Sunday, June 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sikh clergy meeting on June 4
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has reportedly convened an emergency meeting of Sikh clergy for June 4 at Akal Takht on the issue of “Ghallughara divas” (genocide day) even as the radical Sikh organisations are determined to organise “bhog ceremony” of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on that day.

The police, the SGPC, Akal Takht and even the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal apprehended that radicals might capture the stage on “ghallughara divas” if they are given free hand on June 6.

Meanwhile, the SGPC Secretary, Dr Gurcharan Singh Bachan, held a closed door meeting with Jathedar Vedanti and Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, at the Takht secretariat. Bhai Narain Singh, Convener of 15 radical organisations which are determined to declare Bhindranwale “martyr” on June 6, and Mr Kanwarpal Singh Bittu, spokesman, Dal Khalsa, met Jathedar Vedanti in the Akal Takht secretariat.

However, Jathedar Vedanti has not given any assurance on declaring Sant Bhindranwale dead. Sources pointed out that Jathedar Vedanti was non-commital on this issue. He (Jathedar Vedanti) reportedly told the radical Sikhs that he would give any word after discussing the sensitive issue with other high priests.

On the other hand, the SGPC has reportedly withdrawn the sanction accorded to the All-India Sikh Students Federation to observe “ghallughara divas” near Gurdwara Shaheeda. The AISSF (Gill), which ows allegiance to the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, had sought written permission from the SGPC for organising the function. However, intelligence sources told the SGPC that the federation leaders had a plan to honour the family members of slain Sikh leaders to mark the “ghallughara divas”.

The sources said the Punjab police had been put on maximum alert in the wake of the proposed “ghallughara divas”.

The ruling SAD has reportedly asked the SGPC to chalk out programmes in the way that radicals should not take political mileage out of it.

The police had rounded up Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President SAD (Amritsar), and his supporters during the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur when they insisted to observe “ghallughara divas” at Akal Takht. Last year, too, the Dal Khalsa was not allowed permission to hold “ghallughara divas” at Khalsa College, Amritsar.

However, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan while talking to TNS said the SGPC would observe the “ghallughara divas” in an appropriate way.


Bhindranwale’s family may meet Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
The members of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s family are likely to meet Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of the Akal Takht, to resolve the controversy over Bhindranwale’s death once and for all.

Jathedar Vedanti who has returned to Amritsar after a two-week long religious tour of the USA on Thursday said though he had not received any request for such a meeting so far, the members of Bhindranwale’s family were welcome to meet him.

Bhai Narain Singh, president, Akal Federation and convener of the Ghallughara Yadgari Committee which is determined to declare Bhindranwale dead on June 6 at the Akal Takht to coincide with the 17th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, said Mr Isher Singh, son of Bhindranwale, would meet the Jathedar shortly.

However, when contacted on phone at Jalandhar, Mr Isher Singh, neither denied nor confirmed any probability of meeting with the Jathedar.

“For the time being, I don’t want to speak on this controversy”, he said.

During his visit to the USA Jathedar Vedanti was under tremendous pressure from radical Sikhs to end the controversy over the death of Bhindranwale.

Meanwhile, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman Dal Khalsa, in a brochure, has alleged that the Damdami Taksal had deliberately misguided the Sikh Panth by concealing the death of Bhindranwale, who was killed during Operation Bluestar.

“But enough is enough and all of us must accept the truth that Bhandranwale is no more”, said Mr Singh.

Bhindranwale died a martyr’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 2
Mr Anoop Singh Minhas, national general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), yesterday asserted that there was no doubt about the fact that Sikh extremist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had died as a martyr during Operation Bluestar in June 1984 and those who still insisted that he was alive were either ignorant or dishonest about the martyrdom.

Talking to select reporters in the presence of another general secretary of the party, Dr Harjinder Jakhu, Mr Minhas claimed that there was enough evidence to prove that Bhindranwale was cremated as per Sikh tradition.

The SAD (A) general secretary said his party was not celebrating the martyrdom day of Bhindranwale as the party wanted his family and the Damdami Taksal to settle the ongoing controversy through Akal Takht.


SHSAD to file writ for SGPC poll in July
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 2
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today said his party would file a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in July this year for timely elections to the SGPC which are due in October. Mr Tohra while talking to mediapersons said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was stalling the elections to the SGPC.

On the issue of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, he said his martyrdom was a reality and he (Mr Tohra) had declared the sant’s martyred status at the World Sikh Council in 1995 when he honoured the sant’s family.

He said the myth of Bhindranwale being kept alive was being perpetuated by vested interests. He endorsed the ardas for the martyrdom of Bindranwale called by 15 radical organisations and said ardas should be carried out not only at Akal Takht but in every village gurdwara. “After former SP Apar Singh disclosed being an eyewitness to the sant’s death it left no doubt whatsoever,” he said.

Mr Tohra said talks between Gen Pervez Musharraf Pakistan’s Chief Executive, and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee should also take up outstanding Panthic issues such as the repair of Pakistan gurdwaras according to Sikh maryada and architecture. A team of kar sewaks should be allowed to supervise the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan. Besides, the issue of non-visa corridor passage to Kartarpur gurdwara, should also be looked into. The government of Pakistan had already offered assistance in the corridor plan of the gurdwara.

Castigating the Badal government for not following any Panthic or Panjabiat agenda, he said Army deserters who left their barracks on the call of Mr Badal had still not been rehabilitated, gurdwara land in Pakistan was being given a meagre amount of Rs 50 per acre on contract basis on the instructions of the Pakistani Government although the market rate was as much as Rs 6000 Rs 7000 per acre.

He scorned the year of development declared by the Badal government.

“There is little to show in the name of development. Mr Badal claimed to make flyovers, promised four-laning of highways, solving the river waters issue, the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab etc. Have any of the promises been fulfiled?” What we have instead are heaps of garbage in what was once “Amritsar Sifti Da Ghar. Money is being doled out to sports clubs, youth organisations and mahila mandals in the name of development, he said.

On the issue of helmets, he called on the government to exempt all women and not only Sikh women from wearing helmets. He said the risk factor would be their own and no compensation should be demanded by them.


Controversy dogs SAD
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
The recent political activity in the ruling Akali alliance, culminating in the form of sangat darshans by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the spate of inaugurations of various development projects and holding of public rallies by his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, have led to anxiety and controversy, both within and outside the party. Hectic activity by the father-son duo, keeping in mind the next assembly elections, has caused further dissensions in the ruling alliance.

Certain announcements by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the General Secretary of the party, on policy matters pertaining to the distribution of tickets has caused further rift in the party leadership, which has been struggling hard to set its house in order. An announcement to the effect that 25 per cent seats of the party will be distributed among the leaders of the youth wing of SAD has created a flutter among senior party leaders, who can anticipate their chances being marred by the announcement.

Though, the Opposition parties in Punjab are in no way better prepared for the next assembly elections in the state, each being fragmented by internal conflicts, the SAD-BJP combine too is not free from groupism, both within the alliance and the constituent parties. There is hardly any district in the state where there is no factionalism among the Akali leader. At several places, the sitting SAD MLAs have been sidelined and new jathedars appointed to look after the interest of the party.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister, who represents SAD in the NDA is also reportedly unhappy over the manner in which the Chief Minister has made attempts to get his son inducted in to the Central Cabinet at the cost of Mr Dhindsa.

The next general election is going to be tough for Mr Badal and his party because of internal differences. In Patiala district, Mr Kirpal Singh Budunger, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), openly opposes Capt Kanwaljit Singh, state Finance Minister, and Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpura, state PWD Minister. The Public Health Minister, Mr Raja Narinder Singh, has on record criticised the Finance Minister, forcing the Chief Minister to declare that the ministers instead of fighting with each other should bring the issues to his notice.

Similarly in Ropar district, SAD is leaderless after the Punjab and Haryana High Court unseated the sitting MLA, Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu. Other leaders like Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA from Morinda, have already shown open rebellion against Mr Badal.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhbir Badal has started propping up new faces as potential candidates, like Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon for Ludhiana, a kin of Akali leader Didar Singh for Samrala, Mr Miki Gill for Moga, etc. The exercise, which is likely to replace 30 odd faces, has the potential of throwing up an equal number of rebel candidates, much to the delight of rival Akali factions and other political opponents.

The results of just concluded elections in five southern and eastern states have also come as a setback to Mr Badal as the NDA government no longer appears to be a favourite. In Punjab, the BJP, the alliance partner, is itself a divided house with Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal and Mr Brij Lal Rinwa adopting different political stances.

Moreover, the decision of Mr Badal to leave the Rajya Sabha seat for the BJP is bound to leave the Majha and Doaba regions unrepresented by the Akalis.

In political circles a lot of significance is being attached to the meeting between Mr Tohra and Baba Sarabjot Singh here on Wednesday.

The row between Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Bibi Jagir Kaur, the present and the former President of the SGPC, respectively, has further aggravated factionalism within SAD, much to the discomfort of the Chief Minister.


Work on Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail
line to be speeded up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
All the impediments were cleared for speeding up construction on the 112 km Chandigarh-Ludhiana railway line at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

The meeting was attended by Mr R.N. Malhotra, Member Engineering, Railway Board, the Chief Secretary Mr N.K. Arora, and others concerned.

For the Rs 248 crore project the target was fixed for land acquisition and giving its possession to the Railways. To begin with and upto Morinda and falling in 28 villages will be available within two months. Already 56 acres has been handed over to the Railways. A total of 280 acres is to be acquired. The Railway Ministry has released Rs 35 crore for construction of this project.

A number of electrical crossings coming in the alignment of the Railway line are being shifted by the PSEB and Bhakra-Beas Management Board. The three ‘railway under-bridges’ on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link are being constructed by PUDA for which the process has already started, according to an official release.

The Chief Minister also discussed the work on various railway road-over-bridges (ROBs) in the state. The ROB at Rajpura City on the Ludhiana-Ambala line will cost of Rs 7.85 crore. It will be completed by the end of December 2001.

Similarly, the ROB at Sirhind on the Ludhiana-Ambala line costing Rs 9.22 crore will be completed by August this year. The work on the Railway over-bridge at Sunam on the Bhiwanigarh-Sunam-Bhikhi-Kotshamir Road (Rs 13.02 crore) will be completed by December, 2001.

Work on the ROB at Bathinda will commence on August 15, and that on approach roads is in progress.

The work on ROBs at Khanna, Rajpura, Tanda and Phagwara will be included in the supplementary budget of the current financial year by the Railway authorities. The road underbridge at Gidderbaha will be constructed shortly. Various other problems relating to the construction of the sanctioned railway overbridges and Railway underbridges were also discussed and sorted out on the spot.


Punjab to aim at ‘sustainable’ agriculture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
After the plain speaking by Mr Parkash Singh Badal at the conference of Chief Ministers on the “WTO, agreement on agriculture and food management” in New Delhi on May 21, a definite programme is being drawn up on what Punjab proposes to do next.

In the interest of farmers and the farm economy on which hinges the state’s development agenda, diversification, post-harvest intervention and value addition are to get top priority for “sustainable” agriculture, said the Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr C.L. Bains, in an interview to Tribune News Service here.

Punjab is for state intervention and support in the form of direct and indirect subsidies on all these issues. As such the future research strategies at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) will be given a definite direction. In that respect the university has been asked to constitute an experts’ committee to manage the research fund for which Rs 50 crore is provided in the current financial year.

“Money is no constraint when it comes to safeguarding the farmers’ interests. The experts will map the fund for research and development and also orient it towards diversification. The government, on its part, is taking up with the Centre the issue of providing a sound price and market support structure to make diversification a success”, said Mr Bains.

In the meantime, another experts “committee, headed by Dr Kirti Singh, is giving final touches to its report on the strategies to be adopted by PAU on future teaching, research and extension in the light of the world agricultural scene and the WTO. The committee has met Mr Bains to know the government’s policies. The government’s views are clear: all future research has to follow WTO diktats enabling farmers to increase yield, profit and have cost-effective farming.

Advised by PAU experts a diversification plan envisages the withdrawal of at least 2 lakh hectares from paddy this season, diverting to pulses, maize, sugarcane, cotton, oilseed, basmati, fodder, agro-forestry, fruits and vegetables, mentha, celery, floriculture and ornamental trees. The government has veered around to the point that farmers should get full price and market support for diversification, preparing them for a highly competitive international market.

Paddy transplantation has already begun, contrary to experts’ advice.In fact the Punjab Council of Ministers at its June 7, 2000, meeting had accepted the 10 recommendations of a Cabinet subcommittee on paddy cultivation. The implementation, however, is missing. Punjab paddy growers are working to get themselves into yet another paddy snarl. The salient recommendations included discouraging the sowing of unrecommended paddy varieties, educating farmers not to sow seedlings in advance or transplant before June 10 and commencement of the procurement season from October 1 every year.

Seemingly, the powers that be have pushed the “open” inquiry into the allegations of malpractices by procurement agencies in kharif 1998-99 under the carpet. Though placed before the Council of Ministers in June, the the discussion was deferred. This report remains a subject of debate. The report is available since December, 1999. Another paddy season is at the doorstep.

Mr Bains said research and development costs had to be factored into the budgets as a long-term investment for the sustained health of the economy. Punjab favoured a single food zone with free movement of food. But Punjab was strongly opposed to the decentralisation of procurement and distribution and favoured the continuation of the present system of the FCI doing the job. It needed to be strengthened and fine-tuned.

If to no one else, at least to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, it are clear that agriculture and food management are crucial for long-term economic survival both for the state as well as the people. To him the agenda on agriculture and WTO implications is explicitly a matter of ‘’economic future’’ of the state. More than anyone else, he is opposed to the concept of “economic pricing” by replacing the existing “minimum support price” system when it comes to the present system of procurement of foodgrains providing an assured price and market. No wonder, the WTO and the farmers’ interests will be a major issue at the next elections to the Vidhan Sabha due in the first quarter of 2001.

It was in this context that Mr Bains said future farm research strategies were being evolved with state support and financial intervention. The government had to prepare for a “pro-active” market role in favour of farm producers. Hence, diversification and value addition called for heavy government investment for economic resurgence. Punjab has already suggested to the Centre to constitute an “adjustment fund” of Rs 200 crore, the income of which will be used only for assistance to farmers in the wake of the WTO.


PUDA books 25 colonisers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 2
Taking a tough posture towards unscrupulous colonisers, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has initiated criminal proceedings against 25 such colonisers in Jalandhar zone comprising Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthana and Gurdaspur districts.

These colonisers, most of them belonging to Jalandhar district, are instrumental in developing illegal colonies by flouting the prescribed rules with impunity.

This is for the second time that such a large number of criminal complaints have been filed directly in different courts at one go unlike in the past when PUDA used to get these cases registered against these defaulters with the respective district police authorities which often resulted in delay in action against the colonisers on account of non-completion of inquiry against them.

The complaints have been filed under Sections 38 (1) and 36 of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995, under which there is provision according to which any unauthorised structure could be demolished and those found guilty could be fined up to Rs 10,000 or imprisoned up to three years or both.

But the delay on the part of the Punjab police to investigate and collect material evidence against these colonisers even after registration of an FIR has boosted their morale to go ahead with their mission. The Punjab police has to investigate the matter and present the challan against the colonisers in the court within a period of three years failing which the case against them would be automatically dismissed in the court.

But the police authorities had failed to present challans in several cases within the prescribed time limit, forcing PUDA to directly file the cases in the court. The official documents reveal that in several cases challans have not been presented for the past six to seven years for reasons best known to the authorities.

Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA, said before filing of criminal cases people, particularly those intending to buy plots from colonisers, had been forewarned against the purchase of property in such colonies which have not been approved by PUDA.

“Though the time limit to file a charge sheet in the court has elapsed in some cases as the police authorities have not been able to complete their investigation in time we have requested the courts to condone the period of investigation, which is accepted by the courts. Moreover, we have decided to file cases directly in the courts instead of approaching the Punjab police, which seems to be a lengthy procedure,” Mr Nanda quipped.

Meanwhile, it was learnt the action of PUDA might act as a deterrent for the colonisers in the long way but for the time being they have devised ways to evade action by shifting the legal responsibility to the original landholders by making them sign a direct agreement with the purchasers. This way no effective legal action can be taken against the colonisers and to counter that PUDA has started taking them in the legal ambit by getting them booked under Section 120-B of the IPC.

Colonisers against whom criminal complaints have been filed in different courts in the six districts included Dr Harbhajan Singh, Chunni Lal, Gurmeet Kaur, Kewal Singh, Mohinder Singh, Inder Singh , Daleep Singh, Joginder Singh, Mohinder Singh, Tarlochan Singh, Kundan Singh, Palwinder Singh, Harjeet Singh, Anil Kumar, Bachan Singh, Shoukeen Singh, Dera Sat Kartar, Tarwinder Singh (Jalandhar), Sunam Abrol, Waryam Singh, Kehar Singh (Kapurthala), Manjit Singh, Avtar Kaur, Gurpreet Singh (Nawanshahr), Padam Dev, Santokh Singh (Amritsar), Surinder Singh (Gurdaspur), Tehal Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Satpal, Raj Kumar, Gopal Mohan (Pathankot).

As many as 192 complaints have been directly filed in different judicial courts and 122 cases had been sent to the police for registration of FIRs regarding illegal colonies, Mr Nanda added.


Dal (Mann) to give ticket to Sehajdhari Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 2
Dr Harjinder Singh Jakhu, National General Secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar), said yesterday that the Party would give the ticket to Sehajdhari Sikhs. Talking to newsmen here today in presence of Mr Anoop Singh Minhas, General Secretary of the party, Dr Jakhu said the Dalits were joining the Mann group in a big way.

He presented before newsmen Mr Baldev Chaudhary who had left the Bahujan Samaj Morcha and joined the party alongwith his supporters. Dr Jakhu said that the Mann group would definitely contest the local (reserve) Assembly seat. A state-level conference would be held in August, he added.


Morcha’s tie-up with SAD likely
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 2
Bahujan Samaj Morcha national president Satnam Singh Kainth today did not rule out truck with the Badal-led SAD during coming Assembly poll. Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Kainth said though alliance issue would be finalised near the elections yet he felt that uniting workers and peasants would be a step in the right direction to defeat the Congress.

Mr Kainth lauded the ‘sangat darshan’ programmes by the Chief Minister. Taking the Congress and other critics to task for raising hue and cry against these programmes, Mr Kainth former MP, asserted that these programmes were in keeping with the democratic scheme of things.

Mr Kainth said not a single pro-Dalit policy had been stopped by the Badal government. He alleged the Congress had always shed crocodile tears for Dalits and its rally for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes at Jalandhar tomorrow was just an election stunt.

Addressing activists from 27 Assembly constituencies of Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr, Mr Kainth said five conferences would be held from September 8 to 24 at Patiala, Amritsar, Moga, Ludhiana and Phagwara. The Morcha had become a formidable force and an alternative to the BSP, claimed Mr Kainth.


Cong workers’ rally on June 7
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 2
Congress workers of the district have decided to hold a rally on June 7 in the city to protest against the registration of a case of corruption against Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minsiter of Punjab.

Mr Surinder Kapoor, former minister of Punjab in a press note issued here yesterday said that this act was politically motivated and that the Akali-BJP government did it intentionally to malign the image of Ms Bhattal as the next Assembly elections were round the corner.


More women entering drug trade
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 2
Smuggling of narcotics which used to be a male domain is now seeing more and more women in the region entering the trade.

For the past four years, the rising number of women getting involved in the smuggling of narcotics has been worrying the police authorities. What is bothering the police authorities is that in most of the cases, women have become part of the organised drug trade.

In this district alone, the police authorities have arrested 29 women in connection with the drug trade during the past three years and five months. A majority of these women joined the drug trade once their husbands landed into jails after being convicted for smuggling drugs or committed to trial in a court.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that women had been joining this illegal activity as they were not suspected by the police forces in general. Therefore they found that chances of their being caught by the police personnel were very rare.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, when contacted, said these women had been carrying out smuggling activities in a very professional manner. He added that the police authorities were devising new strategies to deal with the situation.

In February, 2001, a woman smuggler, Gurpreet Kaur, alias Preeto, who was pregnant, was caught by policemen at a ‘naka’ in the Lambi block of Muktsar district. She was found to be in possession of 25 kg of poppy husk.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar, when contacted said five women actively involved in the smuggling of narcotics had been arrested by the district police from different locations this year.

He said to check the menace of women indulging in smuggling activities, special police parties, including women police personnel, had been constituted.

The SSP said 80 cases had been registered in the district so far under the NDPS Act and out of these, five cases had been registered against women. He added that some of these women had made smuggling of drugs a full-time vocation.

Apart from smuggling drugs, women have also been found to be brewing liquor in their dwellings.

A number of women had been arrested for the crime in this and Muktsar districts during the past few years, police sources said.


4,800 cases settled at lok adalat
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 2
To settle the long-pending cases of labourers in different courts throughout the state, the Punjab Government has decided to organise labour lok adalats so that poor people can get justice at the earliest.

This was stated by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Labour and Employment Minister, while addressing a state level 3rd labour lok adalat function held at the local Red Cross Bhawan here today.

The minister said 18,000 cases pertaining to labour disputes were pending in different courts.

Keeping in view good response in the previous two lok adalats, the state government had decided to organise labour lok adalats at different places in the state.

Mr Tandon said conciliatory machinery was receiving more than 9,000 cases per year out of which only 50 per cent could be settled and rest of these were pending in the courts and industrial tribunals. “Infact, the success of labour lok adalats could be gauged from the fact that 2,300 cases were settled and an amount of Rs 1.75 crore was distributed to different categories of workers during the first labour lok adalat held at Ludhiana,” he added.

The Labour Minister said in the second lok adalat which was organised at Patiala 4,300 cases were settled and an amount of Rs 3.75 crore was distributed to workers.

He said a foreign cell had been established in the employment offices to save the youth from being misleaded by travel agents on the pretext of sending them abroad.” The detailed bio-data of the applicant is released on its website so that interested foreign employers can approach them through the department,” Mr Tandon said. Later, 4,800 cases were settled at the lok adalat and a sum of Rs 3 crore was distributed to labourers as compensation.

Those who spoke on the occasion were Mr B. C. Gupta, Secretary, Labour and Employment Department, Mr K. S. Saroj, Labour Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh, Chairman, Industrial Tribunal, Punjab, Mr M.M. Aggarwal, District and Sessions Judge, Mr Sarabjit Singh Makkar, Chairman, Local Improvement Trust.


Bid to improve traffic cops’ image
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 2
The district police has instructed its traffic wing policemen to adopt a humanitarian approach towards commuters while enforcing traffic rules on the city roads.

The city police recently conducted a month-long special training programme for its traffic wing focused on improving the police-public relations. “During the training programme, the policemen were told to be polite with people. They were also told that their task was not limited to enforce the law, but also to create awareness among the masses regarding the traffic rules,” said Mr L.K. Yadav, SP (Traffic).

“The police will have to change its image by adopting a friendlier approach towards the people. However, we will strictly deal with the violators of traffic rules,” Mr Yadav added.

To deal with those traffic violators who speed away after they are signalled to stop, the traffic wing has decided to send the challan slips to their residential addresses by registered post or by hand.

The SP said they had approached the district transport authorities to give them information about all registered vehicles in the district. The traffic wing has also asked these authorities to send a copy of registration of a new vehicle to the Police Department, which would keep a record of it in the computers of the department. “This will help us in locating the traffic violator within minutes and send his challan slip at his residential address,” he said.

The city police has also decided to empower a Head Constable to issue a challan slip to a traffic violator. Earlier only an Assistant Sub-Inspector had the power to issue challans. 

PCMS doctors resent reduction in allowances
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 2
The PCMS Association, Punjab, today expressed its resentment over the reduction in allowances of doctors as recommended by the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission and the non-implementation of commission’s recommendations even after more than four years.

Dr M.S. Randhawa, Dr D.S.Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary of the association in a joint statement here today said that the notification regarding conveyance and higher qualification allowances were unjust and discriminatory.

The association urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to keep his commitment of implementing the recommendations of the commission in toto and to instruct the finance department to revise these notifications.

The association members said that the Finance Department instead of releasing Rs 1,800 per month as conveyance allowance from 1996, as recommended by the Health Department, has released only Rs 900 per month. The members claimed that this was done despite the fact that the demands were discussed in a meeting chaired by the CM.

The association described the granting of higher qualification allowance in the form of three increments as unjust.

The association deplored that the granting of higher scales to senior PCMS officers on a par with their counterparts in the Medical Education Department and the release of one additional increment with designation of the Deputy Civil Surgeon for Administrative Senior Medical Officers were still pending with the government for the past four years.


SBI union meeting leads to infighting
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 2
A meeting of the members of the State Bank of India Staff Association (SBISA) was held here today amidst protests and allegations by the members of the warring factions of the union who claimed to constitute the representatives of the “real” union.

A meeting of its members was convened by the SBISA which was to be presided over by Mr O.N. Bindru, general secretary of the Chandigarh zone of the union which includes Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The meeting was convened to discuss the problems faced by the union and to decide its future programme.

Meanwhile, some members of the union alleged that the meeting was not held according to the rules. They alleged that Mr Bindru was not the general secretary of the union, but was only the convener of the Ad Hoc Committee.

Mr Vipin Vatash, former regional secretary of the union, said the union had been dissolved and its former office-bearers had been made members of the Ad Hoc Committee. He questioned the right of the organisers to hold a meeting under these circumstances.

The organisers of the meeting said those who were protesting were not the members of the union; therefore there was no need to invite them to the meeting. Mr Tara Chand Goyal, secretary of the city unit of the union, said the protesters were associates of Mr Ashok Goyal who had been expelled from the union sometime ago for anti-union activities. He said all those present at the meeting were members of the union or senior officers of the bank.

Mr Tara Chand Goel said members of the union from Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Muktsar, Moga and Faridkot participated in the meeting.


Higher prices dampen Bacchus lovers’ spirits
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 2
Bacchus lovers of the district are in for a raw deal with liquor contractors having formed a syndicate and hiked the prices of both country and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) with the Excise Department looking the other way.

The prices of both country liquor and IMFL have been increased in the district except for areas bordering Chandigarh and Haryana for the past few days. As a result of the formation of the syndicate country liquor which used to cost Rs 60 earlier is now selling at Rs 100. Similarly IMFL has registered an increase of around 25 per cent. Economy brands which were selling for Rs 140 per bottle are now being sold for Rs 180 and medium quality brands which were selling for Rs 200 are now going for Rs 235 per bottle.

Along with the increase in prices, the smuggling of liquor in the district has also started due to the low prices in both Haryana, Chandigarh and the neighbouring districts.

The syndicate has been formed despite announcements made by the Excise Department that it would not tolerate liquor monopolies with the department taking a tough stand in Ludhiana where it said it had broken the monopoly of the liquor cartel keeping in mind the interests of the consumers. This seems to have been forgotten now with Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner Manmohan Singh saying the department could only control the minimum prices at which liquor was to be sold. He admitted that the rates of liquor had gone up in the city following the formation of the syndicate.

Contractors themselves alleged that they had been selling liquor group-wise but had been encouraged by Excise officials to form a syndicate so that it did not face any problem in collection of monthly instalments. Sources said the formation of the syndicate lessened the problems of the Excise Department which had to otherwise probe complaints from lessees that their colleagues were selling liquor below the fixed minimum prices.

Though contractors may have a point in this allegation, they are apparently also taking advantage of a “sympathetic” Excise Department to open sub vends in villages without paying the prescribed fee. In certain cases liquor contractors just dump liquor at the residence of the village sarpanch or panchayat member for further sale.

The DETC admitted that there were certain instances but the department was continuously organising raids to stop this practice.

The sources claimed that the Excise Department was allowing leverage to the contractors as there was reluctance on their part to even take part in the auctions this year due to reported losses suffered in the last financial year. Consumers, however, feel there was no point in making them pay for the reported losses suffered by the liquor contractors last year.

Consumers also claimed that the syndicate should be immediately dissolved with the intervention of the Excise officials.

They said increasing the rates of liquor did not help the department in any manner and that only the contractors stood to benefit from this move.


ISPs disappoint Net users
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 2
Internet users of the city have been facing various problems, including slow connectivity, frequent disconnections, no response and ‘server down’, for quite some time.

Mr Pawan Taneja, a Net user, alleged that even the service and the connectivity speed of the so-called fastest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were very slow. The service of the ISPs was poor irrespective of the fact whether one was downloading a file or working online. The ‘help desk’ of the ISPs was proving useless, he alleged.

Mr Naveen Singla (name changed) another Net user alleged that the ISP officers behaved as all powerful. Giving an instance, he said the server of the ISP was down yesterday evening and the ‘help desk’ offered no solution to the problem. “I was to send an urgent e-mail, but was unable to do so due to the non-availability of the Internet connection”, he alleged.

Mr Harsharan Singh, one of the officials at an ISP unit, said the problem of disconnection was generally with the settings of individual computers. Commenting on the ‘server down’ problem, he said the Chandigarh exchange had developed a technical snag yesterday. Some of the problems were beyond our control, he added. 


1 dies in agarbatti factory fire
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 2
Even as one person was killed in a devastating fire which broke out in an agarbatti manufacturing unit, which was situated in the densely populated Luxmipura locality today, the Fire Department has decided to recommend to the district administration to immediately shift the factory from the residential area. Earlier in the afternoon, a fire broke out in the Sewak Dhoof factory causing severe burn injuries to a labourer who was yet to be identified. He was admitted to the local civil hospital with 95 per cent burns where he died late in the afternoon.

Seven fire engines of the local municipal corporation were pressed into service and it took two hours to control the fire. Mr C.D. Sidhu, in-charge of the Fire Department, said the factory was operating illegally as an industrial unit of such a nature could not function from a residential area. “The chemical, gas cylinders and other fire-prone material was seized from the place. Though the exact reason which led to the fire is yet to be as certained but after inspection of the factory it seems that one of the gas cylinders may have burst leading to such a devastating fire,” Sidhu said.

There was great resentment and fear among the residents of Luxmipura and adjoining localities, who blamed the civic body and district administration for being indifferent to their demand to shift the factory from the residential area.

Mr Anil Malhotra, a resident of Luxmipura locality, alleged people had met the civic officials several times in the past two years and had demanded that this factory should be shifted from their area but nothing concrete was done in this regard. “I will recommend to the district administration to immediately remove the factory from the residential colony since it can lead to a fire in future also,” he added.


Sambhar rescued
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 2
An adult female sambhar, protected species of deer, was rescued by the police and the Wildlife authorities here yesterday.

The Sadar police and the Wildlife authorities had to chase the deer for nearly five hours near the Fatehgarh Churian road canal. Eventually, the deer fell into the marshy area of the canal due to exhaustion when it was taken into custody.

According to Mr B.S. Gurm, Assistant Director, Wildlife, the deer was badly bruised.

It is learnt that people from a nearby village wanted to kill it for meat.

According to Wildlife authorities, animals stray into the human habitat from forest areas of Hoshiarpur and Pathankot Kandi. The sambhar will be transported tonight to Chhatbir Zoo. 


Rehabilitation of disabled: training begins
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 2
The training of persons selected for national programme for the rehabilitation of the disabled in Sangrur district, was yesterday launched at a function. Mr G.K. Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function. 

Mr Rajesh Dhiman, Assistant Commissioner (General), said training would be imparted to 24 block-level workers and 130 village-level workers of Bhawanigarh and Sangrur blocks in the first phase. The block-level workers would get training for three months while one-month training would be given to the village-level workers.

Restriction on PRTC worker’s dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 2
Mr Rakesh Mittal, Civil Judge, Junior Division, today restrained the joint action committee of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) Workers Union from holding dharna within 50 m of the radius of the office of the PRTC on June 4. The order also restrained the holding of such dharna around the premises of the officers of PRTC.


PSEB told to replace defective transformers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today reviewed the progress of power projects and power position in the state and directed the PSEB to take steps to replace defective transformers immediately after the registration of complaints by the public.

In view of paddy season, there should be no delay in rectifying the faults in power supply. The field staff should be instructed to be more vigilant and responsive to the needs of the public, says an official release.

The Chief Minister directed the PSEB to assess the requirements for more transformers. The state government will arrange funds for this purpose. At the same time power transmission and distribution losses should be brought down and theft of power checked through effective measures. Steps should also be taken for cutting down on operational expenditure and increasing revenue generation.

The PSEB Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, said there was an increase of Rs 625 crore during the year and various austerity measures have been taken to save money for other productive purposes.


Pension release in month’s 1st week
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 2
The Punjab Government has decided to release pensions to the eligible persons in the first week of every month.

The state government has been spending Rs 20 crore per month on the pensions through the Social Security Department.

This was stated by Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, while distributing pension sanction letters at a function, organised in Badrukhan Village, about 5 km from here, yesterday. 

Special Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
The Punjab Government has promoted Mr Tribushan Chand, Secretary to Health and Family Welfare Minister as Special Secretary, according to an official press note. 



5 drug peddlers arrested
Tribune News Service

Malout, June 2
The district police has achieved a major breakthrough in busting a gang which was allegedly supplying smack and opium to college students in the region.

Police sources said here yesterday that five persons namely Harish Kumar, Sukhwinder Singh, Jagdish Kumar, Jagdish Rai and Gurtej Singh had been arrested.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar, said all accused would be sent to The Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC), Amritsar to find out whether Pakistan’s ISI was involved in the case or not. He added that it was suspected that the accused were spreading drug addiction among college students at the behest of the ISI.

He added that the accused were based in Bikaner district of Rajasthan and were operating from there on the buses. Before shifting their activities to the city and its surrounding areas they were active in Abohar for three years.

Harish Kumar, from whom the 10 gram of smack packed in 50 pouches was recovered and Sukhwinder Singh from whom the 10 gram of smack was seized were basically supplying the same to students of a college located at Chappianwali. The other three accused namely Jagdish Kumar, Jagdish Rai and Gurtej Singh, from whom 4 kg, 3 kg and 3 kg of opium was recovered, respectively, were dealing in the same and trying to develop clientele among students.

The SSP said it would be verified that who were those students who had been purchasing the drugs form these peddlers.

The SSP added that he had also written to district police chief of Bikaner for more information regarding the activities of the gang members.

During preliminary investigation, the accused confessed that they were selling narcotics in Abohar for the past three years. About three months ago, they shifted their activities in the region and had so far sold about 15 gram of smack to the students when they failed to find any buyer for opium.

The SSP said cases had been registered under the NDPS Act. 


Pyre’ of missing kin lit
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 2
Having failed to trace out bodies of his daughter-in-law, Veena Bhatia (21) and his grandson Abhi (2), from the Bhakra main line, Mr Krishan Lal Bhatia, a local businessman and his family, to satisfy its sentiments, prepared pyre of the deceased and cremated it on Tuesday.

The deceased, Veena Bhatia along with her two-year son Abhi, her father Pantpal Bhasin, mother Mamta and sister Seema was going in a car from Mansa to Ambla on May 19. The car had fallen into the Bhakra main line near Rajpura. The bodies of all victims except Veena and Abhi were later recovered.


GND varsity results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 2
The results of BA/B.Sc (Part II) and B.Cam (Bachelor of Computer Aided Management), Part I, examinations conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University in April/May this year will be declared tomorrow and these can also be accessed on the next day from the official website ( of the university.

Disclosing this, Dr R.S. Bawa said the copies of the result gazettes would be supplied to the registered book-sellers in the evening after 5.00 pm on the same day.

The university has received 6,000 applications for the entrance test for admission to 1,600 seats of BCA/BIT/B.Cam/BE (commerce) courses in its affiliated colleges, slated to be held on June 19 and for which the last date for submission of the application forms was June 12, according to Dr S.P. Singh co-ordinator of the entrance test and Dean, College Development Council of the university.

Dr S.P. Singh said the university had made elaborate arrangements for issuing on-the-spot roll numbers to the candidates submitting their forms at Amritsar and Jalandhar. He said two cells would function from 10 am to 4 pm daily till June 12 for receiving the forms submitted by the candidates.


Ayurvedic pharmacy needs resuscitation
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 2
Once supplying medicines to 526 dispensaries, 17 health centres and five ayurvedic colleges in the state, the Ayurvedic pharmacy here seems to have fallen on bad days with production of medicines having been virtually stopped.

The pharmacy spread over nearly two acres in the heart of the city and having a staff of around 65 personnel, has been slowly grounded over the period of past two to three years and the situation now is such that only a few basic medicines are being produced by the pharmacy.

Supply of various kinds of ‘’bhasms’’, health tonics and chawanprash by the pharmacy to the dispensaries, health centres and ayurvedic colleges in the state has been completely stopped.

Sources said lack of allocation of funds for production of medicines was the main reason for the present state of affairs. They said while Rs 20 lakh were made available to the pharmacy the year before last, it received only Rs 4 lakh last year.

They said both the production of medicine and the administrative control were at a low ebb. Recently a medicine for the eyes,’’ netar bindu,’’ had failed to clear the required tests. They said due to non-production of quality medicines, research activity in the pharmacy was getting deteriorated by the day.

The pharmacy is functioning without a full-time superintendent. When the Chandigarh Tribune team visited it, it found most of the rooms locked and many personnel absent from duty. In fact the entire complex presented a sleepy look with no activity going on in it.

The ayurvedic hospitals of the state, which are dependent on the pharmacy for medicine supply, are also suffering due to the present circumstances. This is also affecting patients as they are not able to get the right kind of medicine for their ailments and have to do with substitutes which are not produced in exact scientific proportions, sources said.

The pharmacy authorities said an attempt was being made to resuscitate the pharmacy and that it would shortly be receiving funds from the Central Government. They said Rs 1 crore had been earmarked for the pharmacy out of which Rs 70 lakh would be utilised to install new machinery while Rs 30 lakh would be spent-on other works, including reconstruction of a building which had been declared unsafe. They said the institution founded in 1951 could it regain its former glory provided sufficient funds were made available for the purpose.


Scholar not found fit for promotion
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 2
Punjabi University has failed to find noted scholar and former Head of Department of Punjabi Dr Jaswinder Singh fit for promotion as Professor under the Career Advancement Scheme even though he has 12 books to his credit and has written 52 research papers besides garnering various literary awards.

Dr Jaswinder Singh, who is a former secretary of the Punjabi University Teachers Association ( PUTA ) and is part of the group supporting the present PUTA which has initiated an inquiry against the Vice-Chancellor, was rejected at an interview held two days back.

A meeting of the Progressive Teachers Council of the university, which held a meeting on the issue today, while condemning the rejection of Dr Jaswinder Singh, said it was strange that someone who had been given the best book award by the State Languages Department twice in 1989 for “Pashan Chint” and in 1997 for “Khooh Khate” and who had acted as guide for 11 PhD theses besides having guided around 24 M.Phil degrees. The forum said he was also on the expert panel of major literary institutions such as Bharatiya Sahit Academy and Jnanpith Award Committee.

The council alleged the Vice-Chancellor was vindictive against all those who supported PUTA for its pro teacher stance and had deliberately victimised Dr Jaswinder Singh. It alleged that by following such a revengeful and partisan stand the university authorities had thrown all academic norms to the wind and harmed the interests of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

In a separate release PUTA said the rejection of the candidature of Dr Jaswinder Singh proved that vicitimisation was continuing unabated in the university. The PUTA president, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, and secretary Dr Balwinder Singh, said besides discriminating against Dr Jaswinder Singh the university authorities had also played a partisan role by cancelling the interview of Dr Praveen Singhal of the Department of Human Biology.

They said the interview of Dr Singhal had been cancelled to harass her as her husband Dr K.C, Singhal was inimical to the Vice-Chancellor and had been able to get himself reinstated as Head of the Department of Business Administration through the court despite having been removed from his post by the university management. Scholar not found fit for promotion. Meanwhile, in a separate release Punjab Minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur claimed PUTA had falsely claimed he had requested Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to give an interview to the body during the sangat darshan programme held at Sanour recently.


AFDR flays Punjabi varsity decision
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 2
The Punjab unit of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) has condemned the decision taken by the syndicate of Punjabi University, Patiala, on April 25 that any decision taken by the university authorities or by any related body of the university if considered to be unsatisfactory could not be discussed by the media as it would be unconstitutional.

Mr Bagga Singh, vice-president of the AFDR, in a press note issued here today said the organisation protested against the sending of show cause, notice to two teachers of the university for their comments over the “sangat darshan” programmes being held at various places in Punjab by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bagga said the decision taken by the university was a direct attack on the fundamental right to freedom of speech of people. The show cause notice issued to the two teachers should be taken back by the university authorities, he added.


Ex-Principal new Medical Superintendent
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 2
Dr Surinder Singh Cheema, former Principal of Guru Ram Das Medical Institute, here, was yesterday installed Medical Superintendent in place of Col B.S. Cheema.

It has also been learnt that Dr Ujagar Singh Dhaliwal, Principal of Guru Ram Das Institute is likely to be replaced by Mr Inderjit Singh Shergill.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) secretary, said Colonel Cheema had retired at the age of superannuation. He also clarified that there is no proposal to replace Dr Dhaliwal.

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