Wednesday, May 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM’s rivals meet at Badal village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), May 1
Even as the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been pumping money for development works in various Assembly segments, including Gidderbaha and Lambi of the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, a section of his opponents today held a closed-door meeting at his native village here to work out a strategy for the coming Assembly elections and to bring unity among various leaders.

The leaders, who are known as opponents of Mr Badal, attended a function organised in connection with the first “barsi” of late Teja Singh Badal, uncle of Mr Badal.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, son of Teja Singh Badal, Mr Paramjit Singh Lalli, a senior Congress leader, Mr Raghbir Singh, former MLA and Mr Ashok Dhir, former Chairman of the Punjab State Seed Corporation (Punseed) and a close confidant of Mr Badal, today held a closed-door meeting for about an hour after the bhog ceremony was performed.

Mr Brar, who managed to secure the support of Teja Singh Badal who used to wield considerable influence in the region initiated Mr Badal into politics, was the main player at today’s meeting. He managed to bring Mr Raghbir Singh and Mr Dhir together and sort out their difference.

Mr Dhir, who was once known as a right hand man of Mr Badal, was made chairman of Punseed after the SAD-BJP alliance came into power. In the recent past, however, difference grew between Mr Dhir and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha, and Mr Dhir was not invited to a series of sangat darshan programmes held by the Chief Minister in Gidderbaha.

Mr Brar, admitting the fact that he had been making efforts to bring the opponents of Mr Badal on a single platform, said it was being done to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming Assembly elections.

He said Mr Badal had failed to deliver the goods and corruption had touched new heights. He alleged Mr Badal had played with the religious sentiments of people to remain in power.

He said he along with senior party leader R.L. Bhatia had been constantly meeting other leaders to bring about unity.


Rebel Akali MLAs keep options open
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 1
The rebel Akali legislators owing allegiance to former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra have been lying low and keeping their fingers crossed. At the same time, they have also been keeping their options open about their relationship with the SAD. However, the final outcome will depend on the decision of Mr Tohra, who returns on May 3 from a month-long foreign tour.

While the hectic activity initiated by the ruling SAD-BJP alliance has prompted even the Congress to set its house in order, these legislators are waiting for their leader, who is the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) chief, to return and decide the future course of action.

The legislators have been keeping num about the political events taking place in the state. They are also exercising restraint in dealing with the ruling alliance, lest it may further lead to antagonism between the two groups. They are reserving their comments on various policy programmes and recent sangat darshans launched by Mr Badal.

Although unity moves had been initiated about a few months ago, with both groups confirming to the process, however it went into cold storage when Mr Tohra went to the USA. It will only be after his return that the unity moves, if any, will be resumed.

Meanwhile, the SAD leadership is reportedly studying all options, including the benefits of the rapprochement and the loss if the two decide to go it alone in the next elections. Notwithstanding the fact that the Tohra group has been lying low for quite some time now, the Badal group is well aware that even if it cannot perform better for itself, it can certainly cause considerable damage to the party.

Mr Badal is said to be trying to exploit and bank upon the predicament of Mr Tohra. The options for Mr Tohra are very limited. He cannot go with the Congress. The only important party with which the SHSAD can align is the Bahujan Samaj Party. But given a chance, the BSP will prefer to align with the Congress as the party is in a far better position than the SHSAD. With the third front proposition not likely to materialise, Mr Tohra could depend only on splinter and maverick Akali groups, like the one led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and others. But he is reportedly not inclined to align with them and has on several occasions shown the cold shoulder to them.

Moderates from both sides, however, feel that there is every scope for rapprochement. Even Mr S.S. Dhindsa said the doors were open for Mr Tohra to return. But it is not just the political compulsion but the egos of Mr Tohra and Mr Badal, as well, which are coming in the way.

It remains to be seen whether Mr Tohra will continue to stick to his stand that Mr Badal should present himself before the Akal Takht and restore Bhai Ranjit Singh as Akal Takht Jathedar. Obviously, Mr Badal will formulate his response accordingly. 


Sikh high priests to meet tomorrow
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
A crucial meeting of the Sikh high priests would be held at Akal Takht on May 3 in which issues regarding the Panth would be discussed at length.

However, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, is unlikely to attend the meeting for obvious reasons. Sources said the invitation had been despatched to the Head Granthi.

The sources pointed out that the high priests might discuss the issue of despatching of 100 volumes of Guru Granth Sahib by a private publisher to some other state in gross violation of the Sikh “maryada” the then jathedar, Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, had issued a hukamnama, directing the private publishers not to publish the holy book without the written approval of the SGPC. Akal Takht had stated that the private publishers do not bother about the sanctity while publishing the holy book. Akal Takht had also declared one of the private publishers as “tankhahya” (guilty of religious misconduct). However, some senior Akali leaders were invited to flag of 100 “volumes” of Guru Granth Sahib from Golden Temple.

On the other hand, veteran SGPC member belonging to SAD, Mr Puran Singh Josh, had urged Akal Takht to initiate strict action against Mr Parkash Singh Badal for going to Kali Mandir as idol worship is prohibited in Sikhism.

The executive meeting of the SGPC will be held at Guru Nanak Niwas on May 4, a day after the crucial meeting of the high priests. The meeting may discuss the alleged ‘shabby treatment’ meted out to the SGPC officials by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) during its recent visit to Pakistan gurdwaras. Mr Singara Singh Lohian, executive member, and Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, executive member and Secretary, SGPC, were leader and deputy leader of the jatha, respectively.

Sources said both Mr Lohian and Dr Banchan had already given facts to the SGPC chief that due honour was not given to the SGPC jatha. The meeting might also discuss the invitation extended to Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi by Lt-Gen Javed Nasir (retd) president PSGPC, after the return of the jatha. The SGPC had categorically stated that a non-Sikh as head of any gurdwara management was unacceptable to the SGPC.

However, the SGPC has already decided to send a jatha of about 1,000 devotees to visit Pakistan to mark the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which falls in June.

The executive members belonging to SHSAD and SAD (A) would raise certain points to embarrass the ruling group. Mr Onkar Singh Arora, an executive member of Tohra faction, alleged that the proceedings of the meeting were not recorded. He said he would raise this point at the meeting.

In all 25 issues of the SGPC-run trusts and 146 points relating to gurdwaras would be taken up at the meeting. The meeting would endorse the decisions, including free distribution of Guru Granth Sahib, taken at the previous meeting at Anandpur Sahib.

Another crucial issue, which may come up for discussion is, “Sachi Sakhi”, authored by late Kapur Singh, a former ICS officer. While the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC had decided to withdraw ban on publishing the latest issue, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, had raised serious objection on this as the new addition carried some derogatory remarks against her maternal grandfather, Master Tara Singh.

M.S. Kiranjot Kaur had forced the SGPC to impose ban on the publication of the controversial book.


Siddique to head Manipur police
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Union Government has cleared the name of Mr A.A. Siddique, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Director-Principal, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, for appointment as Director-General of Police, Manipur.

A formal order permitting the inter-state cadre transfer of Mr Siddique from Punjab to Manipur for two years was received here last night. He, thus, becomes the second Punjab police officer after Mr Gurbachan Jagat to head a state police force outside his parent cadre. Mr Jagat, before his appointment as Director-General of the Border Security Force, was the Director-General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Following the promotion and subsequent appointment of Mr Siddique in Manipur, a reshuffle at the senior level in the Punjab police looks inevitable. The Punjab Government is also contemplating filling the second post of Director-General of Police, an ex-cadre post, by promoting one of the Additional Directors-General of Police to look after jails in the state.

Mr Daljeet Singh Bhullar, who belongs to the 1964 batch of the IPS, has reportedly made a representation to the state government seeking promotion as Director-General of Police. He has argued that the registration of a police case should not come in the way of his promotion as several police officers of the state facing CBI and other police cases have been promoted. Mr Bhullar retires on August 31 next year.

Of late, there have been complaints about the mismanagement of jails in the state. The government has been toying with the idea of appointing a senior police officer as Director-General of Prisons against the ex-cadre post of DGP. Besides Mr Bhullar, the government is also considering a few other names, including those of certain Additional Directors-General of Police.

A final decision is expected soon.

Two Additional Directors-General of Police — Mr J.P. Aswal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Bhullar — will retire later this year on attaining superannuation. Mr Aswal retires on June 30 and Mr Bhullar on November 30.

Mr S.S. Virk, an IPS officer of the 1970 batch belonging to the Maharashtra cadre, has also made a representation to the state government that he should also be elevated as Additional Director-General of Police to bring him on a par with his batchmates. All Punjab-cadre IPS officers of the 1970 batch have already been promoted as ADGPs.

By the end of the current year, officers up to the 1972 batch will be elevated to the rank of Additional Director-General of Police. In fact, there is only one officer of the 1971 batch (Mr K.K. Attri) while Mr N.P.S. Aulakh and Mr R.S. Chalia belong to the 1972 batch. The 1973 batch, too, has two officers — Mr Sadhu Singh Nahar and Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill.

In that eventuality, all officers up to the 1981 batch would be elevated to the rank of Inspector-General. In fact, at the last Departmental Promotion Committee meeting, all four officers of the1980 batch — Mr Rajan Gupta, Mr Paras Moni Das, Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, Mr Sukhdial Singh Bhullar and Mr Harsh Raj Chadha — were cleared for promotion as Inspector-General of Police.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu will retire on May 30. So the state government is keen that he should be promoted before he goes.

On November 30, Mr Kamal Lal Likhi, Inspector-General of Police, too, will retire on attaining the age of 60.

But in the absence of posts, both cadre and ex-cadre, only one of these officers — Mr Rajan Gupta — has been promoted so far.

One post of Inspector-General (Training) is also vacant.

In fact, last year Mr Siddique was one of the hot contenders for the Jammu and Kashmir assignment as a replacement for Mr Jagat before the Union Government decided to appoint Mr A.K. Suri of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre.

The post of Director-General of the Manipur police fell vacant yesterday on the superannuation of Mr D.S. Grewal, the seniormost IPS officer of the Manipur-Tripura cadre belonging to the 1965 batch.

After Mr Siddique leaves, the post of the Director-Principal of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy will have to be filled by reshuffling ADGPs. A few ADGPs may be given new assignments keeping in view administrative and operational compulsions.

A consequential reshuffle of Inspectors-General and Deputy Inspectors-General is also expected soon.


HC judge frees 23 undertrials

Ferozepore, May 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, Mr Justice M.L. Singhal, today released 23 undertrials, including a woman, booked for minor offences and five others on personal bonds from the Central Jail here.

He also assured 150 other undertrials booked for serious crimes, whose cases were pending for more than three to four years, that their cases for bails would be sympathetically considered by the high court. He collected their resprensentation in this regard.

Mr Justice Singhal issued orders to the judicial officers of the Faridkot division to ensure quick disposal of under trial cases.

The judge earlier visited the Faridkot jail, which had been declared unsafe, for annual inspection. Its 322 prisoners, including 17 females, had been shifted to the Central Jail here. UNI


Chaudhry seeks PM’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 1
Mr Kamal Chaudhry, former MP, who has recently resigned from the BJP, demanded resignations of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Cabinet members for the failure of the NDA government in tackling the dispute between India and Bangladesh. He urged the President of India that if Mr Vajpayee and his Cabinet ministers fail to submit their resignations, he should dismiss the NDA government and appoint a suitable and appropriate person as the Prime Minister.

Mr Chaudhry was addressing a press conference at his residence here today. He said Mr Vajpayee was incapable to run the country like India. He criticised the role of the National Security Council in tackling the Bangladesh issue. The BSF Director had no role in the episode. He said it was not the failure of the intelligence agencies but the misjudgement of the Union Home Ministry due to which 17 BSF jawans lost their lives.

Mr Chaudhry was a member and chairman of the Parliamentary Defence Committee and Home Affairs Consultative Committee for quite a long period during his tenure as an MP.


‘Sangat darshan’ a mere farce: Cong
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
Senior Congress leaders Mr Sant Ram Singla and Mr Bir Devinder Singh today accused the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of scuttling the functioning of democratic institutions and unsurping powers of gram panchayats and nagar councils by holding `hollow’ sangat darshans.

In a press note Mr Sant Ram Singla, a general secretary of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, said that by holding such sangat darshans the Chief Minister was centralising powers which had reduced his cabinet colleagues to puppets as they had virtually no role to play in the decision making process. He added that by sanctioning money on the spot, without going into details, will only put a question mark on its proper utilisation and due to lack of transparency scandals were sure to surface. Mr Singla said that these so-called sangat darshans catered to the needs of only a handful of people picked up in advance by the administration at behest of the ruling party leaders. This was bound to bar thousands from getting justice, added Mr Singla.

Mr Singla said that Mr Badal instead of holding sangat darshans should address problems relating to the growing employment in the state, generation of electricity which was badly needed in both the agriculture and industrial sectors and the law and order problem which was deteriorating with every passing day.

In a separate press note, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, a former chief whip of the Congress in the Vidhan Sabha, said that the state government had become `jittery’ and claimed that Mr Badal would be announcing Assembly elections before the paddy season otherwise he would be left with no option except to approach the Centre with a begging bowl to avoid inviting the wrath of the farmers. He said that the people of the state were wise enough to understand the undercurrent of the sudden spurt of sangat darshans which, he claimed, bring the district administration to a standstill and which are a massive exercise aimed at befooling the people. The Chief Minister, after travelling by air for nearly four years had now suddenly realised the roads were bumpy, said Mr Bir Devinder. He said that the soft attitude of Mr Badal towards former terrorists, the well rehearsed and orchestrated surrender of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal had sounded the death knell to peace in the state.

Meanwhile, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, president of the District Congress Committee (urban), also derided the policy of the Chief Minister in holding `farcical’ sangat darshans. He said that these were nothing but an attempt to finish of democratic institutions and an attempt to centralise power using unfair means. He said that the proper way to disburse grants was to create a demand by ascertaining facts about a particular project.


Plea to make Sukhbir Youth Akali Dal chief
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 1
A former senior vice-president of the All-India Youth Akali Dal, Mr Jarnail Singh Dogranwala, has demanded that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former Union Minister, should be made the President of the Youth Akali Dal.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday, Mr Dogranwala allegedly a former President of the Youth Akali Dal, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, was a loyal soldier of the party, but his (Mr Aliwal’s) policy and approach to youth was not proper.

He denied that the youth wing of the party was dissolved because it was plagued by factionalism.


Visit a bonanza for villagers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 1
The Chief Minister’s surprise visit to a school and a hospital in the district on April 27 has proved to be a bonanza for the district as all declarations and promises he made during the visit have been fulfilled.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, accompanied by officials of the different department yesterday visited the Government High School, Kotla Bajwara, and handed over a cheque of Rs 4 lakh to Bibi Gulzar Kaur, sarpanch of the village, for the boundary wall of the school. He also handed over a cheque of Rs 10,000 to a brilliant student, Harpreet Singh, for whom the Chief Minister had also announced free education up to postgraduation level.

Fulfilling the wish of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Commissioner also distributed sweets and ladoos among villagers. It is interesting to note that during his surprise visit, the entire staff was found on duty and the questions made by the CM from the students were well answered. The satisfied CM announced the upgradation of the school up to senior secondary level and conceded all the demands of the staff and the students like sanctioning of extra teacher’s post, construction of rooms, boundary wall etc.

The Deputy Commissioner told reporters that from the next session the classes for plus one and plus two will also start in the school and the officials of Panchayati Raj had been directed to complete the boundary wall and construction of new rooms within one month. The Deputy Commissioner assured the students, staff and the villagers that the district administration will extend all possible help to them.

The people heaved a sigh of relief as their major and long-standing demand of recarpeting and widening of Sirhind-Chandigarh road, particularly from Chunni to Sohana, has been accepted. The people of the area gave the credit for the development of the area to The Tribune.


Internet link on demand soon
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

The Telecommunication Department has made arrangements to provide the photo- phone service to subscribers.

Stating this, the General Manager, Pathankot Telecom District, Mr Gel Chand, said the Internet connection would also be available on demand soon. He said the problems faced by subscribers relating to the 200 km local call facility would be solved. The department had decided to lay an optical fibre cable following which the circuit strength would increase and the difficulties being faced by subscribers in dialling 95 to make a local call within a radius of 200 km would end.

The telecom district had 113 telephone exchanges, including 102 rural ones, with 84,863 telephone connections, while the department had a capacity of more than 1.13 lakh lines. He said the waiting list for telephone connections would be cleared soon.


The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore to tackle the drinking water problem in the Sujanpur constituency under a NABARD scheme.

Stating this, Mr Sat Paul Saini, Minister of State, said the government planned to sink 20 more deep tubewells at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. As many as 59 such tubewells already existed in the area. He said every village in the constituency would be provided with the drinking water and power facilities.


Mr Davinder Saini, president of the Anti-Reservation Front, Punjab, has demanded the introduction of an additional DMU (diesel multiple unit) train on the Pathankot-Amritsar section.

Mr Saini said the railway authorities were running one express and one DMU train on this line, the fare difference being Rs 11. Passengers had to incur additional expenditure if they happened to miss the DMU train and had to board the express.


Resentment prevails among residents of Rattangarh over the issue of the setting up of a 66 KV substation in the village.

Mr Rajinder Singh, sarpanch of the village, said the panchayat, on the demand of the power board authorities, provided 2 acres at Gurdaspur in 1999 to facilitate the setting up of the substation. Mr Uttam Chand Saroya, Superintending Engineer, and Mr D.R. Rampal, Executive Engineer, had announced at a “sangat darshan” programme organised at Gurdaspur about two months ago that the PSEB had cleared the proposal on the substation and work on the project would start shortly. However, another electricity board officer rejected the plan, saying that the substation could not come up at the site. He asked the panchayat to provide another site for the project, the cost of which would be borne by the board. 


Case against Bibi adjourned
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 1
The UT Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mr Naval Kumar, today adjourned a defamation suit filed against Bibi Jagir Kaur till August 1.

Ms Kulbir Kaur Dhami, president and director of Guru Asra Trust had alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon had indulged in a criminal conspiracy against her and defamed her.

It was alleged in the complaint that the two had widely circulated copies of material (a book published by Jasbir Singh Dhillon and a letter in which he had levelled false allegations against the complainant) in India and abroad with criminal intent to defame her.


Protest rallies mark May Day

Phagwara, May 1
Various trade unions, including the local Rickshaw Pullers Union on Tuesday observed May Day in front of the bus stand on the G.T. Road. Mr K.C. Azad, a labour leader, paid tributes to Chicago martyrs and flayed dismal working conditions for the labourers. Members of the Technical Services Union, led by Mr Tarsem Lohia, held a gate rally outside the local PSEB office.

Nawanshahr: Mr Bhupinder Sambhar, member of the national council of the CPI, while addressing a rally organised at the Punjab Roadways depot here to mark May Day criticised the economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. He said the WTO agreement had put agriculture, small-scale industries and self-employment ventures in peril. Earlier, the local Trade Union Council took out a procession from the railway station to bus stand.

Amritsar: Even as the state government announced sops for the working class in wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections, the Punjab State Services Federation, PSCB Employees Federation and Punjab Mazdoor Dal have given a call to various employees’ federations and unions to get together in support of their demands.

However, most of the speakers delivered political speeches on the occasion of the state-level May Day function organised by Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, President Punjab State Services Federation, and Senior Vice-President, Shiromani Akali Dal. A number of Cabinet ministers, including Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla and Mr Natha Singh Dalam, were present.

The employee leaders urged the state government in increase bonus, border area allowance and kandi area allowance. They said the retirement age of Punjab employees should be increased from 58 to 60 on the pattern of the Central government and the employees should be given promotional scales after 4, 9 and 14 years irrespective of their posts.

Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister, said the state government had decided to regularise the services of all work-charge employees who had completed three years. He said to streamline the working of the Health Department, no transfer, except in emergency cases, would be made this year.

Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister said the state government had chalked out a plan to help the working class so that the World Trade Organisation pact would not have any negative impact on them.

Bathinda: May Day was celebrated at the local Public Health Complex today by the district unit of the Council of Trade Unions.

Mr Mahinder Singh from the Ministrial Union said the policy adopted by the government to privatise public sector undertakings was wrong. He added that it would leave a large number of employees jobless.

Mr Suresh Sharma of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union said the employees of all departments should fight to get their rights. He added that they should come under one flag if they wanted to get any benefit. 


Form apolitical forum, Sikh MPs urged
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 1
Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, has called upon Sikh Members of Parliament to form a non-political forum to discuss the issues facing the Sikh community and seek their settlement.

In a letter to the MPs, Mr Tarlochan Singh said they had never risen above political affiliations to discuss issues pertaining to Sikhs.

He said there were 21 Sikh MPs and he urged them to unite and discuss issues like the blacklisting of Punjabi NRIs and permission for them to visit India, opening of Canadian and UK consulates in Chandigarh and right of citizenship to 25,000 Sikhs from Afghanistan who had been uprooted and settled in India and appointment of Sikhs in prominent positions, besides other things. Due status should be given to Punjabi in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Delhi, he said.


Panel to identify ‘errant’ children of leaders
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 1
The All-India Sikh Students Federation (Bhoma) has formed a committee to identify the children of SGPC members and SAD MLAs who have been indulging in “patitpana”.

The report of the committee will be submitted to the Akal Takht Jathedar for action against such leaders.

Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, president of the federation and Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Khadi Gram Udyog Board, said the recent trend among children of some Sikh leaders to get their breads trimmed and indulge in other acts of “patitpana”, had forced the organisation to take the step.

“After the identification of such persons, we may present the report to the media also,” Mr Bhoma said at a meeting of the federation here yesterday.

The another resolution passed at the meeting, the federation alleged that the SAD was not serious about bringing about unity among different factions of the federation and was rather using the divide-and-rule policy for its benefit. The federation urged the government to ensure general amnesty for those militants who had fled their homes and the state. The government should offer them party tickets during the forthcoming Assembly elections to enable them to join the mainstream, the federation suggested.


Police given clean chit in beard trimming case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 1
Villagers of Mangwal village near here today gave a clean chit to the police here at a gathering in the gurdwara complex of the village by saying that the police had not cut the beard of Mr Paramjit Singh of the same village, and termed the allegation against the police by the victim as a lie.

A six-member fact-finding committee comprising religious and political persons namely Giani Raghbir Singh Jakhepal, Mr Joga Singh Phaguala, Mr Sita Singh Munshiwala and Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan, all members of the SGPC, Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, district president of the SHSAD, and Mr Chand Singh Chatha, a working committee member of the SHSAD. On the occasion, Mr Jhanda Singh, district president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, was also present.

At the gathering several persons, including Mr Khajan Singh, a former sarpanch of Mangwal village, levelled charges against Mr Paramjit Singh regarding some receipt of thousands of rupees from a widow.

Later talking to mediapersons, the members of the committee said the committee would give an opportunity to Mr Paramjit Singh to clarify his position and other aspects with regard to the cutting of his beard allegedly by the police.

They also announced that the committee had decided to call Mr Paramjit Singh on May 10 at 11 a.m. at Gurdwara Nankiana Sahib, Mangwal.

They also said the committee would decide the future course of action after hearing the view-point of Mr Paramjit Singh.

Earlier, at the meeting, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan also suggested that an FIR should be registered against Mr Paramjit Singh, in case he had trimmed his beard on his own and had played with the sentiments of the Sikh community.


Computerisation — bane or boon?
Harjeet Singh and Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, May 1
Mr B. Sharma went to the bank at 10.30 a.m. for depositing money. When he reached the bank, already many persons were standing in the queue at the counter for depositing money. His number was fourth in the row. But it took him two hours for reaching the counter. To cover the distance of one metre he had to stand for two hours.

This is a daily scene at most of the banks and post offices in the city.

A few years ago when the whole work was being done manually people were hopeful that after computerisation work would be completed at a faster pace.

But the situation did not change much even after computerisation of offices. The working conditions have not changed much. The customers still have to wait for hours to get their work done. Computerisation has not speeded up the functioning as most of the employees cannot operate the computers properly. Lack of training and employees not taking the training seriously were found to be the reasons behind this.

“You will have to come to the bank in the evening to collect your drafts as the printer is not working and we have to arrange another printer from somewhere”. This was what sometime a person gets to hear at the computerised banks of the city. As the banks have not a hardware engineer to tackle the emergencies, when a problem arises regarding the computers the bank authorities have to go in search of a hardware or software engineer.

Most of the customers of banks were of the opinion that the employees were more efficient when they had to make the drafts manually. Mrs Kumar said she had found that the employees of the bank were not familiar with the keyboard.

A few years ago when the banks and post offices were not computerised, people used to face problems like bad handwriting while maintaining huge records. Chances of mistakes in the records were also high in the absence of computerisation.

Now with the coming of the computers the maintaining of records was easier and problem of bad handwriting was no more. Moreover it had become easy to add or delete something in the records. Although computerisation had reduced the burden of work but people still complain of poor functioning.

“Keep quiet and wait for your turn, I am a human being and not a computer, I cannot work as fast as a computer does”. This was how one of the employees of a post office expressed his inefficiency to the customers who had been waiting for hours to deposit their phone bills.

The opening of Bank of Punjab brought some hope but it also showed inefficiency. With the increase in the number of customers the space proved to be less and even the ATM machine was found ‘not working’ a number of times. Mr Aman, an employee of Bank of Punjab when contacted said the customers were happy with the services of the bank. He admitted that sometime they had to face the problem with the ATM machine.

One of the senior officials of the State Bank of India, when contacted, said work efficiency depended on the efficiency of man operating it.


Expert’s advice on managing stress
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 1
“Be positive and adopt a positive attitude to eradicate stress from your life. This advice was given by Dr Rakesh Chopra, the chairman of the Institute of Corporate Management, New Delhi, at a function hosted by the Rotary Club, Phagwara South East, at Romesh Resorts here last night. He said positive feelings are helpful in dealing with stress and advised the people present on the occasion to regulate their personal habits and lifestyle.

Dr Chopra observed that stress and depression were harmful for the health and these must be effectively dealt with. The club president, Mr Om Uppal, rotarians Om Gupta, I.P. Khurana, Balbir Ahuja, Sanjeev Sood, Lalit Chopra, S.M. Zindal, Ramesh Kalra, Ramesh Chhabra and Pankaj Gautam were among those present during the function. Rotarian Uppal presented a memento to Dr Chopra.


Journalists meet DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 1
Press reporters and photographers of the city today demanded that action should be taken against the police officials who had beaten up the photographers of a Hindi daily in Jalandher a few days back.

A group of scribes of the city met the Deputy Commissioner today and demanded that the officials concerned should be dismissed. They said that for quite some time the high officials of the state had attacked the freedom of press. They added that the trend should be curbed.

The press people were angry with the state government and alleged that the police had not taken any action against the police officials, even after Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab had assured the mediamen at Ludhiana that an inquiry would be held in the matter and the guilty would be punished. But, they alleged that, even 10 days after the incident nothing has been done.

The journalists said that if the government did not punish the guilty they would have to adopt some other means to get justice. The press photographers said that they would boycott all the government programmes if the guilty officers were not punished.

They also gave a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner for onward transmission to the Punjab Chief Minister.

The scribes of Rampuraphul also held a meeting at the town. 


Effigy of Sheikh Hasina burnt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 1
The effigy of Bangladesh Prime Minister was burnt in the city today to protest against the killing of BSF jawans by the BDR personnel, by members of the Dalit Sena and Dalit Students Federation.

The members of the two unions observed two minutes silence in the memory of the BSF jawans. They also held a rally in to mark their protest.

Mr Kirnjeet Singh Gehri, state president of the Dalit Sena, while addressing the gathering said members of the two organisations would be first, if need arose, to go to the border for fighting with the enemy. He added that the other neighbouring country had learnt lessons in 1965, 1971.


Prof Piara Singh passes away

Chandigarh, May 1
Prof Piara Singh Padam (84), a renowned Punjabi scholar and Shiromani Sahitkar Award recepient for 2001, passed away at his Patiala residence today. The scholar suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to Rajindera Hospital where he was declared “brought dead”, family sources here said. Prof Padam is survived by two daughters. The funeral procession will start from his Kalam Mandir residence at the Lower Mall in Patiala at 10.30 a.m. UNI

Dental college Director held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 1
Naginder Singh Harika, Managing Director, Khalsa Rural Dental College and Hospital, Nangal Kalan, in the district, was arrested today and produced in the court of Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, Class I, Mansa.

The court remanded Harika, in judicial custody till May 14.

The FIR was registered on the complaint of Mr Suresh Kumar Sharma, IAS officer of New Delhi cadre. The case was registered in 1999, but the above accused was not arrested for reasons best known to the police.


28 jail inmates deported
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 1
The local jail authorities today deported 28 Bangladeshi inmates lodged in the jail. A spokesman for the jail authorities said during the past fortnight, 30 such inmates were deported. He added that the majority of them were arrested while trying to cross over to Pakistan without proper travel documents.

These Bangladeshis were made to board Howrah Mail to be handed over to Bangladesh authorities on the Indo-Bangladesh border. According to details made available here, a large number of Bangladeshis cross over to the Indian side in West Bengal through a well-organised network of touts, promising safe passage to Pakistan.


4 kids injured by lightning 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 1
Four school children were injured when lightning struck them while they were playing in the ground of their school at Talwan village near Nakodar township this afternoon.

Sukhjinder Singh and Harpal Singh, both class VIII students, Honi, a class V student and Aslam Ali were injured while playing at Vinayak Model School. Sukhjinder Singh and Honi have been admitted to Nurmahal civil hospital while Harpal and Aslam have been shifted to Ludhiana’s DMC hospital where their condition is reported to be stable.


Two labourers buried under soil
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 1
Two labourers Manjit Singh (48) and Manpreet Khan (17) sunk under 55 ft deep soil at Hamidi village, about 20 km from here, today morning.

According to reports, a heap of soil fell over the two labourers when they were busy bricklining a well. They were buried under the soil.

Learning about the mishap, Mr N. S. Walia, Subdivisional Magistrate, and Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, local MLA, rushed to the spot to supervise rescue operations.


2 farmers die in mishap

Sangrur, May 1
Two farmers died in a road mishap today when their tractor-trailer collided with another one coming from the opposite direction near Khanauri.

Kala Singh and Dalel Singh, who were coming here to sell their wheat, suffered fatal injuries in the accident. while Kala Singh died on the spot, his companion Dalel succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. UNI


56 lakh tonnes of wheat procured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Over 56 lakh tonnes of wheat had been procured by the FCI and the state agencies in Punjab till last evening, according to Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister.

He said over 6 lakh tonnes of wheat had been arriving in markets daily for the past one week or so. The state procurement agencies had procured about 75 per cent of the total wheat that had arrived in the markets whereas the FCI had procured 24.7 per cent. Traders had bought only 7,000 tonnes.


Tardy lifting of wheat alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 1
Even though the district administration claims that wheat procurement is going on smoothly, tonnes of wheat can be seen lying at the local grain market waiting to be lifted.

The rain which lashed the region this morning partially damaged wheat stored in the grain market. Farmers alleged that the pucca sheds had been taken by procurement agencies and their produce which was yet to be sold was lying in the open or had to be stored in tractor-trailers.

Labh Singh of Phoos Mandi village said his produce had been damaged because it had been lying in the open for the past few days. “The government should keep in mind the weather conditions and speed up the lifting process. We have been repeatedly assured that all our produce would be procured but due to untimely rain the quality may get affected and then we would be left at the mercy of private operators,” he said.

Inder Singh and Gurdev Singh of Multania village said their produce had been damaged by the rain as it was lying in the open. “The wheat procured by the agencies remain stored in mandis for days together due to the problem of lifting. The procured stock can be piled one over the other to make space for unprocured wheat,” they said.

The procurement figures till last evening stood at 2,95,812 tonnes. Payments totalling Rs 82.66 crore have been cleared by the government. Yesterday the total procurement of wheat (one day’s figures) stood at 31,857 tonnes.

The problem of stray animals and petty thefts by rag-pickers haunts the farmers. They said a boundary wall should have been constructed around the grain market.

No official of the three procurement agencies. Markfed, Punsup or the Punjab-Agro Industries Corporation was available for comment. But sources said the problem of lifting wheat was hard to solve as the total lifting capacity (per day of the district stood at only 20,000 tonnes where as the total purchase by various agencies generally crossed 30,000 tonnes per day. Even after the procurement process was over, it would take three to four days to clear the stock from the market.


Punjab hikes DA

Chandigarh, May 1
The Punjab Government today announced an instalment of dearness allowance, with an increase of 2 per cent in its existing rate. Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, said the DA payable to employees of the state government, and aided institutions and pensioners would be enhanced to 43 per cent from 41 per cent on their pay with effect from January 1 this year. The arrears would be paid in cash . It would involve an additional expenditure of Rs 83.20 crore during the current financial year. The government had also decided to give an interest-free wheat loan of Rs 2,440 to its Class IV employees. It would be recovered in eight equal monthly instalments. TNS


CM inaugurates corporation building
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, inaugurated the multi-storeyed building of the municipal corporation, near the National Institute of Sports (NIS) complex here late yesterday evening.

Addressing a gathering after the inauguration of the complex, built at a cost of Rs 2.46 crore, Mr Badal announced a grant for basic amenities and overall development of Patiala city. He said his government was committed to provide better sewerage systems, roads and proper drinking water supply in the town. He added that for the development of urban areas a sum of Rs 100 crore had been earmarked by the government.

He said the financial health of the state government was now sound as and more funds for development would be released soon. He said upkeep of religious places was the responsibility of his government and asked the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, to take appropriate steps to ensure proper development and cleanliness of the Kali Devi water tank. He informed that Rs 1 crore had been spent on the upkeep of Durgiana Mandir, Amritsar, and a sum of Rs 50 lakh were spent on the renovation of the Idgah at Malerkotla.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Bodies Minister, informed that four cities situated on the banks of the Sutlej namely Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phillaur and Phagwara would be provided with clean drinking water as the government had decided to spend Rs 321 crore to recycle the waters of the Sutlej.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that Rs 265 crore had been earmarked for the development of 12 big cities of the state and added that the Punjab State Infrastructure Board had been set up in the state primarily to oversee development projects. He said the state government would give Rs100 crore while the Central Government would chip in with an equal amount for the newly set up Board. 


Action against Tehsildar sought
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 1
A deputation of senior leaders of the BJP, under the leadership of Mr Surjit Singh Advocate, district president of the party, met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr V.K. Singh, here yesterday in connection with the alleged misbehaviour of trainee tehsildar at the tehsil complex with a senior municipal councillor, Mr Yash Mahajan.

The deputation urged the Deputy Commissioner to take an immediate action against the delinquent officer. In a memorandum, Mr Mahajan alleged that he went to the tehsil complex for obtaining the report of the Halqa Patwari, Kapurthala, for getting an OBC certificate for a voter of his ward. He alleged that instead of asking the halqa patwari to make a report on the application, the tehsildar asked the Patwari to turn out the BJP councillor from the office and made derogatory remarks against him.

The Deputy Commissioner assured the deputation of justice.

On the other hand, Mr Gurdev Singh Dham, the trainee Tehsildar, when contacted, denied the allegations of having misbehaved with the municipal councillor. He said as the report made by Mr Mahajan on the application was incomplete, he simply asked the Patwari to return the application which provoked Mr Mahajan, who used derogatory language against him.


Two held for posing as DTOs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 1
The police has busted a gang of three persons posing as district transport officers (DTOs) and arrested two of them — Prabhat Kumar and Gurmeet Singh. The third, Dhanpat Rai, is at large.

Police sources said a scooter, two fake registration certificates, fake stamps of DTOs from Bathinda, Patiala and Muktsar had been recovered.

They allegedly used to get a scooter or any vehicle financed by a private company and after change the original registration number, would get it financed from another company.

The SSP said they had been cheating the finance companies and the public. They got a scooter financed twice from two companies and later sold it. They have been arrested under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 478, IPC.

The SSP said not only scooters, but also colour television sets bought from local businessmen on instalments or by submitting fake cheques had been recovered from them.

Five other fake DTOs had been arrested by the police during the past few months, he said.

In another incident, the police arrested a resident of the NFL township for allegedly forging documents and applying for a passport in a fictitious name.

Police sources said in 1997 he had applied for a passport and after getting it failed to arrange for a visa. He again applied in the name of his uncle with his photographs in 1998. He has been arrested under Sections 420, 465 and 468, IPC, the sources said.

In yet another incident six persons were arrested during the past 24 hours. Five of them were in possession of illicit liquor. One of them was arrested under the Prevention of Gambling Act.


Career advancement scheme for teachers cleared
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 1
The Punjab Education Department has decided to implement the much-awaited Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) grades for the teaching staff working in 140 non-government aided colleges in the state.

The long-pending orders were issued by the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, on the recommendation of the Principal Secretary (Higher Education) on April 27. Approval of the Finance Department and the Punjab Cabinet had already been sought along with a clarification from the UGC before the decision was taken.

This decision will benefit nearly 2,000 teachers, who will now be placed in a higher grade in accordance with the UGC notification dated December 24, 1998.

According to the notification, the minimum service to be eligible for promotion from the lecturer’s grade of Rs 8,000-275-13,500 to the senior lecturer’s grade of Rs 10,000-325-15,200 will be four years in the case of those with a PhD, five years for those with an MPhil and six years for those who do not possess these qualifications.

As far as the eligibility to move into the selection grade lecturer category is concerned, the minimum service in the senior grade will be five years for all categories.

The notification also states that for this upward movement, the general body of the college concerned has to pass a resolution for granting career advancement to teachers as per the guidelines issued by the UGC, brought into effect from July 27, 1981.

The notification further states that for placement in the senior grade, a lecturer should have participated in at least one orientation course and one refresher course of an approved duration of three-four weeks. Those with a PhD will be exempted from the refresher course. For placement in the selection grade, the lecturer should have participated in at least two refresher courses of approved duration.

The DPI has directed the principals of the 140 non-government aided colleges, getting assistance under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, to fix the teachers’ salary in the senior and selection grades and accordingly send their cases to the DPI (Colleges) for verification.

The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union general secretary, Mr Charanjit Chawla, has welcomed the release of these grades and demanded that the same benefit should be granted to lecturers of 25 unaided colleges of the state affiliated to the three universities. 


Subsidies for rural industries
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 1
The Punjab Government has decided to give subsidies to industries to be established at industrial growth centres and rural industrial focal points.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today, said the process of providing land and other necessary help to the persons who wanted to start such industries at the rural focal points had been started in the district.

He said in the Talwandi Sabo region, preference would be given to those who wanted to establish processing, packaging and cooling units for fruits, particularly grapes, which are grown in abundance in the region.

Mr Jaspal Singh said under the scheme, about 30 per cent of the total capital invested in such industrial units could be given as subsidy. However, he said such subsidy would not be more than Rs 50 lakh. He said those who wanted to start hotel business would be given 25 per cent of the invested money or Rs 25 lakh, whichever was less.

The Deputy Commissioner said Rs 15 lakh would be given for the setting up of power generation units in these industries. He said no electricity tariff would be charged from such entrepreneurs for five years.

Mr Jaspal Singh said under a scheme of the Central Government, the rural youths would be given training for using powerlooms to help them start their business. He said under the scheme, powerlooms would be established in 58 villages of the district. He said a handloom unit would be established at Bathinda.

He said the district had been selected by NABARD for the rural industries programme. He said under the scheme, those persons who wanted to establish small units in the rural areas would be given help by the District Rural Authority.

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