Friday, May 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab MP’s companion fined
Travelling without ticket on Shatabdi
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
A Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) MP from Punjab landed in trouble as one of his companions and a security guard travelling with him in the New-Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi Express-2005 this evening were booked for travelling without ticket.

In fact, the companion was travelling in place of the spouse of the MP in the executive class.

According to rules, only the MP and his or her spouse are allowed to travel free in the Executive Class of the Shatabdi Express/Rajdhani Express.

During routine checking of the train, it was found that Mr Jaspal Singh, a companion of Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP from Ferozepore, was travelling without a valid ticket. A gunman of the MP, a constable of Punjab police, too, was travelling without ticket.

Mr Mann insisted that he was free to carry one companion with him in the Executive class. The train supervisory staff, however, maintained that free travel facility was only for the MP and his or her spouse. Another companion of the MP was travelling with valid reservation in the same executive class.

Though Mr Mann maintained that he had never been “hauled up” for travelling with a companion during his frequent travels, the train supervisory staff reportedly told him politely but firmly that rules did not permit any one other than his spouse to travel free with him in the Executive Class. Mr Mann said he would take up the issue with the Railway Ministry and in the Lok Sabha also.

Mr Mann was asked to pay the penalty and the fare. After arguments he relented and agreed to pay the penalty for his companion and the security guard. The total money charged from them came to Rs 2830, Rs 1890 for the companion (Mr Jaspal Singh) and Rs 940 for the security guard.

Similar instances have been reported earlier also. Thoug the Railway authorities have issued clear instructions about companions and security guards of VIPs, including MPs, the directions are invariably ignored. In one instance, even members of the personal security staff of a Governor of a northern State were charged for travelling without valid tickets.


Shortage of funds may hit Anandpur Sahib projects
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 3
The landscaping projects started in Anandpur Sahib during the tercentenary celebrations may be stopped due to the non-availability of funds. The Punjab Government had spent Rs 2 crore on various landscaping projects in Anandpur Sahib. However, since then no funds have been allocated for the maintenance of the projects.

One of the features where landscaping may stop due to the non-availability of funds is the Panj Piara park. There are five fountains depicting the five beloved ones in the park. The electricity bill for running these fountains comes to about Rs 24,000 per month, which has not been paid since the past one year.

The Forest Department officials have employed 10 workers on daily wages to maintain the park. They have not been paid salaries for the past year. An official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said no funds had been allocated for the maintenance of landscaping projects since 1999. They were maintaining the park from the spill-over funds that came during the tercentenary, but last year even that exhausted.

The forest officials stated that as per the original plan after the development of the part was to be handed over either to the Municipal Council, Anandpur Sahib, or the Anandpur Sahib Urban Development Agency (ASUDA) for maintenance. However, none of the organisations has taken of the responsibility so far due to which the Forest Department continues to look after its maintenance.

The other important landscaping project was the planting of the ornamental plant, golden duranta, on the side of the four-laned road and other places. The forest officials had employed seven workers on daily wages for the maintenance of these plantations. These workers had also not been paid any salary. The officials say that the workers were working without wages only on a faint hope that their services might be regularised under the new government policy of regularising the services of all daily wagers, who have been working in various government departments for three or more years. However, the effect of the non-availability of funds was already showing on the golden duranta plantations on the space provided between the roads as many of the plantations had either dried up or had not been cut properly.

The other landscaping projects that have been hit are the linear park and the part at the Bhuleward area between Kila Anandgarh Sahib and Gurdwara Keshgarh Sahib and the development of the medicinal plant orchard near the Baba Gurdittaji Gurdwara in Kiratpur Sahib.


US Nagar in focus once again
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Udham Singh Nagar district will be again in focus as the Sikhs and other minorities have decided to organise a big political conference there to press the Uttaranchal Government to announce certain concessions for them immediately.

The conference will be held at Rudarpur, headquarters of Udham Singh Nagar district, on May 5. The entire top Akali leadership led by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal will participate in the conference. Among those who will attend it are the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and the SAD’s general secretary, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder.

The Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, Mr Nityanand Swami, the chief of the Uttaranchal, unit of the BJP, Mr Puran Chand Sharma, and the BJP’s senior leader and former Chief Minister, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, will also participate in the conference.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Cheema, president of the Uttaranchal and UP units of the Shiromani Akali Dal, who is a chief organiser of the conference, told TNS on the phone from Rudarpur that the minorities like the Sikhs, Bengalies, Tharus and Muslims wanted redemarcation of the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Uttaranchal, making the population of the minorities the basis and not the area. He said that as Uttaranchal was a new state, the process of the redemarcation of the constituencies was about to begin.

The minorities wanted adequate reservation for them in Government jobs and in the State Assembly to safeguard their rights. “ It will not be possible for the minorities to protect their rights without representation in the Assembly”.

Mr Badal and other top leaders of the SAD had been invited to the conference as they had given assurances to leaders like Mr Cheema to protect the rights of the minorities once Uttaranchal came into being. Leaders like Mr Cheema had launched a massive agitation to press the Union Government to exclude Udham Singh Nagar district from the new state. Mr Badal, who was earlier supporting the exclusion of the area, later mysteriously fell silent on this issue. Perhaps, he was given an assurance by the BJP high command that it would intervene to protect the land and other rights of the minorities in Udham Singh Nagar and other areas.

Mr Swami would be requested to declare Punjabi as the second language of the state and give ownership of the land being cultivated by farmers for the past 20 years or more in the Udham Singh Nagar belt. Though farmers cultivate the land, it is in the name of the government in the revenue records.

Another major demand would be to provide a rail link between Punjab and Udham Singh Nagar district. Most people of the area visit Punjab to meet their relations and face problems in the absence of a proper transport system. A rail line could be laid from Ram Nagar or Kathgodam in Uttaranchal to Punjab by taking up the issue with the Railway Ministry.

No revenue records are available at the tehsil level in the Udham Singh Nagar area. Mr Cheema said that about a decade ago, the consolidation of land was ordered by the UP Government in that area but the order was stayed by a court. However, before the stay, the revenue record were taken away by the staff appointed by the Consolidation Department. Since then, the records had been with that department and farmers had to face a lot of problems if they wanted copies of documents. He said the record should be given back to the revenue staff of the tehsildar of the area.

The procurement agencies had not made payments for paddy so far. Mills also had not paid for the cane supplied to them by farmers. Mr Swami would be requested to get the dues cleared within a stipulated period.

Industry, mainly agro-based was facing a crisis in the Udham Singh Nagar belt. Adequate raw material was not available for sugarcane mills and rice shellers. The main cane and paddy producing belt was in adjoining Uttar Pradesh while most of the sugar mills and rice shellers were in Udham Singh Nagar district. “Now our agro-based industry is at the mercy of the UP area, “ Mr Cheema said. Mr Swami would be urged to take the required steps in this connection.

He said there was a shortage of power in the area. The control of power distribution was in the hands of the UP power board authorities. They gave preference to their own state while residents of Uttaranchal faced problems.

Traders faced the problem of “double tax”. The main source of supply of various goods was UP. When the goods passed through the border from UP to Uttaranchal, both states levied tax on these. So the cost of these items went up. The Uttaranchal Government would be urged to find a solution to this problem.


Rape victim alleges police pressure
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 3
In a new twist to the case involving the alleged rape of a minor girl and her subsequent torture at the local CIA interrogation centre, the girl and her father today claimed that the Patiala police had promised them justice when they were called to join the investigation yesterday, but were asked not to give any statement regarding the administering of electric shocks to the girl on April 20 at the interrogation centre.

The girl Ratna (false name), and her father Seetal Parsad alleged that police officials had ‘’requested’’ them not to give any statement about being taken to the CIA centre to the court before which the girl recorded a statement under Section 164 of the CrPc. The duo said the police, however, assured them that they would get full justice in the case.

The case involving the alleged kidnapping and rape of the 14-year old resident of a colony near the Diesel Component Works factory here came to the fore when the victim’s family was brought back from the sangat darshan programme of the Chief Minister to their home here by the district police on the plea that justice would be rendered and they need not complain in this regard to the Chief Minister.

In a signed statement here, the victim said she had been pressurised by police officials, including an SHO, not to give any statement regarding the harassment at the CIA centre, adding that even when some newspersons approached her outside the court room she could not speak out freely due to the presence of an official. She said due to this she did not make any statement in the court about the electric shocks administered to her and only gave a detailed account of her kidnapping and subsequent rape.

The girl said earlier on April 20 she had been taken to the CIA centre along with her parents and a few other women, including Shyam Kaur wife of Amar Singh, of Bharat Nagar, Surjit Kaur wife of Nachhatar Singh and Gurnam Kaur wife of Swaran Singh. She said at the CIA centre she was taken to a separate room, her hands were tied behind her back and she was slapped. She said she was also administered shocks and asked to change the statement recorded in the FIR. She said earlier also a police official had visited her residence after she got an FIR registered against the accused to ask her to change her statement.

The girl’s father in a separate statement said an impression had been created that he had returned back from the sangat darshan at Samana due to the huge crowds there, which was not the truth. He said he had been brought back from the sangat darshan in a police vehicle and that such an impression had been wrongly created by a police official yesterday.

Meanwhile, SP (Detective) M.S. Chahal, who is the investigating officer in the case, when questioned about the allegations being levelled by the victim’s family, said, ‘’they are telling a lie’’. He said the victim, her family members and other persons of the locality had come to him yesterday and that the police had even got the statement of the girl recorded under Section 164 of the CrPc. He said some people were talking of effecting some compromise between both parties, but he had told them that he would proceed according to the law.

The police said the mother of Ravi, the boy who has been accused of raping the girl, was still on the run. The woman is also an accused in the case. The woman was reportedly present in her house two days ago.


Cop held for theft, intimidation
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 3
The district police has arrested Budh Singh, Inspector of the Punjab police, in a case relating to the theft and intimidation registered against him on May 1 in the Thermal Plant police station here.

Budh Singh, who was notorious in the state for his alleged acts of omission and commission during his official duty, was involved in a number of cases of violation of human rights, including the stripping of a Dalit woman in front of her son in 1997 in the local police station.

Budh Singh has been convicted in a corruption case and sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and fine by the Additional Sessions Judge, Mansa. He was arrested yesterday while he was roaming in the Nahianwala police station area.

Due to his alleged clout in the political and other circles in the state, he has been escaping the police net for many years even though more than half-a-dozen criminal cases have been registered against him in various police stations of Bathinda and Mansa districts.

Budh Singh allegedly violated the law of the land during the days of terrorism and amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. He was also booked by the district police for possessing arms illegally along with Sucha Singh, junior engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

Police sources said that Budh Singh, who had rented out his building to Gurbachan Singh for running an STD/PCO booth threw out all the goods out of the STD/PCO and took away some of them with him. A case in this connection was registered against him on the complaint of Mr Gurbachan Singh.

Meanwhile, the Bathinda police unearthed a smuggler-police racket by registering cases under the NDPS Act against assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs) Surninder Thakur and Shashi Atwal and one head constable Avtar Singh.

Police sources said that Budh Singh had been indulging in extortion, wrongful confinement, corruption and illegal possession of arms. Apart from a number of criminal cases registered against him, he had also been indicted in various departmental inquiries and cases in the connection were yet to be registered.

Budh Singh suspended after he stripped a Dalit woman in front of her son in the local police station following protest and rallies held by voluntary and social organisations in the city. However, he was reinstated a few days before the 1997 Lok Sabha elections and posted in Muktsar district. His native village is in the parliamentary constituency of Faridkot.

Police sources said that Budh Singh had been remanded in police custody up to May 4 when he was produced before the judicial magistrate today.


Procedure to elect civic body chiefs changed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The presidents, the senior vice-presidents and the vice-presidents of municipal committees in Punjab will be elected henceforth by show of hands by the municipal councillors concerned. Earlier, they were elected through secret ballot.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, said that a notification had been issued by the authorities amending the relevant rules governing the election of the president, the senior vice-president and the vice-president. He said the step had been taken to bring about transparency in the election of these office-bearers and to stop horse-trading, which had become a big problem.

However, leaders of other political parties say that at most places BJP and SAD Presidents and other office-bearers of municipal committees are facing problems as municipal councillors of their own political parties have turned against them. They are facing a threat of no-confidence motions. Owing to this, the rules have been amended.

There are 142 municipal committees in the state. While about 30 are under the control of the BJP, about 20 are governed by the SAD.

When asked whether denying the right of secret ballot to municipal councillors was an anti-democratic step, Mr Tandon claimed that such a measure would restore democracy in these bodies.

Justifying the change in the rules, Mr Tandon said that even in Parliament and state Assemblies almost all decisions were taken by show of hands. Even the Prime Minister could be removed through this method.

Announcing another major decision, Mr Tandon said a committee headed by the Chief Secretary would soon issue a notification for the transfer of the money collected by the Excise and Taxation Department as octroi on liquor direct to the Local Bodies Department. Earlier, this money was routed through the state Finance Department.

There were serious differences between the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and Mr Tandon over the issue of release of grants and other funds to the municipal committees. Mr Tandon had raised the issue of non- release of funds to the committees by the Finance Department. Consequently, the Chief Minister intervened to end the dispute between the two ministers. A committee was set up which recommended the direct transfer of the octroi money.

Mr Tandon said the maintenance of streetlights had been privatised completely in Ludhiana city on an experimental basis. There were 38,000 streetlight points in that city. If the experiment proved successful, it would be implemented in Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar.


Hold SGPC poll on time: SCG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 3
The Chandigarh chapter of the Sikh Core Group (SCG) has called upon all panthic organisations to exert their influence for ensuring the holding of SGPC elections on time.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the SCG held here yesterday. The meeting was attended by Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, Lt-Col Perminder Singh, Principal Gurbax Singh Shergill, Mr Gurdev Singh, Brig Gurdip Singh, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Kirpal Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh.

The participants felt that although the President of the SGPC had categorically stated that the SGPC elections, due in October, would not be delayed, the actual developments had exposed their subterfuge.

The process of elections would be activated with the updating of the electoral rolls, which must commence seven to eight months before the date of the poll. This had not happened so far. While the Gurdwara Election Commission had been in existence on a regular basis, it had no powers to order the poll. The authority for initiating the election process rested with the Central Government (Home Department).

The process had been undermined through a typical bureaucratic ruse. The bottleneck was stated to be a pending amendment to the qualifying age of voters, ie the reduction from 21 to 18, as well as the definition of a voter. This amendment, approved by the general house of the SGPC and communicated to the Central Government (Home Department), had been withheld by the Punjab Government, the participants said.

The members of the SCG decried the complicity of the SGPC and SAD leaders in delaying the SGPC elections. They felt that the SAD-led state government was setting a wrong precedent.

Two members of the SCG — Principal Shergill and Dr M.S. Rahi — who had returned after visiting gurdwaras in Pakistan, briefed the members on the overall state of affairs. The members were unanimous that notwithstanding the fact that the upkeep of the historic shrines had shown improvement, “maryada” was not being observed meticulously. Therefore, it was essential that the local Sikh sangat in Pakistan must be totally involved in the affairs of gurdwaras.

The organisational details of historic celebrations, in accordance with SGPC “maryada”, must be overseen by SGPC representatives. Furder, SGPC representatives must be included in the apex management body of Pakistan gurdwaras. Representatives from other countries where a substantial Sikh population existed such as Canada, the USA, the UK and Malaysia must be co-opted on this committee.

The management committee for gurdwaras in Pakistan must be headed and manned entirely by Sikhs.

The members appreciated the efforts of Dr Kirpal Singh in undertaking the task of retrieving and editing the SGPC resolutions from voluminous records.


Funds being misused: Arshi 
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, CPI leader and MLA, today alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was using the funds meant for development of the state for creating vote bank for his party.

Mr Arshi, while talking to mediapersons here today, said the ruling party was collecting the funds through unfair means, which would be used in the assembly elections.

The CPI leader said the funds given during the sangat darshan programmes by the Chief Minister were taken as loans from a commercial bank after giving it permission to collect the market fee for the next four years. He said the permission to collect the fee was given as the bank guarantee.

He further alleged that about half of the financial sources were not made the part of the state budget. These included Rural Development Fund, education cess, Infrastructure Development Fund, Urban Development Fund and Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The money in these funds could be used by the Chief Minister and nobody could question the use of these funds. He added that even the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) could not make any enquiry into the use of such funds which were not included in the budget.

The CPI leader said there was every possibility that money from such funds would be misused by the ruling SAD-BJP in wooing the voters in the coming elections.

He alleged that on one hand the various Chairs established in the names of saints and sufis like Kabir, Ravidass and Namdev in Guru Nanak Dev University were discontinued due to the paucity of funds, while on the other hand the government was spending lots of money on meaningless activities.

He alleged that the ITIs were closed in the state and the reason for that was stated lack of funds. The Communist leader alleged that at the sangat darshans the Chief Minister was giving money liberally to all and sundry.


Singla flays move to form Sikh MPs’ group
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 3
Senior Congress leader Sant Ram Singla today criticised National Minorities Commission Vice-Chairman Tarlochan Singh for proposing the formation of a group of Sikh MPs in Parliament.

In a statement here, the Congress leader said the move would result in other communities making their own groups on caste lines. He said the proposal went against the foundations of Indian polity. Mr Singla said the Constitution had stood the test of time and any move to create any group on the basis of religion would be dangerous for the unity and integrity of the country. He urged all Sikh MPs to reject the proposal.


Brar denies okaying Sikh MPs’ group
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 3
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP and Convener, Congress Parliamentary Group, today said he had never approved of the idea of forming a pressure group of Sikh MPs in the Lok Sabha, a proposal for which was recently mooted by Mr Tirlochan Singh, Deputy Chairman, Minorities Commission.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Brar said he had not received any letter in connection with the pressure group by Mr Tirlochan Singh. He added that the remark of Mr Sant Ram Singla, a senior party leader, charging him with approving the idea of Sikh MPs pressure group was baseless.

He maintained that if he received such a letter from Mr Tirlochan Singh, he would place it before the MPs of Punjab for discussion. He added that the formation of such a pressure group did not fit in the Congress party’s ideology owing to its secular character.


Helping addicts quit drug abuse
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
The district de-addiction centre, situated on the Bathinda-Goniana road, has emerged as a boon for the drug addicts of the city and nearby districts. The number of persons who get treatment at the centre, which is run by the Red Cross is increasing with each year.

As many as 3,121 persons came to the centre from April, 2000, to March, 2001. Of these, about 430 persons who needed round-the-clock attention admitted to the centre while the others were given treatment as outdoor patients.

The patients who wanted to get rid of their habit of taking drugs were not only from the district but also from neighbouring districts like Mansa, Moga, Faridkot, besides Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.

The persons whose treatment proved to be effective motivated other persons of their village or town who also wanted to quit drug abuse to come to the centre.

Dr Mehboob Singh Saran, the in charge of the centre, said the drug addicts were not only given medicines which help them to quit the habit but also persuaded and motivated to do so through pep talks. He said the main aim of the centre was to ensure that addicts who quit drugs did not restart using these after they left the hospital.

The follow-up plan undertaken by social workers in collaboration with the centre was aimed at ensuring that those who left the centre did not fall into the trap of drugs again.

During the past year, social workers visited 1,183 families whose members has quit drugs after getting treatment from the centres. It was found that the family members of such persons were very happy that their kin had quit the habit. Dr Saran said three persons who had come to the centre to quit drugs and who used to take morphine injections were found to be HIV positive. It was possible that those persons with whom they shared the needle would also be HIV-positive.

He said most of the patients who came to the centre took opium, poppy husk and other similar narcotics. He said some cases of smack users were also reported in the centre. Dr Saran said the drug addicts who came to the centre belonged to all walks of life. They included teachers, police personnel, students, religious preachers, farmers, labourers and small-time businessmen.

He said some people wanted to quit drug abuse but were reluctant to come to the centre because of social stigma. He said there were many cases in which patients had come from far-off places. When asked why had they come to Bathinda when there were such centres in their districts also, they said they did not want their relatives and acquaintances to know that they were drug addicts. 


Punjab to give aid to religious bodies
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), May 3
The Punjab Government has decided to give financial aid to the registered religious institutions in the state.

Stating this as a function organised here, Punjab Chief Minster Parkash Singh Badal claimed that the state government had been giving financial aid to the religious places without any discrimination.

Speaking at a sangat darshan programme at his native village here today, he said Rs 1 lakh would be given for the construction of a temple at the village.

Mr Badal also announced that the status of the local school had been upgraded to senior secondary and a modern primary school would be opened at the colony of the Scheduled Castes.

The Chief Minister said he had given instructions to the officials concerned to provide the required certificates for the members of Scheduled Caste on a priority basis so that they could avail the benefits of various welfare schemes launched by the SAD-BJP government.

Lashing out at the previous Congress governments at the Centre and in the state, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress governments always looted the poor under the garb of “garibi hatao” programme.

He said during the current financial year, the Punjab Government had earmarked Rs 27 crore for providing Rs 5,100 to each Dalit girl at the time of her marriage under the shagun scheme. Mr Badal, who was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Surinder Kaur, said the provision of housing facilities for those belonging to the poor sections of the society was being made at a large scale.


Beard case: DSP serves notice to complainant
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 3
Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, DSP, Sangrur, has served a legal notice through his counsel on Mr Paramjit Singh, who had alleged on April 25 at a press conference in Chandigarh that the DSP and five constables had forcibly snipped off his beard when he declined to withdraw his complaint against a Punjab minister.

Mr Paramjit Singh, a resident of Mangwal village, near here, is the president of the district unit of the Samajwadi Janata Party (Chandra Shekhar).

In the notice, Mr Paramjit Singh has been asked to tender a public apology for making false allegations against Mr Grewal.

In case, Mr Paramjit Singh fails to do so, legal action on criminal and civil sides will be taken against him after 15 days from the receipt of the notice.

In the notice, it has been stated: “Due to the prompt action by the DSP in two cases which went against you (Paramjit Singh), you, annoyed with the DSP, made false allegations against him that he had cut your beard.

This allegation had mentally tortured the DSP and members of his family as the DSP himself is a true Sikh and cannot even imagine to do the act as alleged by you.”


No fire tenders, staff to douse fire
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 3
Hundreds of acres of standing wheat crop has been destroyed by fire at many places in the district, but much of the damage could have been avoided if fire tenders and adequate strength of fire staff were available at most of the subdivisional headquarters in the district.

More than 200 acres of standing wheat crop in areas falling in subdivisions like Phillaur and Nakodar could have been saved, but for the timely arrival of fire tenders and fire-fighting staff. At several places, short-circuiting of overhead high tension electricity wires caused fire.

Inquiries by The Tribune revealed that the main reason behind the fire incidents, one of which had even destroyed nearly 150 jhuggis, rendering 500 persons homeless at Sangowal village near Nakodar about a week ago, was the late arrival of the fire tenders for the simple reason of shortage of staff at the district headquarters and the non-availability of fire tenders at the subdivisional headquarters.

The information collected by the correspondent revealed that whenever a fire incident was reported fire tenders were rushed to the place from Jalandhar city, which took them more than half-an-hour just to be out of the congested city.

“We have adequate fire tenders, numbering about 16, but not the required supporting staff to run these vehicles,” Jalandhar’s Additional Divisional Fire Officer Mr H.P.S. Bhullar said. The fire services had just a staff of 67, while 90 posts, including that of 15 drivers, six head firemen and five sub fire officers were lying vacant for more than two decades. The casual approach of the state government towards a vital organisation like the fire brigade could be gauged from the fact that no chief fire officer has been appointed by it after 1968. “We have been writing to the district administration and the authorities concerned for the recruitment of new staff, but to no avail,” Mr Bhullar said, while admitting that there was no fire tender at any of the subdivisional headquarters in the district. “We face more difficulty in the wake of VIP visit when we have to completely shut down one of our fire brigade stations,” he said.


Panel for shifting liquor shop
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 3
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has directed the state government to immediately shift the “most controversial” liquor shop located near Guru Ravidass Temple in Thakur Abadi here.

Mr Tenzing Vengyal, secretary of the commission, taking cognizance of a complaint filed by Mr Raj Kumar Chauhan and 30 other residents of Thakur Abadi (dated April 10), had visited the locality when he was here on the eve of birthday of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar here on April 14. The residents had been agitating against the existence of the liquor shop near the temple for past several months, but the Excise Department had again auctioned the same at the existing site this year. The residents were assured by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on April 16 that the shop would be shifted immediately, but when he was told that the matter was pending with a local court, Mr Badal withdrew his oral instructions. The court, in fact, had restrained the public from holding any dharna etc, within a specified periphery of the liquor shop.

The commission vide letter dated April 26 addressed to the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, had stated that upon a visit of the locality it was seen that a country wine shop located near Guru Ravidass Temple was doing brisk business. The running of the wine shop in front of the temple hurt the religious sentiments of the residents a majority of whom belonged to the Scheduled Castes. It was also apprehended that if the situation was allowed to simmer unchecked, it might lead to unnecessary law and order situation and disturb the peace of the area.

An action taken report is to be submitted to the commission within 30 days. The commission has requested the Deputy Commissioner and SSP, Ferozepore, to arrange the relocation of the shop immediately. Till then, the license of the wine shop is to be suspended as per rule and law.


Women favour separate gyms
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, May 3
Even as gymnasiums in the city and its surrounding towns have been witnessing a heavy rush of men, women who want to shed the extra flab have been finding it difficult to do the same in the absence of a separate gymnasium and health club for women.

Earlier, the gymnasiums were considered to be places for body-building, but now stress is on fitness and exercise.

With increasing health awareness, more and more people from all age groups are getting interested in the gymnasium culture.

But the scene is different when one talks about women as regular visitors to the gymnasiums. It is not that they are not health conscious, but that there are no separate gymnasiums for them. Those who do go to the gymnasiums are mostly sports persons. They come to build their stamina and practise weight-lifting.

Most college-going girls, working women and housewives wanted to remain fit.

Ruby, a student of BA final, said she was looking for healthy ways to lose weight. A gymnasium could be the right place for doing exercises under the supervision of a instructor but as there was no separate gymnasium for women, she could only go for a walk or diet, she said.

Shweta Bhatia a student of the local engineering college, said she was very fond of wearing western dresses, especially jeans, for which she must have a good figure. “To maintain my figure I regularly go for a walk but in the absence of supervision I miss my walk very often. A gymnasium can be an excellent place for sweating out with regularity but there is no separate gymnasium in the city, she said.

Most housewives said when children were young, they had enough time to go to a gymnasium. They were willing to join a gymnasium as regular members but wanted a separate one with female instructors. Parents were hesitant to send their daughters to the gymnasiums where no separate rooms or timing was arranged for girls.

Ms Gupta, a college lecturer, said there were not enough parks to go for walks so people were forced to jog and walk on main roads. Because of pollution and traffic problems, it was not healthy.


Lawyers cancel protest, foundation stone laying
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 3
The Sangrur district Bar Association today did not organise protest march in the town and also cancelled foundation stone laying for the construction of chambers for lawyers in the newly-built Judicial Complex here on May 4.

Mr Sat Pal Sharma, secretary of the association, said here that the decisions regarding the cancellation of protest march and laying of foundation stone for chambers was taken this morning at a meeting under the presidentship of Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the association.

He also said these decisions had been taken on the intervention of the higher judicial and administrative authorities which had assured them that sincere efforts would be made for the construction of chambers as per the proposed site plan by the association. He also said the site plan of the association would now be presented before the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the approval of the same as their proposed site plan for chambers was different from the already sanctioned site plan for the chambers block in the newly-built Judicial Complex.

However, the association did not withdraw agitation so far, as their relay fast today entered 14th day by a group of 15 members daily. Besides, their protest dharna and “no work” stir still continued and will continue till the acceptance of the demand of the association.


Labourers still trapped
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 3
Even after 51 hours of efforts of the Barnala administration, Manjit Singh and Manpreet Khan are still trapped under a 55-foot heap of soil in Hamidi village near here.

According to reports, the task of extricating the two labourers is becoming very intricate and puzzlesome as make-shift devices are being employed to attain success. The Barnala administration, residents and people of the surrounding villages have been striving jointly in the rescue operations, with little signs of hope now.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Dadhahoor, member, All-India Congress Committee and former member of Parliament, is the only Congress leader who visited the spot today. He suggested that Army experts and machinery be requisitioned to expedite rescue measures. 


Red Cross medical stores flout rules
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 3
Red Cross medical stores are working in contravention of law, rules and regulations, in almost all main hospitals of Mansa district. The district Red Cross Society leases out these stores to private parties wrongly showing person concerned to be managers of these stores. Last year Mr P.K. Verma, Health Secretary, Punjab, had issued directions for the closure of all these medical stores but the directions of the secretary had been ignored and no action taken to close these stores.

It is learnt that some of such stores do not have drug licences. Complaints were made by some citizens in this regard but no action has been taken by the authorities concerned.

One of such complaint was referred by the Deputy Commissioner to District health officer for probe against one of such stores, in civil hospital at Bereta in the district but the inquiry officer went back without taking any action.

It is understood that one Parveen Kumar has been appointed manager of Red Cross store at Bareta but instead of making payment of salary to him, the Red Cross Society receives from him Rs 1400 per month as lease money. One receipt bearing number 2996 of February 14, 2001 issued by the Red Cross Society for having received lease money was shown to the inquiry officer. This practice continues in all Red Cross medical stores of the district.

When contacted the Civil Surgeon Dr S.S. Sharma and Deputy Medical Commissioner Dr Hardev Singh said that they have written to the Deputy Commissioner cum President District Red Cross Society to close these shops according to the instructions of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, but till today no reply from president, District Red Cross Society, has been received in this regard.

Ms Raji P. Shrivastava Deputy Commissioner-cum-President District Red Cross Society, on being contacted, said no letter had been received by her officer till today. 


March held to demand shifting of depot
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 3
People of the area today held a protest march to demand shifting of the ammunition depot at Mamoon cantonment where a fire broke out on Sunday.

The procession started from Mamoon village and concluded at the SDM’s office here. A memorandum to shift the depot was given to the tehsildar by Sarpanch Sushma Mehta.

The villagers demanded since the depot posed threat to life of people living in the adjoining areas it should be shifted to some other place.


Two cops hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 3
ASI Surjen Singh and Constable Harbans Singh were injured near Bugra village on yesterday. According to information both the policemen were coming to Dhuri when their scooter collided with a Tempo Rehra. They removed to Civil Hospital where their condition is said to be out of danger.


Lifting of procured wheat lax
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 3
The district administration has failed to make adequate arrangements for the lifting of wheat from the purchase centres of the district, despite claims to the contrary. A tour of purchase centres revealed huge stacks of bags of wheat lying at Akanwall, Beroke Kalan, Kanakwal and Bhainibhaga purchase centres. Truck operators reportedly are demanding money from procurement staff and commission agents over and above carriage charges for the lifting of wheat. They alleged that when officials of procurement agencies and commission agents were making money they too should get their share. This tussle between the transporters and officials of procurement agencies and commission agents is causing delay in the lifting of the stocks.

The commission agents said that they had met to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard but she asked them to give in writing for an inquiry, but the commission agents refused to do so due to fear from the truck union leaders.

The truck operators when contacted said that government agencies had not arranged enough labour for loading and unloading of wheat and this is causing delay in the lifting of wheat stocks. Due to lack of provision of sufficient labour, trucks are held up for long duration, thereby causing huge losses. It is also understood that bales of gunny bags being supplied by Punsup contain only 450 to 460 bags instead of 500 and several bags are not fit for filling of wheat. The farmers complain that the authorities have not made arrangements for water and electricity and they are facing hardship.

When contacted Ms Raji P. Shrivastava, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, said the problem of lifting wheat was hard to solve as the total lifting capacity per day of the district stood at only 15,000 tonnes whereas the total purchases by various agencies generally crossed 30,000 tonnes per day. Even after the procurement process was over it would take seven days to clear the stock from the market. She admitted that some commission agents met her but for an inquiry a written complaint is essential, however, she said that a secret inquiry was done by her but nothing was found correct as the commission agents told. She further said the procurement figure till last evening stood at 3,49,050 tonnes. Yesterday the total procurement of wheat (one day’s figures) stood at 19,800 tonnes, she added. Ms Shrivastava added payments were being made to the farmers without delay.


Punjab to promote floriculture
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 3
To promote flower cultivation in the state, Mr C.L. Bains, Financial Commissioner, (Development) Punjab, along with a team of officers, visited Kangar village near Mahilpur yesterday. The team inspected the first flower-oil extraction plant set up recently in the village.

Talking to farmers Mr Bains said according to the experts’ opinion cultivation of fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs could be profitable in the Kandi area because of climatic and soil conditions. He advised them to shun cultivation of traditional crops and grow these for profit.

He said two processing plants of turmeric and honey would soon be set up in Kang Mahi village of the district.


Officers told to attend sangat darshan
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 3
Asking the district officers to be present in the weekly “sangat darshan” programme, Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, warned that disciplinary action would be taken if the officer concerned was found absent in the programme.

Presiding over “sangat darshan” here today, the Deputy Commissioner said the programmes were organised for the welfare of the public and it was the duty of every officer to be present to settle the grievances of the public on the spot.

He also asked the officers to submit their reports soon on all those complaints which were sent to them for holding the inquiry and settling the same.

As many as 16 complaints were presented today. Of them, 14 were settled on the spot, according to an official press note.

Mr Sant Singh and Mr Daler Singh, residents of Bhunder Bhaini village in Moonak subdivision, complained against the Manager of State Bank of Patiala, Mandvi branch. They alleged that the manager demanded money from them for releasing loans. Mr Sant Singh even alleged that the manager had threatened and abused his family members. The Deputy Commissioner ordered an inquiry into complaint.

Panchayat members of Banbhaura village complained that Bashir Mohammad of their village had encroached upon a piece of land allotted to the Ramdasia community. The DC forwarded their complaints to the DDPO, Sangrur, for inquiry and directed him to submit his report in a week.


Gang of robbers busted, 8 held
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 3
The Goraya police led by the DSP, Phillaur, Mr Ashok Baath, has succeeded in nabbing an inter-state gang of robbers involved in several incidents of robbery committed at different religious places, including Mai-da-Darbar,” and some gurdwaras.

A police team, led by Inspector Joga Singh, gheraoed the bushes near Rurrka-Kalan village and forced the culprits to surrender. They arrested eight members of the gang and recovered two .12-bore pistols, six live cartridges, five knives and two iron rods from them. They also recovered looted cash amounting to Rs 25,500 from them.

The arrested robbers included Hira Lal of Ita Rampur, Ghaziabad district, UP, his brother Dharmu, Rajesh of Sadar Bazar, Partapgarh district, Banarsi Gauri of Bahalbali Chachorri district UP, Bahadur of Baniapur Cholapur, Varanasi district, Baldev Ramesh of Sahwal Jalandhar, Sohan of Baniapur, Varanasi and Rajinder of Varanasi.

The police claimed that all accused have confessed that they were involved in several cases of robbery.


SI killed as revolver goes off by accident
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 3
Amarjit Singh, a Sub-Inspector posed at the local police control room, was killed when his revolver reportedly went off accidentally at his residence at the police lines here last night.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, SP (D), informed that according to the wife of Amarjit Singh, he was killed when his revolver went off while it was being serviced. The deceased was cremated today after a post-mortem examination. The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC, he added.

Amarjit Singh is survived by wife, a daughter and two sons.

Meanwhile, Manjit Singh (25), a local resident, died this morning at Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. Some persons had allegedly attacked and injured him with sharp-edged weapons at the local Prem Basti area last night.

The police said a case had been registered against the suspects, including Piara Singh and Leela Singh, under Section 302 of the IPC.


Doctor booked for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 3
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau today trapped an Associate Professor of the Department of Forensic Medicine while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 to conduct the postmortem of two bodies. The two persons were killed in a group clash today morning at Chuharpur village.

The Superintendent of Police (Vigilance), B.K. Uppal told TNS that the doctor, O.P. Aggarwal, had been caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Zora Singh of village Chuharpur, a relative of the two deceased.

Mr Uppal disclosed that a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the doctor. The complainant Zora Singh alleged that Dr Aggarwal demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 to conduct the postmortem and had promised that he would strengthen their case if he was given the money.

Earlier in the day, two persons were killed and five others injured when two groups clashed in a land dispute in Chuharpur village. The two deceased, Amrik Singh and Vikramjit Singh, had been brought to the mortuary of the Government Rajindra Hospital for postmortem. 


One dies in scuffle
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 3
Pawanjit Singh and his father Jagir Singh of Prem Nagar mohalla and Sukhwinder Singh and his associates of Bajwa Colony had a fight here last evening, resulting in serious injuries to Pawanjit Singh. He succumbed to his injuries today.

A case has been registered.


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 3
A petrol filling station, still under construction, was looted during the wee hours today near Ghallu village on the Abohar-Fazilka road by three armed persons, sources said. Mr Lal Singh Kamboj, manager of the petrol station, told the police that one of the three pointed a pistol at him and asked him to surrender the cash. They then escaped, taking a Chetak scooter and Rs 22,000.


Review decision to cut aid: PAU
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 3
The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) authorities have urged the Punjab Government to review the decision of imposing a cut of 10 per cent on grant-in-aid to the university.

The Punjab Government has imposed a cut of 10 per cent on the grant-in-aid for the development of agriculture and veterinary sciences for five years, starting from this year.

The government has advised the PAU to propose an MoU action plan for achieving financial self-sufficiency.

The PAU had passed budget estimates worth Rs 138 crore for 2001-2002 with a deficit of Rs 22 crore. The university anticipated to meet a deficit of Rs 6 crore from its own sources. However, an amount of Rs 16 crore remained uncovered. The then Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, had taken up the issue with the state government before relinquishing his charge on March 31.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, the present Vice-Chancellor, has also written to the government, pleading for a review of the decision. He has maintained that the position of the PAU is different from other universities in the state. The main objectives of the university are furthering the advancement of learning and research.

The number of students in various courses in this university is small (less than 3,000) and the income from fees is only 2-3 per cent of the total budget.

He has pointed out that the university has established some seed production farms, but substantial income cannot be expected from the sale of seeds produced at these farms as they have to be sold at a rate fixed by the government.


Chemists seek MRP on all medicines
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
The All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists has urged the Union Government to bring all medicines under the maximum retail price (MRP), inclusive of all taxes.

In a press note issued here today, by Mr R.D. Gupta, president of Punjab Association (PCA), said at present the medicines/drugs carry many taxes (excise duty, central sales tax, cat, state level tax and the octroi). This adds to a lot of confusion among consumers and retailers.

Mr Gupta further said at present medicines are maintained under two categories which are scheduled drugs and non-scheduled drugs. The prices of scheduled drugs are fixed by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), while the non-scheduled medicines have been left to the mercy of the manufacturing companies to fix the rates, inclusive of all taxes.

But the companies are ignoring the mandatory requirements for the fixation of rates for their own benefits. Such companies are not showing the rates inclusive of all taxes, creating problems for chemists and consumers.

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