Monday, May 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Alarming failure in cataract surgery
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , May 6
A large number of persons in rural Punjab are turning blind after undergoing cataract surgery. The PGI Ophthalmology Department came across this startling fact during its ongoing National Programme for Control of Blindness in India (NPCB).

The head of the department, Prof Amod Gupta, says that of 428 cataract-operated eyes in Ropar district, cataract-related complications were the main cause of blindness in 50 out of 72 eyes. Surprisingly, about 44.86 per cent eyes that went blind were operated upon at eye camps. “Our worst fears have come true after early reports from the second phase of studies under the NPCB being conducted in Bathinda district,” says Professor Gupta.

Cataract-related blindness is unacceptably high, even as the procedure is amongst the most common and successful with a failure of 2 to 3 per cent, assert eye specialists. They add that the observed success rate of cataract surgery among the rural population is unacceptably low.

Professor Gupta attributes this to surgical complications following cataract procedures. Moreover, he asserts, in experienced hands even the complications can be minimised, with a better outcome even in the rural areas.

Cataract blindness is the main target of the NPCB programme and most of the resources are diverted towards its elimination. A lot of emphasis is laid on increasing its coverage that includes the organisation of eye camp surgeries by the government and non-government organisations (NGOs).

A WHO-NPCB survey conducted in 1986-89 had suggested 80.1 per cent of the 22 million eyes (12 million blind individuals) to be suffering from cataract. The annual output of the cataract intervention programme, says Professor Gupta, is measured in terms of numbers and its qualitative aspect often ignored. And the fact is that every one of the 2.2 million cataract surgeries performed annually in India does not change a cataract blind person into a sighted one.

A complicated cataract surgery adds to the pool of blindness instead of reducing the burden. Besides, these cases are either irreversibly blind or even more difficult to treat.

Doctors attribute a failed cataract surgery mainly to eye camps haphazardly organised jointly by NGOs in association with doctors operating in the rural areas. Whereas the doctors are on the lookout to complete the surgical targets set for them by the state governments, the NGOs are involved in the projects at times for purely publicity reasons, he adds.

Experts say that sometimes unscrupulous medical professionals also conduct free operations in the guise of free medical camps which act more as a bait to lure patients with money. Moreover, at times, even private medical institutions conduct free camps where patients are treated as guinea pigs for research and experience purposes of the trainees.

The final report of the NPCB project in Bathinda is expected to be out in July. And Professor Gupta says the findings could prove to be yet another eye-opener. 


New promotion policy: officials unhappy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 6
The new promotion policy adopted by the Punjab Government has irked officers of various departments. Under the new policy only those officers would be eligible for promotion who score 15 points out of 20 given on the basis of their annual reports.

The policy has affected the functioning of various departments. Most of the officials who were average as per the assessment report sent by their seniors last year have become good or very good, this year.

According to sources earlier senior officers were ‘casual’ while preparing the reports of their juniors as these had no bearing on the promotion of the officer.

The promotion policy, was adopted in 1961 and under this policy about 95 per cent officers got promotions and only 5 per cent, whose record was so poor that they were below average, were deprived of promotions. But in the new policy only 20 per cent would be promoted to the higher posts.

According to the new policy an officer will get four points if his assessment report is ‘outstanding’, three points if it is ‘very good’, two points for ‘good’ one point for ‘average’ and no point for ‘below average’.

While giving the points the reports of past five years will be taken into consideration. Sources said under the given criteria very few officers would be promoted. They said there was a possibility that junior officers would be promoted before the seniors.

The policy has already had its impact on a number of departments. Officials in the PWD (B&R) Department are angry with the new policy. Only six engineers were promoted as senior engineers in the department out of 25 who were considered eligible for promotion.

Mr N.K. Aggarwal, president, Senior Engineers’ Forum of the PWD (B&R) Department, said the new policy would create anarchy in the department. He added that the old policy did not have any fault so there was no need to frame the new policy.

He said if the government had to adopt the new policy it should have been for the future and not for the past years. He said the decision of the government to take into consideration the assessment reports of the past five years was uncalled for. He urged the state government to reconsider its decision.


PFC working: probe demanded
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
A section of the loanees of the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) while alleging large-scale bunglings in the functioning of the department have urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to appoint a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to conduct a probe into the case and punish those found guilty.

The loanees who are members of the Punjab Border Districts and Allied Industries Association held a meeting here late last evening and alleged that a section of the PFC officials had been ruining the industrial units which had been financed by the PFC.

They alleged that these officials had turned the “take over” of the sick units, financed by the PFC, into an industry, as more such units were being sold off at throwaway prices in the auctions with the active connivance of property dealers.

Mr Kulwant Singh Saini, president, and Mr B.S. Ahluwalia, general secretary of the association, in a press note issued here alleged that most of the units had been sold off at prices which were less than the price of that piece of land.

They further alleged that 70 per cent of total loans given by the PFC had turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) against 16 per cent such loans given by the banks.

They alleged that the PFC authorities had been showing their reluctance to settle the NPAs according to the guidelines issued by the RBI. They said PFC officials had been committing serious monetary irregularities on the pretext of recovery of default in payment.

They said it was unfortunate that when all state governments were discouraging the role of middlemen in the growth of industries, the Punjab Government had been allowing the PFC, which was acting as a “middleman” between the SIDBI and the entrepreneurs, to indulge in “looting” of the entrepreneurs.


Pbi varsity flouts own rules, upsets students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 6
Over the past few years Punjabi University, Patiala, under whose jurisdiction Patiala, Ropar, Faridkot, Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda districts fall, has earned a dubious distinction of not following its own instructions and guidelines when it comes to setting the question papers of various examinations.

Going by news items published in various newspapers not only the undergraduate students but also those appearing in the postgraduate examinations have suffered due to, what they alleged, question “out of syllabus, ‘ambiguous question’, “no clear instructions” and even the ‘missing question’ kind of papers.

This year the university authorities failed to follow university guidelines and instructions while setting the question papers more than once. The question papers of Punjabi and quantitative techniques for business (B.Com-I) management accounting and business finance (B.Com-II) and botany-A (B.Sc-I) were reportedly either ‘out of syllabus’ not in accordance with the university guidelines. The botany-A paper of B.Sc-I had to be cancelled as it carried mistakes leaving thousands of students at the mercy of the university authorities.

A random survey conducted by this correspondent revealed that the students were frustrated with the functioning of university authorities. A cross-section of students were of the opinion that the scheme of evaluation of teachers by the students should be implemented immediately and the names of the professors who had set the question papers should be declared after the examinations were over.

Mr Rajdeep Babbar a BA-III student of DAV College, said the trend of “out of syllabus” papers had increased over the past few years.

A senior professor of the university said if it was found that the mistake was on the part of the university or the paper setter, the students were awarded ‘grace’ marks. Interestingly the university penalised students for three years under the unfair means case (UMC) while it enjoyed immunity against all kinds of wrong doings on its part. At best the paper setter could be banned for a few years but could neither be demoted, expelled from service nor subjected to penal action.

Mr Chander Mohan Ruby, vice-president, Peoples’ Law Forum, (PLF), said there existed a well established system of setting, checking, printing and re-checking question papers before they reached the examination hall. But despite the system ‘mistakes’ were found which left the students lurking in the dark. Mr Vasudev Aggrawal, president of the forum, said there was no effective legal provision to penalise the university or those responsible for mistakes.


Punjabi press has ‘bright future’
Tribune News Service

Barnala, May 6
Improvement in the standards of Punjabi journalism, credibility of the newspapers, more facilities for the journalists of the Punjabi newspapers, misuse of ‘Press’ stickers on vehicles by non-journalists, transparency in the journalism profession, and introspection by journalists, were issues which dominated the proceedings at a seminar on Punjabi journalism, “Punjabi journalism in modern perspective”, held under the presidentship of Mr Shingara Singh Bhullar, Deputy Editor, Punjabi Tribune, here today. Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Minister for Social Security, Punjab, was the chief guest at the seminar.

Delivering his address, Mr Bhullar said Punjabi journalism had a bright future. He urged the journalists of Punjabi newspapers to work for building a better future for Punjabi journalism and to go ahead in their profession.

He said the circulation of Punjabi newspapers had increased from 70,000 to 5,00,000 during the past 25 years despite a lot of hurdles in the way of the Punjabi press. He expressed regret that not even a single daily Punjabi newspaper was being published abroad.

Prof Harjinder Walia from the Department of Journalism, Punjabi University, Patiala, urged the Punjabi newspapers to strengthen their commitment towards society. He said time had come to practice Punjabi journalism along new trends and thoughts. He pointed out that lack of credibility affected Punjabi newspapers. There was a need to have trained and specialised correspondents in Punjabi newspapers to compete with the newspapers of other languages.

Prof Prem Sharma, correspondent of an English daily for the past 15 years, said the main drawback of Punjabi journalism was erosion of credibility. He said the proprietors of Punjabi newspapers should pay more attention to the educational qualifications of their correspondents while appointing them. He asked the Punjab Government to take effective steps to prevent the misuse of ‘Press’ stickers on their vehicles by non-journalists.

Mr Narpal Singh Shergill (UK), who spoke on Punjabi journalism abroad, gave a brief history of the Punjabi newspapers. He also spoke on Punjabi newspapers being published in foreign countries.

Dr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, Patiala, and Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon, a journalist from Patiala, also spoke on the occasion.

Mr C. Markanda, president of the Komantri Punjabi Patarkar Association which in collaboration with the Barnala Subdivision Patarkar Association organised the seminar, read a charter of demands.

Mr Kanjhla, Social Security Minister, assured the journalists that the state government would fully cooperate with the journalists in solving their problems. He also announced Rs 50,000 each for the Komantri Punjabi Patarkar Association, and the Subdivision Patarkar Association, Barnala. 


Maharaja’s birthplace to get facelift
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 6
The Punjab Government will renovate the birthplace of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Badrukhan village, near here, this year to mark the bicentenary of the coronation ceremony of the great Sikh ruler. The government will also instal a bronze statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh riding on horseback in a park to be spread over an area of seven acres in Badrukhan village.

Talking to TNS last evening here, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, said the district administration had sent an estimate of Rs 1 crore to the state government for undertaking development projects at Badrukhan and fulfilling the promises made by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, on November 13, 1997, at a function organised there to mark the birth anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Balian said that he had asked the Deputy Commissioner to depute an officer to inspect all sites to be undertaken for development works. They included disposal of filthy water and construction of drains and streets in Badrukhan village. Drinking water supply would also be augmented in the village by installing another tubewell, for which digging work had been completed.

Mr Balian said he along with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, on the instructions of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had visited the Badrukhan village the previous day to know about the demands and problems of the village. The villagers demanded that the next birth anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh should be celebrated at Badrukhan at a state-level function. They also demanded that the state government should introduce sports awards for national and international-level players (boys and girls) in the name of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, he added.


Terrorist victim not eligible for job?
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, May 6
Rajesh Sharma, who was blinded by a bomb blasted by terrorists, has been refused a job on the plea that he was not eligible for a job as he was not a “dependent” of the terrorist victim but the “victim himself”.

Rajesh Sharma, then 16 years old, found himself blinded in a bomb blast in Partap Bazaar, Amritsar, on July 6 1992.

Both his parents spared neither money nor pains to ensure his treatment. They also spent their meagre resources to secure high education for him as he was a bright student.

Rajesh won admiration from all when he passed his masters degree and cleared the UGC test. He has secured the first division throughout his academic career despite his physical disability.

Nine years later, he applied for a job as per his qualifications on priority. But, he has been made to run pillar to post. He even met the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

His representations were rebutted on the plea that government instructions provided for a job to only one of the dependants of the terrorists victim, but not to “victims” themselves.

Taking objection to the government apathy in extending humanitarian help to persons who are trying to rise above their disability to make themselves self-sufficient, Mr Satya Pal Dang in a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal drew the CM’s attention to the case of Rakesh. He sought instructions to remove the clause that disqualifies such a victim for a job. On the contrary, he said, such victims should be given jobs on priority.


Sonia deputes two observers
Crucial PPCC meeting today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi has deputed two observers, Mr Ajay Singh Yadav, MLA, and Mr Mul Chand, member of Parliament, to record proceedings of the crucial meeting of the Punjab Pradesh Congress to be held at Chandigarh tomorrow. This is the first high-level meeting of the party convened to bring about a rapprochement among warring groups of the PPCC in the wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Invitations have been sent to leaders of various groups of the PPCC, including former chiefs of the PPCC, former Congress Ministers, members of the AICC, members of Parliament, MLAs and District Congress Committee presidents by Ms Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, Secretary, PPCC.

Special emphasis is being given to ensure the presence of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Chief Whip of the party in Parliament and Senior Vice-President of the PPCC, and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

According to sources, the central observers will closely watch the points raised by Mr Amarinder Singh’s rivals who are against his style of working.

When contacted, veteran Congress leader R.L. Bhatia, who has been deputed by the party high command to bring about a rapprochement among various groups of the party, expressed the hope that he would be successful in his endeavour and his party would defeat the “communal parties” in the forthcoming elections.

Mr Bhatia said he had held two meetings with Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar in the presence of Mr Amarinder Singh during which Mr Brar had assured support to the PPCC chief. He said Ms Bhattal, too, had expressed her happiness over the ‘complete unity in the party in the wake of elections.

However, according to reliable sources, Ms Bhattal has been emphasisting on the need for ‘unity of minds’ at the level of top leadership of the party. She is reportedly of the view that unless there is a change in the functioning of the PPCC, the party can lose ground to the ruling parties in the state. Rival groups also feel that victory is possible as people of the state are ‘not happy’ with the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine. However, simmering differences within the Punjab Congress would have an adverse impact on the outcome of the party performance in the coming elections. During the crucial Majitha byelection, the party leadership had failed to put up a united fight against the SAD-BJP candidate.

Sources said the unity process could be clinched after the completion of elections in five states scheduled for May 10.

Tomorrow’s crucial meeting will also discuss ways and means to launch the second phase of the agitation against the NDA government in the wake of the Tehelka expose.


Beant faction turns to Dullo
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 6
The Beant Singh faction of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee is becoming active. This faction is projecting Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, member of Parliament from Ropar and a former minister in the Beant Singh government, for the post of the PPCC chief.

The Beant Singh faction has a sizeable following and has been siding with Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal so far. But leaders of the group want to assert themselves when elections to the Vidhan Sabha are round the corner.

Yesterday a large number of Congressmen owing allegiance to the late Beant Singh participated in the death anniversary of Dr Satpal Prashar who was gunned down by the militants.

Besides Mr Dullo, seven legislators participated.

Mr Dullo is a Dalit. The Beant Singh faction wants to project him as the PPCC chief to woo Dalits.

Leaders of the faction feel the arrest (surrender) of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, Panthic committee member and a dreaded militant, can be used as opportunity to highlight the policies of the slain Chief Minister who fell a victim to the militants. They argue it was Beant Singh who put an end to militancy in Punjab and the present leaders of the Punjab Pradesh Congress have failed to capitalise on the latest stance of the SAD-BJP government on the issue.

The leaders of the faction are unhappy with the performance of Mr Amarinder Singh, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and others who have failed to respond to the Zaffarwal episode.

The PPC factional leaders are likely to intensify their activities after the May 10 elections to the five Vidhan Sabhas in the country.

Sources close to these leaders say a meeting of senior leaders of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, MPs and legislators is likely to be held in Chandigarh next week where the PPC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, will be invited to sort out various issues in view of the ensuing elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. These leaders will impress upon Mr Amarinder Singh to change his style of functioning and start preparations for the poll. If no settlement is arrived at, they will approach the Congress high command for intervention.

Two meetings of members of Parliament have already been held in Delhi where the unity issue was discussed. The Chandigarh meeting is expected to be a broader one. A section of the Punjab Pradesh Congress is insisting on a change in leadership of the state Congress. However, supporters of Mr Amarinder Singh maintain that the high command is in no mood to oblige the rivals.

A senior Congress leader opposed to Mr Amarinder Singh said the high command was not happy with the performance of the Patiala scion as was evident from the fact that the central leadership had not approved the list of office bearers submitted by Mr Amarinder Singh in November last.


SSF to ‘complete tasks’ of slain leaders
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
The delegate session of the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta faction) in a resolution has pledged to accomplish the ‘incomplete tasks’ of its slain leaders like Bhai Amrik Singh and Harminder Singh Sandhu.

Though the federation has not elaborated the ‘incomplete tasks’ yet it is clear that both Bhai Amrik Singh and Sandhu were strong votaries for the creation of a separate Sikh state.

The newly-elected general secretary, Prof Sarchand Singh, said the federation had pledged to continue its fight for achieving the acceptence of the Anandpur Sahib resolution which demanded fair adjudication of inter-state river waters, transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab etc. The Anandpur Sahib resolutions must be implemented, he said.

Bhai Gurcharan Singh Grewal was elected president of the federation at the session.

In yet another resolution, the SSF condemned the activities of the rival Akali factions in the state. Without naming Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, the SSF alleged that some rival Akali leaders wanted to destabilise the present Akali Government at the behest of the Congress.


3 shot dead over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
A property dispute over a small piece of land in Sunet village near Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar here took a grim turn today morning when three persons were killed and four injured in a shoot-out between two parties involved in a tussle to grab land.

The shots were allegedly fired by Joginder Singh, alias Tiger, who not only killed Malkiat Singh and his son Nirbhai Singh, but also shot dead Gurnam Singh when the latter was trying to pacify the two parties.

Four persons who were injured in stone pelting between the two parties before the shoot-out were later admitted to the DMC Hospital. Two of them, Mr Gurjit Singh and Mr Sukhjit Singh, were under treatment while the other two unidentified persons were discharged after first-aid. The police has booked seven persons on charges of murder and violence. They include Joginder Singh Tiger, Jasbir Singh, Honey, Bittu, Avtar Singh, Rajinder Singh and Billu. All of them are absconding. The police said even their family members had fled from their homes.

According to the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Satinder Singh and the SHO, Mr Pawanjeet Singh, Sarabha Nagar police station, the incident took place between 10 and 11 a.m. The two parties led by Malkiat Singh and Joginder Singh, respectively, were having an old dispute over a piece of land.

Today morning, Malkiat Singh, along with his supporters, started construction on the land claiming that he had won the legal battle in the case. However, Joginder Singh, along with 10-12 persons, arrived on the scene and challenged the persons involved in the construction work.

A heated argument over the right of ownership over the land turned into a fierce battle in which bricks and sticks were freely used. Mr Gurnam Singh, belonging to Joginder Singh’s group, tried to resolve the dispute, but the warring groups did not pay much heed. At some point Joginder Singh took out his rifle and allegedly shot dead Nirbhai Singh and Malkiat Singh. He also shot dead Gurnam Singh. Contradictory reports about the ownership of the small piece of land were doing rounds. According to one report, a court of law had cancelled the registration papers of the land in the name of both parties and announced the land was shamlat and belonged to the village. Another version said Malkiat Singh had won the case.

According to the injured and eyewitnesses, both parties had participated in a meeting at the Sarabha Nagar police station last evening. The results of the meeting could not be known.

The police, according to the injured, reached the site well after 11 a.m. even though some members of the warring groups had informed the police about the heated arguments between the two groups who had reached the site of the disputed land by 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, SHO Pawanjeet Singh has been suspended by the SSP, Mr Kuldeep Singh, for not taking any preventive action in today’s incident.


CM doles out cheques in durbar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 6
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held a “sangat darshan” in Jalandhar central constituency. Snubbing police officials and directing them not to stop people from approaching him, he gave the impression of presiding over a royal “durbar”.

Mr Badal handed over cheques worth Rs 1.04 crore for various development projects to the residents on the spot. This includes Rs 10 lakh for the construction of a tubewell in the Basti Pir Dad locality, Rs 10 lakh for the provision of water supply lines and construction of roads in Aman Nagar, Kacha Kot and Punj Pir locality, Rs 20 lakh for provision of drinking water in Arjun Nagar, Hitler Colony, Aman Nagar, Punj Pir and Bajwa Colony, Rs 30 lakh for the construction of a tubewell in Rose Park, Madhuban Colony and Kathara Mohalla, Rs 4 lakh for provision of water supply lines in Rose Park and Gupta Colony, Rs 15.42 lakh for the provision of streetlights, construction of roads and drinking water supply in Guru Nanak Nagar, Rs 6 lakh for a park in Katari Mohalla, Rs 50,000 for a library in Gautam Nagar, Rs 1 lakh for construction of Balmik dharamshala in Basti Bawa Khel, Rs 6 lakh for the construction of additional rooms in Government Primary Schools in Basti Bawa Khel, Labh Singh Nagar, Basti Pir Dad and Government High School Basti Bawa Khel.

The Chief Minister announced the Government Primary School in Labh Singh Nagar had been upgraded to the level of middle standard and the Government High School in Raj Nagar had been upgraded to the level of 10 plus two.

A deputation of residents of Gautam Nagar, New Gautam Nagar, Katarha Mohalla, Prem Nagar, Jalandhar Vihar, Jalandhar Kunj, Variana and Nagra villages urged the Chief Minister to quash the recent notification of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to acquire the land of these colonies. Mr Badal immediately gave a call to the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development and ordered him not to go ahead with the land acquisition.

The Chief Minister asked the local municipal authorities to pass a resolution in the MC house regarding a proper plan to lay water supply and sewerage lines in the city. He asked the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Parshad, to organise special pension camps in the district within 15 days. “DC Sahib tohada pensiona dam kamm bahut dhilla hai, special pension camp 15 dina vich lao te pensiona vando,” he said.

He laid the foundation stone of a community centre later. After this, he moved towards the Sanagat Singh Nagar locality and announced grants worth Rs 20 lakh for various development works to be executed in the area. He announced the formation of a committee comprising officials of the Irrigation Department and the local Improvement Trust to construct a 120-feet-wide road for easing traffic congestion in the city, particularly along the old canal passing through the city, with an estimated cost of Rs 2 crore. He assured the job would be done within a month and the committee would submit its plan to him within a week.

On reaching Basti Mithu, Mr Badal accepted almost all demands of the residents. He announced a grant of Rs 20 lakh for various development projects.


PSGPC invites jathas
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 6
Despite adverse reports regarding treatment meted out to Sikh jathas in Pakistan, especially jathas under the SGPC the co-chairperson of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), Mr Sham Singh, has sent a “special” invitation to the Akhal Takht Jathedaar and to the Sikh sangat in general, desirous of joining the gurpurb celebrations.

The invitation that was kept under wraps by the gurdwara authorities invites the Sikhs to participate in the gurpurb on the occasion of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev.

Sikh jathas from India are invited to join the celebrations from May 25 onwards while the gurpurb falls on May 27.

Insiders in the SGPC said the Sikh jathas were given a shabby treatment by the PSGPC last month. How do they expect us to visit them again,” they added.

Symposium stresses on sex education
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 6
A national-level symposium on AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases organised by the Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here today underlined the need for making sex education mandatory in high schools and colleges to save the youth from the curse of AIDS. Generally because of lack of knowledge with regard to sex the disease occurred in the productive age. There was also a need for revamping the state AIDS Control Society and National AIDS Control Organisation for having better coordination for preventing AIDS disease effectively.

In his keynote address, Dr I.S. Gilada, secretary-general, All-India Peoples Health Organisation, criticised the central government for its failure to prepare a healthy programme for checking the spread of the disease in the country. He expressed concern that if no emergency measures were taken about 10 per cent of the total population of the country would get affected by AIDS in the next 10 years.

Dr Gilada suggested, special training centres at the district headquarters for training doctors. Moreover, a self-assisting programme should also be framed in collaboration with social, religious and non-government organisations to monitor the programme in a better way. He said the All-India Peoples Health Organisation came into existence in 1985 and opened its units in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Assam and Nagaland to accelerate the AIDS control programme. The organisation had also launched mobile counselling and AIDS testing programme in Maharashtra.

Dr S.P. Diwan, president of the Punjab chapter of the Peoples Health Organisation, said the body had already set-up four branches at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. The fifth branch started functioning here today.


2 killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 6
Two persons were killed and 54 injured in two accidents near here today. As many as 15 persons were injured when a Punjab roadways bus coming from Paonta Sahib lost balance near the Budki river bridge, near here and skidded into a ditch. However, none of the victims was seriously injured. Most of the injured were given first aid at the local Civil Hospital. The bus was going to Amritsar. The sources said the accident took place due to a mechanical fault that had developed in the brakes of the ill-fated bus.

In another accident, two persons were killed and 39 injured, one seriously. The accident took place on the Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road near Bandeala village when a local tourist bus carrying a marriage party collided with a TATA 709 Canter carrying pilgrims from Shimla Puri in Ludhiana to Baba Barbagh Singh in Una. Those killed in the accident were identified as Amarjit Singh and Chaman Lal, both of Shimla Puri in Ludhiana. The police has arrested the driver of the bus Hardeep Singh of Haveli village in Ropar and a case registered against him.


PR Joint Director bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Mr Jarnail Singh, Joint Director, Public Relations, to the Chief Minister, Punjab, lost his father, Mr Ishar Singh (92) here late last night.

He is survived by four sons and three daughters.

In a condolence message, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, expressed his sympathy with the members of the bereaved family.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, and Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Information and Public Relations Minister, also mourned the death of Mr Ishar Singh.

He was cremated at Kurali today. The cremation was attended by officials of the Public Relations Department besides several journalists.

Mr P.S. Aujla, Director, Information and Public Relations, laid a wreath on behalf of Mr Badal and Mr M.S. Sandhu, Deputy Secretary, Public Relations, on behalf of Mr Dalam.

Education must for models, says Manpreet
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 6
Top model Manpreet Brar has said hard work and a disciplined life can make a person lead a successful professional life and achieve the desired target.

Talking to mediapersons here today at the inauguration functions of a shopping centre which was inaugurated by Mr Mohan Lal, Higher Education Minister, Punjab, she said young girls aspiring to join the world of remodelling have to work hard since they have to struggle more than an ordinary person.

They should get themselves educated before joining modelling as education has become the most important element in the development of personality.

She said persons working in the field of films and TV should make generous contributions towards social causes to serve humanity.

Manpreet said her favourite actor was Samir Khan and Kajol. But Amitabh Bachhan was like a godfather and guru to her. She said no one in the film industry could complete with him. She was accompanied by models Arpana Kumar and Mehar Bhasin.


Army recruitment from May 10
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 6
An Army recruitment rally will be organised by Sikh Regimental Centre at Katoch stadium in the cantonment here from May 10 to 18.

Candidates belonging to Gurdaspur and Amritsar will be examined on May 10 and 11 and those of Jalandhar, Ropar and Hoshiarpur on May 12, an official press note has said.


Detained youths’ kin to meet CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Close relatives of 29 Punjabi youths, who are lodged in jail in Pakistan, will meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at Khamano on May 8 to request him to secure their release. The youths were on the way to Greece but were arrested by the Turkish police, which handed them over to the Iranian army. The army then pushed them into Pakistan, where they were detained. They had paid a substantial amount to a travel agent for taking them to a certain place in Europe. 


Badal gives 5 lakh for press club

Jalandhar, May 6
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today sanctioned an amount of Rs 5 lakh for a press club here. He made this announcement while talking to mediapersons at Basti Mithu after a sangat darshan programme. The Chief Minister directed the Improvement Trust authorities to find a suitable place in the city for setting up the press club. UNI 

More courts in subdivisions sought
Our Correspondent

Samrala, May 6
On a call given by the local Bar Association, representatives of subdivisional units of Punjab held a meeting in the local Community Centre Club here today and formed a five-member committee seeking more courts in the subdivisions of the state.


Dalit Sena unit dissolved
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 6
The city unit of the Dalit Sena was dissolved today. A meeting would be held on May 27 to reorganise the outfit. This was stated in a press note issued here today by Mr Gurtej Singh, district president of the union. He said the need for dissolving the unit had arisen because of the inefficiency of party workers. He said an 11-member team had been constituted for every ward of the city which would work for increasing the membership of the party.


Ghazal singer regales audience
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 6
Noted ghazal singer Zamir Ahmed kept a large audience spellbound at the Sham-e-Ghazal programme held at the Mini Tagore theatre here today. Zamir Ahmed, who presented gazals of Jigar Jalandhari, Ghalib, Daag Dehlvi and Ibane Insha, touched upon a variety of subjects like human suffering, pathos and romance. Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary of the Punjab Human Rights Commission, was the chief guest on the occasion which was organised by the Mehak Cultural Forum. Mr Jigar Jalandhari proposed the vote of thanks.


Timber with Irrigation Dept
Decades-old trees felled
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 6
After having failed to identify persons who had ordered the felling of the decade-old sheesham trees in the city, the Punjab Irrigation Department has started taking the timber into possession.

The sheesham trees which were standing since the British rule in India, were felled on Tuesday. Residents were taken by surprise when labourers reached there with their tools and started cutting the trees. Enquiries by the residents from the labourers did not reveal anything as to who had ordered their felling.

The cutting of the trees by unidentified persons has raised speculation among the residents. Reluctance on the part of the authorities to say anything has increased their doubts. The labourers who were cutting the trees did not know who had ordered the axing of the trees owned by a government department. They did not even know the name of the contractor who had hired them to do the job.

Although no department owned responsibility for ordering the cutting of the trees, these belonged to the Punjab Irrigation Department. The authorities of the department declined to say anything about who had ordered the felling of the trees.

Resentment prevailed among the residents over the felling of the trees, but no action was taken by any department for about five days. The residents said the “Thandi Sadak” would lose its glory because of the cutting of the trees. They said the road had got its name because of the cool climate on the road due to a number of the trees along the road.

A senior officer of the Irrigation Department said the timber was being taken into possession to apprehend the culprit, but he declined to reveal further information regarding the incident. He was also not able to give any reason for delaying action for so many days.

Some residents were speculating that the trees might have been cut to show them that work had been started for the construction of a railway overbridge to connect the trans-railway colonies with the main city. They said the bridge had become a prestige issue for the local politicians, although nothing concrete had happened in that direction so far.


22 commission agents’ licences suspended
Tribune News Service

Mansa, May 6
The district administration has suspended the licences of 22 commission agents at various purchase centres, ever since the procurement of wheat started.

In a press note issued here on Friday the Additional Deputy Commissioner, said the procurement in about 15 purchase centres would come to an end within a day or so.

So far 3.91 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had been procured at various purchase centres and about 70 per cent of the wheat procured had been lifted by various procurement agencies. The total procurement in the district was expected to be around 5.5 lakh metric tonnes.

The farmers had been paid about Rs 140.21 crore in lieu of the wheat procured from them by the agencies. Punsup had paid more than Rs 25 crore while Markfed more than 29 crore, the FCI Rs 39 crore, state government more than Rs 18 crore, Punjab Agro more than Rs 14 crore and state Warehousing Corporation more than Rs 13 crore.


Auction of Industries Centre stayed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
Mr B.C. Rajput, District Judge, has stayed the sale of the District Industries Centre (DIC) through public auction, scheduled to be held on May 16 or May 17. The auction order was passed by Mr Chanan Singh, Additional District Judge, on April 23, in connection with the execution of a decree awarded to four residents of the city.

Mr Rajput in his order issued yesterday mentioned that Mr Chanan Singh was on leave. The auction proceedings were ordered to be stayed and notice be issued to the opposite party for the date fixed.

Mr Rajput passed this order on an application moved by Mr H.L. Bansal, Collector, Land Acquisition Industry, Chandigarh, yesterday. In the application, Mr Bansal prayed that the Additional District Judge had ordered the auction/sale of government property for not depositing the compensation amount due to decree holders. As explained by the judgment, debtor in the objections application to the execution application filed on April 30, nothing was due to be paid to the decree holders. Rather they had received an amount of Rs 5,118.02 in excess.

To effect the recovery of the amount awarded to the decree holders, the building of the office of the DIC, which was attached on June 7, 1988, was ordered to be put on sale through a public auction on May 16 or May 17 after due notice and publicity through affixation and ‘munadi’ in the locality by Mr Chanan Singh on April 23, 2001.

Mr Chanan Singh while passing an order on the execution application of the decree holders, namely Kanwal Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Tarsem Chand and Surinder Mohan held that the defendant through the General Manager, Industries Department, near ITI, Bathinda, failed to execute the decree despite the fact that immoveable property of the department had been attached a long time ago.

The joint defendants had also availed more than due opportunities. It would also be desirable if the amount of interest to be paid by the respondent state on the decreed amount was recovered from the pay and emoluments of the officials’ officers concerned, who had been sitting over the matter since long, the order said. The next date of hearing has been fixed on May 19.



Woman killed for dowry
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 6
Veerpal Kaur, an educated girl of 24 years, daughter of Chatin Singh of Nangal Khurd village near Mansa, who was married in February 2000, has allegedly became a victim of dowry at the hands of her in-laws.

Chatin Singh, father of the girl, said he married his two daughters to Sukhwinder Singh and his brother Sukhchain Singh of Harigarh village in Barnala police district last year in February.

He said since he has no male child, the in-laws of his daughters had been pressuring him to transfer his agricultural land in their favour since the day of weddings.

They used to force his daughters to bring more dowry and once Veerpal Kaur was sent to him with a demand of a scooter.

He said on April 18, when he went to Harigarh to inquire about the well-being of his daughter, he was horrified to know that his daughter had been done away with by her in-laws.

He reported the matter to the Dhanaula police station where a case under Sections 304-B, 498-A, and 34, IPC, was registered against father in-law, mother in-law, sister in-law and younger brother of the husband of his deceased daughter.

He has sent fax messages to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Director-General Police Punjab, demanding the arrest of the accused to give him justice.


Dowry death: four booked
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 6
A case of dowry death was today registered by the Amargarh police against four persons.

Gurmail Singh of Rurki Kalan village lodged a complaint today that his daughter Rajwinder Kaur (24) was poisoned to death by her in-laws yesterday for not bringing enough dowry.

He alleged that his daughter was married to Balwinder Singh, son of Prem Singh, a J.E. in the Punjab State Electricity Board and resident of Chaunda village one-and-a-half months ago.

Since then her in-laws had allegedly been forcing her to bring more dowry.

He also said that her in laws refused to give them her body and abused them.

The police handed over the body of his daughter to him after a post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, today.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304, 498 and 34 of the IPC against her mother-in-law Amarjeet Kaur, husband Balwinder Singh, father-in-law Prem Singh and brother-in-law Charanjeet Singh who have reportedly absconded. Several social and religious organisations have demanded the arrest of the culprits.


Man booked for polygamy attempt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 6
Sukhpal , an NRI, and his two relatives, including a go-between, were booked by the local police for attempting to commit polygamy.

According to information, Sukhpal, settled in the USA, had married Poonam of Mandhali village on June 25,1995. He, however, did not take Poonam along with him to the USA and after some time filed a divorce case against her.

While the case was still pending, he attempted to get married to a girl from Kotrani village. When his marriage was about to get solemnised at a gurdwara, Poonam’s relatives reached the place and thrashed him. The ‘baratis’ took to their heels and the enraged relatives of Poonam landed the ‘would-be’ groom, Sukhpal, and his go-between Dharampal in a lock-up.


Jail inmates clash
Ex-cop beaten up

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
Budh Singh, a Punjab police official who was arrested by the district police in a case of theft and subsequently remanded in judicial custody on May 4, was reportedly beaten up in the central jail by two inmates.

Mr G.S. Mann, Deputy Superintendent, Jail(DSJ), said there was a minor scuffle between Budh Singh and two inmates when Budh Singh was going towards his cell.

He added two officers of the jail settled the matter then and there.

After the incidents, Budh Singh was shifted to another cell and instructed not to move alone in the jail. Budh Singh while he was in the service of Punjab Police had become controversial for his alleged acts of excesses.


ITI pupils hold rally against govt decision
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 6
Students of the local Industrial Training Institute (ITI) yesterday held a rally to press the government to fulfil their demands.

Mr Roop Singh, convener of the ITI unit of the K.S. Sarabha Memorial Committee said the decision of the government to shift the tracking of certain skills to non-working ITIs was against the interests of the students. He said the students would face difficulties due to the decision of the government as they would have to go to distant places to study in the ITIs where the trades would be shifted.

The student leader said a number of instructors posts were lying vacant in the institutions throughout the state. He urged the government to fill these posts soon.

Mr Jagsir Singh, secretary of the union, said the attitude of some of the private bus operators towards the students was not right. He urged the government to decide about the issuance of bus passes to the students. He said there was only mini-buses available for coming to the institution from some areas and when the owners of such buses did not honour the passes, the students face difficulty. He added that it was not possible for them to pay the full fare everyday for coming to the city.

They also condemned the alleged beating up of some of the students by some bus operators few days ago. They said to avoid the reoccurrence of such incidents in future the government should take some decision immediately. 


B.Com (I) result today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 6
The result of B.Com I examination, conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University last month, will be declared tomorrow.

Disclosing this Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of the university, said the result gazette would be delivered on the same day.

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