there was complete peace and harmony in Punjab and the credit for this went to the government. Moreover, he added, the state had witnessed phenomenal development in different fields. He observed that it was because of the Akali-BJP government in the state and the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre which had led to Rs 90 hike in minimum support price for wheat. It was for the first time that the farmers were feeling so happy, he claimed.

He denied the government was trying to bail out dreaded militant Wassan Singh Zaffarwal. He claimed Zaffarwal had been arrested and was being dealt strictly according to the law. He disagreed that taking people like Zaffarwal back into the mainstream would give a setback to the hard-won peace and communal harmony in the state.

The Union Minister asserted the elections to the Punjab Assembly would be held on schedule and they would not be preponed. When asked after he announced that the National Games would be held between September 16 and 29 and whether these dates would clash with the probable elections in the state Mr Dhindsa clarified there would be no elections in September but even if there are they would have no impact on the organisation of the games. He also disclosed he was not going to contest the assembly poll himself.

Mr Dhindsa lashed out at the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, for her outburst against the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. “This betrayed her ignorance about Indian culture”, he claimed, while adding that it was unbecoming of her to respond like that when Mr Advani went to greet her and other opposition leaders. The minister said it only showed she was yet to behave like a responsible leader representing a party like Congress. “It is sheer immaturity”, he remarked. 


Jakhu is Gen Secy of SAD (A)
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 28
Dr Harjinder Jakhu, who had left the BSP and joined the Amritsar Akali Dal, was today made General Secretary of the SAD (A). The announcement was made by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the party, in presence of other leaders of the SAD (A) here.

Mr Mann declared that party’s activities in Doaba region would be stepped up and Dr Jakhu would activate these further. Mr Mann had come here to attend a religious function at Hadiabad organised by Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, party’s district vice-president and others. Mr Mann was honoured with a siropa.


Comrade Sahib Singh is no more
Gobind Thukral

BABA Sahib Singh Salana, nay Comrade Sahib Singh as people of Punjab loved to call him, lived with courage for 97. Fiercely independent minded, this peasant leader had abiding faith in the destiny of man. He would brook no injustice. He saluted the martyrs at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, Jalandhar, a week before he passed away into history on April 17 this year. On Baisakhi, he urged youth to keep up the struggle for a just Indian society. It was his courage which made him withstand police brutalities in teens in the Amloh fort or spend nearly 18 years in British jails, mostly in fetters. He spent 25 years in exile from Nabha state and eight years as a fugitive. His journey to jails continued even after Independence.

I had a chance meeting with him in the courts of Amloh where he had come to discuss the case of some peasants with a leftist lawyer. It was in 1967. This frail man dressed in a kurta pyjama retained humbliness of a small peasant. There I learnt that I was face to face with a colleague of Bhagat Singh.

Tomorrow his admirers will assemble at his native village Salana, close to Amloh, in Fatehgarh Sahib district. Born in the winter of 1904, Comrade Sahib Singh brought hope to many a deprived. In spite of being a police officer, he dared to dream and strove for a just order. This struggle began in 1920s when he was imprisoned in the famous Jaito Morcha. This struggle was to liberate the gurdwaras. Mahatma Gandhi termed it as the first major struggle to liberate the country and Pandit Nehru too was imprisoned in that struggle. Later as General Secretary of the Nabha Akali Dal he led the struggle. In 1928, he joined Naujwan Bharat Sabha, an organisation set up by Bhagat Singh and his colleagues. Next year there was the famous Ahmedgarh dacoity case on November 29. He had to spend 10 hard years in the jails of Multan, Montgomery, Rawalpindi and Lahore.

These were dirty dungeons where even animals could hardly survive. He had turned to Marxism and when he was released from jail in 1938, he became the General Secretary of the Ludhiana Communist Party and his association lasted for the next six decades. But he was not a blind follower. Even during the gory days of terrorism he was undaunted by the boys whom he often met and urged them to shun violence.

In his well-written autobiography, Baba Sahib Singh has recounted many incidents that would make anyone sit-up and feel the long hard struggle these patriots waged to liberate the country.

Even after independence his visits to jails were as frequent as during the British times. “My struggle for justice is as yet not over”. He would say often. It is indeed not over.


Ranjit Dam generates 24 lakh power units
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 28
One unit of Ranjit Sagar Dam has gone into stream and is generating as many a 24 lakh units of power. This generation has started for the first time after the dedication of the dam to the nation by the Prime Minister in March.

Meanwhile, enquiries made by The Tribune show that one unit each of Bathinda, Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat thermal plants is closed for annual maintenance. The Bathinda plant unit will go to stream by May 7, Lehra Mohabbat by the end of this month and Ropar plant unit by mid-May.

PSEB officials hope that all units of the three main thermal plants of Punjab will be in operation from the middle of May. However, this may not give relief in the power supply to the urban areas as the tubewell load will increase by the middle of May as paddy transplantation is started by farmers by that time, notwithstanding the fact that PAU experts have advised the farmers to start paddy sowing from June onwards.

The urban areas are at present being subjected to three hour power cut daily despite the fact that the PSEB is drawing its full share from the national thermal plant. But the hydro-power projects all over the country are generating 50 per cent less as compared to last year due to lack of adequate availability of water. Last year had poor monsoon and there was also not much snowfall. As a result, the inflow of water to the Bhakra and Pong Dam reservoirs has not increased. The water level of the Bhakra reservoir stood at 1492 ft on April 26 against 1498 ft last year and the Pong Dam reservoir had 1294 ft against 1315 ft. Experts feel that only good monsoons will bail out the power deficit. The tubewells in the rural areas are being given power for four hours these days in two groups. 


Judicial remand for Muslim ‘dera’ chief

Moga, April 28
A court here yesterday remanded Sadiq Shah alias Maskeen Shah, head of a Muslim ‘dera’ in the district, in judicial custody till May 9 while granting bail to two persons arrested earlier regarding the alleged burning of the Quran.

Maskeen Shah of Takhanvadh village was arrested for lodging a “false complaint” regarding the “burning” of the Quran by Umardin on April 22.

Those granted bail yesterday by the court of judicial magistrate were arrested following an FIR lodged by Maskeen Shah.

Umardin, who was granted bail on Thursday, was among five villagers arrested in connection with the case.

According to the police, Maskeen Shah in his complaint had said that five persons led by Umardin had damaged his property and also set afire the Quran lying inside a mosque on ‘dera’ premises while trying to take over its possession.

During investigation, however, it was found that the complainant was involved in a civil dispute with Umardin over the possession of the ‘dera’.

Investigation also revealed that Maskeen Shah took advantage of a minor dispute on April 21 between the two groups and allegedly set afire the Quran lying in the mosque and one room of his dwelling.

Thereafter, he raised alarm and allegedly concocted a story to implicate the rival party in the case.

The police suspected foul play when it found that only one of the two Qurans kept in the mosque was burnt while the other was safe.

Several new carpets laid on the mosque floor were also found removed before the incident took place, with the result that only one carpet was burnt.

All valuables were also found removed from the room before it was set afire. Sustained questioning of Maskeen Shah’s kin revealed his complicity in the crime, the police said.

Sustained questioning of the family members of Maskeen Shah revealed that the complainant had himself committed this crime. UNI


State-level Lok Adalat held
Our Correspondent

Moonak (Sunam), April 28
A state-level Lok Adalat was held at the premises of Babu Brish Bhan DAV Public School here. On the occasion, three adalats were organised headed by Mr Pritam Singh Dhanoa, Mr Harbans Singh Lekhi and Mr S.K. Singla, all judicial officers from Sunam.

More than 600 cases were presented in the adalats Majority of cases were found to be related to non-performing accounts of various banks and challans of vehicles.

On the occasion, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Chairman of the Legal Services Authority, Punjab, and Mr S.S. Grewal, Legal Remebrancer-cum Secretary, Legal Services, Punjab, were present. Mr Justice Ashok Bhan of the Karnataka High Court, who belongs to this town, was also present.

The local Lions Club in memory of Babu Brish Bhan, a former Chief Minister of the PEPSU, on the occasion of his death anniversary today, organised a blood donation camp in the DAV school premises here. As many as nine donors donated blood.

However, some persons, who came to the town to appear in the Lok Adalat in connection with challans of their vehicles from far away places, said they felt that they had been harassed by the authorities by asking them to appear here. One of them even alleged that the persons involved in the challans of vehicles had been invited here only to increase the number of cases in the Lok Adalat. 


Bhatty rejects demand for resignation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Mr H.S. Bhatty, secretary of the Punjab Arts Council, today rejected the demand for his resignation along with that of the president of the council for the alleged “bungling” in the selection of members of Indian delegates to the World Punjabi Conference held at Lahore recently and asserted that the council was in no way connected with it.

In a talk with TNS here today, he said the Lahore conference was organised by the World Punjabiat Foundation and the Punjab Arts Council had nothing to do with it. Nor had the council spent even a single rupee from its coffers on the preparations for the conference. “All expenses on tea, food, telephones, stationery and travel have been incurred solely by the World Punjabiat Foundation from the Rs 1000 delegation fee received from each applicant. The services of the council and its staff had been employed for preliminary work and these services had also been offered to earlier conferences of the Kendri Punjabi Lekhek Sabha and Progressive Writer’s Conference”, he asserted.

“In fact, our services and hospitality are being given even to the so-called Sangharsh Committee members who are denouncing us. The World Punjabiat Foundation has not collected any funds or even membership fees except for donations by prominent individuals which have been employed for specific purposes. Hence, the demand for the resignation of the office-bearers of the council or foundation is entirely misplaced and uncalled for”.

He asserted that persons like Mr Gurdial Singh, Dr S. Tersem and Dr Deepak Manmohan Singh were issued visas by the Pakistan Embassy but for personal reasons or lack of communication, they could not proceed to Lahore. Dr S. Tersem actually reached Attari but refused to join the delegation on the ground that two of his colleagues were not included in the delegation.

It needed to be mentioned that initially the Pakistan Government was apparently reluctant to allow the holding of the Aalmi Punjabi conference and did not give the signal for visas to be issued to Indian delegates till the morning of April 11. Even then, the visa office did not agree to sanction more than 50 delegates and after great persuasion and frantic telephones to Lahore and Islamabad by organisers from both sides, the number was increased to 100.

While a college team of 10 giddha dancers was allowed at the last moment, all journalists, a three-member TV channel team, and two photographers were denied entry by the Pakistan embassy. Only two journalists were able to get through to Lahore after pulling strings in Lahore for their entry. Thus, about 50 passports were not accepted by the Pakistan Visa Office.

He stressed that the World Punjabiat Foundation was not a body of writers alone but included professionals, journalists, agriculturists, businessmen, doctors, advocates and citizens from other segments of Punjabi Society. For some writers to assume that they had been discriminated against was the height of folly.


Beard case: SJP to approach SGPC chief
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 28
The state unit of the Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) has decided to approach the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the President of the SGPC to seek their intervention in the incident of snipping of the beard of Paramjeet Singh, president of Sangrur district unit of the party, by police officials.

Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, state President of the party, said here today that the police had committed an “inhuman” act.

He said a delegation of party members from Punjab would meet Mr Chandra Shekhar, former Prime Minister and national President of the party, tomorrow in this regard.

He added that the course of action to be adopted by the party would be chalked out after the meeting.

Mr Jeeda alleged that the high-handedness shown by the police officials was on the instructions of a Cabinet Minister of Punjab who wanted to settle political scores with Mr Paramjeet Singh. Terming the incident as a “murder of Sikh sentiments”, he lamented that if the Panthic government could not secure the religious sentiments of the people what could be expected from others.

Mr Jeeda said after consultations with other parties, including the SHSAD, the party would launch an agitation in Punjab against the incident.

He said the DSP and the ASI involved in the incident should be terminated immediately and an inquiry ordered.

Mr Jeeda demanded that Paramjeet Singh should be provided security as there was a threat to his life.


Police remand for Zaffarwal

Batala , April 28
Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was remanded in two-day police remand till April 30 here today.

He was produced by Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) Rajiv Malhotra in connection with a criminal case registered against him on February 18,1986.

He was brought from Amritsar by the Batala police under a tight security.

He was to be produced before Judicial Magistrate Batala Kuldip Singh, but was produced before Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Batala Rajiv Malhotra due to his unavailability.

The police brought Zaffarwal in a white car instead of police Gypsy or other police vehicle.

The police said that he was wanted in connection with a firing incident in Bara Bazar here on February 19,1986 and was declared a proclaimed offender in this connection. PTI


Zaffarwal’s ‘arrest’ annoys radical Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
Annoyed over the stage-managed arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, the foreign-based radical Sikh outfits got united to observe the 15th anniversary of the declaration of ‘Khalistan’ at Stockton, California (USA) tomorrow.

The declaration of Khalistan “was made at Akal Takht by the Panthic Committee” on April 29, 1986 to which Zaffarwal was one of the five signatories.

The weekly, Charhdi Kala, (Canada) — official mouthpiece of the International Sikh Youth Federation (Bittu group) has carried a centrespread on the proposed function, being hosted by the Dal Khalsa (USA chapter) in its latest edition. the paper has claimed that the foreign-based top leadership of the Council of Khalistan the ISYF the Babbar Khalsa international, the Sikh Students Federation the Sikh Youth of America the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann), the Gurmat Chetna Lehar and the Dal Khalsa, the paper has published photographs of 24 slain militants and Mr Mann, Gajinder Singh, chairman, Dal Khalsa and Daljit Singh Bittu, president, SSF, the chief guest of the two-day function would be Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Youth Akali Dal, currently who is on a foreign tour with Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra.


Recount held after SC order
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 28
Recount of votes for the office of sarpanch of gram panchayat of Joga village in the district was done yesterday by Ms Raji P. Shrivastava, Deputy Commissioner, under orders of the Supreme Court.

As per orders of the Supreme Court, the result of the recounting was not declared and the same will be declared on receipt or orders from the apex court. All three candidates Mr Gurjant Singh, Mr Jagtar Singh of SAD (B) and Mr Bikkar Singh of Leftists party were present at the time of recounting done by the SDM, Mr Krishan Chand Chaudhry, under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner.

The counting started at 11 a.m. and ended at 3.30 p.m. After the recounting Mr Bikkar Singh told mediapersons that 4965 votes were found during recounting when the same were 5007 at the time of election. He alleged that the recounting had not been done properly and he would take up the matter with the Supreme Court.

Although the result had not been declared officially as per directions of the Supreme Court yet Mr Gurjant Singh, who was one of the candidates and present at the time of recounting, said on recounting he had polled 1629 votes while Mr Jagtar Singh and Mr Bikkar Singh had polled 1553 and 1528 votes, respectively.


Kill intruders, says IG
Our Correspondent

Khasa (Amritsar), April 28
“Killing cross-border intruder sneaking into Indian territory had served a better deterrent to lessen infiltration attempts in the border areas by Pakistani elements”. Inspector-General BSF Avtar Singh Aulakh disclosed while on an inspection tour of the border areas.

Earlier, “mere arrests” had little or no impact on the illegal border crossing compared to the results achieved through shoot-at-sight, he said. Thirteen intruders were killed in the past two months, he revealed. He informed that the biannual meeting between the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers was slated for May 9 to May 12 at Jalandhar.

Talking to mediapersons at BSF headquarters somewhere in the western sector, he favoured a status equivalent to Kargil martyrs to be bestowed on the BSF jawans killed on the eastern border of the country though he could not explain the information inadequacy that led to the trauma faced by families of two jawans belonging to Punjab.


Waiting in vain for BSF jawan’s remains
Rashmi Talwar

Nanokot, April 28
The family of Gurbaksh Singh waited in vain the entire day for the last remains of the village jawan to arrive here yesterday as scheduled even as no official from the administration or politician were seen here.

The IG BSF, Mr Avtar Singh Aulakh, present at Nanokot village was also not sure of the remains reaching here. “I have no information about the arrival from the BSF headquarters or from the 118 Battalion, BSF, that Gurbaksh belonged to,” he told reporters here.

Meanwhile, the distraught father-in-law of the deceased Ajit Singh said the family had received no information from the BSF and only consistent phone calls to Tura had disclosed the tragedy to the family even as Gurbaksh’s wife Manjinder Kaur shed silent tears.

The deceased jawan’s two children Harmandeep (3) and Simran (6) were unaware of the tragedy and thought that perhaps the people had come with money from their father. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, general secretary, Congress, who was here on a personal visit to the family castigated the government for shirking from its responsibility for its soldiers.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the torture perpetuated on two Indian jawans at the Bangladesh border, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar, Akal Takht, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee President, and Mr Kewal Singh, jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, expressing condolence with the families of the deceased Sukhjinder Singh and Gurbaksh Singh appealed to the Centre to bestow status equivalent to Kargil martyrs and compensation due to the families of the martyred soldiers.


Soldiers’ families receive ashes
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 28
Two teams of BSF officials today handed over the urns containing ashes of Sukhjinder Singh and Gurbax Singh, BSF constables, who were killed on April 19 by the Bangladesh Rifles, to their families at their native villages Kothe Majithi and Vina Kot, respectively, in this district.

Mr Bachan Singh, father of Sukhjinder Singh, and Mr Malkiat Singh, father-in-law of Gurbax Singh, were critical of the state government and the Central Government for not providing the information regarding the death of the soldiers. They said they should have been informed and allowed to attend the cremation of the killed soldiers.


Youth betting to finance needs
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, April 28
Have you seen a marked change in the lifestyle of your friends? New clothes, designer shoes, latest and trendy watches are acquired without any apparent increase in pin-money or income. Your friends may have found a novel way of financing their short-term needs and expenses.

With the opening of fast-food joints, cyber cafes and showrooms of branded shoes, clothes, watches and mobile phone culture the lifestyle of the younger generation has seen a marked change. More and more youngsters can be seen flaunting sporty watches and mobile phones.

The finances for these expensive “habits” are arranged by using “skills”, which include pool table skills, computer game skills and sometimes even computer programming skills. The modus operandi adopted by the youngsters is very simple. They go to a place, where they can demonstrate their ‘skills’ and earn money in reward.

Ravinder Kumar (name changed) said he had become an expert in pool games and his friends bet regularly over his skills in the game. “Whenever we are here to enjoy pool game we bet to infuse competition in the game. The extra bucks earned by us are generally spent on buying beer, paying mobile phone bills, buying clothes or getting petrol for mobikes. We are not gamblers or addicted to the game. We come here for entertainment,” he said.

He is not alone in claiming to enjoy betting.

Betting on cricket scores has also increased in the city. Certain youngsters use their programming skills for monetary benefits in numerous ways.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said vigil was being kept on the pool joints in the city. Last year, the police had conducted raids on one of the pool points of the city and had arrested the operator under the Prevention of Gambling Act. The trend can be checked with the cooperation of parents, asserted Dr Jain.


LIC’s suicide theory dismissed
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 28
The Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Union Territory Chandigarh has dismissed the suicide theory in the death of Harcharan Singh Shunty, a constable, in the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) versus Nachhattar Singh Shad case.

Dismissing the appeal of the LIC Divisional Manager (Chandigarh), Mr Justice K.K. Srivastava, President, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Union Territory Chandigarh, and two other members said it was not a case of suicide. “The claim for the sum ensured under the relevant policy taken by the insured Harcharan Singh could not be repudiated by the appellant,” they said.

The LIC Northern Zone Divisional Manager, had filed an appeal in the state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Chandigarh against the judgement of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum I Union Territory Chandigarh which directed the LIC to pay Rs 50,000 along with accrued benefits with an interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from date of repudiation of the policy of the deceased to Nachhattar Singh Shad, father of the deceased. 


Loudspeakers’ use irks residents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 28
Residents are sore over the frequent use of loudspeakers in the town. The students are the worst affected. In a memorandum sent to the Chief Minister today, the residents said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed that the use of loudspeakers on religious buildings be effectively banned but here, many such buildings were still using loudspeakers in the wee hours. High-power amplifiers had been installed to beat each other in competition, the alleged.

The district authorities had issued prohibitory orders on the use of loudspeakers, but the cinemas and commercial establishments engaged in sale promotion schemes were using loudspeakers without valid permission for announcements, the residents complained. Rickshaws fitted with loudspeakers were disturbing examination centres and hospitals, they lamented.

Jagrans in different localities of the town also disturb people’s sleep. Now, besides common orchestra and echo voice system, such jagran parties have adopted DJ system, which disturbs the people living within a radius of 1 km.

Psychiatrists are of the opinion that noise pollution is adding much to medical problems of the people. Such pollution is creating hearing problems also.


Charges framed in hijack case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The Designated Court today framed charges against three persons accused in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December, 1999.

Charges were framed against Abdul Latif, Dalip Singh Bhujail and Yusuf Nepali under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 302/307, 323, 363 and 120 (b) besides sections of the Arms Act and hijacking act in the Designated Court of S.N. Aggarwal.

The court today while framing the charges directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to produce a model of the plane during the next date of hearing on July two. Earlier the Indian Airlines had been directed by the court to commission a model of the plane which it had done.

All three accused were produced in court today. CBI counsel Y.K. Saxena arguing on the occasion, said sufficient proof had been found during investigation to frame charges against the accused. He said all three had been actively involved in the hijacking and weapons had been seized from them.

Defence counsel Brijinder Singh Sodhi argued that the CBI did not have any proof pinning them to the hijacking. He said his clients should be discharged from the charges and they should be tried only for the deeds of which they had been accused before the hijacking.

The judge fixed the next date of hearing in the case to July 2. Earlier the defence counsel had protested against the move of the Indian Airlines to sell off the hijacked plane saying it was court property. The sale was however allowed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court which ruled that a model of the plane could be prepared and that the Airlines should be ready to provide a similar model for inspection whenever needed by the court.


Hearing in Bedi’s case adjourned

Patiala, April 28
The defamation case against former left-arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi was today adjourned to August 11 in a local court.

Bedi appeared personally in the court of Judicial Magistrate first class M.D.S. Bedi who accepted the plea of Bedi’s counsel H.P.S. Verma for time to commence the arguments.

The former spinner had got bail at the last hearing. Earlier non-bailable warrants were issued against him as he failed to appear despite repeated summons.

None of the witnesses, including coach D.P. Azad and cricketer Navjot Sidhu, have also appeared so far.

The defamation case has been filed against Bedi and a Jalandhar based newspaper by former national selector and Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) secretary M.P. Pandove after an article of the former spinner appeared in the daily.

Pandove has in his petition stated that the article had harmed his as also of PCA’s reputation. PTI


Conviction in murder case upheld
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the orders of the trial court convicting an Amritsar district resident for murdering his neighbour after the victim objected to the former’s habit of beating his children.

Kuldip Singh of Jhabal village was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life and fined Rs 2,000 by the trial court after being held guilty of murdering Surat Singh.

The accused, according to the prosecution, had hit Surat Singh on the fore-head with a baton after he asked Kuldip Singh not to abuse him for beating his children, the prosecution had added.

When confronted with the incriminating evidence against him, the accused had, however, denied all the allegations. Claiming to be innocent, he had asked for a trial. The defence counsel had added that the accused was being implicated in the case.

After going through the evidence and hearing the arguments, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice A.S. Garg of the high court observed: “We are of the firm view that the offence committed by the appellant falls under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The appeal fails and is dismissed”. 


‘Income of local bodies up’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
The annual income of the municipal corporations and committees and other local bodies has increased from Rs 350 crore to Rs 1000 crore under the present Akali - BJP government, said.

Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Labour and Employment Minister, while inaugurating the Hira Nagar Commercial Complex established by the Nabha Improvement Trust here today.

Mr Tandon said an Urban Development Board has been established which would complete all remaining development works at an expenditure of Rs 300 crore. Other welfare steps initiated included repairing streetlights wherever needed within 24 hours so that the common man did not suffer, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health and Civil Aviation Minister, said the various developments that have been taken place during the last four years had never occurred for the past 50 years. Rs 72 lakh would be spent on the reconstruction of the Civil Hospital at Nabha. He added that 90 per cent of the schemes and grievances of the people have been solved at the sangat darshan by the Chief Minister of Punjab.


Transfer case: sessions judge to conduct probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
On a petition filed by a school principal challenging the orders transferring her from Gurdaspur to Bhoa village in Pathankot, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Gurdaspur District and Sessions Judge to look into the allegations.

Alleging malafide against a minister and an MLA, Ms Manjit Kaur Ghuman, in her petition, alleged that she was threatened by a student with dire consequences after she searched her while performing her duty as a member of a flying squad for the matric and plus two examination.

She further stated that the respondents also felt irritated after an observer was appointed by her in a centre where the MLA’s grandson was taking the examinations.

Arguing before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria, Punjab’s Deputy Advocate General Gurminder Singh contended that the allegations levelled against the minister were totally false.


Safe building sought for court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The Labour Court Bar Association wants permanent staff and a safe building for the courts here, besides a review of the jurisdiction areas of the Assistant Labour Commissioners of Patiala and Rajpura.

In a memorandum submitted to a Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, Mr Justice K.S. Kumaran, the association said about 4,000 cases were pending in the court here. It said, while there was a reader, a stenographer and a copyist here, it became difficult when one of them proceeded on leave.

The association chief, Mr Viday Vatrana, said this staff was temporary and the Labour Department should provide a permanent staff here.

He said the building of the local Labour Court had been declared unsafe by the Public Works Department. The court room and a makeshift retiring room of the presiding officers was small. There was no proper bathroom in the building and the court yard was unpaved.

Mr Vatrana said the High Court Judge had been requested to direct the Labour Department to provide a suitable alternative building for the court or shift it to the District Courts complex.

The association said, previously, cases of the Workmen Compensation Act used to be taken up by the Senior Sub Judge. Later, these powers had been given to the Assistant Labour Commissioners who were not familiar with the Workmen Compensation Act.

The association told the Judge that the Assistant Labour Commissioner of Patiala had jurisdiction over half of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, while the Assistant Labour Commissioner of Rajpura had jurisdiction over the other half of the Patiala district along with Samana, Rajpura, Patran and Dera Bassi. 


Bar Association chief
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 28
Mr Mithu Ram Gupta, BJP general secretary, Bathinda district unit, today became president of the District Bar Association after defeating Mr Jatinder Kumar Khattar by 35 votes. Mr Khattar joined the Shiromani Akali Dal about a year ago.

Mr Gupta polled 226 votes while Mr Khattar, who won the election last year, could secure only 191 votes.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, who was elected as secretary, polled 274 votes while Mr Jai Gopal Goyal, who was defeated, could secure only 143 votes.

In the election 424 members of the Bar out of 448 exercised their franchise. Mr Lalit Garg and Mr Kamaljit were elected unopposed as vice-president and secretary, said Mr Laxminarayan Goyal.


Minister’s guards hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 28
Sub-Inspector Jaspal Singh and constables Vir Singh and John Masih, all escort guards of Mr Sewa Singh Shekhwan, Revenue Minister, Punjab, were seriously injured when a Mohindra jeep coming from the opposite direction hit their Gypsy in which they were escorting the minister at Makhu Mazara on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road, about 18 km from here, at 8.30 p.m. last night.

The driver of the Mohindra jeep, Chanan Singh of Jaitpur, village was also wounded. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


PRTC employees block traffic
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 28
Employees of the local Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) today blocked traffic on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar road for five hours to press the management to accept their demand for the suspension of the general manager of the Kapurthala depot.

They burnt the office of the general manager. They also held a rally.


Plea to adopt latest farming techniques
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 28
The Central Government is responsible for the adverse impact of the WTO pact on the agricultural and industrial sectors since it has failed to outline a clear strategy to deal with the prevailing situation in the country. The farming community, in order to compete in the international market, will have to adopt the latest techniques of grading, packaging and marketing their produce. These were the observations made by the speakers during seminar on “Agriculture: grading and Marketing” organised by the Agriculture Technology Management Agency, (ATMA), at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall here yesterday.

Dr Harjeet Singh Dhariwal, an agriculture expert from Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), in his keynote address on WTO, said the Central Government should come forward to implement the clauses of WTO pact in true spirit to remove the apprehensions in the minds of the farmers.

“There is a need to safeguard the interests of the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, since these states have become surplus states. The farmers should come out of the wheat-paddy cycle and diversify to other products. The government should lay special emphasis on research work related to new breeds in the agricultural sector,” he said.

He further said according to the GATT agreement, there was a provision to allow to 10 per cent subsidy to the farmers but the state government, was pending only 7.5 per cent subsidy on water and electricity. He demanded that the import tariffs on the agricultural produce should be increased and the entry of substandard products be banned as per the provisions of the WTO pact.

Dr H.S. Bajwa, while speaking on the cooperative farming, said the needs and problems of the farmers could be addressed to by forming a group of farmers. Priority should be given to the needs of the farmers and special production zones should be earmarked as per the production levels, he observed.

Mr Shamsher Singh Nayyar of the Agriculture Produce Export Development Authority highlighted the importance of exploring the export potential of agricultural produce in the International market by adopting the latest marketing techniques.

Among others who read their papers on different subjects were a member of the small Industries Export Institution Mr Bharat Bhushan, the Assistant Director of the Food Processing Department, Mr Vinod Kumar, the Financial Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Parsad, the Chief Agriculture Officer, Mr Davinder Singh Randhawa, and the Project Director of the district chapter of the ATMA, Mr Surinder Kumar Nagrath.


Fire destroys crop
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 28
Sparking from high-tension power cables passing over the fields have been playing havoc with the standing wheat crop as in the past eight days more than 200 acres had been burnt.

Today the standing wheat crop in more than 30 acres belonging to Narinder Singh, Kulwinder Singh and Ranjit Singh of Romana Ajit Singh village caught fire and within no time it was reduced to ashes.

According to information gathered by TNS, most of the fires in the fields of standing wheat crop take place due to sparking in the overhead high-tension power cables. In a few cases the cause of fire cannot be ascertained.

In the past eight days fire incidents had taken place in Lehra Khana, Phula, Kotshamir, Nathana, Ganga, Gidder, Kotra Kodianwala, Kutiwal Kalan, Gillpatti, Ghumankalan, Bazak, Samao, Dansinghwala, Bhagta Bhaika, Burj Mohma and Chauka villages.

Though the PSEB authorities have promised that the farmers who have suffered losses on account of fire to their standing wheat crop due to sparking in the power cables would be compensated for the same the victims alleged compensation cases relating to fire incidents that took place last year were yet to be settled.

Official sources said about 20 fire incidents had taken place in the past eight days in these two districts and farmers had suffered losses to the tune of more than Rs 2 crore.

Official sources said some fire incidents took place when the farmers burnt remnants of the harvested wheat crop to prepare their fields for sowing the next crop. The farmers had been advised to avoid the same by using the public address system installed in the religious places in the villages.


Wheat ‘below’ specifications
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 28
The staff of procurement agencies, excluding the FCI, are caught in a difficult situation in view of continuous pressure to purchase wheat below specifications.

A spokesman for the Food and Civil Supplies Department said today that the wheat which had arrived in mandis in the district had excess moisture and did not fall within the prescribed specifications of the government.

A deputation of Food Inspectors today met the District Food and Supplies Controller and apprised him on the situation. No wheat was purchased today by the department, the spokesman added.


Commission agents’ licence suspended
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 28
The district administration has suspended the licences of three commission agents allegedly for filling substandard wheat in bags in the district.

According to a press note issued here today by the Public Relations Department, the licences of the three agents were suspended when it was found that they had filled substandard wheat in bags which were not procured by officials of the government agencies.

Mrs Raji P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner, said so far a payment of Rs 45.5 crore had been made to farmers by different agencies for the wheat procured from them. She added that about 70 per cent of the total wheat procured so far had been lifted.


5 arhtiyas loose licences

Faridkot, April 28
Deputy Commissioner A. Venu Prasad yesterday suspended the licences of the five arhtiyas of the district on the charges of various irregularities including improper cleaning and less weight.

The Deputy Commissioner along with senior officers of the procurement agencies was on a visit to various mandis and procurement centres of the district yesterday, an official spokesman said here today.


Bank dacoity: cops claim breakthrough
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 28
The police claims to have achieved a breakthrough into the Punjab National Bank dacoity at Balluana village after midnight of April 12. In all seven persons were named, four of them real brothers.

DSP Gurmeet Singh Randhawa, after briefing SSP Harchand Singh Randhawa at a meeting of the SHOs of the area here, said one Kulwant Singh s/o Khushal Singh of Bhariana village near Fatehabad was brought from a Haryana jail on production warrants yesterday. He was produced in the court of Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Civil Judge (Sr Division) here. The court ordered his police remand up to April 30. The police has got warrants of arrest against six more persons. Police sources said the accused committed another bank dacoity at Gharsana town of Sri Ganganagar district last year. They had selected pre-holiday-evening for the crime there also as was done at Balluana located on the Abohar-Malout road, a part of National Highway No. 10. There were two holidays ahead when the dacoity was committed here.

The accused were dressed in khaki uniform and had stolen gas cylinders from a workshop for cutting the strong room and safe of the bank in both cases. They were permanent residents of Haryana but clever enough in not committing such crimes in their own area.

All others were released on bail after being arrested in Gharsana dacoity case but Rajasthan Police was able to get Kulwant Singh a proclaimed offender from the trial court.

The accused had escaped with Rs 2,72,340 out of total cash amounting Rs 4.25 lakh lying in the safe vault, notes worth Rs 50,000 were found partially burnt due to use of gas cylinder. The branch manager had been informed at 6.30 a.m. of April 13 by the sweeper that the main gate of the bank office, located on the busy highway, was burnt/broken. DSP Gurmeet Singh Randhawa and bank officials had rushed to Balluana.

Preliminary investigations had revealed that the culprits were more than four in number and they might have spent more than three hours inside the bank building.

DSP Randhawa said SHO Nagaur Singh was sent to Rajasthan to find clue as there were indications establishing similarity in the Gharsana and Balluana bank dacoities. Raids later were made in Haryana to nab the suspects.

The police tracked the gang involved in April 12 incident. The gang was said to be responsible for other crimes in Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana also. The SSP asked the police to intensify efforts to arrest all culprits involved in Balluana dacoity.

Meanwhile senior officers of the Punjab National Bank visited the affected branch and discussed measures to strengthen security.


Gang of robbers busted, 2 held
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 28
The district police claimed to have busted a gang of robbers with the arrest of two members of a gang who had been looting foodgrains from godowns and lifting vehicles for the past many years.

The police sources said two members of the gang headed by Badh Singh were arrested and as many as 560 out of 574 bags of wheat stolen from a godown of the Punjab Government on the Giddarbaha-Malout road on March 25 recovered.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, said here today two vehicles in which wheat bags were being smuggled had also been seized. Those arrested have been identified as Darshan Singh and Natha Singh. Other two members of the gang—Badh Singh and Raj Singh— have not been arrested yet.

He said the modus-operandi of the suspects was that they would steal a vehicle and then used it after changing the number plates. The suspects, while committing the theft, used to lock security guards in a room and would then load bags of foodgrain in their vehicles.

The suspects had committed thefts in Sardulgarh area of Mansa and Kapurthala districts where some of them were arrested and subsequently bailed out. The suspects used to smuggle liquor and opium on the Indo-Pak border when it was unfenced.

The suspects were arrested when some police personnel found a polythene bag from the site of theft. Registration certificate of the vehicle was found from the bag. Working on the registration, the police party from Muktsar held raids and were successful in arresting two accused, the police sources pointed out.

A case under Sections 411 and 34 of IPC has been registered in the Gidderbaha police station. Further investigations in the case are on.


3 arrested for abducting girl
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 28
Laldeen, Mehma and Dileshwar Singh, all residents of Ladochak under the Pathankot subdivision, were arrested for their alleged involvement in abducting a girl of Bahadur Lari under Pathankot subdivision. Their accomplice Punnu is at large. The girl has been found, said Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP.

Mr Varinder Kumar said the girl’s father had invited Laldeen, Mehma and Pannu to his residence on a family function on April 11. During their stay, the accused persuaded the girl to marry Punnu. Next morning, the girl was found missing. When the girl’s father came to know his daughter was seen with the accused, he reported it to the Sujanpur police who registered a case under Sections 363/365/148/149 of the IPC against the accused on April 21 and found the abducted girl.

The girl disclosed that she was kept at the residence of Dilshwar Singh for several days where she was repeatedly raped by Punnu. 


CM’s visit brings cheer to parents
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Residents of Dhar subdivision are a happy lot today as their wards will now be able to attend schools with adequate teaching staff. This has become possible through the efforts of the Higher Education Minister, Mr Mohan Lal, who persuaded the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to pay a visit to the area to redress the grievances of the residents.

Mr Badal allowed 32 gram panchayats out of a total of 45 to appoint educated youth of their respective villages as teachers in primary schools which had no teachers or where there was a shortage of staff. The panchayats were also authorised to pay the salaries of these teachers from the development funds of the villages.

The announcement has raised eyebrows among officials of the Education Department. They say they are not sure whether these appointments will be considered regular. Teachers are recruited by the district selection committees of the department with the posts being advertised earlier. Besides, the appointments are subject to the approval of the department. Further, they say it is not clear whether the youth will be given the pay scales applicable to government primary school teachers or a consolidated salary. “These are minor matters which can be considered later”, said a senior officer.

The announcement has been described in some quarters as an initiative taken by the Chief Minister to give panchayati raj institutions more powers. The state government had a few months ago made a proposal to appoint of teachers on a contract basis under which village youth with the plus two qualification were to be made eligible for appointment in village primary schools. The plan was opposed by various teachers’ organisations.

Residents of the subdivision, however, say Mr Badal has solved an important problem relating to the education of their children. He also sanctioned Rs 50,000 each for 32 primary schools which were without any teachers. Besides, Rs 1.62 crore was announced for the panchayats at a “sangat darshan” programme for the all-round development of the villages.


Pattern of paper irks students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 28
The students who appeared in B.Com-I paper of ‘Quantitative Techniques for Business’ today evening, under Punjabi University, Patiala, alleged that they have been cheated by the university.

Aggrieved students who approached The Tribune this evening alleged that the instructions given in the syllabus had not been fully honoured. Students from Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Patiala, Ropar and Sangrur had appeared in the examination.

Mr Amit Kumar said the questions of the paper had been split into parts and then the parts of the questions were mixed of theory and practical questions. “The guidelines stated that sections A, B, C and D would carry two questions each of 15 marks distributed over relevant sections of the syllabus.

There were no instructions either regarding the splitting of questions.

In sections B and D, the questions were divided into sub-parts and contained both theory and practical elements.

Another student, while showing the guidelines issued by the university, said in section E of the question paper, out of the 10 questions, only two were numerical-based whereas the guidelines asked the paper-setter to set up to four numerical questions.

This pattern had been followed for years but this year the entire pattern of the paper had been changed and only two numerical questions were set in. Not only this, but the other questions of the paper had been splitted and numerical questions introduced abruptly, he alleged.

A teacher on being contacted said it was wrong to say that the paper was not according to guidelines. The correct statement should be that the question paper did not follow the past traditions of the university.

The point of only two numerical questions would also be decided in favour of the university. There was ambiguity in the guidelines and university authorities took full ‘advantage’ of the same, he added.


Change appearance rules: law students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The Punjabi University Law Department replaced its annual system in favour of the semester system a few years back, but for students failing in any semester even today, the rules are the same.

The students will have to reappear in the subject after one year.

Students of the Department of Law have been trying to impress upon the university authorities to change the rules of reappearance on the lines of B.Tech courses as had been done in other universities.

The Law Students Welfare Association said students had given a representation in this regard to the Vice-Chancellor also and that the VC had given his assent to switch over to the semester system with respect to reappearance rules also.

The association today claimed that the problem still existed because instead of implementing the decision, the university tangled up the issue in red tape. They said there was need to change reappearance rules immediately to ensure students not making it in any one subject did not lose a full year.

Association President Gurmukh Singh said another point which needed to be considered was that the university did not admit law students last year for its evening classes.

He said so the students of law would suffer loss of two years because of this missing batch.

The association appealed to the Vice-Chancellor to approve the issue under his powers wherein the formalities in the issue would be completed in due course and the students may be immediately allowed to deposit fee for reappearing in the coming semester or they may be promoted to the fifth semester and given the chance of reappearing at the end of the year as was the rule under the existing system.

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