Tuesday, May 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder reads out pre-poll promises
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today in a bid to capture power in the forthcoming assembly elections in the state has announced that it will retain the free power facility given to farmers by the SAD - BJP government, besides abolishing octroi, “rahdari” and sales tax barriers if voted to power.

Announcing the projected concessions at a press conference before addressing a meeting of traders here, the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh announced that water and sewerage charges levied by municipal committees and Corporations on lower and middle income groups would also be waived off if it returned to power.

Giving details, the PPCC chief said the party had taken these decisions after deliberations by a 42-member committee headed by him and chaired by former Finance Minister Kewal Krishan which had studied the problems being faced by the poor, industrialists and businessmen.

Speaking on the need to abolish octroi and “rahdari”, he said both were the biggest source of harassment for businessmen, transporters and ordinary citizens. He said the abolition of octroi and “rahdari” would entail a loss of Rs 460 crore for the state exchequer, but said ways and means could be worked out to recover the amount from other sources.

Regarding the sales tax barriers he said the Congress would institute the practise of self assessment encouraging businessmen to file their returns themselves. He said simultaneously “Inspectori Raj” would also be checked by simplifying the entire tax system.

Capt Amarinder further said the Congress would set up a special task force to help in the setting up of a new industry in the state. He said the task force would meet on a daily basis and ensure all industrial projects were cleared through a single window system.

When questioned how the Congress would be able to give free power and other major concessions to the trading class, he said this would be done through effective planning cost-cutting methods. He also stated that the weaker sections would also be taken in the ambit of the free power scheme.


Kanshi Ram rules out pact with SAD
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 21
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram today ruled out any poll pact with SAD. We are determined to show the doors to this corrupt government and will not have any electoral truck with SAD at any cost, asserted Mr Kanshi Ram, before addressing a party rally here to commemorate the 110th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar.

The BSP chief’s statement assumes significance as the Punjab Chief Minister had said two days ago at Jalandhar that SAD was willing to forge an alliance with the BSP to defeat the Congress in the coming poll. Even the Punjab BJP chief Prof Brij Lal Rinwa had said yesterday at Fazilka that his party had no objection in case its partner, wanted to have an alliance with the BSP too, it may be recalled.

Mr Kanshi Ram has projected Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, as the next Chief Minister. When asked whether there was no Dalit leader for the coveted post since he was repeatedly preferring a Jat for the post, Mr Kanshi Ram shot back that if there had been one he would have made him the Chief Minister. When further asked as to whether this would not create heartburning or dissension among Dalits, he replied in the negative, asserting that his partymen would go by his word and follow whatever he said.

Continuing his broadside against Mr Badal, Mr Kanshi Ram branded the sangat darshan programme a political stunt with an eye on the coming poll. Public funds were being misused and “bribe” was being given by distributing grants, he alleged. He declared that the BSP would contest all 117 seats on its own and win 60 seats, including 25 from Doaba.

I would continue to camp in Punjab for the formation of our own government since I had come determined from Delhi for the task, he added.


Ranjit Singh memorial fund set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has announced the setting up of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Memorial Fund to provide financial assistance to bright and enterprising youth for improving their academic skills and broadening their vision with a short study tour abroad.

A decision to this effect was taken at a state-level Concept Committee meeting held recently in connection with the bicentenary celebrations of the Maharaja’s coronation.

The Chief Minister said that a Maharaja Ranjit Singh Chair was being set up at Guru nanak Dev University, Amritsar, from July 1. It would undertake research work on different aspects of the life and times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He praised the university for constructing a beautiful Maharaja Ranjit Singh Kala Bhavan, which would be inaugurated on June 17.

The Concept Committee also finalised the names of the members of the sub-committee under the convenership of the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, to work out the modalities for the conferment of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award, carrying a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh, on a world renowned personality every year.

The other members of the sub-committee would be the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, the Secretary, Information and Public Relations, eminent journalist and historian Khushwant Singh, Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, MP, Mr Kuldip Nayyar, MP, Mr Patwant Singh, Dr Amrik Singh and Mr Tarlochan Singh, vice-chairman of the Minorities Commission. Justice R.S. Sarkaria, Mr R.S. Mann, a former Chief Secretary, and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP, have been included as non-official members.

The Concept Committee also gave its approval to a sub-committee for the preparation and installation of three bronze statues at Ropar, the Ranjit Sagar Dam and at Parliament House, Delhi. This sub-committee would include Mr Kuldip Nayar, MP and the Secretary, Information and Public Relations. The head of the Sculpture Department of Government College of Art, Sector 10, Chandigarh, and the Chief Architect, Punjab, will be associated with the execution of this project.

A play based on a script written by K.S. Duggal was being prepared by the Cultural Affairs Department.

A documentary film in Punjabi, English and Hindi was also being produced on the life of the Maharaja with special reference to his policy on secularism and humanism. He said the film purchase and selection committee headed by the Public Relations Minister would meet on May 24 to finalise the modalities for the production of the film or a serial. The committee would take the advice of Mr Kuldip Nayar and Mr K.S. Duggal.

A light and sound programme prepared by the Information and Public Relations Department had been launched from May 16 which would be shown in Punjab and Delhi.

Guru Nanak Dev University would hold a youth festival and an exhibition of coins besides publishing a book on Maharaja Ranjit Singh written by Jean Marie Lafont. Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University would organise national-level seminars on subjects connected with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation would bring out commemorative coins. The Concept Committee approved their design.

The Chief Minister directed the Education Department to approach the NCERT to include a chapter on Maharaja Ranjit Singh in language and history books for school students.

He said Ram Bagh Gardens would be aesthetically remodelled.

He asked the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University to organise a state-level “dhadhi darbar” in Badrukhan village, Sangrur, which was connected with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was also decided that three cash awards of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 would be instituted and given to outstanding “dhadhi jathas” for their performance.


SHSAD sets up fact-finding panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Suspecting irregularities in the expenditure on the Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal ( SHSAD) has set up a fact-finding committee of three experts.

Stating this here today, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, said that the party had information that there was a lot of bungling in the expenditure.

Urging the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to issue a White Paper with regard to the expenditure on the complex, Mr Chandumajra said that the funds for the complex had come from four sources — the Central Government, the state government, the SGPC and donors. The state government had claimed that the Union Government had given Rs 100 crore for the complex, but the SHSAD had information that not even half this amount had been received.

Several hundred crores of rupees had been collected from Sikhs settled abroad in the name of the complex by certain party leaders but that money had not been accounted for yet, he said. Mr Badal should place the facts before the Sikhs.

Referring to the Rs 350-crore package which was announced for Punjab’s farmers by the Union Government, Mr Chandumajra said that not even a single penny from the amount had been disbursed yet among farmers whose paddy was damaged by rain.

He said Mr Badal had failed to gear up official machinery to provide a clean and effective administration in the state. He was now resorting to “sangat darshan” to fill the gap. It was an unproductive exercise. Mr Badal was doing the job meant for block development officers.

People of the state needed adequate water for irrigation, power and finances for development.

Though Mr Badal was speaking against the World Trade Organisation, he had done nothing to stall its adverse impact on Punjab. He said the party would organise a political conference in Udham Singh Nagar on May 23. Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, had also been invited to address the conference.


Zonal system to redress grievances
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, May 21
To redress the grievances of residents at the doorstep and to monitor the working of its officials, the local municipal corporation authorities today introduced zonal system in the city with the setting up of four zones.

The city was divided into north, west, south and central zones and four executive engineers of the corporation were designated as zonal officers, who would be responsible for the redressal of residents’ grievances within 48 hours of its registration.

Apart from the registration of complaints pertaining to street lights, bad condition of roads, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and encroachments on government land, the residents will now be able to deposit their house tax and water bills at these zonal offices.

The north zone office is situated in Dada Colony, west zone office in Basti Sheikh locality, south zone office in Model Town and central zone office in Partap Bagh locality. Apart from the zonal officer, an XEN and two SDOs and junior engineer concerned from all departments would listen to the complaints of the residents.

“I have ordered all zonal officers to sit in these offices till afternoon and they will be responsible for redressal of these complaints with 48 hours of registration. Strict action will follow against erring officials, who fail to comply the new orders,” Dr Roshan Sunkaria, the Commissioner of the municipal corporation said here today.

The civic body has also delegated financial powers to these zonal officers, who could spend money on their own for small works, which need immediate attention.

“These zonal officers are allowed to spend Rs 1500 on a single work with a maximum limit of Rs 10,000 in a month. The small problems of the residents like repair of roads, damaged water pipes and street light will now be solved immediately since there is no need to get approval for the same from the main office,” Dr Sunkaria added.

“The residents will be able to deposit house tax, water bills and other fees at these offices. I have instructed the assistant commissioners, being heads of different departments of the corporation, to coordinate with zonal officers and visit these zones once in a week to check the functioning of their department in each zone. They will submit their monthly report in this regard,” the Commissioner said.


Homeless yet to get allotted plots
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 21
The Punjab Chief Minister has been promising homes to the homeless during his “sangat darshan” programmes. However, people who had been allotted plots under the home for homeless scheme way back in early ’70s have been fighting with their backs to the wall for years to get the possession of plots in a number of villages in Jalandhar district.

To provide homes to the homeless, particularly Dalits, the state government had launched the “Begharian Layee Ghar Scheme”, and had allotted thousands of plots of panchayat land to those who did not own their dwelling units throughout the state way back in 1972-73.

However, for a large section of such people, the scheme virtually remained on paper and most of them have shunned hopes of getting 5 marla plots which were allotted to them as they are not in a position to give a fight to village landlords, who in most cases, have refused to vacate their illegal possession on the common village land distributed among the homeless.

Dalits of various villages complained that though the plots had been allotted, yet the successive governments had been dragging their feet on the issue of vacation of land encroached upon by landlords and others.

“We have been requesting the administration to make them vacate the land but nothing has happened so far,” said Chotta Singh of Authula village.

Information available with The Tribune reveals that 71 plots were allotted in Ghugh village near Nakodar but the allottees are yet to get the possession of these plots and the same is the case of allottees of 125 plots in Pattar Kalan village, 35 in Fazalpur village, 250 in Adarman village and scores of plots in Maisopur, Mahema, Mehatpur, Sianiwal, Shanker and Akbarpur villages.

Mr Tarsem Peter, president of the Punjab Pendu Majdoor Sabha, has demanded that the possession of plots should be given to Dalits as soon as possible. Mr K.Shiva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, has assured that he would look into the matter.


Fight to the finish for RS seat

Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21

The issue of filling the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state has started turning hot for the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as the top brass of the BJP, the Shiromani Akali Dal’s alliance partner, today decided to “fight to the finish” to get the seat.

The BJP led by its president, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, held an emergency meeting of its election committee late this evening to chalk out the party’s strategy to press Mr Badal to allocate the seat to the BJP.

Obviously, to build pressure on the Chief Minister, the BJP has held its meeting only 24 hours before the scheduled meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Badal. The PAC meeting would be held tomorrow here to select a party candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat.

In fact, the BJP has set up a two-member committee comprising Mr Rinwa and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon to identify a suitable party candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat. Besides Mr Rinwa and Mr Tandon others who attended today’s meeting were Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Ms Gurcharan Kaur, Mr Lajpat Rai and Mr R.C. Kapila.

The dominating feeling at the meeting was that the top leadership of the BJP should not compromise at least this time with Mr Badal over the issue of allocation of the seat. Whenever Rajya Sabha seats had fallen vacant earlier the BJP had been asking Mr Badal for its share but without success. Last time, Mr Badal had succeeded in making the BJP agree to forego its claim over the seat as he wanted his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, in the Rajya Sabha.

Informed sources said Mr Rinwa and other leaders would not only call on Mr Badal to get the seat allocated for the party but they would also knock the doors of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the BJP chief, Mr K. Jana Krishnamurthi, and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to ask the Chief Minister to concede the party’s demand.

There are seven Rajya Sabha seats of Punjab. Six are already filled and only one of them is with the BJP. Mr Lajpat Rai, a senior BJP leader from Ludhiana, is a Rajya Sabha MP. The election for the vacant seat, if necessary, will be held on June 11. It fell vacant recently following the election of Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha to the state assembly.

Political circles, however, maintain it would be a very difficult task for Mr Badal to concede the seat to the BJP. He will be under tremendous pressure from within his party not to concede any further to the BJP in any manner. In fact, there is a feeling in the top ranks of the Akali leadership that Mr Badal has already given too much political space to the BJP in the state.

However, on the other side, the top brass of the BJP openly says that it is the first time a government headed by the Akali leader is going to complete its full term of five years and it is because of the BJP-led government at the Centre. If there had been the Congress government at the Centre, the SAD-led government in the state would have not lasted even half of its term. They give instances of the fate of earlier Akali governments in the state to justify their observation.

Meanwhile, several senior SAD leaders have started lobbying to secure the nomination for the seat. Among them, according to sources, are Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr H.S. Mattewal and Ms Satinder Kaur Dhaliwal.

Those who have no connection with any faction in SAD are trying to put up the name of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SAD secretary. They feel Mr Badungar has worked in the party office selflessly for the past four years and he should be rewarded for the work done by him by taking along all senior leaders of the party. Mr Badungar is known as most trusted man of Mr Badal.

Though Mr Badungar’s name had also been put forward by certain leaders for the presidentship of the SGPC but he did not press for it as he understood the political compulsions of Mr Badal. But this time a senior Akali leader said Mr Badal would be urged to pick up Mr Badungar as candidate as he enjoyed the confidence of all who matter in the party. 


Homecoming for Pak pilgrims
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 21
A jatha of 165 Pakistani pilgrims, who came to Roza Sharif, Sirhind, with no prior information to the district administration, because of which no proper arrangements could be made for their reception, have now come out of the discomfiture and have started enjoying their pilgrimage. A majority of their pilgrims migrated from the adjoining areas during Partition and settled in Tobha Tek Singh in Pakistan.

After attending their traditional religious ceremonies and visiting their ancestral places in the vicinity of the shrine today, a large number of the pilgrims, while taking to The Tribune said it was like homecoming for them. They went nostalgic and made enquiries about persons known to them.

Mr Nusratullah Cheema, leader of the jatha, said they would pray to the Almighty for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan and for Gen Pervez Musharraf, army ruler, so that he may succeed in his mission to restore peace in the country.

A majority of the pilgrims favoured an amicable settlement of Kashmir issue on the basis of mutual give and take. Many of them favoured a referendum by the people of Jammu and Kashmir while others wanted status quo to be maintained. Some of them also favoured Kashmir as a buffer state between India and Pakistan. But all of them favoured an open border between the two countries so that there may be a continuous interaction among the people of the subcontinent.

They wanted free trade between the two countries to bring the people together, which they said, would usher in economic prosperity for both. They were of the view that if both countries come together and curtail their expenditure on defence, they can make tremendous progress.

They said people of both countries wanted peace and the present bitterness was the handiwork of petty politicians who had created a walk among the people for their selfish ends.

The members of the jatha were highly impressed by the progress made by Punjabis in every field, particularly agriculture.

The pilgrims today visited Bras and Talania villages and their nearby mazars. A touchy scene was witnessed when Khair Deen and Mohammed Hafiz visited their ancestral village, Talania. They started recognising their old houses and streets where they were born and had played. They also tried to identify the houses of their old friends and knocked of their doors. When they identified one of their old childhood friends, they hugged him and tears trickled down their cheeks.


Holiday sought on Aggarsain’s birth anniversary
Our Correspondent

Sunam, May 21
A statue of the founder of the Aggarwal samaj, Maharaja Aggarsain, was yesterday unveiled at a chowk near the main bus stand here by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, the Punjab Science and Technology Minister and patron of the Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab.

The All-India Aggarwal Sabha, while demanding a national holiday on the occasion of Maharaja Aggarsain’s birth anniversary on September 17, said it had decided to celebrate its silver jubilee function at Agroha in Haryana on November 1 on the occasion of Sharad Purnima. This was stated by Mr Nand Kishore Goenka, the president of the sabha.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Mr Garg lauded the role of the Aggarwal community in promoting business and trade.

Mr Garg said that the Cabinet of the Punjab Government had passed September 17 — the birth anniversary of Maharaja Aggarsain — as a state holiday, and it would soon be notified. Mr Garg announced that the Punjab Government was ready to provide a plot to the Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab, for the construction of Punjab Aggarwal Bhavan at Mohali.


Fire breaks out in shopping complex
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 21
A fire broke out at the Nehru shopping complex, opposite Novelty sweets shop in the posh Lawrence Road area after an electric meter caught fire on account of short circuiting at 1.30 p.m. Shopkeepers of the complex downed shutters and switched off the main supply. Normal flow of traffic on the road was blocked. Two young girls were barely saved in the incident.

Additional Superintending Engineer and Executive Engineer said the complex lacked a proper electricity network. They said the trust had not submitted an electric distribution lay-out plan before the building was started, hence individual loads had to be sanctioned to each of the new owners. However, trust chairman said the complex was not built in his tenure and he could comment only after looking into the matter.


Lawyers observe strike
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, May 21
Members of the local Bar Association today struck work to express their solidarity with the agitating lawyers of Sangrur district.

Mr Mithu Ram Gupta, President, Bar Association, Bathinda, condemned the policemen who allegedly resorted to lathi charge on lawyers who were demostrating peacefully to press for the acceptance of their demands.

Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president, lawyers for Human Rights International, had also condemned the lathi charge.

Mr M.M. Behal, President, Council of Trade Union (CITU) here has also condemned the police action.

MANSA: Lawyers here went on a strike on Monday to express their solidarity with Sangrur advocates, Mr Ajit Singh Bhangu, President, District Bar Association, criticised the state government for its failure to accept the demands of lawyers for providing chambers in the Judicial Complex.

KAPURTHALA: Members of the District Bar Association on Monday observed strike and abstained from courts to express their solidarity with agitating lawyers of Sangrur.

BARNALA: Work in the local courts was hit as lawyers here observed complete strike on Monday.

Mr Mukand Singh Uppal, President, Bar Association, said on Monday that disciplinary action must be initiated against the guilty police officials. He demanded that cases registered against Sangrur lawyers should be immediately withdrawn.

MALERKOTLA: To protest against police lathi charge on the agitating lawyers at Sangrur, the lawyers here observed a no work day on Monday. The Bar Association held its executive meeting in which members demanded the suspension of DSP Surjit Singh Grewal and SDM Indu Malhotra.

Mr Baldev Singh Mann, President, Mr Rajesh Rikhi, Secretary of Bar Association urged the Punjab Chief Minister to intervene in the matter.

DHURI: Members of local Bar Association observed a strike on Monday in protest against the police lathi charge on lawyers.

HOSHIARPUR: Members of the District Bar Association here observed a strike in protest against the lathi charge on advocates at Sangrur by the police. Mr R.P. Dhir, former Vice-Chairman, of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council, demanded the suspension of police officers responsible for the lathi charge.

Mr Gurmesh Singh Secretary CPM, of the district unit has also condemned the lathi charge.

SANGRUR: On the call of the local District Bar Association, the Bar Associations in the state observed ‘no work’ to protest against the lathi charge on lawyers who were going to lay the foundation stone for the construction of chambers in the newly-built judicial complex here.

Local lawyers also today observed ‘no work’ on the 43rd day of their campaign.

Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the Sangrur District Bar Association, said the association had received reports of observing ‘no work’ from all parts of the state by the lawyers.


Lawyers abstain from work
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The proceedings in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today came to a standstill after the advocates decided to abstain from work for condemning the “brutal lathi charge” on lawyers in Sangrur.

In a letter addressed to the Registrar General of the High Court, the honorary secretary of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association stated that the general body had decided to abstain from work to condemn the incident in which 35 lawyers, including the President of the District Bar Association, were injured. The house, he added, had also demanded a “strong action against the guilty police officials”.


Seatbelt trapped him in waters
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
In a twist of fate, the seatbelt which was supposed to have acted as a safety measure for Ambala transporter Pritpal Singh, whose car plunged into the Bhakra canal on May 19 at Gandakheri on the Patiala-Rajpura road when he was returning home along with his family from a trip to Mansa, trapped him inside the waters.

Pritpal Singh was the lone victim whose body was recovered by Army divers this morning. The seatbelt was the cause of his death. His body was fished out of the canal along with the Maruti Zen he was driving.

Army divers from Ropar and Doraha fished out the car (HR 01 4585) from the canal. Those drowned and whose bodies are to be retrieved are Pritpal Singh’s wife Mamta Bhasin (52), their daughter Veena Bhatia (30), her three-year-old son Abhishek and Pritpal Singh’s youngest daughter Seema Bhasin (24).

Witnesses said immediately after the crash, people from a nearby restaurant rushed to the site on hearing a loud thud.

Restaurant waiters threw down a rope into the canal which was caught by one of the women but it slipped from her hand when she tried to catch hold of another woman. Both women were swept away in the swift current.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir, who supervised the rescue operations in the morning, said the body of Pritpal Singh had been sent to A.P. Jain Hospital in Rajpura.Twelve divers had assisted in the rescue operations and messages had been flashed to the Haryana authorities.

Mr Bir said the cause of the accident was yet to be ascertained. He said the Maruti Zen had hit the 4-ft high railing on the bridge and plunged into the canal.

Some witnesses said the driver, on sensing he might not be able to cross the bridge due to another vehicle coming from the opposite direction tried to take a sharp left turn to move to a kutcha road, running along the canal. But due to high speed, the car plunged into the canal.


Arhtiyas hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
Members of the local Arhtiya Association and of Beopar Mandal, today held a rally and took out a procession in the city to press the authorities to get the land of Mr Sham Lal, an arhtiya of Maur Mandi, vacated from the possession of a farmer of the same village. Later they presented a memorandum to the Punjab Science and Technology minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, and to the Deputy Commissioner.

The arhtiyas held a rally near the court complex in the morning. They alleged they were maltreated by the state government. They said the police was favouring the criminals. They further alleged that due to the pressure from the kisan union the police had freed the farmer who had tried to posses the land of the said arhtiya in Jhandu village.

The arhtiyas took out the procession from the main bazars of the city and reached the office of the Deputy Commissioners.

The Deputy Commissioner met their representatives and assured them that suitable action would be taken. The arhtiyas in the memorandum demanded that action should be taken against Gurdev Singh against whom the police had registered a case on their request.

The commission agents further demanded that the said farmers should be arrested again. They alleged that he was set free by the police due to the pressure of the kisan union.

They said, Sham Lal arhtiya of Maur Mandi was the actual owner of the piece of land which he had given to Gurdev Singh for tilling. They said when Sham Lal asked the farmer to vacate his land he refused to do so.

The arhtiyas had earlier held a rally at Maur Mandi to press the authorities for taking some action against the alleged culprits.

Mr Rajesh Jain, General Secretary of the district association said if they were not given justice they would intensify their struggle. He said if the minister did not fulfil his promise they would approach the members of their association throughout Punjab and would seek their help in their cause.


Undue delay in shifting patient
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 21
The plight of the common man in the local Civil Hospital can be judged from the ordeal that the mother of an Akali MLA, Mr Makhan Singh, had to undergo there today. She could be shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh, from the hospital after a delay of more than two hours.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mrs Daleep Kaur, mother of Mr Makhan Singh, was being treated for chest tuberculosis in the Civil Hospital. Around 1.30 p.m. today, Mr Makhan Singh requested the hospital authorities to shift his mother to the PGI by ambulance. But the authorities could not locate the driver of the ambulance for two hours. One shudders to think what the fate of the patient could have been if he/she was in a critical condition.

The driver was found only when Dr Baba Ram, Civil Surgeon, made personal efforts.

Dr Baba Ram said he would inquire into the matter. He added that he would ask the SMO and Deputy Medical Commissioner (DMC) for the delay in arranging the ambulance with the driver for shifting Mrs Daleep Kaur.

Sources said two other patients who were also to be shifted to outstation hospitals were shifted very late.

Dr Pawan Kumar, doctor on duty, when contacted in the emergency wing, said that there were three ambulances in the hospital. Two of them had been requisitioned to take patients while the driver of third ambulance, which was present in the hospital, had gone out for some work.

He added that driver was summoned immediately and Mrs Daleep Kaur was sent for the PGI from this hospital at 3.30 p.m.

Mr Makhan Singh said it was the duty of the Civil Hospital authorities to kame arrangements for the ambulance a short time whenever it was required by any patient.


Garg summoned again in land case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 21
Mr S.K. Garg, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), has issued summons to the Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, again in a suit filed in connection with the leged encroachment of shamlat land by him, which was acquired by the State government in 1974.

The Additional Civil Judge said today that, “The defendants, PUDA and its Additional Chief Administrator, Mr Vivek Aggarwal, are not present despite the notice and as such they are proceeded against exparte. Summons issued to Mr Chiranji Lal Garg on May 15 have been received back unserved and will be issued again.

Mr N.K. Garg, a local advocate, had filed the civil suit against the three defendants in which he alleged that Mr Chiranji Lal Garg had encroached upon the shamlat land, Khasra No. 2848 and measuring 1800 sq yards in Model Town, Phase III, here in connivance with PUDA and Mr Aggarwal.

He alleged that the minister managed to sanction the mutation No. 18433 on December 1, 1983. The said land was acquired in 1974 under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act and Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1976.

He further alleged that Mr Garg had illegally and fraudulently had got constructed a boundary wall around the piece of land and all transactions made by the minister, who claimed to be the owner of the said property, were illegal, wrong and without jurisdiction.

He pointed out that the minister could not get possession of the land as there was resistance from the district administration. In the recent past, the minister with the help of the police and in connivance with the defendants had taken possession of the land illegally and forcibly even when the decision on the dispute had not been given.

The Additional Civil Judge has fixed June 4 as the next date for hearing.

Mr N.K. Garg, petitioner appeared in the court in person.


PSEB ordered to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 21
The local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ordered the Subdivisional Officer (SDO), Sardulgarh of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), to pay Rs 6,000 as compensation and Rs 1,000 as cost for litigation to the complainant, Mr Jaswant Rai, a resident of Karandi village in the district. The forum further ordered to restore the electric connection of the complainant within a week from the date of the receipt of the copy of the judgement.

The complainant Mr Jaswant Rai had applied for the restoration of the connection to the SDO concerned. The complainant deposited the due amount. The PSEB unit of Sardulgarh received the restoration fee from Mr Rai on December 30, 1997, but failed to restore the connection till November 20, 2000.

On November 20, 2000, the complainant filed a complaint in the forum. The SDO said after depositing the fee, the PSEB restored the connection (vide meter connection order (MCO) No 114/25843).

The forum observed that the connection was never restorted as claimed by the PSEB rather a false MCO was prepared. It neither mentioned the meter reading nor carried the signature of the complainant.


Aiding the handicapped
Romesh Gupta

The district Red Cross Society, with the help of the Central Government, has set up an artificial limb-fitting centre here to provide not only upper and lower limbs but also other parts free of cost to the handicapped in Ferozepore, Muktsar, Bathinda and Faridkot districts.

During the past nine months it has provided 66 artificial limbs, 75 callipers, 238 hearing aids, 15 crutches, eight wheel-chairs and done five corrective surgeries (at a cost of about Rs 10 lakh) to the handicapped.

In the next three months the society will hold three camps in different parts of this district to identify the handicapped.

Established in 1992 with a grant of Rs 5.62 lakh from the Punjab Mandi Board, the centre has got the distinction for supplying callipers, artificial limbs, hearing aids, tricycles, wheel-chairs, crutches, surgical shoes and walking sticks to more than 3000 needy persons at a cost of Rs 60 lakh during the past four years.

According to Mr A.Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, who heads the Red Cross Society, a sum of Rs 1 lakh has been recently spent to procure equipment like electric oven, plastic and wooden cutters and other devices to increase efficiency and production at the centre.

It has also been decided to pay more attention for the rehabilitation of the disabled persons through vocational training and advancement of loans from banks under different self-employment schemes.

The society has also sought from the Central Government additional funds to improve services at the centre. It has availed the services of physiotherapists after giving them artificial limbs and other parts.

Keeping in view its service, the Central Government and the All-India Limbs Manufacturing Corporation, Kanpur, has recognised this centre as an agency to implement the programme in backward areas of Punjab, the Deputy Commissioner said.

It has also been decided to take up corrective surgery cases with contracture joints. Therapists have also been sought to provide training.

Tributes paid to Rajiv Gandhi
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, May 21
The district administration on Monday organised a function in which children from various schools participated. Mr G.S. Grewal Deputy Commissioner, who presided over the function administered the anti-terrorism pledge to those present in the function. Similar function was also organised at NFL, Nangal.

AMRITSAR: The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinderjit Singh presided over “Anti-Terrorism Day” function held here. He administered the pledge to uphold the peace and safeguard the unity and integrity of the country.

ABOHAR: The city Congress Committee held prayer meeting to observe the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. Former minister Baburam Chawla, city president Amrik Singh Thind, secretary Som Parkash Jasuja, paid tributes to Rajiv Gandhi.


Residents approach SDM against cable operators
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 21
Residents of Lajpatrai nagar here unanimously resolved to boycott cable TV operators and get their connections disconnected today in protest against 50 per cent hike in monthly charges.

They submitted a memorandum to the SDM and demanded action against cable operators. Consumers in a separate complaint faxed to Doordarshan authorities said cable operators had not been showing Doordarshan programmes on prime channels and violating all rules and regulations.


Scribe gets bail
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, May 21
Mrs Kiran Bala, Judicial Magistrate (First Class) today granted bail to Mr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, a reporter of a Punjabi daily, who was arrested about two days ago by the Dayalpura police after the registration of a case against him on the complaint of Mr Gurpreet Singh.

The case has been registered under Sections 384, 420, 505, 500 and 511 of the IPC on May 19 after making enquiries on the complaiant of Mr Gurpreet Singh. He was arrested subsequently.

Mrs Bala ordered the accused to furnish a personal bond and surety bond of Rs 10,000 each.


Upgrade post of DHS: doctors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The PCMS Association has urged the Punjab Government to upgrade the post of Director, Health Services, to Director-General of Health Services (DGHS). The senior-most officer of the PCMS cadre should be posted as DGHS-cum-Secretary to the government with a pay scale of Rs 26,000, on a par with that of the DGHS of India.

In a statement, a spokesman of the association, Mr D.C. Sharma said today that keeping in view the big cadre of 5,000 doctors, the increased workload and minimal avenues of promotion, there should be at least 10 posts of Director instead of the present three and at least 70 posts of Deputy Director.

The posts of Managing Director of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation and Project Director of the AIDS Control Programme, which had been usurped by non-technical persons, should be given to officers of the PCMS cadre.



Blood donation camp cancelled
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
A blood donation camp scheduled to be held in the city yesterday had to be cancelled due to the failure of Health Department officials in supplying blood bags to the organisers.


Kharif irrigation programme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab Irrigation Department has announced special irrigation programme for the ensuing kharif season. The Bhakra Main Line system, the Sirhind feeder, the Eastern Canal, the Ferozepore feeder, the Upper Bari Doab Canal system and the Sirhind Canal system will run to their “indent”.

A spokesman of the department said that the entire rotational irrigation programme had been divided into “A” and “B” groups. It would be strictly implemented to make sure that every canal and minor ran to full capacity for eight days. The Executive Engineer concerned would be responsible for any irregular discharge of water.


2,800 jobs to be regularised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 21
“As many as 2,800 persons who have been working in the Public Welfare Department for more than three years will be made regular employees,” said Raja Narinder Singh, Punjab Public Welfare Minister, at a function in Navi Anaj Mandi of Nabha.

He said some employees had been working in the department for more than 16 years, but their services had still not been regularised. He said the services of the remaining employees would also be regularised as there were vacancies in the department.

Raja Narinder Singh said the government would introduce the Jal Supply Yojna in every cluster of six villages instead of 30. He said the government had provided residents of about 7,600 villages with the drinking-water facility. The minister said NABARD had given Rs 150 crore for this purpose and Rs 177 crore had been sought from the Centre for the scheme.

He said roads in each block had been recarpeted and new roads were being built. Before the function, Raja Narinder Singh laid the foundation stones of the some road projects.

The others who were present on the ocassion included Mr J.R. Kundal, Secretary of the Public Welfare Department, Mr S.K. Gupta, Chief Engineer (South), Mr G.S. Bains, Chief Engineer (North), Mr Hari Singh Tohra, President of the Punjab Karamchari Dal and Mr Pavitar Singh Mangewal, President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal).


33 for Speed Fund Academy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 21
As many as 33 players, including 13 new players, have been selected for the Speed Fund Academy for the year 2001-2002 by the Sports Department on the basis of trials held on May 11.

Mrs Chanchal Randhawa, Joint Director, Punjab Sports Department said the players would be provided free board and lodging besides free coaching and sports kit worth Rs 10,000 along with medical and transport facilities. The department will also bear their education expenses. She said the day scholars would get Rs 5,500 per month.


400 cases of IMFL seized
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 21
Bathinda, Muktsar, Ferozepore, Sangrur and Patiala districts, which share border with Haryana and Rajasthan, have seen a rise in the smuggling of narcotics and liquor over the years as their modus operandi of the smugglers has enabled them to escape the police net.

The police and the Excise and Taxation Department have made big siezures in the past and have succeeded to a considerable extent to contain the menace.

However, the seizure of about 400 cases of the Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) from a truck, which were being smuggled into Punjab from Rajasthan yesterday at Abohar, has forced the Excise and Taxation Department to revamp its operations launched against liquor smuggling.

Mr Samarjit Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Ferozepore, while talking to Tribune News Service said vehicles were being checked near Abohar to check the menace.

He said, “Recently a truck was stopped near Abohar and cases of IMFL were seized from it. Liquor was being smuggled under the garb of cattle feed according to the documents”. He added that the vehicle had been impounded and the driver arrested.

Mr Samarjit Singh further said barriers had been put up at various points the enforcement wing had been urged to make efforts to check smuggling of liquor into Punjab from the neighbouring states.

According to information, Punjab border areas have been witnessing smuggling of liquor from neighbouring states due to huge disparity in the prices of liquor prevaling in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

A few years ago, liquor vends were opened in those areas of Sirsa district, Haryana, which were bordering Punjab, and this affected the sale of liquor in Punjab.

Interestingly, smugglers have been using empty rubber tubes, milk containers and small plastic cans to smuggle liquor from Rajasthan and Haryana into Punjab.


ASI caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 21
The police has arrested an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) while accepting an amount of Rs 2000 as bribe.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that Mr Davinder Sharma of Ganesh Nagar locality in his complaint to the police said that a case was registered under Sections 307, 342, 506 and 34, IPC, on January 22 against four persons in police division No. 5 on the statement of his brother Jaswinder Sharma. The investigation of the case was entrusted to ASI Chain Singh. Subsequently, the investigating officer completed the investigation and the accused were challaned on March 13 and the case was committed to trial in the court.

Davinder further alleged that ASI Chain Singh had taken illegal gratification amounting Rs 22,000 at various stages of the investigation and now he was demanding a further bribe of Rs 5000 from him, if they wanted the ASI to depose in court in their favour and later the deal was settled at Rs 2000.

Acting upon his complaint, Mr M.F. Farroqi, SP, ordered the registration of a criminal case against the ASI under the Prevention and Corruption Act and a trap was laid to catch him red-handed.

Following this, a raid was conducted at the rendezvous near police station No. 5 and the ASI caught red-handed.


PUTA protests outside VC’s office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today again held dharna in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor in which it accused the VC of violating all rules and regulations by appointing an expert to take promotion interviews of teachers who did not have any experience of teaching or research at the postgraduate level of the subject about which he was interviewing candidates.

Addressing the dharna, speakers, including PUTA President Bhupinder Singh Khaira, and Secretary Balwinder Singh, said moreover none of the experts had even a basic degree in the subject for which a candidate was interviewed. They alleged that this was the worst kind of dilution of the university standards.

The PUTA leaders alleged that none of the experts called for the interview were part of the panel of experts constituted by the Board of Studies and passed by the higher bodies of the universities. This, they claimed, was in blatant violation of the university rules and regulations.

The speakers appealed to the teaching fraternity to take note of the serious situation and close their ranks to save the public institution. Prof Amrinderpal Singh, Zonal Secretary, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, also participated in the dharna and expressed a sense of solidarity with PUTA.

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