Thursday, May 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Villagers still terrified 
SHO blamed; Atwal visits village
Tribune News Service

Khanpur (Kharar), May 23
Terror of the Punjab police is writ large in the eyes of residents of this village even two days after a violent clash that took place between the villagers and the police and left more than 30 persons, including women and police personnel, injured.

The police had resorted to a cane charge and fired tear gas to disburse the villagers who had blocked the Kharar-Morinda highway in protest against an ongoing land dispute on Monday.

Following an alleged curfew-like situation by the police, the youth of the village have fled their homes leaving behind their children and aged parents. Most of the houses belonging to the dalit community in the village were found locked and those who decided to stay keep their doors shut to visitors. “The police kept hitting on our door last night but we did not reply. We were too scared to venture out,” said Prem Kaur, adding that they were being forced to answer nature’s call inside their house in spite of no facility.

Surinder Kaur (50) and Swarn Kaur (65), whose earning family members have been arrested, along with a few others gathered at the “chaupal” to share their grief.

Weeping constantly, Harjeet Kaur showed tear gas shells fired by the police inside her house. Marks left by the blow of lathis were visible on the legs and hands of the women present there.

Later, the Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, arrived along with his cavalcade to get a first-hand account of the incident. A daily wage earner, Jarnail Singh, who was bed-ridden after being injured in the lathi charge, was brought on a cot to the “chaupal” to narrate his tale of woes to the Speaker. His family members were allegedly not allowed to take him out of the village to hospital.

Inquiries reveal that some of the Dalit families were forced to take shelter in the homes of their relatives in other villages. The villagers told the Speaker that the terror was let loose on the directions of the Station House Officer (SHO), Kharar, Jasdev Singh. However, they said the SDM and the DSP were sympathetic.

They said even two days after the incident, no action had been taken against the guilty police officials. When the Speaker was listening to the villagers, the SHO (Kharar), who was on a round of the village, went away from the scene.

The Speaker told The Tribune that he had asked the Chief Secretary and the DGP to inquire into the matter and give their report. The Chief Secretary had been asked to get a report from the Ropar district administration. Mr Chatwal said he would take up the issue with the Chief Minister.

Later in the evening, the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP visited Kharar to inquire into the matter. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, said action would be taken against the police officials responsible for the excesses. The complaint of misbehaviour by the police with women was also being investigated.

During a meeting of district officials with political leaders and prominent citizens, it was alleged by certain persons that the villagers had been instigated by a senior BJP leader.


Writ on recruitment of constables dismissed
Legal Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 23
The writ petition challenging the recruitment of constables in Punjab as per an advertisement dated March 19, 2001, was dismissed today by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice N. K. Sodhi and Mrs Justice Bakhshish Kaur.

The petition was filed by a number of SPOs (special police officials) on the ground that they were working for about 10 years in the state of Punjab and that direct recruitment to the posts of constable in Punjab could not be made without considering their claim for absorption in the Punjab Police.

It was contended on behalf of the petitioners that at the time of their enlistment as SPOs their suitability had been adjudged and therefore, when the posts of constable had become available, they could not be subjected to further suitability test.

The respondent state which was represented by Mr Gurminder Singh, Deputy Advocate-General, Punjab, contended that the petitioners had been found ineligible and unsuitable by the Central Recruitment Board in the years 1993 and in 1997 even after relaxation of the basic standards in height, chest, educational qualifications and age limit.

The court had earlier on May 8 stayed the recruitment during the pendency of the writ petition.


SAD groupism as pronounced as in Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has at last realised that all is not well with the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by him. A lot is required to be done to tone up the party to make it fighting fit so as to face the challenge of the ensuing state Assembly elections.

His second worry has been his party’s relations with the media. He is of the view that party functionaries, especially Ministers, do not maintain contact with mediapersons at various levels and do not brief them on development activities being carried out by the government. In the absence of proper media coverage, the government is getting a lot of adverse publicity.

Informed sources said that Mr Badal expressed his views on these two issues at the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the party here last evening. Though the agenda of the meeting was to select a candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat, Mr Badal preferred to discuss these issues . He himself set the stage for a debate in the PAC on the two issues.

In fact, an action plan was formulated at the meeting to put party functioning in order and develop friendly relations with the media. As a sequel to the discussion at the meeting, a committee of three senior Ministers — Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Natha Singh Dalam and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan — has been set up for developing better relations with the media and publicising the government’s development activities.

The choice of Ministers has been carefully made. Capt Kanwaljit Singh remained in charge of the Public Relations Department at the initial stage. Mr Sekhwan also had a spell as the Public Relations Minister before he was shifted to the Revenue Department. Mr Dalam is the present Minister of the department.

Mr Badal has put senior leaders, mostly Ministers, on the job of activating the party in the rural areas. Party units at the district level have been assigned to them for this purpose. Their main task will be to bring about unity in the district units, redress their grievances and make them feel important in the party’s set-up.

The fact is that the SAD as an organisation has remained neglected for the past few years as the Chief Minister has been busy with the “sangat darshans” programme and other government activities. Being the President of the SAD, he held a few meetings of district presidents and other office-bearers but, by and large, the party’s rank and file did not get due importance.

Most of the Ministers, including the Chief Minister, have been concentrating on building up the political careers of their progeny. Party workers, who made major sacrifices during the “Dharm Yudh Morcha” by remaining in jails on the directions of the party have remained sidelined. It will be a huge task for the senior leaders, who have been made in charge of the district units to reactivate the ignored rank and file of the party.

Moreover, groupism within the district units as well as in the SAD as a whole is as pronounced as in the Congress or any other major political party.

Take the case of the Amritsar belt. The ongoing political battle for the past some years on almost all issues between the group led by Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura is a well-known fact. There is no scope for compromise between the two groups and in the Assembly elections, the party will be adversely affected in the belt. Likewise, Mr Kairon and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Education Minister, have become sworn opponents of each other because of the liquor trade in the state.

Earlier, the situation in Gurdaspur district was equally bad. There was a triangular fight among the groups of the party led by Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan. But now all three have decided to bury the hatchet and to work as one team. The three went to Mr Badal together recently to assure him that they would not work at cross purposes, according to informed sources.

In Sangrur district, the factions led by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Surjit Singh Barnala have been active for a long time with the objective of destroying each other. In the Bathinda belt, there are differences between Mr Sikander Singh Maluka and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, and in Ludhiana, the tussle between the factions led by Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar is an open secret. 


Senior leaders absent at SAD meeting
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 23
Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala, wife of Uttaranchal Governor and senior leader of the women’s wing of SAD, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Punjab minister, and Mr Baldev Singh Mann, were conspicuous by their absence at a district-level party meeting, which was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha here yesterday in connection with the preparations of a district-level conference to be held on June 7 at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib near here. The meeting was presided over by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers.

When contacted, Mr Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, president of the Sangrur district unit of SAD, said invitations had been sent to all leaders of the district, including Mrs Barnala, to participate in the meeting. But he could not say anything about the non-participation of the leaders in the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Dhindsa admitted that factionalism to some extent still prevailed in the district unit of the party due to intra-party differences. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal had asked him to end factionalism in view of the ensuing assembly and other elections.

Mr Dhindsa asked the leaders to stake claims for the party tickets for the assembly or the SGPC elections. At the same time he appealed to the leaders to give up the tendency of opposing party candidates in the wake of non-allotment of ticket by the party to them.

He said sangat darshan programmes, which were being opposed by the Congress, had proved a boon for the rural folk and weaker sections.

Meanwhile, Mr Malkeet Singh Keetu, MLA from Barnala, lashed out at the Badal government by saying that truck operators were being harassed in the SAD-BJP regime. He also said, Mr Badal had not fulfilled his promise regarding the abolition of “rahdari”.

Among others who attended the meeting included Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian and Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, all Punjab ministers, Mr G.S. Bachi, Chairman, Punjab Cooperative Bank, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA from Bhadaur; Mr Joga Singh Phaguwala, member of the SGPC; and Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, member of the working committee of SAD.


CPI to forge pact with BSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The CPI would enter into an electoral alliance with like-minded secular parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), to defeat the ruling “communal” Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP alliance in Punjab.

This was disclosed here today by Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the party. Addressing a press conference after a two-day meeting of the executive committee of the party, Dr Dayal said Punjab had suffered a set-back on all fronts — social, economic, political and democratic — during the SAD-BJP rule in the state and there was need to defeat such an alliance in the ensuing assembly elections.

The CPI rank and file in the countryside had been told to identify the assembly constituencies where the party had a good support base, said Dr Dayal. Members of the executive committee held a discussion to chalk out the party’s strategy vis-a- vis assembly elections.

Regretting that all opposition parties, including his own, had become totally insensitive to inhuman acts of the police, politicians and anti-social elements, Dr Dayal said even leaders of major political parties like the Congress party had stopped raising their voice against a case like a rape of a Dalit girl for several days in Patiala district and a suicide by a harassed government employee in Ferozepore city. He said though the police treated the women at Khanpur village, near Kharar, in a most brutal manner no political party had raised its voice against this.

He said the silence of the opposition parties could make the ruling alliance go scot-free on such issues of public importance. He said the crisis on the agriculture front was deepening. The SAD-BJP government had failed to deal with the crisis, he said. The educational institutions were in a bad shape because of shortage of teaching staff and all three medical colleges were facing derecognition by the Medical Council of India in the absence of adequate number of medical teachers.

Though Mr Badal had opposed the WTO in Punjab public sector undertakings like sugar mills, Spinfed units had been sold at a throwaway price and companies like Punwire and Punjab Chemicals Limited were facing trouble. What had Mr Badal done to stem the rot in this sector, he questioned.

He said the era of coalition governments in the country was going to be a permanent feature.


Dhindsa trying to end infighting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Serious efforts have begun for a patch-up between the Dhindsa and Barnala factions in Sangrur district.

Informed sources said that the initiative to bring about unity had been taken by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Owing to the infighting, the Shiromani Akali Dal had lost a number of assembly seats in the last Vidhan Sabha elections.

Mr Dhindsa himself had lost the election. Mr Baldev Singh Mann, who is a known supporter of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, had also tasted defeat.

Sources said a meeting of both factions was likely to be held on May 25 at Sangrur.


Cong Seva Dal not to seek ticket
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
The Punjab unit of the Congress Seva Dal will not seek party ticket for members from the party high command for the Assembly or Parliament elections.

This was stated by Mr Sushil Prasher, chief organiser of the Dal, while addressing mediapersons here on Monday. He said the motive of the dal was to spread the message of the Congress Party among the masses. They wanted to keep themselves away from active politics. 


Funds sought for desilting choe
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bhunerheri (Patiala), 23
The SAD-led government, which is distributing crores of rupees by way of sangat darshan programmes, seems to have cast off its benevolent nature as far as thousands of people living around the Meeranpur choe in the district are concerned as it had not released Rs 5. 5 crore needed to desilt and widen the choe.

Various panchayats have been pleading with the district administration and Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh for the release of funds for the project, which was sanctioned last month, but the “benevolent” government is still to take any action in the matter.

Last week four to five panchayats of the area requisitioned Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir in this regard at a sangat darshan programme held by him. According to sources, when the Deputy Commissioner asked the Executive Engineer, Drainage, he was told that work could not be started on the rivulet as funds had not been released by the government.

The Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said he had written a communication in this regard to the Secretary, Irrigation and Power, asking that the money be released. He said efforts were also being made to get funds from NABARD for the project. He, however, said it might be difficult to get funds for the project this year under the present circumstances.

For the villagers living along the rivulet, the non-release of funds for the project is nothing short of “betrayal” by the government. Shadipur sarpanch Tasvir Singh said the project had taken a final shape after years of effort. He said all villages having land along the rivulet had been taking up the issue for finding a solution to the problem for the past five years.

He said the problem was complex as the rivulet flowed through private land and it was difficult to arrive at a consensus to desilt or widen the rivulet. He said part of the rivulet had virtually disappeared from places where farmers had reclaimed land from it. He said various panchayats had passed resolutions over the years demanding that the government acquire land for the rivulet and compensate them appropriately after which it could be desilted and widened.

Former sarpanch of Hussainpur Balkar Singh said in May, last year, on the initiative of the Finance Minister various panchayats had met and passed a resolution, saying that they had no objection to their land being dug up to widen the rivulet and straightening its bends in places. They said following this a survey of the rivulet was also done.

“That was the third survey of the rivulet,” said another villager, saying that if nothing was done to desilt the rivulet in another 15 to 20 days, the villages of the area would have to face the brunt of the monsoons. Villagers stated that while the villages of Shadipur, Ultpur, Paror and Upli would be worst affected, paddy crop in around 25 villages across a span of 40 km would also be damaged by the rains.

In a last-ditch effort villagers, led by Primary Agriculture Development Bank Vice-President Buta Singh, went to Chandigarh today to request the Finance Minister to release funds for the project.

Meanwhile, Patiala MP Perneet Kaur and former minister Lal Singh have demanded the immediate release of funds for desilting of the rivulet.


Suicide: DC’s staff continue strike
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 23
Work at the Deputy Commissioner’s office was virtually paralysed as the strike by the clerical staff, who were demanding action against the Assistant Commissioner (General), Mr Rajpreet Singh Brar, entered third day today.

The employees sought immediate arrest of Mr Brar against whom charges of harassment and dictatorial attitude were levelled by deceased Kartar Singh in the suicide note before he shot himself and his two teenaged daughters. They threatened if action against the erring officer was not taken till May 30, the employees of the DC offices throughout the state would go on strike.

In a protest rally organised today in the DC’s office complex, state office-bearers of the Punjab State DC Office Employees Union and representatives from various districts, including Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana participated.

Mr Sukhraj Singh Sandhu, president of the state unit of the union, said it was a case of misconduct and misuse of powers. He alleged the administration was dilly-dallying in taking action against the officer.

The union leaders alleged the case has been registered on the basis of the statement of the clerk’s wife and there was no mention of the suicide note.

According to information, the SSP, Mr H.S. Sidhu has ordered an inquiry to be conducted by Mr H.S. Kang, SP (Detective).


Tips to counter attacks by ‘kale kachhewale’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 23
The police has launched a special awareness campaign to educate people about the modus operandi of the Kale Kachhewale going so that they can remain alert.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, addressing public meetings at nearby Kheen and Karyam village here yesterday said the ‘Kale Kachhewale gang members mostly belonged to Pardi, Bangale, Shinmar, Gusain and Borie tribes. They often indulged in extortion activities during “samavasya” or in the areas where a power out had been imposed at night. They targeted houses on the outskirts and attacked with sharp-edged weapons.

During the day, they room about in villages and colonies in the guise of jugglers, monkey tamers, street hawkers and sell covers of television sets refrigerators, flower rose base etc. They did this to familiarise themselves with residents of the area and escape routes.

The SSP advised people to organise “thikri pehra” (night patrol), make proper streetlight arrangements etc. He said some family members should sleep on the roof and should be armed with bricks, sticks or any weapon. Telephone sets should be kept in the bedroom and phone numbers of police officials and neighbours should be kept nearby so that they could be immediately informed in case of an emergency. Instead of getting panicky, people should prepare themselves to counter the attacks.

He asked them to keep vigil on persons roaming about in suspicious circumstances. They should also inform the police about the suspected persons, the SSP said.

The police is also distributing pamphlets among people in this regard. The help of the Education Department has also been sought. A meeting of school heads under the presidentship of Mr Santokh Singh Ranu, District Education Officer, has also been convened at Government Senior Secondary School. They are being told to create awareness among students by delivering lectures during the assembly and distributing pamphlets.


General bus stand in bad shape
Vikrant Jindal

The general bus stand near Delhi Gate here is in bad shape.

It was set up in the 1980s as the old bus stand could not cope with the increasing number of passengers.

The Municipal Council has failed to improve conditions at the bus stand. The moment one enters it, one sees potholes. In the absence of a boundary wall, cattle can be seen roaming about within the premises.

Insanitary conditions prevail. Garbage is found all over. There is no regular supply of water in the toilets and taps are missing.

There is no proper drinking water facility. Passengers have to depend on one hand pump. Waste water flows freely.

Vehicles move in a haphazard manner on the premises. Only a few lights are in working order. Passengers often have to wait for buses in the open.

Fruit sellers, rickshaw-pullers and rehriwalas have encroached on a sizeable part of the bus stand. The authorities have also allowed some persons to set up temporary stalls inside the bus stand, creating problems for passengers.

“As the bus stand is at a lower level, rain water and effluents from the nearby localities collect in the area. It seems the municipal authorities have no intention of solving the problems of passengers,” says Mr Munish Jindal, president of the Malerkotla Welfare Association.

Residents and social organisations have urged the Chief Minister to direct the authorities concerned to provide basic facilities at the bus stand. 


Cockroaches in jam: relief awarded
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 23
The district forum has awarded a compensation of Rs 10,000 to three complainants of Mohali who allegedly fell ill after eating Sil Mix Trix jam that was contaminated due to the presence of cockroaches in it.

In a complaint before the forum, three members of a family comprising Mr Dharam Singh, his wife Deepinder Kaur and son Amandeep Singh alleged that they purchased a bottle of Sil Mix Trix jam from Sant Departmental Store in September, 1999. The bottle purchased was labelled and covered with paper in such a way that nothing was visible from outside. On the consumption of the jam, all the three suffered from stomach pain, food poisoning, typhoid and multiple infections due to toxic adulteration. They had to undergo medical treatment and had not recovered fully despite the expenditure of Rs 70,000. The jam was contaminated due to the presence of dead cockroaches in it due to the lack in quality control in the plant, the complainants alleged.

They demanded Rs 5 lakh as damages and compensation for the alleged suffering they had to undergo due to supply of the contaminated jam.

The opponents in their defence, however, maintained that on receiving intimation from the complainant, an official of the company was deputed to verify the facts. The complainants neither allowed the officials to have a visual inspection of the bottle nor did they part with the bottle so that the contents could be analysed.

To confirm the allegations, the officials purchased four bottles of jam from the area and got them analysed. In the analyses, no contamination was found in the jam bottles. On the basis of these facts, the opponents in the case alleged that the complaint was based on frivolous allegations. The manufacturing of food products in the company was carried out under the utmost sanitary conditions and the license issued by the authorities under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, for sanitary conditions in the factory was renewed each year, they maintained.

The forum comprising the president, Mr JP Gupta, and member SK Bhatia, in the judgement maintained that it could be said that there was a deficiency in service on the part of the manufacturers of the jam. Precautions were not taken while bottling the jam to see that no foreign matter finds its way into the jam.

The forum awarded the costs quantified at Rs 1,000 and a compensation of Rs 10,000 to the complainants within 30 days, after which the amount would carry an interest of 18 per cent per annum. 


Compensation eludes claimants
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 23
More than 500 claimants of this tehsil are running from pillar to post for getting compensation for their property that was acquired by the Defence authorities. According to sources, land in eight villages in the tehsil was acquired by the Defence authorities, in 1987.

The affected persons have suffered mentally and financially due to their forcible uprooting and non-payment of fair compensation to them.

The land owners succeeded in getting justice when the amount payable to them was enhanced last year on the directions of court. The authorities were directed to make the payments within four months. The Defence authorities again tried to stall the payment process by filing first appeal in the court, where they were directed vide order dated December 7, 2000 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to make the payment to the claimants within three months.

The authorities disobeyed the order of the court while asking for undue favours as alleged by the claimants in their representations. 


Baratis return sans bride, pride

Batala, May 23
Bacchanalia coupled with hostile nature can ruin even the most delicate moments and this is what happened at a marriage party here, which most of those involved would like to forget but is doubtful that they ever will.

According to police sources, on Saturday night, a barat from Gurdaspur arrived late, much to the annoyance of the bride’s father.

With liquor flowing and tempers flaring, things further worsened following the “jai mala” ceremony when strong winds caused a power failure at the marriage venue. The generator installed as a back-up arrangement failed plunging the place into darkness.

In the resulting chaos, the baratis, high on alcoholic beverages, hurled abuses at the bride’s family after a woman from their side fell into a drain.

The bride’s father took exception to the abuses being hurled at his family and furiously screamed at the baratis, asking them to leave the venue. Going one step further, he vented his ire by calling the police, alleging that the bridegroom’s family was demanding dowry.

The police, acting on the complaint, arrived at the spot and escorted the bridegroom, his father and some other men to the police station, where the matter was settled, but not before they dished out Rs 80,000 demanded by the bride’s father as expenses for the doomed marriage arrangements.

The drunken baratis, along with the bridegroom, then proceeded homewards upon their release without their daughter-in-law-to-be.

More misery, however, was to come their way, this time perhaps in the form of some divine retribution or a more likely result of human error when the bus they had hired for the journey plunged into a choked drain shaking and injuring the already humbled occupants. UNI


Gate opened for cops’ convenience
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
A small gate on the back of Government Rajindra College, which was recently closed despite the fact that a majority of students of the college used it, has been opened again, reportedly for the convenience of police personnel.

The gate was closed during the tenure of Mr A.K. Kapoor, a former Principal of the college, as outsiders and stray animals used to enter the college through the gate.

The gate was not opened for the college students from Kartar Basti, Guru Nanak Pura, Quila Road, Grain Market, Lal Singh Basti and other localities of this side despite repeated requests in this regard.

Mr Gopal Singh, the Principal of the college, when contacted, said the gate had been opened for the convenience of the students as well as the college authorities.

When asked why the gate had been coloured in red and navy blue the colours symbolic of Punjab Police, he said the gate would be coloured black as early as possible. He pointed out that the decision to open the gate had been taken in a meeting of the college council.

Sources said the back gate of the college had been opened for the convenience of the police as the office of the district police had been shifted from Civil Line area to Market Committee office, which is situated just behind Government Rajindra College and near vegetable and grain market.

Mr Gopal Singh, when asked whether the gate had been opened on the instructions of the police, said it was not so, but the gate could be used by the police in case of emergency.


Morcha to set up panel on Dalit problems
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 23
Members of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha today decided to set up a three member committee to look into a matter, where Dalits have been reportedly banned from entering temples near Rakhra.

In a press note, the morcha president, Mr Prem Pal Chauhan, said the committee set up by the morcha members would pay attention towards the problems of the Dalit community which was being deprived of its rights.

The morcha members also decided to stop unauthorised sale of lottery tickets and liquor sold at various places. The members voiced concern over the Bhakra Main Line canal on the Rajpura road which was not covered from sides and as a result many accidents occured in that area.

Expressing concern over the jhuggi-dwellers who were recently removed from their area, Mr Chauhan asked the government to grant them the same place or another place as a residential area. Mr Chauhan urged the government to immediately remove the backlog on government jobs. He also asked the government to remove the restrictions applied while issuing a notification for admission to MBBS.


Taxi driver missing since April 22
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 23
The city police has registered a case under Section 364 of the IPC in connection with the disappearance of Jaswinder Singh, alias Jassa, a taxi driver of Ghug village in the district.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said the case had been registered on a complaint of Mr Navdeep Walia of Kapurthala town, the owner of the car which was being plied by Jaswinder Singh. In the complaint, Mr Walia alleged that on April 22, a Sikh person aged about 35, contacted his driver Jaswinder Singh to take his new Indica car to Goindwal Sahib and later to Amritsar. Now, a month has passed but the driver has not returned. The SSP has entrusted the case for investigation to the local CIA police staff.


Trust gets land vacated from mafia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 23
The Improvement Trust Chairman, Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, led a police team to get a huge chunk of the Trust land vacated from the clutches of land mafia having political clout, from the trust’s proposectruck stand scheme on the G.T. Road last night.

Talking to newsmen here, the Chairman pointed out that the land mafia operating in the city with considerable money and muscle power had threatened to grab 15,000 square metres land and had even constructed a boundary wall. The trust requested the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP to provide force to evict the encroachers. During the demolition drive which went on till late night, more than six persons trying to resist the eviction. Some godowns illegally built on land were also demolished.


Mattewal pleads lawyers’ case with CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab Government is ready to construct chambers for lawyers at Sangrur provided the site for such chambers was cleared by the District Sessions Judge with the prior approval of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

An assurance to this effect was given by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to a deputation of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana led by its chairman, Mr H.S. Mattewal.

The deputation supported the demand of the District Bar Association of Sangrur and urged the Chief Minister to construct chambers for them.

Mr Badal reportedly told the deputation that the state government held the lawyers fraternity in high esteem and had no objection to construct chambers for them on the Ludhiana pattern provided the site for these had the approval of both the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the District Seniors Judge.

It was decided that Mr P.S. Hundal, secretary of the council, would visit Sangrur tomorrow to apprise the District Bar Association of the discussions the delegation had with the Chief Minister.


Christians protest author’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 23
Hundreds of Christians led by the Christian Yuva Morcha participated in a demonstration held here today at Kahnuwan Chowk to protest against derogatory remarks written by Amritsar based advocate Satnam Singh in his book and killing of three clergymen in Manipur.

The protesters also blocked traffic for two hours.

Mr Munnawar Masih, member, SSB, Punjab, Mr Kamal Bakshi, president, Christian United Front and Mr Salamat Masih, Congress leader, among others participated in the demonstration.

They demanded early arrest of associates of Satnam Singh and killers of the clergymen.


Miraculous escape for passengers

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 23
Nearly 40 passengers travelling in the bus bound for Lahore had a miraculous escape today when the bus went out of control due to some trouble in its pressure pipe near Maharaja Palace at Mandi Gobindgarh.

The Pakistan Tourism Corporation bus plying on the National Highway No. 1, was on its way to Lahore when the mishap was averted. UNI


Protest by shopkeepers over theft
Tribune News Service

Rampura, May 23
Shopkeepers of the bus stand market here today closed their shops till noon to lodge their protest following a theft that took place in one of the shops in the area last night. More than 150 shopkeepers held a rally and a march in the town in protest against failure of authorities concerned to protect their property. The protesters demanded adequate security arrangements.

Police sources said the shutter of a grocery shop was broken into and cash worth Rs 12,000 was stolen last night. Mr Kulbhushan Jindal, spokesman of the Bus Stand Market Union, said earlier, cash was snatched from people in the area. The shops were opened only after the police authorities promised to register a case and make arrangements to check such incidents.

A case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC has been registered.


Dharna against dealer’s refusal to pay bill
Our Correspondent

Maur Mandi, May 23
Activists of the Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) today staged a dharna in front of the Agriculture office in protest against the refusal of a cotton-seed dealer to give the bill for the cotton seeds purchased.

Mr Harnek Singh Lehra Khana, vice-president, state unit of the BKU (E), said the cotton-seed dealers of Maur Mandi were not giving the bills for cottonseeds purchased as most of them were allegedly selling spurious cotton seeds.

He pointed out that the farmers could not return their debts as the prices of their produce were very low. Mr Hardev Singh Sekhpura, propaganda secretary, BKU (E) said the authorities concerned should cancel the licences of those who were not ready to give the bills.

He added that the struggle would intensify if the administration did not take necessary action.

One of the representatives of the BKU (E) said according to the rules of the Agriculture Department, Punjab, it was necessary for dealers to obtain licences to sell cotton seeds and give bills.


Bir Talab road to be widened
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, Punjab, said yesterday that the work of widening the road from Bathinda to Bir Talab would be started later this week. Mr Garg, who was here to address functions at Mian, Multania and Tiona villages of the district, said the Punjab Government would open a senior secondary school for girls at Tiona village. Rs 20 lakh would be spent to set up the school, he said.

He said Rs 20 lakh would be spent to widen the road from Bathinda to Bir Talab. He said the Punjab Government planned to open two senior secondary schools with modern facilities in each constituency.

He said that in each constituency, four primary schools would be upgraded to middle schools, a middle school to high school and four high schools to senior secondary schools. The necessary staff and infrastructure would be provided in all upgraded schools, Mr Garg said. Mr Garg also distributed cheques among 15 families under the Shagun scheme. 


Pension conditions relaxed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab Government has decided to relax conditions for providing pension to those who went to jail in connection with the Punjabi Suba Morcha, struggle against the Emergency, Dharm Yudh Morcha and Sisganj Morcha .

Sources said the period of stay in jail would be reduced to three months from six months to be eligible for the pension which would be Rs 300 per month. Committees at the district level would be set up to identify the persons who went to jail. The proposal prepared in this connection would be got approved from the Council of Ministers at its next meeting, it is learnt.

A committee at state level will be set up to identify such persons in the neighbouring states. It may be mentioned that a large number of Punjabis settled in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and in the areas now a part of Haryana also participated in the Punjabi Suba Morcha and remained in jail for several months.

Representatives of the SAD and the BJP would be taken on the committees to be set up for this task. BJP representatives would identify their party activists who went to jail in connection with the Emergency.


Wednesday fixed for pension inquiries
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 23
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, has fixed Wednesday as the day for making inquiries regarding pension-related schemes. The decision has been taken to avoid inconvenience to the aged residents of the district. The officials of the district Social Security Department have been directed to ensure full presence for office on Wednesday.


Narang is engineers’ panel chief
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
Mr Jaspal Singh Billing, General Secretary of the Diploma Engineers’ Association PSTC Ltd., Punjab (DEA, PSTCLP), in a press note issued here on Monday said Mr Sarabjit Singh Toor and Mr N.K. Narang had been elected as the Chairman and President, respectively, of the DEAP, STCLP for two years. He added that Mr Tara Singh Saini had been appointed senior adviser, Mr P.K. Garg adviser, Mr Manjit Singh Gill secretary, Mr Neel Kumar finance secretary and Mr Amrik Singh Bedi press secretary.

The following have been made the executive committee members of DEA, PSTCLP. Mr Anil Goyal, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Jaspal Singh Saini, Mr Gurdev Singh Hans, Mr D.K. Beri, Mr J.S. Bhullar, Mr Makhan Singh, Mr V.P. Singh Gill, Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Lal Amar Iqbal Singh, among others.


Neeru is Summer Queen
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 23
Ms Neeru Gupta was today crowned Summer Queen at a contest organised by the Maharani Ladies Club in the Vintage Hall of Rajendra Gymkhana Club.

The contest, which was held in the under-45 years category, was presided over by Ms Pratibha Jain. Ms Harleen Chatha and Ms Ginni were crowned the first and second runners-up, respectively.

In the above-45 years category, Ms Sarla Puri was selected as the Summer Queen, Ms Neena Gupta was declared the first runners-up and Ms Banga and Ms Veena Mangla jointly bagged the second runners-up position.


Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 23
Apropos the news item “Punjab Medical Council to oppose Bill on clinics” published today, it is clarified that it is not the Punjab Medical Council, but the Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) which had decided to oppose the proposed Bill. The meeting in which the decision was taken was not of the Indian Medical Council, Punjab unit, but that, of the Indian Medical Association, Punjab unit. 


Low prices worry tomato growers
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 23
Tomato growers in the district are finding it difficult to harvest the crop in view of its throwaway prices. The tomatoes are being sold at rates varying from 50 paise to Re 1 per kg in the open market. Mr Daler Singh tomato grower from Babowal, 2 km from here, yesterday said the total expenses on the cultivation of tomato crop were around Rs 15,000 per acre. The price of seed alone varies from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 per acre.

Interestingly, Pepsi, Hindustan Levers and managements of Hazura tomato sauce factory in Jalandhar district, and Nijjar sauce factory in Amritsar district make double profits from these farmers. They sell the seeds to the tomato growers on the plea that they will lift their produce and thus gain profit both from providing seeds and buying tomatoes from them.

Mr Kashmir Singh, a tomato grower of Shaluchack in the district, said even the diversification of crops would be unprofitable as long as the government does not give them minimum support price. It is worth mentioning that the proprietors of the said factories have not lifted the tomatoes produced in the district despite their assurance in this regard.

Sources said these factories had sent their men about a month ago to begin the lifting of tomatoes, but the farmers refused as they were still to get their dues for their crop supplied to these factories last year. Market watchers said the early as well as late varieties to tomatoes arrived in the market simultenously, causing a glut of the produce.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Deputy Director, Horticulture, admitted that the tomato growers were facing a problem regarding the disposal of their produce. The area under cultivation of tomatoes in the district extends to about 1,000 acres and the crop is usually concentrated on the outskirts of Batala and Gurdaspur.


Irate farmers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 23
The traffic on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road was today blocked by an angry mob of labourers for three hours to express their resentment over the alleged poor arrangements for the lifting of wheat.

Sources said even when there was no arrival of wheat on Monday due to rain and storm, the arrivals had already crossed last year’s record. The arrivals at different purchasing centres were officially quoted at 22,31,953 quintals till Monday, against the last year’s record of 20,38,267 quintals.

The farmers have blocked traffic twice outside the Maujgarh rural purchase centre on the national highway during past three weeks, but the authorities, after providing 40 trucks in one go, have been going at a snail’s pace again.

Today, the daily-wage earners had no work due to the failure of the contractors in lifting wheat from Maujgarh as well as other centres. They staged a dharna, blocking the road from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The additional SHO of Khuyiansarwer police station, Mr Veer Chand went to the site and requested the protesters to lift the dharna as a large number of vehicles were held up.

After talking to leaders of the labour union, he reported the matter to Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, SDM. Mr Grewal conveyed through Mr Veer Chand that sufficient number of trucks would be made available by evening.

The protesters lifted the jam at 1 p.m. As many as 5 lakh bags of wheat were reportedly lying unlifted in different yards, 1.75 lakh of them were at the local grain market, sources said.


Badal govt anti-farmer: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 23
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today accused state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of not highlighting the problems of decentralised procurement of foodgrains proposed to be implemented by the Central Government.

In a statement here the PPCC President said that the Central Government’s proposal moved at a meeting held at New Delhi on May 21, if implemented, would force the farmers of the state to sell their produce in distress at throwaway prices. He further stated that timely procurement of foodgrains at remunerative price was the most vocal demand of the farmers in Punjab, who had already been hard hit by faulty agriculture policies of the state and Central Governments.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that as a result of this, the farmers were in an inescapable debt trap and the incidents of suicide were on the increase. He added that the Congress had raised these issues a number of times but this so-called farmer-friendly state government had shown more concern in having good relations with the BJP for the sake of sharing power rather than to watch the interest of farmers of the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh warned that if the Akali- BJP government did not ensure that this proposal was shelved off immediately, the Congress would not let Mr Badal and his bandwagon sit at ease.


HC Judge inspects local courts
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 23
Mr Justice J.S. Narang of the Punjab and Haryana High Court inspected the local courts here yesterday. He was accompanied by Mr M.M. Singh Bedi, District and Sessions Judge, Ferozepore.

Members of the Bar Association, Fazilka, led by its president, Mr Subash Chawla, demanded the setting up of a court of Additional District and Sessions Judge at Fazilka. Members of the association informed the visiting judge that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during his recent visit to Fazilka, had promised to provide Rs 25 lakh for the construction of office and residence of the Judge whenever the high court sanctioned it. 


New Ropar DTO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab Government has modified the orders on the posting of Mr P.S. Gill, who was appointed Secretary, Backfinco, yesterday.

The revised orders said Mr Gill would be the new District Transport Officer, Ropar, in place of Mr Surinder Singh Sidhu.

Orders on the posting of Mr Sidhu and the appointment of a new Secretary of Backfinco would be issued later.


No takers for beef contract
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chhat Bir (Patiala), May 23
The “fake” bidder has failed to turn up even after being shortlisted for the supply of meat for the Chhat Bir zoo after his bid was accepted by the authorities over a week back.

Sources in the zoo said that the authorities had received two applications against a tender. Two companies — one from Delhi and the other from Dera Bassi — had applied for the contract. A Delhi-based company had quoted Rs 21 per kg, while D.K. Enterprises, a Dera Bassi company, had offered Rs 18.58.

The contract was decided in favour of the Dera Bassi-based company. Interestingly, there was no representative of D.K. Enterprises at the time of opening of tenders. Moreover, as per rules there should be at least three bidders for opening the tender.

Since the date of allotment, no representative of the company has approached by the zoo authorities even though the company had made a Rs 2-lakh security deposit. Highly placed sources claim that there was hardly any company of the name of D.K. Enterprises in Dera Bassi.

When contacted, Ms Gurbinder Kaur Chahal, Financial Commissioner, Forests, and Secretary to the Punjab Government, confirmed that government rules had been violated while opening the tenders. She said that the tenders would be cancelled as there were only two bidders for the contract.

It may be recalled that meat supply was stopped by a Saharanpur-based supplier after the Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, terminated the contract on April 17. Over 130 animals went without meat for two days.

The contract was cancelled on April 26 following a complaint to the Chief Conservator of Forest-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab, Mr H.S. Gujral, against the poor quality of beef being fed to the carnivorous after Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden (Zoos), Punjab, left for Libya.


Four highway robbers held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
The Muktsar police has made a breakthrough by arresting Kala Singh, Major Singh, alias Sabi, Ranjit Singh, alias Babbu and Major Singh, residents of Tarmala village who were allegedly involved in highway robberies and the looting of truck drivers.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar, said the four persons used to operate in Muktsar and Ferozepore districts in Punjab and Matili in Rajasthan. He said the modus operandi of the alleged criminals was very simple. They used to put wooden logs on the road during the night when there was no light traffic on the roads.

When the truck driver stopped they would caught hold of him. After beating him up they would took away the money and other valuables from their possession. In most of the cases the culprits used to escape in the vehicle of their victims.

The SSP said following a tip-off a naka near Bhitiwala village was laid. Mr Kultar Singh said that during interrogation the culprits confessed looting Rs 5,000 from a truck driver near Lambi town on May 7. He said the culprits had tried to take away the truck but could not do so because the truck broke down.


2 millers held for fee evasion
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 23
The district police yesterday unearthed a racket involving the evasion of market fee and Rural Development Fund (RDF) on the transactions of foodgrains and arrested two industrialists in this connection.

Om Pal and Atul Kumar, owners of Mittal Rice Mills, Maur Mandi, were arrested for evading market fee and RDF by making fake business documents.

Police sources said Mittal Rice Mill showed in its record the purchase of paddy worth Rs 4,79,211 from Fathe Trading Company, Bathinda. This was fake. To get exemption from market fee. Mittal Trading Company produced fake K.K. forms to the Market Committee, Maur Mandi. However, Mittal Rice Mills did not submit the ‘M’ return to the committee and it was also not informed about the loading and unloading of paddy.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said that when the Market Committee sent the K.K. Forms of Fathe Trading Company, Bathinda, to the local Market Committee for verification, Mittal Rice Mill produced a fake letter from the local market committee to Market Committee of Maur Mandi in which it was mentioned that Fathe Trading Company had purchased this paddy further from Shiv Trading Company, Malout.

He added that on investigation, it was found that no transaction had been made with Fathe Trading Company by the Malout-based Shiv Trading Company. There was no record of deposit of market fee.

The letter bearing number 1195 dated 28-2-2000 submitted by the Mittal Rice Mills to Market Committee, Maur Mandi, was fake and from the dispatch register of Market Committee, it was found that according to genuine letter issued on the same date and same number, some of its employees were given promotions.

The investigations further revealed that Mittal Rice Mills prepared fake K.K. forms, bills of paddy, consignment documents of transport and documents relating to the entry of purchase in the market committee to evade market fee and RDF.

Information gathered by TNS from the Sales Tax Department authorities revealed that traders had been evading sales tax, market fee and RDF to the tune of crores of rupees for the past many years by sending wheat to other states by showing the same purchased from the non-existent business establishments and from those establishments whose sales tax licences had been cancelled.

The authorities had detected such a scandal in the recent past in which transactions of wheat worth Rs 23 crore had been made by unscrupulous traders in the name of fake firms.

Dr Jain said that a case against Om Pal and Atul Kumar had been registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B in the police station of Maur Mandi.


Gang of truck thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 23
Mr Jagdish Kumar Mittal, SSP, told newsmen have yesterday that the Goindwal Sahib police had unearthed a five-member state-level gang of truck thieves which had been active in the state for a long time.

Mr Mittal said the accused, had been identified at Jarnail Singh, Tarsem Singh, Amarjit Singh, Sarwan Singh and Sukhdev Singh. A truck (No. PB08-Z-5003) and some weapons had been seized from them, he added.

The gang had taken away a tanker filled with kerosene worth Rs 8 lakh on December 19, 2000, at Dasuya. A case, under Section 399 and 402 of the IPC had been registered against them.


Staff shortage in primary schools
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 23
There is a shortage of staff in primary schools in Ferozepore district which has adversely affected studies.

During the past two years the vacancies in primary schools have not been filled. Moreover 700 trained graduate teachers who had been working against JBT posts in primary schools have been recently promoted and about 500 JBT teachers retire every month thereby increasing the number of vacancies in primary teachers.

According to sources in the Education Department, there are 2,557 sanctioned posts of JBT teachers in 1,136 primary schools in Ferozepore district. Of these, more than 800 posts are vacant. Besides of the total 553 posts of Head Teacher in primary schools 185 have been lying vacant for a long period. Similarly, 50 of the total 115 posts of Centre Head Teacher are vacant in the primary section of Ferozepore district. Besides, five educational blocks (primary wing) of the total 22 are without regular Block Primary Officers.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, general secretary, Government Secondary and Primary Teachers Union, Ferozepore district unit, and Mr Mangal Dass Grover and Mr Lachhman Singh Shekhawat, president and secretary, respectively, of the Ministerial Staff Association, Ferozepore district unit, in joint press note issued here yesterday, urged the State Education Minister to fill all vacant posts of Centre Head Teacher, Head Teacher and Teacher in primary schools without delay.


Sale of coolers dips with mercury
Pushpesh Kumar and Gayatri Rai
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
After rain in the region residents are heaving a sigh of relief as it has brought down the mercury level. But the cooler industry may see a dip in their sales.

The cooler industry of the city is the second largest in the state and coolers manufactured here are supplied to far-off places in Punjab and neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan. Low investment and high profit has attracted a number of small-time businessmen, but many of them may end up making losses.

Mr Naresh Kumar, a cooler dealer of the city, said the business was facing ups and downs for the past few years. The business grew leaps and bounds from 1996 to 1998 and seeing this many shopkeepers plunged into the business. But rains during the months of May and July every year has affected the sale of coolers.

A survey conducted by the correspondents revealed that people were avoiding to buy a cooler this season.

The traders gave very interesting points about the preferences of the customers. Mr Amandeep Sukhija said the plastic body coolers were out of demand this year and most of his customers preferred to buy assembled, double blower coolers. “The customers ask for specific parts of a specific brand in a cooler, which gives them value for money. The rich prefer to buy air conditioners”, he added.

Ms Arti Bansal, who purchased three coolers this season gave many reasons in support of her decision. “The initial cost of running maintenance and depreciation costs are too heavy in the case of air conditioners but the coolers offer value for money. The AC consumes more power as compared to cooler, thus it would save power,” she said.

AC dealers on the other hand are hopeful as many international brands are now available off the shelf, some of them even offer to reduce, power consumption too.

The trend of hoarding coolers in advance to make a fast buck during the peak season has cost many of the city businessmen dear.

Moreover, many refrigerator mechanics in the city have started a novel way to offer low cost ACs. “A double compressor AC made with good assembling kits costs about Rs 10,000 and works well for an average size room. It saves power too,” said one of the experts in converting refrigerator compressors to ACs.

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